Ken's musings:

Happy Holiday Season to Everyone

We are preparing for our first Legislative Appreciation Day at Martin’s Nursery on December 10, 2003. We are using this event to say thank you for their support but to also educate our leaders on the value of our industry to Alabama. Many states have already conducted an economic survey of their Green Industry. We were slow to get ours going but we are now moving fast and in the middle of our survey. We need you to please fill out your survey when it hits your desk. It is extremely important to you and our industry! If you have not received a survey at your business, let me know and I will be sure you get one. Below is an account of initial data collected through computer sources. It may be too early to release but like our other research, we have the capabilities to keep you informed while we go through the process and I’d like you to know what we are doing.

The Alabama Nurserymen’s Association joined with the Alabama Department of Agriculture, the Alabama Turf Association, ALFA, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and other Green Industry Associations to conduct an economic survey of the impact of our nurseries, greenhouse and sod production industries on Alabama’s economy. The preliminary reports are derived from figures from a government data base (IMPLAN model) and Alabama Agricultural Statistics reports. An industry survey has been mailed to Green Industry agricultural firms to reach segments of the industry not reflected in government data bases. Adjustments will be made to data based on 2001 reports to assess a true value of the industry. However, initial figures outlined below offer a clear view of the great economic value of the Green Industry to the citizens of Alabama. Take a minute to soak-up the meaning of these figures.

Did you know that:

This is an early view of our industry. Please be sure to fill out your surveys when they come. It is very important for recognition by our legislators when it comes time to prepare budgets. Our industry always gets overlooked. We are trying to educate our legislators and it is a tough job to get their attention. These overwhelming numbers should open their eyes.

Thanks for all your support of our Horticulture Department this year. It has been a good year for us. If you are not receiving our Hort Forum Newsletter written for our Alumni and Friends and would like to keep up on what the students and faculty in Horticulture are doing at Auburn, please send us an email with your address and phone number. We will put you on the list.

Again, Happy Holidays to you and your families. I hope the weather allows you a relaxing break before the next rush season.


The following articles are featured in this month's Something to Grow On:






DISCLAIMER: Please remember that all information presented is a summary of research and not an endorsement of any product or a recommendation of chemicals. The official labels from the manufacturing companies offer the legal and proper use and handling information for all products.


One of the great marketing niches that I think we can exploit is to address or catch the eye of collectors and to do things to make it easy for people to be successful at gardening. Below is an example from Green Beam ( that offers a marketing program of someone going this route. I hope it is an idea that is contagious!

Here's a great marketing idea from High Country Gardens, the folks known for plants that thrive in challenging conditions. They've packaged 4 pre-planned gardens as gift certificates to make them easy to give and receive. Consumers choose either the Fragrant Lavender Collection, Cold-Hardy Rose Collection, Jumbo Waterwise Gift Collection or Big Easy Gift Collection. A special Garden Gift Certificate for each garden purchased comes in an attractive card with a color photo and description of the gift. When it’s time to plant, the recipient arranges for the plants to be shipped from High Country Gardens.


This is another article from the Green Beam that highlights some great plants that need greater availability and promotion:

There are 3 Gold Medal picks from Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for 2004: Magnolia 'Daybreak,' with medium-green foliage and large, deep-pink flowers; Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki,' an evergreen false holly with pink-tinged leaves that mature to cream and gold; and Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis (sweetbox), a spreading, evergreen shrub with a low, mounding habit. Gold Medals are given to underused ornamental woody plants suitable for the Mid-Atlantic (USDA Hardiness Zones 5-7).


In the true spirit of Extension and sharing, we have found some Powerpoint presentations that are full of information you might find useful. We have received permission from Ted Bilderback at North Carolina State University to provide links to these presentations. Thanks to Ted for doing all the work and for his generosity in sharing. The presentations all pertain to environmental nursery production practices. We also have put them on our nursery production page:


Jackie Mullen
Extension Plant Pathology Specialist

October was dry and unseasonably warm in most areas. Most of the 116 plant samples received in October were from landscapes.

In irrigated areas, brown patch disease was active on centipede and St. Augustine grass. When moisture and temperature conditions are favorable, brown patch disease will spread quickly from small areas of leaf spots to large brown areas of total foliage blight. See ANR-492 for more information and disease control comments. Among the fungicides recommended, Immunox may be more readily available at lawn/plant care centers. Lawn diseases at this time of year often cause plants to be more susceptible to additional damage from winter-related stress.

