-+ Something To Grow On

MARCH 2003

Welcome to Spring and chaos. We are sorry that it started with John and Vicki Nelson's collapsed greenhouses due to tornado winds twisting their whole greenhouse range into a shamble. A host of voluteers helped salvage as many plants as possible. A nearby greenhouse range that had been shut down offered space to keep the crops growing. It was nice to hear of such a wide range of industry people coming to their rescue. We wish them well in recovering.

As is typical in Alabama, spring explodes and we are probably 2 weeks away from summer. The following is an update on a couple of projects we have written about in the past:

Update on Asian Ambrosia Beetle (ASB)
I mentioned in a previous newsletter that we were doing a demonstration at a field nursery looking at traps for ASB’s and their control. We have installed the traps using Theyson and Lindgren traps.

Lindgren trap

Theyson trap

Lindgren traps were ordered from the following web sites. (If you prefer the phone or mail you can reach Phero Tech Inc. at 7572 Progress Way, Delta, B.C., Canada, V4G 1E9; telephone: 604-940-9944; fax: 604-940-9433). The first site below describes the Lindgren funnel traps. We used the smaller 8 funnel size. The second site provides ordering information for the traps. They are Pherocon traps.

The Theyson traps were bought by USDA Division of Plant Industries. They are cooperating on the project. They were mostly preassembled. With 3 people scratching their heads and trying to force fit a few things, they finally went together easily.


What your mother or dad told you one time, “if it does not go together easily, you are doing something wrong”, holds true.

We used 10 ft., 3/8’s inch rebar bent, as shown in the picture below, in a vice using an acetylene torch.

bending rebars

The bending worked well. The 3/8’s inch rebar should be ½ or 5/8’s inch because the traps were too heavy and had to be staked with bamboo. We learn as we go! There are many concoctions of alcohol and antifreeze that are suggested to reduce the price but our time was short so we bought commercial lures and also inserted a small pink “kill strip” in the collection trays to take out the victims who were lured into the trap. One suggested bait was ethyl alcohol mixed 50/50 with Prestone Low-Tox antifreeze.


The nursery is going to check 3 to 4 times per week and we will spray at first sign of ASB’s. We were surprised not to have any ASB's yet. With this warm weather, we expect to be spraying this week with Astro, Dursban and several treatments of various concentrations of an experimental chemical.

the nursery

I also had the good fortune to visit Aldridge Gardens. The 30-acre property was conveyed to the city of Hoover by Eddie and Kay aldredge so that it could be used for meetings, lectures and receptions. They are currently in the midst of their spring education series. It is a lovely place for an outdoor wedding and the reception can be held inside the house. Visitors are welcome on the grounds. There is a lake and boathouse and the landscape is being enhanced. It is a lovely addition to the city. For more information go to www.aldridgegardens.com or phone 205-682-8019.

Things should happen fast in March. Look for updates next month.


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.

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












Smart Money, the Wall Street Journal Magazine of Personal Business, published a special report in their March 2003 issue on the value of landscaping your home. Homeowners are always looking for ways to increase the value of their homes, whether in preparation for selling or just in terms of increasing enjoyment of the property. Walt McDonald, president-elect of the National Association of Realtors, advises clients that the best way to fix up their property is to fix up their landscaping. He says, "If a homeowner is reluctant to do it, I tell them they won't get top dollar." The return on money spent on good landscaping projects almost defies the imagination. There have been studies that prove this. Clemson University and the University of Michigan found that consumers value a landscaped home up to 11.3% higher than its base price. A study in Quebec found that a landscaped patio raised property values 12.4%.

Gardening is a hugely popular American hobby. In 2001 homeowners spent $37.7 billion which was up from $22.5 billion five years ago, according to the National Gardening Association.

The four hottest trends of the day are curb appeal, the year-round yard, the sanctuary and bringing the indoors outdoors.

1. CURB APPEAL: First impressions are very important when someone looks at your house. Focus your landscaping attention around the key areas of your house: beautiful pathways made of brick or concrete pavers winding from the street to the front door. The pathway should probably be slightly staggered or curved to give it some character. A purchased archway and mediterranean style pots with flowering container plants is a nice addition. Then add some light. Low maintenance plant material is best. The biggest mistake people make is overplanting and not paying attention to the potential size of trees and shrubs.

2. THE YEAR-ROUND YARD: With smart plantings in most regions of the country you can have year round color by planting flowering shrubs or by using trees with colored bark. Ornamental grasses are interesting visually and easy to maintain. It is important to match the plants to the property. Plants that go well with a country cottage will probably not work with a very sleek contemporary house. Before planning and executing a garden make sure you have your soil tested and ammended according to the test results. A very important asset in this plan are trees, one of the few landscape elements that appreciate over time. Trees that are well maintained can enhance your property value from 5 to 20%.

