Know Your Patented Plants

Gardeners love to share plants. My yard, like many of my gardener friends, is filled with plant gifts that were started from a cutting or division of a favorite plant.  These two methods of growing new plants is fairly easy once you learn the techniques and allows gardeners a way to save a little money and grow more plants for their yard, special community projects, or even some fundraising events.

In our enthusiasm over a favorite plant, gardeners must be aware that we are not allowed to propagate certain plants from cuttings or division. Many of our ornamental plants, especially newer introductions are patented plants.  These are seen as ‘premium’ plants that will hopefully be in demand by the public.  The plant developer or nursery invests in the patent in hopes that the plant will become the next must have ornamental.  Only businesses or individuals with authorization from the patent holder are able to asexual propagate these plants.

So if you bought a beautiful Limelight hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ Plant patent #12,874) for your yard, you may not take a cutting to start a new plant, even if it is only for yourself.

 you must purchase it.

If you want more than one Limelight hydrangea for your yard, you must purchase it. Photo by Beth Bolles

When you visit the nursery, look on the plant label which will often indicate if the plant is patented. You may also look online to see if plant has a patent.

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/2016/06/02/know-your-patented-plants/

Plant Tags

While purchasing some fruits for our gardens at Extension, I found some interesting varieties that would be fun for kids. On the tag it also stated that plants were GMO free. Since genetically engineered crops are such a hot topic, I thought it important to clarify this GMO free tag for homeowners.

All plants available to homeowners are GMO free.

All plants and seeds available for homeowner purchase are GMO free.

There are no genetically engineered fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, or seeds that are available to homeowners in any of the retail stores. Homeowners can not purchase genetically engineered food and feed crops . These are only available to commercial farmers who have specific contracts with the company producing these seeds.
Our role in Extension is to make available the current science of issues. If you have decided that genetically engineered food is an issue for you, please feel comfortable knowing that you will not be purchasing any genetically engineered transplants or seeds at any retail nursery markets.

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/2016/05/03/plant-tags/

Beneficial Pyramid Ants

Believe it or not, there is a beneficial ant that is found in many landscapes.  If you see an interesting mound shaped like a small volcano, you likely have the pyramid ants.  These ants form small nests in sandy soils and the shape of the mound is pyramidal with a small opening in the very center.

Pyramid ant mound. Photo by Beth Bolles

Pyramid ant mound. Photo by Beth Bolles

Pyramid ants are not aggressive and do not sting.  They are fast moving over the ground building the mound and searching for food.  Ants will collect honeydew from other insects and the beneficial part is that ants hunt live insects including winged fire ants.  By allowing the pyramid ants to remain in parts of your landscape, you may reduce the numbers of fire ants that can establish in that area.

When you see the distinctive pyramid ant mounds, remember the beneficial role they play in keeping pest species in check.  Keep any baits away from these areas to protect the pyramid ants.

Small pyramid ant mounds. Photo by Beth Bolles

Small pyramid ant mounds. Photo by Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/2016/04/14/beneficial-pyramid-ants/

Solitary Bees are Back

The mining bees or adrenids are often seen in areas of landscapes that have little ground vegetation and loose soil. After mating, the female bee will excavate a very small tunnel in the ground that has several small cells attached to it.

Photo: Beth Bolles

Photo: Beth Bolles

The bee collects pollen and nectar to add to the cell and then lays a single egg in each cell. The emerging larvae feed on the nectar and pollen until it changes to an adult bee in the fall. There is only one generation a year. Although these solitary bees individually produce small nests, sometimes many will nest in close proximity to each other.

Photo: Beth Bolles

Photo: Beth Bolles

Solitary bees are not aggressive and stings are quite mild. Most solitary bees can be closely observed and will elicit no defensive behaviors. Perhaps the most common stings that occur are when the sweat bee, which is attracted to moisture, stings when swatted. Males of some solitary bees, which can not sting, will sometimes make aggressive-looking bluffing flights when defending a territory.