Bermuda samples were seen with Bipolaris blight and Exserohilum crown rot. These fungi (Helminthosporium-type) are normally active during warm fall-winter months. When leaf spotting is severe, whole leaves are blighted. Crown rots will usually cause dieback and complete collapse of the foliage. These fungi are usually associated with nutrient deficiency - usually potassium deficiency. Correcting the potassium deficiency will often result in disease control. In some lawn situations, fungicides are needed. See ANR-621 for more information.

Ring nematode problems were noted on bermuda. Generally nematode problems on turf begin as small, yellowed, thinning grass areas. Gradually, yellowed, thinned areas will expand. If you suspect a nematode problem, a soil sample should be taken from the edge of the damage area at root zone levels. The best time to sample is in the early-mid fall or before cold weather arrives. At this time, nematode populations are at the highest level. Always package soil in plastic bags. Nematode damage to homeowner turf is managed by cultural methods for stress control. See ANR-523 for more information.

Cercosporidium (formerly called Cercospora) blight was a common problem on Leyland cypress this fall. Usually the blight began in the lowest limbs and gradually spread to higher-up foliage. If foliage only was blighted, the branches may produce new foliage growth at branch tips next spring. If branch tips were blighted and killed, then no new foliage will develop on these damaged branches next spring. If disease is detected early in a landscape situation, protective sprays of Halt may be applied to prevent disease spread. For other fungicides labelled to control Cercosporidium in commercial settings, see the AL Pest Management Handbook.

There seemed to be an increase in the number of landscape shrubs with root decay and dieback this summer and fall. Many of the shrubs showed extensive root death and with some, Phytophthora root damage was present. This past October, holly and ivy samples were received with severe dieback and Phytophthora root decay. Phone reports indicated boxwoods in several areas were dying. We suspect that much of this state-wide damage related to the abnormally wet conditions of last spring and early summer. Heavy soils would have increased the root damage, as soils would have remained wet for a longer period of time. By the time significant foliage dieback occurs resulting from root damage, the root damage is usually extensive. These plants will probably not recover next spring. If root disease is not involved and root damage is not too severe, some plant recovery may take place in the spring. If root disease is present, root recovery is unlikely. See the paragraph below for comments specifically on Phytophthora and Pythium root disease.

Phytophthora and Pythium will cause root decay of a wide range of plants when soil conditions are kept continually wet for a prolonged period of time. Of the two fungi, Phytophthora is considered to be the more damaging and aggressive pathogen. Pythium often develops only on previously weakened/damaged plants. Plants with root rot usually show lower limb dieback with yellowing and browning as initial symptoms. Gradually the browning of limbs will move upward through the tree or shrub. In some situations, upper canopy sections show damage also. Damaged plants should be removed. Water levels in the soil should be reduced. Drainage improvements may be needed. It is a good idea to remove soil attached to damaged roots since the fungal spores will develop in the soil closely associated with the infected roots. Plant replacement with a different plant or cultivar less susceptible to Phytophthora infection is a good practice. Protective fungicide drenches may be used with particular plants in some situations of nurseries/greenhouses or large landscape plantings. See the AL Pest Management Handbook regarding recommendations for specific plants.

The common pansy diseases - Thielaviopsis black root rot, Myrothecium crown rot, Cercospora leaf spot, and anthracnose leaf spot - were seen in October. With black root rot, plants are stunted, older leaves become yellowed, and roots develop black lesions. When disease is well established, the whole root system may become black. Diseased plants should be removed. Several fungicides are available for protective disease control in greenhouse/nursery situations. See the AL Pest Management Handbook. Myrothecium crown rot is caused by fungal infection at the lower stem at the soil level. Crown tissues become soft rotted and plants wilt and collapse. Small black fruiting bodies may be seen on the soft rotted crown tissues when a hand lens or magnifying glass is used. Infected plants should be removed. Daconil sprays-drenches may be applied as a chemical protective method. Cercospora leaf spots develop as black, patchy, irregular spots about 0.5-1 cm diameter. Heritage is labeled for disease control. Daconil or Cleary’s 3336 will also control Cercospora. Anthracnose leaf spots are usually white and circular. Several fungicides (including Cleary’s 3336, Halt, and Daconil) are labeled to control anthracnose on pansy. See the AL Pest Management Handbook.

