Friday, June 29, 2012

Where's the Flowers?

Crape myrtle flower buds
One question I am often asked is, "Why isn't may plant blooming". Often the asker wants to know what type of fertilizer they need to apply to make the plant flower, but the answer is usually not that simple. Whether discussing a tree, shrub, perennial, or vegetable, there are many reasons plants fail to flower. Getting them to bloom depends upon correctly identifying what is preventing flower production – and the answer is rarely lack of fertilizer. 

The most common reasons plants fail to bloom include growing in too much shade, incorrect pruning, and that they are not yet old enough. Learn more about these reasons and the role nutrition plays in blossom production by reading the whole article, available here on the Pender Extension website:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spotted Wilt Virus Plaguing Tomatoes and Peppers

TSWV symptoms on tomato leaves
Since the mid 90’s, tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) has been one of the most serious diseases of tomatoes in our area, and this year is no exception. While it has always been able to infect peppers, more cases of TSWV seem to be showing up on peppers in our area than in past year. Always deadly, there is no way to treat TSWV and infected plants should be pulled up and discarded. 

Tomato plants infected with TSWV may at first appear stunted and pale. Upon close inspection, you may notice unusual markings on the leaves. Sometimes these marking look like brown or black spots, other times they look like tattooed lines or circles. Spots may or may not be surrounded by yellow leaf tissue. The leaves of infected plants may curl inward, while the veins may turn purple, and plants often take on a bronze cast. Usually these symptoms show up on the top leaves of the plant first, while most other tomato diseases show up on the lower leaves first. As the disease progresses, infected plants wilt and die, usually within a week of the first symptoms appearing. 

Pepper plants infected with TSWV will be stunted and bear few peppers. Leaves and fruits will show yellow or brown circular spots and may be misshapen. See images of TSWV on pepper on this Cornell Extension webpage:

Learn more about how this disease is spread and how to prevent it by reading the rest of the article posted on the Pender Extension website:

Friday, June 15, 2012

New weed could cause serious problems

Cogongrass seed heads
If you are a gardener there are probably lots of weeds that top your list as being among the world’s worst. Plants like crabgrass and chamber bitter come to mind. These prolific garden weeds are certainly annoying but at least they stay confined to cultivated areas. Some weeds don’t. Some weeds invade natural areas, smother out native species, and alter ecosystems forever. One of the world’s worst is cogongrass, which was recently found in North Carolina for the first time near Burgaw. 

Cogongrass is most easily recognized by the fluffy white seed heads produced in early summer before most other grasses bloom. Plants grow two to four feet tall, with coarse, light green, one inch wide leaves that have a prominent off center white main vein and a pointed tip. They are usually distributed in dense, round patches. Further identification tips and images can be found online at

Learn more about cogongrass by reading the entire article available on the Pender Extension website at:

If you think you have located a patch of cogongrass, contact Charlotte Glen at the Pender County Cooperative Extension office in Burgaw, 910-259-1235. Learn more about invasive plants in our area online at the Southeast Exotic Plant Pest Council’s website:

If you have gardening questions, contact your local Cooperative Extension office. If you live in Pender County, call 259-1235. In New Hanover County, call 798-7660. In Brunswick County call 253-2610, or visit where you can find your local office, or post your questions to be answered via the ‘Ask an Expert’ widget online here:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Blueberries - The perfect pick!

Finding locally grown, farm fresh blueberries is an easy task in our area, considering Pender County is the second highest blueberry producing county in the state. But did you know blueberries are relatively easy to grow in most home gardens? In fact, blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow organically, making them the perfect pick for many backyards. To start your blueberry patch all you need to know is how to prepare your site and which are the best varieties for our area. 

To find out more, read the rest of the article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website:

 Or, visit the Pender Extension Master Gardeners at the NC Blueberry Festival, June 16 on the courthouse square in Burgaw. We will be under the education tent! Learn more about the Blueberry Festival, where you can buy fresh blueberries from local farms, enjoy live music, and get lots of tasty blueberry treats! Visit to find out more. To find local farms where you can pick or buy fresh blueberries, visit the NC Farm Fresh website at