March 1999


Magnolias, quince, forsythia, pearl bush, red maples, lorapetalum, daffodils...whoever coined the phrase "Spring is busting out all over" must have been a nursery producer or certainly a gardener. Spring is here and it is coming fast and furious as it does every year. I hope you were prepared and that everything is in orderly chaos. Shipping, potting, phone calls, watch out for that late freeze, not enough people when you need them, forsythia means weeds (got to get the preemergent herbicide out in time), what a time to do taxes...where are those pots and fertilizers I ordered???

If you do not have time to read the information below, it will be waiting for you in May when you take a deep breath and begin to assess the past few months. Remember, when that break comes, to send a special thank you to the people whose trucks delivered your plants.

I worked in a jewelry store in high school and the owner stressed to me each day that the people that walk in the door to his store could easily find the same material in another store. They came to us because of trust, loyalty, quality and they knew we cared about them and appreciated their business. That holds true for most of our relationships in life. Nuff said. You are too busy for much fluff and philosophical hoo-doo.

Pictures of Gresham Hybrid Magnolias are from Magnolia Nursery, Chunchula, Alabama.

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 term “crapemurder” was coined in an article by Southern Living Magazine to highlight and decry the wrongful pruning practice of topping or stubbing back a crapemyrtle tree. David Byers of Byers’s Nursery, and author of a relatively new book, “Crapemyrtles”, has worked with the city of Decatur, Alabama to reach its goal of being known as the “Crapemyrtle City”. Having this name carries the responsibility of setting an example on how to properly maintain and prune crapemyrtles.

Mr. Byers talked with the city officials about their common practice of topping their crapemyrtles and how they could bring these trees back to their natural form. An educational opportunity materialized and Mr. Byers contacted the Alabama Extension System to instigate an educational event that would benefit other cities engaging in these poor pruning practices. A demonstration will begin on March 8, 1999 on one of the main streets in Decatur to show the proper remedy for crapemurder. A video is being made of the process for later teaching purposes.

A small research project was also begun this year at the Cullman Agricultural Experiment Station to look at different pruning practices of crapemyrtles and the effects on flower numbers and incidence of disease and insect problems. The following information describes the crapemurder recovery demonstration scheduled for Decatur.

Recovering from crapemurder is a drastic process, but easy to do and you can expect rapid recovery. When trees are topped or stubbed back to chest high, a profusion of sprouts or a witches broom develops below the cut. The attachment of these sprouts is weak, dense and susceptible to breakage and more disease problems. The winter silhouette is crapemurder ugly. The best recovery method is to cut the tree to within 1 to 2 inches of the ground in early March before new growth begins. Shortly thereafter, new sprouts emerge in clusters of growth. All the stored energy in the roots is forced up into a number of new buds. These buds break and grow very fast. After 2 to 3 weeks, select 3 to 5 of the most vigorous new shoots, arranged around the tree, growing out from the center. Sometimes a single trunk is desired when you have a tree close to a sidewalk. In this case, select one sprout and remove all others. Keep the tree clean of sprouts except for the one you selected. Remove and continue to remove other existing shoots and any new ones that emerge later.

There is a product that we will demonstrate at our Decatur Crapemurder Recovery Event called Tre-Hold. Tre-Hold is a chemical growth regulator which was evaluated by Dr. Gary Keever, who is in the Horticulture Department at Auburn University. Dr. Keever found that when Tre-Hold was sprayed on the trunk of the tree, it suppressed continuing bud break and reduced the labor required to remove these new sprouts. This is very important to grounds maintenance professionals and municipalities as a means of cutting expensive labor necessary to revisit the trees on a regular basis for sprout removal. Without a chemical like Tre-Hold, sprouts need to be removed every 2 to 3 weeks during the recovery from crapemurder. If you catch them early, you can easily rub them off with a gloved hand. Results will be rapid and, within 3 to 5 years, you should have some completely recovered, natural crapemyrtles. This harsh pruning technique does make a drastic change in the appearance of your landscape but since flowers of crapemyrtle bloom on new growth, you will not go a year without being able to enjoy the flowers of your crapemyrtle. This should ease the pain and concern as you make the major surgical cuts to recover from crapemurder.

