February - 2000

Happy February and Valentines Day

Gulf States Trade Show is history and despite the weather, it was another great Show. Attendance was off a little but everyone that came really wanted to be there and needed to find some products and plants. I am so excited about the quality of the show and the generosity of the sponsors. Every year we are treated by Flowerwood, Martin’s, Tom Dodd and Twin Oaks Nurseries along with Lerio Corporation to a feast of Mobile's finest seafood with the opportunity to reunite with friends in the industry. The relaxed atmosphere is also great for doing some old fashioned Smile and a Handshake business.

Our industry was on display to politicians and University officials. I think we made a memorable impression. Three states came together and conducted business but were able to keep their identity by having their own association and social functions. I can see nothing but increased success in the future.

We had about 480 people attending the educational seminars and workshops. This combined show has also been a great advantage to combining resources with the 3 states to provide quality educational programs. We are able to bring in leading experts in any area that concerns your nursery or greenhouse. We want to hear from you! Please e-mail, write, call or use carrier pigeon to let us know what you want next year. What was obvious months before the show and becamea big concern at the show is the shortage of plant material, especially trees and liners. If you have some things to sell or if you are marketing for the future, I encourage you to list your plants in the new Alabama Plant Locator List. For a few dollars, you can send your nursery out to 1000's of potential customers. When the cutoff date comes and ANA goes to press, you will be kicking yourself if you do not take advantage of this. If you lost your forms to list your plants, call Linda VanDyke (334-821-5148). You will be glad you did. Also, let us know your web sites if you have them so we can post them for others to find.

The Trade show is over. Take a deep breath because this is the time of the year when things start happening very fast. Make sure you are ready for potting so that you can take advantage of the whole growing season. Remember, also, to follow up on your contacts made at the Trade Show. Have a great Spring and feel free to call your county office or contact us at Auburn if we can be of any assistance.

Ken Tilt

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

The Chilling of Hosta


Coir Dust Versus Sphagnum Peat

Personal Garden Websites

The Value of Plants and Landscaping

Another Successful Horticulture Expo

Absolute Value of Landscaping

Fire Ant Quarantine Funding is Disappearing

The Importance of Micronutrient Fertilization of Woody Seedlings

Invasive Species Symposium

Be Aware of the Work of Congress's Present Session

Evaluation of New Fungicides for the Control of Southern Blight on Aucuba

Using Shading to Increase Production and Diversity of Woody Plants

Web Site of Interest: International Society of Arboriculture

When to Plant Red and Sugar Maples

Tree Installation, Care and Maintenance

Plant Diagnostic Lab Report

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.


Hosta is a very popular herbaceous perennial plant in the United States, used widely in shaded landscapes. With 1,420 registered cultivars, it is clear that there is tremendous diversity in plant size and habit, leaf shape and surface effects, as well as variegation patterns. Perennial plants in the temperate zone require a period of dormancy during the winter. Researchers at Auburn University have been conducting experiments to determine whether chilling plants in the greenhouse could impact on shoot emergence time. Two hosta cultivars, 'Frances William' and 'Francee' were used in the study. Chilled plants emerged more quickly than non-chilled plants.

There appears to be a clear benefit to the chilling of hosta. In general, with a longer chilling period, plants emerged quicker and shoot biomass increased. Information from this study will provide growers with guidelines for forcing hosta for early markets. There may also be opportunities for holding hostas longer in coolers to force a flush of new growth at times of the year when hostas are growing slowly or foliate quality is typically poor, such as July - September in the southeastern United States.

(from "Chilling Effects on Shoot Emergence and Subsequent Growth in Hosta" by Gary J. Keever, Mark S. West, and J. Raymond Kessler, Jr. of Auburn University; published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture, June 1999).


Mergers in the chemical industry can make it difficult to keep track of pesticide product names. Zeneca and Novartis have merged into something called "Syngenta." Some of the common pesticides that Novartis has labeled are: Avid, Award, Curacron, Diazinon, Fulfill, Precision, and Proclaim. Zenea has such products as: Karate, Warrior, Dual, Gramoxone, Touchdown, Ridomil, and Bravo.. Syngenta will have a wide spectrum of pesticides under their banner.

Aventis Cropscience is the result of Rhone-Poulenc Ag Co. and AgrEvo merging.

Monsanto and Pharmacia is a merging of a biotechnology company with a large pharmaeutical company. The new company, whose name has not yet been selected, will quickly separate the ag division from the pharmaceuticals.

(from Wheeler Foshee, Pesticide Education Specialist).


Sphagnum peat is the most popular medium for most potted tropical foliage plants for indoor use. It has many desirable characteristics, however, it is difficult to re-wet after it dries and when it is wet it provides an environment that is conducive to fungus gnat development. Its harvest may contribute to degradation and loss of wetlands. Its supplies are limited during severe weather conditions and the quality of peat is very variable. Coconut coir dust has many characteristics that make it equal or superior to peat. To compare the two a study was done on Canadian sphagnum peat and Philippine coconut coir dust as growing medium components for the greenhouse production of Dracaena marginata and Spathiphyllum. Three soilless foliage plant growing mixes were prepared with either peat or coir. Scientists concluded that coir dust appears to be an adequate substitute for sphagnum peat in the three growing mixes.

(from "Growth of Dracaena marginata and Spathiphyllum 'Petite' in Sphagnum Peat- and Coconut Coir Dust-based Growing Media" by Robert H. Stamps and Michael R. Evans, University of Florida, published in the J. Environ. Hort., March 1999).


It's time to add another category to our USEFUL LINKS page which you access from our Landscape Horticulture home page. If you have a personal garden website that you think might be of interest please let us know. We can announce it in our newsletter and add it to our Useful Links page. This month we'd like to introduce you to www.bittersweetgardens.com


The following information on the value of plant material and landscaping is provided by the American Nursery and Landscape Association: