Mistletoe: tree thief, holiday tradition

Once autumn leaves have fallen, mistletoe becomes highly visible on large trees throughout Kentucky. Phoradendron, the scientific name for this parasitic plant, means tree thief. You can commonly find these small leafy plants on twigs and branches of many hardwood species in the southern two-thirds of the United States. Mistletoes extract water, mineral elements and food from their host tree by way of a parasite

nutrient-uptake organ; hence the name, tree thief. Continue reading

Leave Houseplant Pests Out in the Cold This Fall

When you bring houseplants indoors before temperatures get too cold, be sure to leave pest problems out in the cold.

A rule of thumb is to bring plants in before night temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit to allow plants to adjust to warmer indoor temperatures. It’s a good idea to inspect plants for pest problems several weeks before you plan to bring them inside. This precaution gives you ample time to take care of any insect or disease problems. Continue reading

Fall Gardening Cleanup Controls Spring Diseases

You can reduce the risk of some common problems next year by getting rid of leftover plant debris in vegetable, flower and fruit gardening areas this fall.

Several disease-causing fungi and bacteria spend the winter on plant debris, and can cause diseases the following growing season. Proper garden sanitation can combat such diseases as early blight, mildews, gray mold fungus and various root rot and wilt problems. Continue reading

Disease Management in the Home Lawn

Numerous infectious diseases can occur on lawns in Kentucky. Unless diagnosed and managed, these diseases can sometimes cause extensive damage. A sound lawn management program provides benefits in two ways: it reduces the severity of lawn
diseases; and improves the lawn’s recovery should a disease outbreak occur. You can control diseases of turfgrasses most effectively by using as many of the following lawn management practices as feasible. Continue reading

Spruce Dieback Needle Cast Disease May be To Blame

Blue spruce and Norway spruce are popular landscape plants in Kentucky. However, many factors can cause spruce trees to cast (shed) needles. Casting may be the result of environmental stresses (heavy soil, poor drainage) or fungal diseases. In Kentucky, Rhizosphaera needle cast is the most common disease of spruce. This disease causes needle drop on lower branches, resulting in a distinct thinned appearance. Stigmina needle cast is a less common disease of spruce, but also causes symptoms similar to Rhizosphaera needle cast. Management options for both diseases include reduction of plant stress, good sanitation practices, and timely use of fungicides. Continue reading

Mulch, Mold, & Fungi

Mulch can be beneficial in many ways on plant beds, around foundation shrubs and
other gardening locations in your yard, but mold can threaten its benefits.

In landscape beds and gardens, mulch helps control weeds, prevent extreme soil
temperature fluctuation, decrease water evaporation and improve drainage. Mulch also
reduces mower and string trimmer damage on shrubs and trees by suppressing vegetation near their trunks. As it decomposes, mulch produces organic materials to improve soil and otherwise benefit plants. Continue reading