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Maas Nursery

Summertime Pest

By Kathryn Courtney
   It’s July. It’s Hot! This is a hard month for gardening. Not only does the weather try to kill us but the garden pests come out in hoards. Dealing with garden pests in the heat and humidity is not pleasant but it’s a task that needs to be done for a beautiful garden in September. I stroll through my garden in the evening when the heat is not so terrible. As I water I watch for the summer garden problems of mildew and insects.
Powdery Mildew

Mildew seems to be the number one problem in my garden this year. I made the classic gardeners mistake, I over planted. Not having enough airflow in and around your plants promotes molds, mildews and rust. All of these are huge problems for me right now. I finally waved the white flag and just pulled up my squash. Planting fungus resistant cultivars such as mildew resistant zinnias and Ashley cucumbers helped. Next spring, do some research to find good flowers and vegetables for the humid gulf coast. I have found that this step in garden planning prevents a lot of heartache later. If you have problems ask someone in the nursery for help. We google everything! To get rid of a fungus use an organic spray. We have several including Neem oil, Triple Action and Copper Fungicide. All of these need to be sprayed in the evening when the sun is going down. These are oil sprays and will burn your plants in the heat of the day. Make sure to spray the tops and bottoms of the leaves until the spray is dripping off the plant. This will ensure the whole plant is covered. Also, removing leaves that have fallen to the ground and sealing them in a plastic bag helps keep the fungus from spreading. I have thinned out some of my plants to allow better airflow and that seems to be helping. Black spot on roses begins to get really bad this time of year. Neem oil works best for this problem.

     Hot summer brings bugs of all kinds. Large and small, crawling and slithering, there is every kind

Leaf Footed Bug Larvae

of pest imaginable. For getting rid of the large pests use the pick and squish method. Be sure to use gloves to cut

Leaf Footed Bug or Stink Bug

down on the Ick factor. If you can’t bring yourself to squish, throwing the bugs in a bucket of soapy water is just as effective. I have used this method on leaf footed bugs and snails with good results. It also works great for tomato horn worms. Spraying the bugs with Neem oil or Triple Action works but this can only be done in the evening. For slugs and snails there is a bait called Sluggo that is very effective.

     The major bug problem in the summer seems to be the small bugs. Mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids, scale  and many others attack in the heat and humidity. Spider

Spider Mite Damage

mites are especially troublesome because they are too small to see. If you suspect spider mites, shake a leaf of the infected plant over a white piece of paper. Using a magnifying glass, look for little red spider looking bugs. If you find them you have spider mites. For these bug problems spraying is usually the only option. For everything but scale, Neem and Triple Action are good choices for getting rid of these small pests. Scale is harder to tackle. Scale bugs have hard outer shells that make killing them hard. A mixture of Neem and orange oil can work. The orange oil helps break down the shell so the Neem can get to the bug. These treatments need to be done weekly and all of

Scale

the undersides of the leaves must be sprayed. Most of the small insects are found on the under side of the leaf. If all else fails and the infected plants are not edible, the last resort is a systemic drench. Pouring the drench around the base of the plant so the systemic can reach the roots is how this insecticide works. The poison goes into the plant and kills anything living on the stems and leaves. This really needs to be a last resort because these pesticides are bad for you and the environment.

     I know it’s hot and I know it’s hard, but keeping up with the summertime pests is important for the health of your garden. Keeping an eye on the garden in the evening is something we all can do. The reward is a beautiful fall garden and healthy summer  plants.

On Watering

By: Deb Pavlosky
I know you all know this already, but I am going to say this again – plants NEED water – how often and how much is dependent upon the plant and the soil it is planted in as well as other conditions (like temperature, light, wind, mulching, etc.).  If all you are growing is succulents or other drought tolerant plants, overwatering is more of an issue for you than underwatering and this article is not meant for you.
If, however, you are like nearly everyone I know and you are growing typical landscape and/or potted plants in this area, this article should be like gospel.
Water your plants.  During the summer, most plants will need water EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Yes, every single day.  This is especially true for newly planted plants.  When you put a new plant in the ground, the root ball is directly underneath the bottom of the plant.  Plant roots need time to grow and spread before they are truly efficient at getting water.  So, when you water, be sure to water at the base of the plant and directly over the root ball.  Water deeply to encourage the roots to grow more deeply.  If you only water enough to moisten the top couple of inches of soil, you won’t reach the whole root ball and any roots that grow will be shallow.  Shallow watering will lead to weaker and more thirsty plants over time.
If you have a sprinkler system, that’s great for established plants, but the sprinkler heads may not deliver water exactly to the root ball as necessary for new plantings.  So, YES, you will have to hand water those new plantings at least through the first growing season.   It takes some time for plants to become established and develop sufficient root systems.
For established plants (plants that have been in the ground for more than a growing season) watering is less of a concern, but you still have to pay attention to their needs.  Water stress can be the cause of a lot of issues and can make plants more susceptible to disease and pests.  Water daily in the summer to keep your plants happy and healthy.
If your soil drains well, that’s a good thing (ideal for most plants except boggy types that either like to be in the water or have wet feet).  But, because it drains well, you are going to have to water daily.  Even if there was a rainstorm the day before, you have to water.  I have personal experience that I am sharing with you in the photo included here.  This photo shows a half whiskey barrel planter that I was replanting the day following a rainstorm.  I assumed the soil would be too wet for me to plant, but I thought I would give it a go anyway.  I pulled the old plants out and then dug down into the soil to find that it was completely DRY beneath the surface.  And, though the surface appeared wet, the soil beneath was not.  I was so struck by it, I asked my husband to come out and see it too.  He’s always asking if I really need to water and this was prima facie evidence.  Yes, counselor, I do.
So, the end of June came with a few days of really rainy weather and that was a nice little relief for this gardener.  But, the heat will return and watering will be key to happy plants and in turn a happy gardener.
Also, remember that your plants are using up nutrients in the soil as they grow and all the watering can cause some of those nutrients to leach out of the soil too.  Fertilize through the growing season with a good organic fertilizer like Microlife 6-2-4.  This fertilizer provides needed nutrition and encourages more fine-root growth that will help plants uptake both water and nutrients.  As a bonus, Microlife will not burn your plants.  It’s a win-win-win so, don’t forget to water-water-water and use a good organic fertilizer.

