February 2001

Musings and wanderings of Ken Tilt:

It is February but promises of spring are all around. I was watching the weather channel yesterday and saw the blizzard of heavy wet snow hitting Boston. There were pictures of people bundled up to the point that they all looked like sumo wrestlers. It makes me appreciate the South. I have had my 6 weeks of Alabama winter and I am ready for my short sleeve shirt. Some bird has been waking me up at this time of the year since I was old enough to remember such things. I tell myself each year that I am going to find out what it is that starts singing as the sun breaks through by bedroom window. My morning coffee stroll and inventory showed bulbs pushing through the soil and winter jasmine with a sprinkling of yellow blooms. I just went out to check my spring indicator plants and found our Lorapetalum buds are ready to pop and our Pieris has chains of red buds ready to expose the white flowers revving up at the starting line within. The next great warm Alabama southern day, the starting flag will drop for quince and forsythia to sound the alarm of spring. What does this mean to the nursery? PREEMERGENT HERBICIDES NOW!!! Retail garden centers, clean up and be ready for the first garden rush. If you do not have all your pots, fertilizers and other supplies ordered and on the road to the nursery, you are probably 4 to 6 weeks behind. Is all your equipment ready for the flurry of activity in the spring? This is the time of the year to be sure you are ready for the transition to the busy spring months.

As an illustration of the value of preemergent herbicides, I have a pictures below from a presentation on weed control in the nursery by Jim Altland (PhD graduate student under Dr. Charles Gilliam) at a recent meeting of the Southern Region American Society of Horticulture in Dallas/Fort Worth. Please note the grass herbicides Pennant and Surflan used alone and the value of combining them with a broadleaf herbicide like Princep, Gallery, or Goal. No statistics are needed to give you the bottom line message here. Timing is key to success and money savings when implementing a weed control program. (Please note - the Surflan photo will be added soon).

We just finished our Gulf States Trade Show. Apparently the industry is still short on many plant materials and buyers were out in force to make sure they got their share. I am still enjoying our relationship and joint show with Louisiana and Mississippi. I hope the success of the show will help sustain the bonds that tie the states together. Our educational program enjoyed about 400 people attending this year. Again, the synergistic effects of the combined states orchestrating the educational program makes for a better program than we could do alone.

After all this good news, I will share some of our new problems and concerns at Auburn University. We have been nervously curious over the past few years, during a time that our economy has been at an historic high, of what would happen if our economy faltered. During these good times, Auburn University has been limping along with drastic cuts in our teaching, research and extension programs. Departments have been merged or eliminated with the thought of forging leaner more focused programs. The resulting savings were to be applied toward supporting peaks of excellence and trying to move salaries close to averages of other equivalent universities in the south. What happens if the economy falters? We are at that point now and our fears are being realized. The recent 6.2 % proration has not caused anyone to lose their jobs yet but the results have been that if anyone leaves, their job is frozen or lost. All operating and travel funds have been cut. We have our jobs and are thankful for that but we are totally dependent on grant funds for support.

We are fortunate and happy to have Dr. Charles Gilliam stepping in as our new Department Chair in Horticulture as Dr. Billy Dozier retires. However, this means that we lose one of our most productive researchers. Dr. Gilliam has been an extremely valuable resource to the nursery and landscape industry. He is the outgoing president of the Southern Region International Plant Propagators Society and is the recipient of the SNA Porter Henegar award for his research efforts. It is hard to take up the slack for this dedicated service to the industry. In recent years we have lost the great services of Dr. Pat Cobb, everyoneís favorite entomologist. Dr. Bridget Behe left for Michigan leaving an unfilled hole in our greenhouse and floriculture program. Dr. Coleman Ward retired leaving a huge hole in our home turf program. During this time our student numbers have continued to rise to an all time high thanks to a dedicated and talented teaching faculty. You do not feel as much immediate pain of the loss of a research faculty member as you would a teaching faculty member. This loss is realized over time. Research comes slow but it surfaces gradually and is very important to the industry. If you look at research reported over the past 10 years published in SNA research proceedings, you will see many things that have developed in propagation, weed control, plant growth regulators, water quality and irrigation and pest management that are practices that are being used in the nurseries. It hurts the industry to lose the people who are trying to serve their interests.