3. THE SANCTUARY: A lot of people are spending a lot more time in their back yards, using them as retreats from the outside world. A key feature of this idea is water in the form of fountains or small ponds that bring motion. Water gardens can range from an inexpensive small fountain to a rather elaborate pond. Those with larger budgets can add mini waterfalls, koi and an elaborate system of lighting. You will need a seating area where you and your guests can sit and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Back yard pools used to be the rage but people often perceive them as high maintenance items and are often not willing to do what it would take to keep them clean and safe.

4. BRING THE INSIDE OUT: In some areas of the country space is very expensive and buyers often have to settle for small kitchens and family rooms. A solution to this problem is to increase the outdoor living space by having full kitchens on the patio and building elaborate stone fireplaces for cooking and/or baking. Decks bring one of the highest cost recoupings of any home project according to Remodeling Magazine. When planning a large project of this kind it is important to make sure that builders are careful about utilities and tree roots. These kinds of projects are the most expensive and you may want to know what kind of return this investment would yield if you were going to sell your house. You might want to contact an appraiser to see how much would be too much for your neighborhood.

The following are how backyard projects that were once very popular are now being perceived:

  • Swimming pool - people don't want to do the maintenance and are worried about safety
  • Sport Court - too much space spent on asphalt where gardens could be
  • Tea Rose Garden - much too labor intense to maintain
  • Fruit Trees - great deal of messy rotten fruit and the flies that eat the fruit
  • Built-in Fire Pit - something portable would take up less space and be more practical.

Advice on how to proceed once you have decided to begin a landscaping project:

(from "Fertile Ground" by Chris Taylor, published in the March 2003 edition of Smart Money, The Wall Street Journal Magazine of Personal Business)


Texas A&M (Dallas) launched Benny Simpson's Texas Native Shrubs Web site, a companion to a native tree site launched in 1999. Both sites are projects of research horticulturist Wayne Mackay. "Benny left us this invaluable and irreplaceable resource of over 10,000 photos that he took in the field during all his scouting expeditions, and I was determined that we would make them available to the public," Mackay said. There are 1,176 photos of 338 shrubs that the late Simpson had identified as having potential as landscape plants. For more information go to: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/nativeshrubs/

(from NMPRO, February 18, 20003, Todd Davis, editor).


Two major nursery trade shows have agreed to partner with a pet supply association. Southern Nursery Association and California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers will host combined shows with World Wide Pet Supply Association in 2004 and 2005. CANGC's Western Expo will be held in the same exhibit hall as SuperZoo West, Sept. 22-23 in 2004, and again in 2005. SNA and SuperZoo East will be held in separate halls, Aug. 4-6, 2005. For more information go to: http://www.sna.org
(from NMPRO, February 18, 20003, Todd Davis, editor).


A newly revised book, Establishing and Operating a Garden Center: Requirements and Costs, discusses planning, capital investments, product mixes, labor, customer profiles, garden center layouts, pricing, advertising, and financial analysis. Two example businesses are analyzed throughout the book: one with annual sales of $1 million and another with annual sales of $350,000. The 66-page book is for potential and current garden center owners, their business advisors, educators, and researchers. The book is available from NRAES (Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service) for $15.00 plus $4.25 for shipping and handling (within the continental US). For more information visit their website: http://www.nraes.org or http://nraes@cornell.edu Phone 606-255-7654; Fax 607-254-8770.


The following information was issued by Greenhouse Grower Magazine and we include it in its entirety for your information:

"The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has issued its final action plan outlining the details of the geranium quarantine protocols. The Society of American Florists has prepared a detailed summary for growers who may be under the quarantine, to help them better understand the quarantine's details and enable them to work more effectively with inspectors.

Please visit http://www.greenhousegrower.com/news/index.html to download the following three documents:
1) The "Action Plan for Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 found in nursery facilities," which was released yesterday by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine;
2) A summarized version of the Quarantine Action Plan from the Society of American Florists; and
3) A press release from the Society of American Florists regarding the Action Plan.

Please reference this material immediately, especially if you have detected any symptoms of Southern Bacterial Wilt, which may be caused by Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, on your geranium crops. Symptoms include signs of wilt or abnormal yellowing of the geranium leaves. Symptoms reportedly look similar to those of Xanthamonas, another strain of Southern Bacterial Wilt. Ralstonia is cited on USDA's Agricultural Bioterrorism Act of 2002 Select Agents and Toxins List as a serious pathogen of potatoes, tomatoes, geraniums, and other plants.

Ralstonia doesn’t spread easily from plant to plant, except through subirrigation water or stem-to-stem transmission via cutting knives. Growers can easily avoid spreading the disease by simply removing and isolating wilted plants, and avoiding subirrigation of their geranium crops. Growers who find any wilting plants should not destroy their geranium crops. Instead, isolate them and contact Goldsmith Plants, 800-549-0158, for testing. If you are already in quarantine and find wilted plants, do not remove the plants and contact a state plant regulatory official for inspection immediately."