OCTOBER 2003 Plant Diseases Seen In The Auburn Plant Diagnostic Lab
BermudaBipolaris BlightLamar
BermudaExserohilum Crown RotJefferson
BermudaNematode Problem, Ring (Criconemoides)Morgan
BoxwoodVolutella BlightMadison
CentipedeAnthracnose (Colletotrichum)Dallas, Mobile
CentipedeBrown Patch (Rhizoctonia)Lee
CentipedeTake-All (Gaeumannomyces)Dallas, Houston
HollyAnthracnose (Colletotrichum)Cullman
HollyPhytophthora Root RotCullman
Ivy, EnglishPhytophthora Root RotMontgomery
Leyland CypressCercosporidium BlightCoosa, Covington, Lee, Montgomery
Magnolia, SouthernAlgal Leaf Spot (Cephaleuros)Montgomery
Magnolia, SouthernFusarium Twig CankerChambers
PansyAnthracnose (Colletotrichum) *
PansyCercospora Leaf Spot *
PansyMyrothecium Crown Rot *
PansyThielaviopsis Black Root Rot *
Periwinkle, AnnualAnthracnose Stem BlightAutauga
Periwinkle, AnnualPhytophthora Aerial BlightAutauga
Rescue GrassDrechslera Leaf SpotLauderdale
RosemaryFusarium Root RotLee
RosemaryPythium Root RotLee
St. AugustineBrown Patch (Rhizoctonia)Henry, Mobile
St. AugustineTake-All Patch (Gaeumannomyces)Henry, Houston, Mobile, Montgomery
ZinniaCercospora Leaf SpotRussell
ZoysiaBrown Patch (Rhizoctonia)Macon
ZoysiaTake-all Patch (Gaeumannomyces)Jefferson
*Counties are not reported for greenhouse and nursery samples.

J. Jacobi
Extension Plant Pathology Specialist

After record breaking rainfall this year, the fall has been abnormally dry. The Birmingham airport recorded just less than an inch in October (normal rainfall 3.23 inches). The dry weather has slowed the development on many fungal diseases, but spider mite and other pest problems have been on the increase.

The lab received 53 samples during the month of October. Some of the problems seen last month included: spruce spider mites on evergreens, anthracnose on river birch, dieback on Sasanqua camellia, root-knot nematodes on celosia and coleus, Seiridium canker on Italian cypress, black root rot on Japanese holly, ash whiteflies on Bradford pear, and Impatiens necrotic spot on white snake root.

Ash whiteflies were seen on Bradford pear leaves last month. This unusual looking whitefly has caused problems for fruit growers in Europe and California. They were first discovered in North Carolina in 1993. Immature ash whiteflies have a row of lollipop-like setae around the edge of their bodies and mounds of wax on their backs. See the following publication for more information on this pest ( Disposing of infested leaves this fall is an important step to reducing the potential for problems next summer.

Arborvitaes have been a common plant sample during the last month and a half. Many of these samples have shown no signs of insect or diseases and are related to normal leaf drop. The normal senescence of older leaves (first turning yellow, then straw colored, and finally brown before dropping) is often mistaken for a disease or pest problem. However, mixed in with these healthy samples we have also found spruce spider mites and fungal dieback diseases. Spruce spider mites can cause considerable damage during cooler weather in spring and fall and have been very common this year ( Homeowners can use horticultural oil (Sunspray Ultra-Fine, Ortho Volck Oil Spray, and others), insecticidal soap, or Ortho Systemic Insect Killer to control mite infestations. Read and follow all precautions when using horticultural oil and other pesticides.

As flower beds are being converted from warm to cool season annuals, examine the roots of the summer annuals for galls that signal the presence of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne sp.). We have seen root-knot nematode damage on begonia, celosia, coleus, and impatiens this year. Rotation to nematode resistant plants next summer is one effective control method. See the following publications for a list of resistant plants and other control strategies ( and