The Alabama Nurserymenís Association has taken on a bigger share of the cooperative funding effort over the past few years establishing a research grant, adding new scholarships and putting support into the our educational programs. These efforts will have to continue and improve because next year promises a darker outlook than this year. These struggles are coming at a time when our federal government is dealing with the pleasant task of trying to decide how big of a tax cut we can give with our huge projected surpluses. Again we can ask, if Auburnís situation is this bad now with state proration, what will happen if we combine a United States recession with our state deficits? We hope we won't see those conditions. We thank the Alabama Nurserymenís Association and allied industries for their support for Auburn Horticulture. We have good caring people at Auburn who enjoy serving you and your children. Please continue your support and let your legislators know the Green Industry is the largest agricultural crop in the state and warrants their support of our efforts to serve you.

It is nice that signs of the promise of spring are evident. It helps us keep a positive attitude and continue to be enthusiastic about our future. I know things are getting ready to be hectic for you. Have a good month and call if we can be of any assistance.

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.


from Jackie Mullen

Be aware that there is the potential problem of a daylily rust causing severe damage in the Southeast and in other parts of the country. Late last summer and fall, minor incidences of daylily rust were reported from nursery locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The exact species of this Puccinia rust is not known as yet, but USDA & APHIS mycologists suspect it is one of two species, neither of which are known to occur in the United States. Disease develops as discrete, elongate (less than 1 cm long) leaf spots with yellow-orange powdery (spore) masses covering the leaf spot surface. Spotted leaves often become yellow. If you should see any suspicious daylilies, you should collect the sample and send it to one of our Extension Plant Diagnostic Labs. Take care when collecting the sample not to spread the disease as the rust spores are airborne. At the collection site, immediately place the sample in a plastic bag. The Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries has issued a Pest Alert and inspectors will be surveying nurseries this spring looking for this disease. If rust disease is found, our state department of agriculture will be notified, and the samples will be forwarded to mycologists at USDA/APHIS for study. For more information on this disease and it's status, consult the USDA/APHIS National Plant Board web site http://www.aphis.usda.gov:80/npb/daylily.html. Since this is a new disease to the United States and damage potential is high, quarantine is a possible consideration.


In addition to the above information it is important to note that the origin of the disease is not yet known. Costa Rican liners are a possibility but it may have gotten to the United States from some other location.

The daylily variety "Pardon Me" is particularly susceptible. It kills the foliage on that variety. A USDA-sponsored advisory group feels this may be a big problem as daylilies are very popular. The rust may also threaten Hosta spp. Another useful website is available from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The information on the site will help you identify the disease. Go to http://doacs.state.fl.us/~pl/enpp/pathology/daylily-rust.html


Congratulations!! At the recent Gulf States Horticultural Expo in Mobile three Auburn University students received scholarships. Ben Richardson and Jean Gaston were recipients of $2,600 Harold Thornhill Scholarships. The Harold B. Thornhill Scholarship Fund was created to promote interest in ornamental horticulture and to encourage the development of outstanding men and women in the field. Applicants must have shown an interest in pursuing a career in nursery management, greenhouse management, garden center operation, landscape contracting or other related areas. Applicants must be at least a junior in college majoring in Ornamental Horticulture. Jay Dick was awarded the $1,000 Tommy Graves Scholarship.


The Chatham, Bryan, Effingham County Cooperative Extension Services in Georgia and the SE Chapter of the American Bamboo Society are coming together to provide an educational seminar, Growing Bamboo in Georgia. The two-day seminar (February 17 and 18) will be held at the Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens in Savannah, Georgia. The demand for bamboo by homeowners far exceeds the supply. This educational seminar is designed to instruct nurseries and bamboo lovers on how to grow bamboo. The fee is $30 ($10 for each additional person in your family/business) and includes a publication, Growing Bamboo in Georgia, refreshments and vendor source list. Participants will have the opportunity to meet and interact with American Bamboo Society members and make contacts with professionals in the field. La Quinta Inn (912-925-9505) and International Guest House (912-927-2999) have special prices for participants. Mention that you are with the Bamboo Seminar. Call David Linvill (912-652-7981 or email dlinvill@uga.edu) with questions.