Like the most famous honey bee, solitary bees play a beneficial role in the pollination of plants. Their activity in the spring is short-lived and no management is necessary.

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/2016/03/09/900/

Summer Weed Management

If summer annual weeds have been a problem for you in the past, now is the time to think about applying a pre emergent herbicide to the lawn.  You may choose a product with the active ingredient dithiopyr, pendamethalin, or prodiamine.  For best results apply a half rate now and the other half in six weeks.  Be sure not to over irrigate or you will wash the herbicide past the zone of the germinating weed seeds.  You really should not be watering the lawn now anyway.  Always read your label for safety precautions.

Crabgrass is a common summer annual weed.

Crabgrass is a common summer annual weed.

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/2016/02/19/summer-weed-management/

Save the Crape Myrtles

Topping crape myrtles seems like a winter tradition but it does not have to be. Crape myrtles are trees that come in many forms and offer a variety of bloom colors. These generally carefree plants should be low maintenance and not generate debris for disposal. Before you decide to hard prune your crape myrtles, determine why you are pruning in this manner. Crape myrtles that are only selectively pruned have generally more flowers and less suckers than those that are severely pruned. Crape myrtles also provide nice shade in the summer and attractive bark and structure in the winter that is destroyed by hard pruning. Visit the Extension office Demonstration Garden to view selective pruning of our many crape myrtle varieties.

crape myrtle large

Crape myrtle can be an accent tree if left to develop without severe pruning.

Selectively pruned crape myrtles have attractive structure in the winter and provide shade in the summer.

Selectively pruned crape myrtles have attractive structure in the winter and provide shade in the summer.

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/2016/02/02/save-the-crape-myrtles/

Garden Awareness

The up and down weather along the Gulf Coast means that gardeners need to consider more carefully some common pest management practices. When temps warm, bees are actively visiting flowers such as this Snow Drift camellia flower. If you have a pest problem on evergreen plants that you normally treat during the winter, choose a safe product that does not impact bees. Always be aware of our beneficial organisms and read labels carefully so we protect the environment.

Photo: Beth Bolles

Photo: Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/2016/01/27/garden-awareness/

Bark Lice on Tree

During your winter garden activities, you may notice a group of insects massed together on tree trunks.  If you touch the area, the insects will scatter.  These are bark lice or psocids which are considered beneficial as bark cleaners.  They do not harm the tree but are an interesting organism common in landscapes.

Psocids on the trunk of a tree.

Psocids on the trunk of a tree.

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/2016/01/21/bark-lice-on-tree/

Plants respond to a warm winter

Plants are responding to our warmer winter temperatures and gardeners may be seeing things that they have not seen before.  One example is that lemon grass, a normally frost tender herb, has formed flowers this winter.  On average, our area receives freezing temperatures in November and December and the lemon grass leaves will be killed.  Growth will then return with warm weather in the spring.

The mild winter temperatures this season have allowed lemongrass to develop attractive seed heads, a sight that is new to many who grow the plant in Pensacola. If the seeds are able to mature, we might have many seedlings emerging from this very aromatic herb and plenty to share in the Spring.

Seed heads on lemongrass are not a normal sight for many gardeners. Photo: Beth Bolles

Seed heads on lemongrass are not a normal sight for many gardeners. Photo: Beth Bolles

 

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/2016/01/12/plants-respond-to-a-warm-winter/

Wait to prune plants

The winter is still young and our area will certainly receive more cold weather.  Plants with some cold damage will not be attractive but wait to prune back any damaged tissue.  Many of the perennials still have green leaves and branches toward the ground and all of the other damaged plant material helps protect tender plant parts.

There is still green within this group of pentas. Pruning now will expose tender tissue to the cold and may not allow plants to return next spring.

There is still green within this group of pentas. Pruning now will expose tender tissue to the cold and may not allow plants to return next spring.

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/2016/01/12/wait-to-prune-plants/

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