OCTOBER 2003 Plant Diseases Seen In The Birmingham Plant Diagnostic Lab
ArborvitaeBotryosphaeria DiebackJefferson
ArborvitaeSpruce Spider Mites (Oligonychus)Jefferson(2)
Birch, RiverAnthracnose (Cryptocline)Jefferson
Boxwood, CommonPythium Root RotJefferson
Camellia, SasanquaDieback (Colletotrichum)Jefferson
CelosiaRoot Knot Nematode (Meloidogyne)Jefferson
Cherry LaurelWhite Peach Scale (Pseudaulacaspis)Jefferson
CleyeraPhytophthora Root RotJefferson
ColeusRoot Knot Nematode (Meloidogyne)Jefferson
Crape MyrtleAphidsJefferson
Cypress, ItalianSeiridium CankerShelby
Cypress, ItalianSpruce Spider MitesShelby
Daisy, GerberaPowdery MildewJefferson
GardeniaCitrus Whitefly (Dialeurodes)Jefferson
GardeniaSooty MoldJefferson
Holly, JapaneseBlack Root Rot (Thielaviopsis)Blount
Holly, JapaneseWax ScaleJefferson
Holly, YauponDieback (Colletotrichum)Jefferson
Hydrangea, BigleafPowdery MildewJefferson
Impatiens, GardenAlternaria Leaf SpotJefferson
Impatiens, GardenRhizoctonia Crown and Root RotJefferson
Juniper, CreepingPhytophthora Root RotJefferson
Lamb’s EarAphidsJefferson
LiriopeAnthracnose (Colletotrichum)Jefferson
Magnolia, SouthernAlgal Leaf Spot (Cephaleuros)Jefferson
Magnolia, SouthernBlack Twig Borer (Xylosandrus)Jefferson
Magnolia, SouthernPhyllosticta Leaf SpotJefferson
Maple, RedGloomy ScaleJefferson
Pear, ‘Bradford’Ash Whiteflies (Siphoninus)Jefferson
Pine, WhiteSooty Mold (Capnodium)Jefferson
Snake Root (Eupatorium sp.) Impatiens Necrotic Spot VirusJefferson
St. AugustineBrown Patch (Rhizoctonia)Jefferson
SweetgumCercospora Leaf SpotJefferson
*Counties are not reported for greenhouse and nursery samples.

Disease Possibilities For November
During the first half of November, temperatures remained warm and conditions have been dry. Forecasted cooler temperatures may result in some cold damage as the temperature change may be abrupt in some areas.

If November conditions are mild, we will typically see Helminthosporium (Bipolaris, Drechslera, and Exserohilum) leaf spots on small grains and grasses. Rust may be seen on small grain crops. A variety of pansy diseases may be seen. Turnips and other related plants often develop Cercospora leaf spots. Greenhouse crops may develop Botrytis and a variety of other fungal and bacterial diseases.

The list below includes some common disease problems received in the lab during November of the past few years. Comments on control practices are brief. Refer to the Ala. Pest Management Handbook or appropriate fact sheet for details on disease control.


January 29 - 31, 2004:
Gulf States Horticultural Expo
Mobile Convention Center, Mobile, AL
Educational program: January 29; Trade Show: January 30 - 31. For more information go to; fax 334-502-7711; phone 334-502-7777.

July 29 - 31, 2004:
SNA 2004 - Southern Nursery Association Researcher’s Conference and Trade Show.
Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA.
Contact: SNA 770-953-3311; Fax 770-953-4411; SNA Infoline, 770-953-4636

August 1-4, 2004:
Plant Growth Regulation Society of America (PGRSA) 31st Annual Conference.
Charleston Riverview Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina
Contact Dr. Louise Ferguson, Program Chair
Kearney Agricultural Center
9240 South Riverbend Avenue
Parlier, CA 93648
Phone: 559-646-6541
Fax: 559-646-6593

August 26-28, 2004:
The Farwest Show. Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401; 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503-682-5099; e-mail,;

October 1-2, 2004:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
Contact Ann Halcomb, MTNA Exec. Secr., P.O. Box 822, McMinnville, TN 37111-0822; phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail:, or

October 3-6, 2004:
IPPS Southern Region NA
Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C.
Contact: Dr. David L. Morgan, 332 Warbler Drive, Bedford, TX 76021; phone 817-577-9272; e-mail,

August 25-27, 2005:
The Farwest Show.
Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401; 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503-682-5099; e-mail,

September TBA, 2005:
The Southern Plant Conference.
Louisville, Kentucky.
Contact: Matt Gardiner, KY Coordinator, 502-245-0238: e-mail,; or Betsie Taylor, KNLA Exec. Dir., 350 Village Drive, Frankfort, KY 40601; 502-848-0055 or 800-735-9791, Fax 502-848-0032 e-mail
or Danny Summers at SNA, 770-953-3311; Fax 770-953-4411; SNA Infoline, 770-953-4636; e-mail,;

September 30 - October 1, 2005:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
For more information contact Ann Halcomb by: phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail:, or

August 24-26, 2006:
The Farwest Show.
Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401; 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503-682-5099; e-mail,

October 6-7, 2006:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
For more information contact Ann Halcomb by: phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail:, or

August 23-25, 2007:
The Farwest Show.
Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401, 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503.682.5099; e-mail,

October 5-6, 2007:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
For more information contact Ann Halcomb by: phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail:, or

Send horticultural questions and comments to

Send questions and comments to

Letters to Bernice Fischman - 101 Funchess Hall - Auburn University, AL 36849.