Highlights of the Saturday program are:
  • What is the ABS?
  • Culture and Confinement of Bamboo
  • Top 10 Running and Clumping Bamboo
  • Introduction of Vendors
  • Propagation of Bamboo
  • Identification of Bamboo
  • Pot/ball & Burlap culture
  • Panel discussion

Sunday will be a hands-on workshop in the Bamboo Groves. Dress for the weather. Subject matter will include bamboo dividing, propagation, pruning, identification and more.


(from Bernice Fischman)
In addition to preparing the Horticulture Department display and sitting at it for much of the Gulf States Horticultural Expo, I also get to walk around with the digital camera to capture some of the sights. I have done this for four years, and while there is a sameness to it, there are always different things to see. If you've been before you will know what I mean and if you haven't yet attended, maybe some of these images will encourage you to do so. There are always booths that take weeks to plan and very heavy equipment to set them in place. Nurseries bring their best plants and merchants, their best merchandise. People ask a lot of questions and shake a lot of hands and this is some of what you would have seen:



December Plant Diseases from the Auburn and Birmingham Plant Diagnostic Labs; Disease Possiblities for January

Jackie Mullen, Extension Plant Pathology Specialist - Auburn
Jim Jacobi, Extension Plant Pathology Specialist - Birmingham

Auburn Plant Disease Report-December

Cooler December temperatures and the arrival of the holiday season usually results in low plant sample numbers, and this was the case this past December. Of our eight plant samples received, only three were biotic disease problems. (While our plant samples were few in December, our soil nematode samples received were numerous as they have been since September.)

Exact diagnosis of a fungal holly leaf spot disease was not possible. Fungal pinpoint fruiting bodies were detected scattered over the surface of the black circular or irregular-circular spots. The spots were probably caused by the fungus Phyllosticta or a Phoma-Phomopsis species. Sanitation is usually recommended as one method for control of leaf spot disease. All fallen leaves should be removed from the area. If the spots were confined to one particular section of the plant, removal of the spotted leaves would be a good idea. If the leaf spots were scattered over many leaves, removal of infected leaves would usually not be recommended. Cleary's 3336 has a broad label which allows for its use on ornamental plants, and it is active on many fungal pathogens, including Phyllosticta, Phoma, and Phomopsis. Application of 2-3 sprays of this protective fungicide may be helpful if applied early next spring as temperatures begin to warm up.

The Cercospora blight (caused by a Cercospora species and often C. sequoiae) on Leyland cypress is becoming a fairly common disease of this plant. Usually lower and inner branches are infected first. The higher humidity prevalent where foliage is close to the ground or thicker with inner branches is the reason for this usual disease distribution in the tree. Infected foliage becomes brown and dead. In many cases the dead leaves remain on the branches, and these leaves become covered with the diagnostic microscopic spore clusters of this Cercospora species. (The fungus genus name is under review; I have seen it as Cercospora, Asperisporium, and Cercosporidium.) Control recommendations usually involve application of protective sprays of Cleary's 3336 in the late spring, summer, and early fall.

December 2000 Plant Diseases Seen In The Plant Diagnostic Lab at Auburn
HollyFungal Leaf SpotCullman
Leyland CypressCercospora BlightCovington
St.AugustineTake-All Patch (Gaeumannomyces)Cullman

Birmingham Plant Disease Report-December

We finished up the first calendar year of operation for the new Plant Diagnostic Lab at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. We handled over 600 plant samples during the past year. Thank you to all the people who helped make this a successful first year for the new lab. The weather roller coaster continued in December, with the third coldest and one of the driest on record. The average temperature was over seven degrees below normal. Anyone interested in weather data in Alabama can find a large amount of information at the following web site: www.srh.noaa.gov/bmx/climate port.html. This site provides data on temperatures, rainfall, and extremes for several locations in Alabama.

All the samples we received in December were from turfgrass, both commercial and residential. Fairy ring was seen on two samples. In one of the samples mushrooms were present, allowing identification of the fungus that was causing the problem. In the most serious type of fairy ring, the grass ultimately dies due to hydrophobic soil conditions caused by the presence of the fungus in the thatch and root zone. Refer to ANR-372 for additional information on the identification and control of fairy rings. Identification of the mushrooms that is causing the fairy ring can be important, especially if fungicides (Prostar or Heritage) are used in managing the problem. Due to the large number of fairy rings species reported (over fifty different species) each fungicide won't work on all the types of fairy rings. Consult the label for specific types that can be suppressed with fungicide applications. Fungicides can temporarily suppress the problem, but the symptoms usually come back. We also saw billbug larvae on zoysiagrass. Billbugs cause similar damage to white grubs in turfgrass. Zoysiagrass is one of its preferred hosts. The lack of legs distinguishes billbug larvae from white grubs. A more detailed description of the billbug and its control can be found at www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r785300411.html. Thanks to Wheeler Foshee for the web site.