(from Laura Henne, Managing Editor of Greenhouse Grower Magazine; phone: 440-602-9106 or fax 440-602-9329; laura@greenhousegrower.com, www.greenhousegrower.com)


The 2002 SNA Research Conference Proceedings is now available online as an html document for viewing and as a pdf file to download and print. In addition, the Titles Index has been updated and now contains titles from 1974 - 2002 (28 years of SNA Research). Go directly to the proceedings page at http://www.sna.org/research/02proceedings.

The 2003 Call for Titles can be viewed and downloaded by clicking on the Research Links from the SNA homepage, or by going directly to http://www.sna/org/research/titles.shtml.

The 48th annual SNA Research Conference is scheduled for Wednesday, July 30 - Thursday, July 31, 2003. Visit http://www.sna.org for current information on the 2003 Research Conference.

(from Karen Summers, SNA, Voice: 770.953.3311; Fax: 770.953.4411; e-mail Address: karen@mail.sna.org)


A Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association survey showed that emerald ash borer will cost nursery and landscape firms within the 6-county infested area an estimated $8 million. The pest is forcing growers to destroy all ash inventories, and landscapers are having to replace trees to fulfill guarantees. It's estimated that 600,000 2- and 3-inch-caliper trees would be needed to replace trees in commercial and residential landscapes, said Amy Frankman, MNLA's Executive Director. The pest will likely spread to other areas of the country, and experts say this foreign pest could be more damaging to native and urban forests than any other to reach North America.

photo from the Michigan Department of Agriculture website

photo from the Michigan Department of Agriculture website

(from Weekly NMPRO e-mail for Mar. 4, 2003, Todd Davis, Editor)


Professor Joe Eakes of Auburn University has just been selected as the recipient of the American Nursery & Landscape Association's 2003 L.C. Chadwick Educator's Award. This award, established in 1976, recognizes outstanding landscape horticulture instructors for thier effectiveness in developing students' horticultural skills and motivating them to pursue excellence in their careers, whether in industry or academia. Congratulations, Dr. Eakes!


Jackie Mullen
Extension Plant Pathology Specialist

Of the 23 plant samples received in the lab in January, seven were biological, infectious diseases. The other samples were abiotic problems involving situations of too wet soil, nutrition, or unknown problem situations. Some of our January samples were dead landscape shrubs which could not be diagnosed due to their condition. Old lace bug damage was observed on a couple of azalea samples.

The most interesting sample received was a yellow poplar seedling sample with Cylindrocladium crown rot. Diagnosis was made by fungal isolation and identification in culture. This was an interesting sample because we do not see Cylindrocladium crown rot very often. Cylindrocladium is a well-recognized crown and root rot disease agent on a number of plants. Our laboratory study indicates that the pathogen is probably C. clavatum which has been reported to cause crown rot disease on rhododendron, some pine species, Norfolk Island pine, bottlebrush, Jerusalem thorn, bird-of-paradise flower, and a few other tropical plants.

The tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans) was observed to have large, irregular, brown leaf spots. Culture work produced the fungus Colletotrichum which is reported to cause anthracnose on tea olive. The control recommendation for anthracnose on ornamentals typically involves sanitation and protective sprays of Cleary’s 3336 or Halt.

The yarrow with Pythium root rot showed a slight indication of leaf tip scorch and about 40-50% root discoloration and decay. Culture work and ELISA tests indicated that Pythium root rot was present. Pythium often develops as a root rot problem after a previous stress or injury such as drought or excess fertilizer salts. Disease management involves removal of damaged plants, reduction of irrigation (if appropriate), and application of protective fungicide drenches. Subdue will control Pythium, and the Subdue label allows for ornamentals use after testing on a small group of plants.

A Japanese holly plant that showed root decay and crown rot was received. Crown sections were placed in culture and all 15 crown isolations produced Sclerotium rolfsii. This fungus has an extremely wide host range on herbaceous and woody crops. Damaged plants should be removed along with root-associated soil. After plant removal, the soil should be turned deeply so as to bury crop debris along with the associated fungus. Wider plant spacing will help increase air movement and decrease disease. Solarization (see ANR-713) will help reduce fungus levels in the soil or fumigation (applied by a certified applicator) may be used to reduce fungus levels in the soil. Terraclor products or Heritage may be applied as protective drench treatments at transplanting, usually in greenhouse situations. Sclerotium rolfsii develops and causes diseases in Alabama when temperatures are at 85EF or above and moisture levels are high. Usually S. rolfsii is a problem in Alabama during June-August. The fungus survives the winter in the soil as sclerotia-hard, round, brown or black spherical bodies about the size of mustard seeds. See ANR-1157 for more information.