(by Ken Tilt, Auburn University)


The eradication of fire ants is a daunting problem. One method is the application of fire ant baits. Baits are sprinkled around a visible mound (or in a place where the mound is underground). They are made up of a food attractant (often soybean oil) along with an insect growth regulator. The worker ant picks up the bait, passes it among the brood and eventually it gets to the queen. The goal is to interfere with the development of the brood and/or egg laying capability of the queen. It may take one to three months before any visible decline is noticed. You can broadcast or sprinkle the bait but you must follow manufacturer's directions carefully. To insure success avoid disturbing the ants right before application; apply when ants are searching for food; do not apply when foliage is wet or rain is expected; expect the results to be slow, as many as a few months.

The following are trade names and phone numbers of some available products (the two new fire ants baits recently released are: Extinguish and Distance):

For more information see the Extension Publication ANR-175.
(from Kathy L. Flanders, Extension Entomologist)


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, in cooperation with the Alabama Nurserymen's Association, Southern Nurserymen's Association and ADEM (Alabama Department of Environmental Management) has printed a new publication - ANR-1142. It is a full color poster (the image to the left is just a small excerpt) (22" x 30"): CLEAN WATER IS GOOD NURSERY BUSINESS. The poster encapsulates the major points of the Best Management Practices Handbook - Guide for Producing Container Grown Plants. The main background is a photo taken at the waterfall at Chewacla Park. If you would like one for your business or home send us an e-mail and we'll mail one to you.


Due to an infestation of red imported fire ants, the California Department of Food and Agriculture placed portions of Riverside and Los Angeles counties under quarantine. Their movement of plants and soil outside the region is limited.

(from the weekly NMPRO e-mail).


Most samples and disease problems at this time of year are from greenhouse or nursery plantings. Because of an unseasonably warm January, there were also a number of landscape ornamental samples. At this time of year in greenhouses, conditions tend to be cool and damp - a situation in which botyris blight flourishes. Control requires sanitation, temperature increase if possible, increased air circulation, and application of protective fungicide sprays.

Pythium and Phytophthora problems are often more prevalent in greenhouses or nurseries during winter months when temperatures are lower and cloudy days are common. Watering practices need to be adjusted down in the winter. If soils remain wet for prolonged periods of time, Pythium or Phytophthora root rot disease may develop.

Fusarium stem blight and root rot of geranium is a recognized disease which produces symptoms very similar to Pythium stem rot and root rot of geranium. Control of Fusarium requires strict sanitation. Cleary's 3336 or Banrot protective treatments may be used on geranium.

Photinia is bothered by Entomosporium leaf spot and Colletotrichum leaf spot. The rainy and warm conditions of this January encouraged the spread of this disease. Pruning and protective fungicide sprays are recommended in eary spring.

Leyland cypress samples received recently showed foliage damage that was probably related to a root problem. To control root rot diseases in nurseries involves sanitation and protective drenches of fungicide.

1999 January Plant Diseases Seen in the Plant Diagnostic Lab
GERANIUMFusarium Stem/Root Rot*
GERANIUMPythium Stem/Root Rot*
JUNIPER, BLUE RUGPhytophthora Root RotAutauga
LEYLAND CYPRESSPhytophthora Root RotLee
LEYLAND CYPRESSPhytophthora & Pythium Root RotCullman
PHOTINIAEntomosporium Leaf SpotLee
PHOTINIAColletotrichum Leaf Lee
POINSETTIABotrytis Blight*
*Counties are not reported for nursery and greenhouse crops.

