Friday, January 29, 2010

Lichen May Be Sign of More Serious Problem

Winter is a time when gardeners and homeowners are more likely to notice a grayish green crusty or mossy looking growth on the stems and branches of trees and shrubs (photo left, taken by Chad Gore). This common organism, known as lichen (pronounced “liken”), is a primitive life form and is the result of two different organisms, an alga and a fungi, living together. Lichens will grow on anything that sits still long enough, including slow growing plants, tree trunks, rocks, fence posts, fallen logs, tombstones, and even the ground. When lichens are found growing on trees or shrubs, it may simply be a sign that that particular plant is naturally slow growing, such as Japanese Maple, or that it is an older plant that is not growing at a vigorous rate. Lichens do not harm the plants they grow upon, but often plants that are struggling will be covered in them. When lichens are found growing prolifically on a plant that also has lots of dead twigs and branches and that produces few, undersized or off color leaves it is usually a sign that something more serious is going wrong.

Find out more! Click here to read to read the entire article from the Pender County Cooperative Extension website.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Get Ready for Spring Planting - Soil Test Now!

Now is the time to begin preparing for spring planting by bringing soil samples to your local Cooperative Extension Office for testing! Boxes, forms and instructions are available from any Extension Office, which are located in every county in NC! Soil testing can help you save money in your lawn, garden and landscape and grow healthier plants by telling you which nutrients are already in your soil and which ones you need to add with fertilizers. In addition, soil testing is a free service for North Carolina residents, provided by the NC Department of Agriculture. If you haven’t submitted soil samples for your yard or garden in the past couple of years, take the time to do it now! Samples submitted at this time of the year, the lab’s busiest season, may take several weeks to be analyzed, so get your samples in ASAP to make sure your results are back in time for spring planting!

Read more by clicking here! (Will take you to the Pender County Cooperative Extension website.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Protecting Plants from Cold Damage

The persistent cold weather of the last few weeks has caused many local residents to question its effects on area lawns and landscapes. Fortunately little damage is expected to have occurred during the recent cold snap because our lawns and landscape plants are still in dormancy, a state during which woody and perennial plants are at rest and are less susceptible to cold injury. In addition, wet soil conditions have provided extra protection by providing plenty of moisture to turf grasses and evergreens, reducing the damaging effects of drying winds, a common cause of winter injury.

This does mean area lawns and landscapes are out of the woods yet. In most cases, extremely cold temperatures are not the cause of plant injury during our winters. Instead, it is usually a combination of fluctuating temperatures along with factors related to plant care that lead to most of the cold injury we experience. For our lawns and landscapes, cold injury most often occurs in late winter and early spring as plants are coming out of dormancy and temperatures quickly change from warm to cold. While little can be done to moderate these temperature changes, there are some things we can do year round to help our lawns and landscapes better tolerate cold, as well as to help prevent cold damage and speed its recovery.

Click here to read the entire article on the Pender County Cooperative Extension website.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What 2009 Can Tell Us About 2010

Plentiful rainfall throughout the summer of 2009 should result in prolific flowering of spring blooming shrubs such as azalea, but may also mean more insect and disease problems for local lawns and landscapes.

Predicting the future is not an exact science. That being said, there are factors about 2009 that can help predict some of what we can expect to experience in area lawns, landscapes and gardens in 2010. This is because plants, as well as their insect pests and diseases, are very reliant upon weather conditions for their survival and success, not only in the current season, but also in the year to come. With that in mind, the wet weather of 2009 certainly holds indications as to what we can expect for local lawns, landscapes, and gardens in 2010.

Click here to read the entire article from the Pender County Cooperative Extension website.