Disease Possibilities For January

In January, we may see rust diseases and barley yellow dwarf virus show up on oats and wheat. In the southern sections of the state, fungal and bacterial diseases of vegetables (especially crucifers) and brown patch on turf grasses may be problems. Pythium blight/root rot may occur on cool-season grasses; this is mostly a problem on golf course areas. Black root rot (Thielaviopsis basicola) may occur on pansies and container hollies. Botrytis is a common problem on greenhouse crops. The list below includes some common disease problems received in the lab in January of the past few years. Comments on control practices are brief. Refer to appropriate fact sheets, timely information, and the 1999/2000 Alabama Pest Management Handbook.

Disease Descriptions and Brief Control Comments on
Some Common Diseases Often Seen in January

AFRICAN VIOLETPythium Root Rot Roots become brown and wet-rotted.Sanitation and reduce watering practices.
AZALEACercospora Leaf SpotMedium brown circular-irregular leaf spots (about 1/4 inch diam.)See the Alabama Pest Management Handbook; Sanitation.
Foliage blight in circles or areas of a few inches to a few feet diameter.See the Alabama Pest Management Handbook or ANR-342.
BENTGRASSPythium Blight (Root Rot)Irregular areas become yellowed and eventually grass dies. The disease may develop rapidly if wet conditions with mild temperatures occur.See the Alabama Pest Management Handbook or ANR-594.
Circular-irregular brown-gray spots on leaves.Sanitation. Cleary's 3336.
FERNBotrytis BlightBrown discoloration of fronds and a gray fungal growth when conditions are cool and damp.Daconil is labelled for use on fern and it will control Botrytis.
FERNRhizoctonia Aerial BlightBrown irregular lesions on fronds.Sanitation. See the Alabama Pest Management Handbook.
Bacterial Leaf SpotSmall, angular, black, water-soaked spots (1-3 or more mm diam) on foliage. As spots age, centers become dry, papery and may fall apart. Some centers may become light in color. Spots may be surrounded by yellow "halo".Sanitation. See Alabama Pest Management Handbook.
FUCHSIABotrytis BlightBrown-gray spots/ blight.Sanitation. Cleary's 3336.
GERANIUMBacterial Leaf Spot
See Foliage Plant Description.Sanitation. See Alabama Pest Management Handbook.
GERANIUMFusarium Stem & Root RotLower stem and roots become black colored with a dry decay.Sanitation. Cleary's protective drenches/ sprays will help.
GERANIUMOedemaSmall (1/8 inch diam. or less), light brown, corky slightly raised spots scattered over lower leaf surfaces. Corresponding areas on upper leaf surfaces are yellowed spots. Reduce watering on cool, cloudy days.
GERANIUMPythium Stem and Root RotBlack cankers (rotting) of lower stem, crown and roots.Sanitation. See the Alabama Pest Management Handbook.
GERBERA DAISY Bacterial Leaf Spot
See Foliage Plants.See Foliage Plants.
GREENHOUSE CROPSBotrytis BlightGray-brown spots and blotches on the foliage. During moist, cool conditions, this fungus will produce a delicate gray web of fungal growth.See Alabama Pest Management Handbook; Sanitation.
Faded, yellow blotches on upper leaf surfaces. Lower leaf surfaces showed gray-purple, powdery masses of fungal growth.Reduce humidity; raise temperatures; refer to the Alabama Pest Management Handbook.
Root Rot
Root tissues become brown and water-soaked. Foliage shows yellowing, wilt and/or dieback.See Alabama Pest Management Handbook; sanitation; reduce watering schedules.
HOLLY, HELLERIThielaviopsis Root RotBlack spots and areas on roots and root tips; foliage yellows, wilts, and/or shows dieback.Sanitation; Cleary's 3336, Domain drenches may help as a preventative measure. See the Alabama Pest Management Handbook.
HYDRANGEAPowdery MildewWhite powdery dusting on leaves and shoots; dieback; blight.See the Alabama Pest Management Handbook.
IVY, SWEDISHBacterial Leaf SpotSee Foliage Plants.See Foliage Plants.
NANDINA, DWARFColletotrichum Leaf SpotMedium brown circular to irregular spots (about 1/4 inch diam.).Sanitation; Cleary's 3336 or Domain may help. (Test on a few plants first.)
OXALISRust (Puccinia sp.)Rusty orange powdery spots develop on leaves; eventually leaves wither and die.Sanitation.
PANSYAlternaria BlightSmall, brown, irregular lesions.Sanitation. Daconil may help.
PANSYBotrytis BlightGray or gray-brown circular-irregular spots/blotches on foliage.See Alabama Pest Management Handbook; sanitation or ANR-596a.
PANSYPythium Root RotPlants unthrifty, wilt, yellow and die. Roots become brown and watersoaked.See Alabama Pest Management Handbook; sanitation or ANR-596a.
PANSYRhizoctonia Foliage BlightSpots/blight of brown color.See Alabama Pest Management Handbook.
PANSYThielaviopsis Root RotBlack spots and areas on roots and root tips. Plants wilt, yellow and die.Sanitation; Cleary's 3336 or Domain drenches, as a preventative measure, may give some control. See Alabama Pest Management Handbook or ANR-596a.
PHOTINIAColletotrichum Leaf SpotBrown, circular leaf spots develop.Sanitation. See Alabama Pest Management recommendations for Entomosporium.
PHOTINIAEntomosporium Leaf SpotRed-black circular-irregular spots on foliage; spots may coalesce; leaf fall will result.Sanitation; protective fungicide sprays. See Alabama Pest Manage-ment Handbook or ANR-392.
Small-large brown lesions.Sanitation. See the Alabama Pest Manage-ment Handbook.
Algal Leaf Spot (Cephaleuros)Green or reddish circular spots, usually 3-5mm diam., slightly raised.See the Alabama Pest Management Handbook.
VINCABotrytis Leaf SpotGray-brown blotches on foliage.Increase the temperatures to 70?F or above. Decrease humidity. Apply protective fungicide treatments.
VINCAPythium Root RotRoots become brown, water-soaked.Sanitation. See the Alabama Pest Management Handbook.
VINCAThielaviopsis Root RotBlack spots and areas on roots and root tips. Plants wilt, yellow, and die.Sanitation; Cleary's 3336 or Domain drenches may help.