Disease Descriptions and Brief Control Comments on
Some Common Diseases Often Seen in February
Light to medium brown, circular-irregular (0.2-1 cm diam.) spots develop on leaves.Sanitation; protective fungicides labelled on camellia such as Cleary's 3336.
CAMELLIABotrytis (Sclerotinia)
Flower Blight
Brown, small-large, irregularly-shaped lesions.Sanitation of fallen blossoms; see the APMH.
CAMELLIARing Spot VirusYellow rings appear on foliage; plants may become slightly stunted.Sanitation.
DUSTY MILLERAlternaria Leaf SpotDark brown angular spots (0.2-0.6 cm) on foliage.Sanitation. Cleary's 3336 may help.
Large (1/4 - 1/2 inch diam.; 0.6-1.2 cm) brown, circular spots .See APMH.
EUONYMUSScab (Elsinoe)Brown, raised, slightly corky spots (0.1-0.3 cm) develop on foliage.Sanitation, Cleary's 3336 may help.
GERANIUMOedemaSmall (0.1-0.3 cm diam.), raised corky spots scattered on lower leaf surfaces. Upper leaf surfaces corresponding to corky spots often show yellowed spots.Reduce watering schedules when weather is cloudy and cool.
GERBERA DAISYPowdery MildewLeaves show some necrosis and white powdery dusting on leaf surfaces.Sanitation; Cleary's 3336.
GERBERA DAISYPythium Root RotPlants become stunted and yellowed. Usually lower leaves become yellowed first. Roots become brown and water-soaked.Sanitation of damaged plants. In some situations, removal of contaminated soil or media is recommended. Protective fungicide drenches in greenhouse situations.
Tan-orange-yellow spore masses often develop on the surface of potting mix or at the edge of potting mix next to the pot rim. Extensive fungal growth may cause the potting media to become water repellent; that is, the media will not absorb water.Sanitation.
HOLLY, FOSTERBacterial Leaf SpotSmall, black, angular leaf spots.Sanitation.
HOLLY, JAPANESE Phomopsis DiebackCankers on twigs and small branches with dieback resulting.Sanitation.
HYDRANGEAPowdery MildewWhite dusty coating on upper leaf surfaces. Leaf yellowing and blight; some new growth distortions.Sanitation; fungicide spray treatments. See the APMH.
JUNIPERPhomopsis Tip BlightDieback.Sanitation; see the APMH.
IMPATIENSImpatiens Necrotic Spot VirusBlack, circular leaf spots; stunted growth.Sanitation; thrips control.
IMPATIENSPhytophthora Crown RotPlants become stunted. Older leaves turn yellow. Roots become brown and water-soaked.Sanitation of plants and sometimes removal of contaminated soil or media. Adjust watering practices and/or improve water drainage through soil or media. Fungicide drenches are often recommended in greenhouse situations.
IMPATIENSPythium Crown RotSee Phytophthora comments.See Phytophthora comments.
INDIAN HAWTHORNEEntomosporium Leaf SpotRed-black spots.Sanitation; see the APMH.
IVY, ENGLISHAnthracnose
Black irregularly shaped leaf spots.Sanitation; see the APMH.
IVY, ENGLISHBacterial Leaf Spot
Brown-black, angular, wet-looking spots (1/8 - 1/4 inch diam.; 0.3-0.6 cm).Sanitation; see APMH.
IVY LEAF GERANIUMOedemaUpper leaf surface shows diffuse yellow spots; lower leaf surface shows brown, corky, slightly raised spots (less than 1/8 inch diam.; 0.1-0.3 cm).Decrease watering schedule.
LANTANAFoliar Leaf Spot NematodeAngular, brown-black leaf spots.Sanitation.
LILY, EASTERLily Symptomless Virus & Cucumber Mosaic VirusYellow and brown flecks on foliage; plants stunted; leaves curl underSanitation. Control aphids.
KALANCHOEBotrytisBrown, gray spots, blotches on the foliage. Infected areas may become limp. Spots look grayer when spore production occurs.Sanitation. Apply protective fungicide drenches. See the APMH. Decrease humidity. Increase temperature.
MAGNOLIAAlgal Leaf Spot
Greenish or reddish slightly raised spots (0.1-1 cm) on upper leaf surfaces. Spot edges are often irregular or wavy in appearance. Old spots are usually cream colored in the center.Control measures are usually not necessary. Bordeaux mixture may be used. See the APMH.
PANSYBotrytis After Cold DamageBrown leaf spots/blight; gray mold.Sanitation; protective fungicide sprays. See APMH.
PANSYCercospora Leaf SpotBrown-black circular spots. Sanitation; Cleary's 3336.
Crown/Root Rot
See comments for Impatiens..
PANSYPythium Crown/Root RotSee comments for Impatiens..
PHOTINIAEntomosporium Leaf SpotSmall reddish spots (1/4 - 1/2 inch diam.; 0.6-1.2 cm) often coalesce into larger red spots with dark red centers and bright red diffuse bordersSanitation; see the APMH.
Cream-white pustules (1/8 inch diam.; 0.2-0.3 cm.) on needles.No control recommended.
PINE SEEDLINGS, LOBLOLLYPhytophthora Root RotPlants become stunted. Older growth becomes yellowed. Roots become brown and water-soaked.Sanitation; see the APMH.
PINE, VIRGINIALophodermium
(Ploioderma) Needle Cast
Small (1/32 - 1/16 inch diam. 0.15 cm. or less; just barely visible), black, football-shaped slightly raised fruiting bodies scattered on needles; needles brown and drop.See the APMH.
POTHOSRHIZOCTONIA STEM ROTStems near or touching the soil (potting mix) developed a dark brown canker or lesion (0.3-1 cm).Sanitation; protective sprays of Cleary's 3336.
SNAPDRAGONRoot-Knot Nematode
Stunted, wilted plants; roots develop irregular galls.Sanitation; see the APMH.
SPIREAPowdery MildewLeaves show a white powdery dusting on upper leaf surfaces and young shoots.Sanitation; Cleary's 3336.
VERBENABacterial Leaf SpotAngular, water-soaked black or dark green leaf spots.Sanitation.
VERBENAMyrothecium Crown RotPlants collapse after decay at crownSanitation.
VERBENAFoliar NematodeAngular brown leaf spots; sometimes these symptoms can be confused with bacterial disease.Sanitation.
(NOTE: APMH = Alabama Pest Management Handbook)


