Insect Pests


There are two classes of bugs and insects that may attack trees and plants. The first class (sucking) can be killed only by hitting each individual with the insecticide (spray or dust). The second class (chewing) eats the plant tissue and is best controlled by poisons ingested through treated plant material.

Protecting Against Sucking Insects

Soft-bodied, sap-sucking insects (see figure 1) such as aphids, white fly, red spider and Milly bug are best controlled with a variety of outdoor insecticides available at your local hardware or grocery stores. Pyrethrin compounds can be used on vegetables as they are non-poisonous to humans; however, there are many options available to customers on the market today. Hard-bodied, sap-sucking insects, like scale which suck the juice from the twigs or branches and trunk, are best controlled by systemic insecticides available at any local hardware stores.

Remedies for Chewing Insects

Leaf-eating insects (see figure 2), such as beatles, weevils, grubs, worms, etc., are controlled by poison applied to the leaf. Seven dust is effective on some things, for instance, leaf-minors, Web worms and lawns.

Protecting Against Plant Diseases

Good culture, sanitation and certain fungicides will aid materially in preventing plant diseases. Use disease resistant varieties and well grown stock. Keep your plants healthy with adequate food, water, and soil building. Destroy infected or harboring material. Control insects which spread disease by spraying.
Combinations of fungicide and insecticide chemicals are timesavers for the small garden. These materials come under very straight labels. Manufacturers instructions should be rigidly followed. Those containing heavy metals should be avoided at all costs.

Deer Problems

Within the last century, deer have come to be an ever increasing obstacle for home owners and their efforts at maintaining landscaped homes. Damaging trees with their antlers, feeding on vegetable gardens, flowers, and the tender tips of young trees and shrubs, and even digging up kept lawns in search of fall grubs, deer have found abundant food sources within the yard of the typical home owner. With this in mind, there are several commercial and home-remedy yard care products available to help reduce deer damage to plants and trees. While commercial products can be found in the typical hardware store, several home remedies have been listed below. Please keep in mind that these remedies may only be effective as long as the deer have not developed a tolerance for the particular substance.

>Hang a bar or small piece of soap in a mesh bag from a tree. Fragrant soaps such as Irish Spring, Old Spice, and Dial seem to work the best. Take care to keep dripping pieces away from trunk as this may attract rabbits.

>Human or dog hair can also be placed in mesh bags and hung from tree branches.

>Baby powder, blood meal, or bone meal will also provide some resistance to their feeding, but these will require continued, repeated applications.

Winter Container Gardening

The primary concern of winter gardening is the protection of plants from wind, harsh sunlight and drying out. Preventing root damage caused by rapidly fluctuating temperatures is the name of the game. Because only the top portion of a plant has the ability to go dormant, even plants hardy to your zone can be prone root damage when planted in containers outside during winter. While mature roots located deep within the root ball have the ability to acclimate to the cold of exposed containers, young roots on the outer portion of the root ball will often die back from temperature fluctuations. In the ground and insulated by the earth, there is typically no problem for the roots of most plants, but in an exposed container, root damage can begin to occur in temperatures just below freezing.

To protect delicate root systems, consider these nursery care tips:

>Avoid exposing plants to a cycle of freezing and thawing. Rapidly fluctuating temperatures (from cold to hot and back) that are common in many states can cause significant damage to plant roots. To avoid this damage, we suggest placing pots on soil instead of concrete or asphalt. This placement eliminates the added possibility of temperature fluctuations brought on my by the heating and cooling of pavement.

>Group several pots together on soil and close to the house or wall. Place the most cold-hardy plants on the outskirts of the grouping with the less hardy plants in the center. Put straw bales on the periphery. Putting them together increases the mass and volume of insulation and protects them from cold, harsh winds that cause desiccation and freezing.

>For added insulation, mulch pots with straw, mulch or shredded leaves. Snow also acts as a good insulator.

>Bury pots in soil to the top of the container.

>If low temperatures loom, cover plants with cloth, burlap or plastic at night. If you use plastic, be sure to remove the covering during the day since temperatures can heat up, causing premature bud growth. Also, when covering, avoid damaging the top part of the plants. Injury sets up the plant for cold and pest damage.

>Insert your pot into a larger pot for added protection. This will work best if the larger pot has thick walls or added insulation.

>The easiest tip of all is to store the container plants indoors when possible during unfavorable conditions.

Container Selection

>When choosing a pot, the bigger the better. Earth is wonderful insulation of the roots of plants. The more soil for insulation from the cold the better. More soil also holds more water, which also aids in insulation.

>Plant the container as early as possible in order to allow plants to harden off. The longer the plant has to acclimate and harden off for winter, the better. Container plants purchased as least two zones cooler than your hardiness zone can help alleviate some concerns.

>Your climate can also adversely affect the material of your container. Untreated porous containers, such as terra cotta and ceramic, tend to crack and break with freezing and thawing. While wood containers are often durable, non-porous containers such as concrete, plastic and metal containers are usually best at withstanding the elements. It is also important to avoid using saucers with containers during the winter. Collected water can freeze potentially causing damage to both containers and plants. As always, raise your pots on feet to provide good drainage.

>Attempt to place your container plants in the most protected areas. Place containers on the north or east sides of the house where conditions are typically shadier. Southern exposures tend to have the greatest temperature swing.

Winter Watering

>When water freezes, it gives off latent heat. This small warmth helps protect the root zone of container plants. Because frost penetrates deeper into the air spaces of dry soil than moist soil, it is important to insure plants are properly watered before freezing conditions arrive.

>Since rainfall can often be scarce during the winter, adequately water your pots. Broadleaf and needled evergreens are particularly sensitive to desiccation. The ideal time to water is during the day when temperatures have warmed above freezing. If the forecast predicts windy or freezing conditions, try to water before these conditions occur.

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