August 2-5, 2001:
SNA 2001 - Southern Nurserymen's Association Researcher's Conference and Trade Show.
Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA. Contact SNA at 770-973-9026; SNA Infoline at 770-973-4636;

January 27 - January 31, 2001:
Southern Region American Society for Horticultural Science Annual Convention.
Fort Worth, TX. Contact Paul Smeal, 1107 Kentwood Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24065-5656; phone 540-552-4085; fax 540-953-0805; e-mail: psmeal@vt.edu

March 20 - March 30, 2001:
The Magnolia Society Conference and Tour of Ireland.
For more information write to Jim Gardiner, RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB

August 2-5, 2001:
Southern Nursery Association Resarcher's Conference and Trade Show.
Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA. Contact SNA at 770-973-9026; SNA Infoline: 770-973-9026; SNA Infoline: 770-973-4636; http://www.sna.org

September 30 - October 3, 2001:
Eastern Region International Plant Propagators' Society Annual Meeting.
Lexington, KY. Contact Margot Bridgen, 26 Woodland Road, Storrs, CT 06268; phone 860-429-6818; e-mail mbippser@neca.com

October 12-13, 2001:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, Tennessee
931-668-7322; fax 931-668-9601; e-mail mtna@blomand.net; www.mtna.com or www.tnnursery.com/mtna

October 18-21, 2001:
Southern Region International Plant Propagators' Society.
Houston, TX. Contact David Morgan at 817-882-4148; fax: 817-882-4121; SR IPPS, P.O. Box 1868, Ft. Worth, TX 76101; e-mail: dmorgan@bsipublishing.com

Send horticultural questions and comments to ktilt@acesag.auburn.edu.

Send questions and comments to bfischma@acesag.auburn.edu.

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