Arizona Governor Jane Hull allocated $200,000 to beef up inspection stations in an attempt to more quickly identify red fire ant infestations, particularly since Arizona receives a lot of plants from California.

from David Morgan, Weekly NMPRO e-mail.


The Horticultural Research Institute, research arm of the American Nursery and Landscape Association, announced the granting of $400,000 to fund studies this year. The Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University was granted $100,000 (the largest grant) to develop an automated container handling system. The second largest grant of $31,000 was issued to Michigan State University to cover a project on deer and rabbit repellents.

(from David Morgan, Weekly NMPRO e-mail).


Penn State professor of forest ecology and physiology, Marc Abrams, has been observing that red maples are slowly taking over eastern deciduous forests. Acer rubrum, before 1900, lived mainly in swampy areas. Dr. Abrams speculates that the new presence of red maples in forests is the result of forest fires being repressed and the fact that red maples tolerate acid rain better than some other trees.

(from David Morgan, Weekly NMPRO e-mail.)


As I sort through slides, I run across some new and old ideas. Many of these you may have seen but many new people interested in the nursery business may not have seen them and may not have made the rounds to many nurseries to see the innovations. Some of the ideas may initiate some thought on improvement of these versions or new ideas to share. Please send your ideas so I can post them for others.

IDEA #1:
Mist system set up in propagation area where cuttings are prepared. The idea behind cuttings is a race to see if you can help speed the replacement of the lost plumbing system (roots) before the cuttings dry out. This is a step in the process of sticking cuttings where they can dry out. Mist will help.

IDEA #2:
Cut the corners off your container beds so that large trucks do not smash your plants and profits as they make their turns on tight nursery roads between beds.

IDEA #3.
Provide for overhead irrigation in your propagation houses so that you will be ready for the plants as they come off mist or for over-wintering irrigation. Look for ways to add versatility to your nursery. Things do not always run as anticipated in this business! (A gross understatement.)

IDEA #4.
Make connections on your irrigation risers so that they can be easily switched out for taller or shorter risers as you adjust for the size of your plants going into a production bed.

IDEA #5.
One nursery modified its trucks by adding side doors to be able to access plants for multiple shipping drops. Of course, you should always remember the “First on last off” saying when organizing your plants for shipping.

IDEA# 6.
This is a picture of someone standing on container ground cloth where the ground beneath the cloth was not properly graded and compacted. Depressions like this cause the obvious problems of standing water with the resultant root rot problems and unstable surfaces for situating the plants. Proper planning and preparation in any phase of the nursery business can save many problems.

IDEA #7.
I have noticed several large nurseries that have a small shaded and open wholesale display area where a sample of all the plants grown in the area are organized for small pick-up truck walk-in buys. This saves much time in going around the whole nursery to see each one of the plants the individual wants to purchase. The key to success, I am told, is to always bring the best plants available to the sales yard so that the buyer can be assured that you are not keeping the “good stuff” in the back.

IDEA #8.
A constant problem in the nursery is preventing various root rot pathogens, many of which are spread from container to container by water moving from the drain holes of one container into the drain holes of another. Some nurseries raise their propagation trays onto old flats to keep the trays off the ground to prevent this from occurring.

IDEA #9.
A trade show suggestion – Much money is spent on marketing your plants through trade shows. ($500 for a booth – add electricity, carpet... etc. and you move quickly to from $700 to $800, 3 days at a motel and food - $300, gas and parking $2 to $300 dollars, to which you need to add advertising and promotion) You can easily spend $2,000 or more for a small booth and weekend trade show. You want to make those dollars count. You need to attract attention. A well designed booth with good lighting is a good investment and good business. Paying all that money just to create the weak link in the marketing chain by slopping some flats and plants into the booth is a waste. Get professional help if design is not one of your talents.


