Garden Talk: November 20, 2008

From NGA Editors

New Gold-Leafed Clematis

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European alpine clematis (Clematis alpina) features twining foliage that can reach up to 6 feet tall and nodding, bell-shaped flowers. Now there’s a new selection from Holland that boasts attractive golden leaves. Stolwijk Gold clematis (C.alpina ‘Stolwijk Gold’) has the same vigorous growth habit as other alpine clematis, but has golden foliage that contrasts well with its blue spring flowers. The foliage changes to chartreuse later in summer. Stolwijk Gold is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 7 and the gold foliage color is most vivid if the plant is grown in full sun. Plant it in well drained, fertile soil and provide a strong trellis for this vigorous grower.

For more information on Stolwijk Gold, go to: Plant Delights Nursery.

Propane Powered Grass Trimmer

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Many power equipment manufacturers are adapting their products to environmental regulations by making them more fuel efficient and cleaner burning. There is also an increase in the use of alternative fuels to power these garden tools. While electric- and battery-powered tools get most of the limelight, here’s a new propane-powered tool to consider.

Lehr Power Tools has introduced the new Eco Trimmer. This string trimmer is powered by a 16 ounce propane canister that twists onto the engine. Propane is a clean fuel, producing less ozone, particulate matter, and hydrocarbons than gasoline. It is cheaper, safer, and easier to use. Plus, 90 percent of our propane is produced domestically so it reduces our dependence on foreign oil.

For more information on this new Eco Trimmer, go to: Lehr Eco Trimmer .

Chill Plants to Stop Mealybugs

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Mealybugs are common garden and houseplant pests. These cottony white bugs attach themselves to leaves and stems and suck plant juices. Their damage can cause leaves to drop and the sticky honeydew they secrete to drip on carpets and floors.

While there are many organic and conventional pesticides to control mealybugs, here’s a simple solution that doesn’t require any spraying at all. Researchers at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania found that chilling plants infected with mealybugs to 36 degrees F for 2 days reduced the infestation for up to two months, but didn’t harm the plants. This treatment was effective only on plants that can take the cold temperatures, such as gardenias, citrus, and fuchsias.

For more information on controlling mealybugs, go to: Greenhouse Product News.

New Use for Dandelions

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Gardeners are very familiar with the common dandelion. Many homeowners spend lots of money and time trying to eradicate this weed from their lawns. However, the lowly dandelion may play a role in reducing our dependency on foreign imports.

In the 1940’s Russia extracted rubber from the roots of dandelions to make tires for the war effort. The Russian dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz) root contains up to 20 percent rubber. Currently, most natural rubber comes from plantations in Southeast Asia. With higher fuel prices, the cost of synthetic and natural rubber is increasing.

Looking for alternatives to shipping natural rubber across the globe, researchers at Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center are experimenting with different varieties of the Russian dandelion to find ones with the highest amounts of rubber in their roots. Dandelions are an attractive crop because they require little fertility and irrigation. Tires made from dandelions had similar quality as those made from other natural sources. There is so much potential in this crop that Ohio State University is considering plans to build a rubber processing facility that can produce 20 tons of dandelion rubber a year.

For more information on extracting rubber from dandelions, go to: Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center.

 
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