Garden Talk: February 3, 2014
From NGA Editors
Long Blooming Osteospermum
Osteospermums, also known as African daisies, are tender perennials that are favorites for cool-season gardening. These South African natives offer a profusion of daisy-like blossoms when the weather is cool, putting on their best show in spring and fall or over the winter in milder parts of the country. But when heat and humidity hit in summer, flowering of most cultivars begins to flag.
That's why gardeners in many parts of the country will be excited to learn about Osteospermum Akila® 'Daisy White', a 2014 All-America Selections Bedding Plant Award Winner. Its cheerful 2-inch flowers, clear white with a bright yellow eye, are produced non-stop all summer long. 'Daisy White' was selected in part because judges in southern states praised its ability to keep blooming as heat and humidity rose. They also noted that this hybrid osteospermum showed more drought tolerance than other cutivars.
Osteospermums do best in full sun in well-drained soil and are drought-tolerant once they are established. Growing 16-20 inches tall and wide with a mounded habit, Daisy White is a great low maintenance choice for both flower beds and containers. Look for it at local garden stores this spring.
All-America Selections are new garden seed varieties selected for their superior garden performance as judged in impartial trials across North America.
To find out more about Osteospermum Akila® 'Daisy White', go to AAS.
Blazing Hot Strawflower
When summer weather gets hot, turn up the heat even more -- visually that is -- with Sundaze® Blaze Strawflower. This hybrid Bracteantha, new this year from Proven Winners, will set a flower bed or container ablaze with bright color. The orange flowers with their papery petals and bright yellow centers keep coming all summer long, even in the hottest weather.
Early to come into flower, this long-blooming annual (or short-lived perennial in the warmest areas) will continue to be colorful until hard frost. Growing about 10-14 inches tall and wide, it does best in full sun and well-drained soil and is drought-tolerant once established. All it asks is regular fertilization to see it through its long season of bloom.
Strawflowers also make great cut flowers, lasting a couple of weeks in fresh arrangements. To enjoy them indoors even longer, dry them for winter bouquets. Cut them when the blossoms are just about to open and hang them in loose bunches upside down in a warm, airy spot for several weeks.
Look for Sundaze® Blaze Strawflower in garden stores this spring. For more, go to Proven Winners.
Spotted Wing Drospohila
Big problems often come in small packages. Such is the case with spotted wing drosophila (SWD), a new threat to both commercial and home garden fruit plantings, especially berry crops. This minute fruit fly, first found in California 2008, has now spread to many areas of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, the upper Midwest, parts of Canada, and many states in the eastern U.S.
What makes this fruit fly different from the ones we commonly see buzzing around overripe fruits in our kitchens is its ability to infest healthy fruits. The female has an ovipositor shaped like a serrated knife that lets her cut into and lay eggs in sound fruits. The larvae hatch out and feed on the fruit, making it inedible. SWD is primarily a pest of berries, especially raspberries and blackberries, and stone fruits (peach, cherry, nectarine), but it can attack a wide range of fruits. It wreaks its havoc mainly late in the summer, so late season berries are at the most risk.
What can you do to minimize the threat from this tiny pest? Start with excellent garden sanitation. Harvest fruits frequently as soon as they are ripe. Dispose of any culled fruits in plastic bags in the trash or place them in plastic bags to "cook" in the sun to kill any larvae that might be inside. Small berry plantings can be carefully covered with fine (1/32 inch) netting to exclude flies. If your fruit plants become infested, you can use insecticide treatments such as spinosad for control; be sure to read and follow all label instructions and precautions when using any insecticide.
Monitoring for SWD can help you determine if you have a problem and if your treatments are bringing it under control. Make a simple trap from a plastic container baited with yeast or cider vinegar bait and containing a yellow card coated with sticky material to snag entering flies.
To find out more about identifying, monitoring, trapping, and controlling SWD, check out MSU SWD site and Cornell Cooperative Extension Fruit Resources . (Image courtesy of Hannah Burrack, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org)
Spotlight on Youth Gardening: Kentucky Childrens Garden
Conservation is the key to all youth programs at the Kentucky Children's Garden, a 2013 recipient of National Gardening Association's Jamba Juice ″It's All About the Fruit and Veggies″ Garden Grant. Located at the Arboretum, State Botanical Garden of Kentucky in Lexington, the Kentucky Children's Garden is dedicated to educating the next generation through interactive gardening opportunities for families and visiting school groups. Education Coordinator Emma Trester-Wilson works to ensure that the nearly 8,000 youth participating in programming each year engage in lessons on water conservation, study and grow native plants, and grow vegetables of historic importance in the state. ″We teach conservation in a variety of ways: through found material art projects, via lessons on water conservation, and through teaching land use stewardship. Beyond specific programming, we encourage conservation in everything we do, especially watering the garden,″ says Trester-Wilson.
This children's garden experience provides youth with hands-on experiences in their local environment, teaching them more about their state as a whole. Each garden season youth participants and their families are involved in every aspect of the garden's growth, from seed to harvest. Children often come back week after week to care for and watch the garden grow. A vegetable harvest is always shared. Whether among program participants or donated to a local food shelf, produce never goes to waste. Eagle Scouts make significant contributions to the garden by building larger structures like tool sheds, compost bins, and fences.
Since 2011, the Kentucky Children's Garden has facilitated unique learning opportunities for youth ages 2 to10. Children explore geographic features of their state through miniature recreations in the garden of caves, a seep, palisades, and limestone sinkholes. The garden also includes a stream and pond area, a spider labyrinth, vegetable raised beds, the butterfly garden, a swath of native prairie, and a nature center where programs are conducted. Additional features include a pioneer garden and a Native American encampment planted with native plants and fruits and nuts gathered in Kentucky.
Help us plant the seeds for the next generation of gardeners. Your donation helps NGA support youth garden programs across the country and around the world. Please consider a generous donation to the National Gardening Association.