April 22-24, 1999:
1999 Alabama Master Gardeners Conference.
Holiday Inn Research Park and Huntsville-Madison County Botanical Garden, Huntsville, AL.
For more information contact Mary Beth Musgrove at 334-844-5481 or

July 22-27, 1999:
American Nursery & Landscape Association Annual Convention.
Philadelphia, PA. Contact ANLA at 202-789-2900;

July 28-31, 1999:
96th American Society for Horticultural Science.
Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN. Contact ASHA: 703-836-4606, Fax: 703-836-2024; e-mail:

July 30-August 1, 1999:
SNA 99 - 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;

August 1-4, 1999:
International Society for Arboriculture Annual Conference. Stamford, CT. Contact ISA at 217-355-9411;

September 10-11, 1999:
TNA's "Tennessee America's Nursery" Trade Show and Conference.
Opryland Hotel Convention Center, Nashville, TN. Contact TNA at 931-473-3971; fax 931-473-5883; e-mail

September 23-25, 1999:
6th Biennial Southern Plant Conference.
Richmond, VA. Contact SNA at 770-973-9026; SNA Infoline at 770-973-4636;

October 3-6, 1999:
Southern Region International Plant Propagators' Society.
Mobile, AL. Contact David Morgan: 817-882-4148, SR IPPS, P.O. Box 1868, Ft. Worth, TX 76101; e-mail

October 8 and 9, 1999:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticulture Trade Show.
Civic Center, McMinnville, Tennessee. For more information call 931-668-7322, fax 931-668-9601; e-mail:>p> November 4-6, 1999:
Gulf Coast Native Plant Conference
Camp Beckwith, Fairhope, Alabama
Featuring four habitats with guided field trips. For more information contact Thayer Dodd, Conference Coordinator, at 1-888-808-3633

January 11-13, 2000:
Kentucky Landscape Industries Winter Educational Conference and Trade Show.
The Lexington Center, Lexington, KY. Contact Debbie Cain, KNLA Exec. Dir. at 502-899-3622; fax 502-899-7922

January 19-21, 2000:
Mid-AM Trade Show.
Navy Pier, Chicago, IL. Contact Don W. Sanford at 847-526-2010, fax 847-526-3993; e-mail

January 29-February 2, 2000:
Southern Region American Society for Horticultural Science Annual Convention.
Lexington, KY. Contact Paul Smeal at 1107 Kentwood Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24060-5656, 540-552-4085; fax 540-953-0805; e-mail

February 3-6, 2000:
The Management Clinic.
Galt House, Louisville, KT. Contact ANLA at 202-789-2900;

July 8-12, 2000:
Ohio Florists' Association Short Course and Trade Show.
Greater Columbus Convention Center. Contact OFA at 614-487-1117; e-mail; web:

July 11-16, 2000:
American Nursery & Landscape Association Annual Convention.
Location TBA; contact ANLA at 202-789-2900;

July 14-18, 2000:
Ohio Florists' Association Short Course and Trade Show.
Greater Columbus Convention Center. Contact OFA at 614-487-1117; e-mail; web:

July 16-19, 2000:
American Society for Horticultural Science 97th International Conference.
Disney Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando, FL. Contact ASHS at 703-836-4606; fax 703-836-2024; e-mail

August 3-6, 2000:
SNA 2000 - 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;

August 11-18, 2000:
International Society for Arboriculture Annual Conference.
Baltimore, MD. Contact ISA at 217-355-9411;

September 15-16, 2000:
TNA's "Tennessee America's Nursery" Trade Show and Conference.
Opryland Hotel Convention Center, Nashville, TN. Contact TNA at931-473-3971; fax 931-473-5883; e-mail

October 8-11, 2000:
Southern Region International Plant Propagators' Society.
Norfolk, VA. Contact David Morgan at 817-882-4148; fax 817-882-4121, SR IPPS, P.O. Box 1868, Ft. Worth, TX 76101; e-mail

January 27-31, 2001:
Southern Region American Society for Horticultural Science Annual Convention.
Fort Worth, TX. Contact Paul Smeal at 1107 Kentwood Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24060-5656, 540-552-4085; fax 540-953-0805, e-mail

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;

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:

Send questions and comments to

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