January 2003 Plant Diseases Seen In The Plant Diagnostic Lab at Auburn
Holly, JapaneseSclerotium rolfsii Crown RotAutauga
Olive, TeaColletotrichum Leaf SpotRussell
Poplar, YellowCylindrocladium clavatum Crown Rot*
YarrowPythium Root Rot *
*Counties are not reported for greenhouse and samples.

J. Jacobi
Extension Plant Pathology Specialist

The lab received 32 samples for the month. The cold weather was one of the biggest stories during the month of January. Average monthly temperatures were 4.2EF below normal. Many marginally hardy plants were injured when temperatures reached 7EF on January 24th. Some of the fragrant tea olive plants at the botanical gardens were nearly defoliated by the cold weather. Some of the other problems seen last month included azalea bark scale, Pythium and Black root rot of pansy, and Alternaria leaf spot on pittosporum.

Alternaria leaf spot was found on leaves of pittosporum. The spots are small necrotic lesions surrounded by yellow halos. Control of this disease involves maintaining shrubs in good growing condition and applications of a protective fungicide (azoxystrobin, iprodione and others) in some cases. Do not use chlorothalonil (Daconil) sprays on pittosporum. Homeowners have few fungicide choices for control of this disease.

The black twig borer (Xylosandrus compactus) has been found in samples of Southern magnolia and red maple this winter. This ambrosia beetle attacks apparently healthy twigs of living broadleaved trees and shrubs. The first signs of infestation are terminals, twigs and small branches with fading, wilting, and browning foliage scattered throughout the crown (Solomon, 1995). As many as 50 branches have been affected on one large magnolia tree. Close inspection of damaged branches shows small pin-sized holes, usually on the underside of the branches. Cutting open affected twigs reveals the brood chamber, which is filled with very small (1/16 in.) beetles, along with other stages of the insect. Attacked twigs usually die or cankers develop along them. Control measures include: pruning out damaged branches, fertilizing and watering trees to keep them healthy and vigorous to reduce susceptibility to attack, and insecticide sprays. For more information on this pest refer to the following web site: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/trees/note106/note106.html.

January 2003 Plant Diseases Seen In The Birmingham Plant Diagnostic Lab
zaleaAzalea Bark Scale/Sooty MoldJefferson (2)
oxwood, CommonBoxwood LeafminerJefferson (2)
Boxwood, CommonLow pH/Pythium Root RotJefferson
Boxwood, CommonWinter InjuryJefferson
Holly, JapanesePythium Root RotJefferson
Magnolia, SouthernBlack Twig Borer (Xylosandrus compactus)Jefferson
PansyBlack Root Rot (Thielaviopsis)Jefferson (2)
PansyPythium Root RotJefferson
PittosporumAlternaria Leaf SpotJefferson
RoseChemical InjuryJefferson
Wax MyrtleBotryosphaeria CankerJefferson

Disease Possibilities for February

Powdery mildews and Botrytis may be a problem in greenhouses where temperatures are on the moderate to cool side. Also downy mildew (yellow spotting, sometimes defoliation) on rose and bedding plants may develop when temperatures are moderately cool (60-70 degrees F). Powdery mildew disease spread requires a high relative humidity. Botrytis and downy mildew require high relative humidity and free moisture for disease spread. If temperatures are 60-70 degrees F, some leaf spots on grasses may develop.


July 15 - 20, 2003:
ANLA Convention & Executive Learning Retreat.
Location TBA. Contact: ANLA, 202-789-2900; Fax, 202-789-1893.

July 30-August 2, 2003:
SNA 2003- Southern Nursery Association Researcher’s Conference and Trade Show.
Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA.
Contact SNA at 770-953-3311; Fax 770-953-4411; SNA Infoline, 770-953-4636.

September 30 - October 4, 2003:
American Society for Horticultural Science Annual Meeting and 100th Anniversary.
Providence, RI.
Contact ASHS at 703-836-4606, Fax: 703-836-2024, E-mail: ashs@ashs.org
URL: http://www.ashs.org

October 3-4, 2003:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail: mtna@blomand.net,
http://www.mtna.com/ or http://www.southeasternnursery.com/mtna/

October 5-8, 2003:
IPPS Southern Region NA.
San Antonio, TX.
Contact: Dr. David L. Morgan, 332 Warbler Drive, Bedford, TX 76021; phone 817-577-9272; e-mail, dleemorgan@msn.com

October 22 - 25, 2003:
IPPS Eastern Region.
Portland, ME. Contact M. Bridgen, 26 Woodland Road, Storrs, CT 06268; phone 860-429-6818; email mbippser@neca.com

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
URL: http://www.sna.org

October 1-2, 2004:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail: mtna@blomand.net,
http://www.mtna.com/ or http://www.southeasternnursery.com/mtna/

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, dleemorgan@msn.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.