Rain Lily

 
Making it Through The Rain (Barry Manilow). Rain rain go away come back another day. We have all sung that little jingle at some time in our life.We have Raining on Sunday,(Keith Urban),Rainy Days and Mondays,(Carpenters), there is Kentucky Rain,(Elvis), Smokey Mountain Rain,(Ronnie Milsap), Rains Down in Africa,(Toto) and it Never Rains in Southern California,along with A Rainy Night in Georgia. Now I begin to think there is Signing in the Rain,(Gene Kelly), Kissin’ in the Rain,(Toby Keith), Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head,(B.J. Thomas). Then we have Purple Rain,(Prince), Fire and Rain,(James Taylor), Rainy Day Feeling Again, Here Comes the Rain,Love a Rainy Night. Again we have Have You Ever Seen the Rain and Who’ll Stop the Rain, (CCR). There is Rhythm of the Rain,(Cascades), Rain Fell Down,(Stones) and finally Rain is a Good Thing,(Luke Bryan).
 
So by now you may be wondering what does all these rain songs have to do with production? Read on for the answer!! It all starts with the Zephyr Lily. The Zephyr winds from the west must blow in the rain for the Zephyr lily,( AKA Rain lily ). This easy to grow bulb, a crocus look alike, transforms like magic across the landscape. Get it? Yes it blooms after the rain.
Although many of the common names include lily, these plants are in the Amaryllis family. The Rain Lily is a hardy perennial that can be planted in mass groupings or here and there in nooks and crannies. This plant is easy to cultivate and fast to naturalize. This is one plant that is perfect for our hot summer climate, growing in full sun and or part shade with well drained soil. So the production plant of the month is the rain lily.
The production team planted 3,000 rain lily bulbs in wonderful colors of pink,white and yellow. Remember with the Magic lily, Fairy Lily, or Rain Lily, the” MAGIC” is the rain, it’s a good thing. Please stop by the nursery to witness the magic.

Lantana Lace Bug

Lantana Lace Bug (Teleonemia scrupulosa) is a destructive pest that does extensive damage on lantana. Lace Bug feeds on the underside of the leaves and newly opened blooms. The damage can prevent new blooms and even leaf dropping. It’s easy to identify if you have this pest in your yard. The upper side of the leaves will be white from the chlorophyll being drained out and the underside of the leaf will have black spots of waste.  The edges of the leaves may also brown and curl. The extreme amount of damage this insect can inflict is so detrimental that it has been imported to countries where lantana is a noxious weed as a form of control.
Methods of treatment include light horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, neem and spinosad.
Predatory insects, such as lacewings, may also be used as a control.

Tropical Hibiscus, Bling for your Garden

I admit it. I am a compulsive plant collector. I collect native plants, heirloom vegetables, antique roses and all kinds of salvia. My new obsession… tropical hibiscus.They are the most showy, colorful, stunning, spectacular plants and flowers in the world! (in my opinion) And the fun part is growing them is easy. Tropical hibiscus have a few requirements but nothing hard.
 
These hibiscus need full sun to filtered light in our hot summer afternoons. Water them regularly but don’t let them get soggy. A very important requirement is fertilizer. Hibiscus really need their own food. These plants originate from volcanic regions which are high in potassium. Potassium is the third number on your fertilizer container. Maas carries food specifically for hibiscus to meet the unique nutrient requirements of these plants. I use granular food because it is easy. Water your hibiscus a little first, sprinkle the food around the plant and water again to start the feeding. Slow release fertilizers will feed the plant every time you water. Do this for your hibiscus every month or more during the blooming season. My hibiscus in pots get fed every two weeks.
 
The only real issue with hibiscus is they are not freeze hardy. Bring your hibiscus pots in if the temperature gets to the low thirties. For hibiscus planted outside use Insulate cover over the plants and secure it to the ground with rocks. Do not use plastic as this will burn the plants and bed sheets sometimes are not enough cover. One of my colleagues at Maas is very clever. She uses cotton backed plastic picnic table cloths to prevent freezing hibiscus. The cotton side goes on the plants. She says they work great. If after all your precautions your plants still freeze, do not pull them up immediately. I have had hibiscus come back from the dead several times because the roots did not freeze. In spring, cut the dead plants back to the ground and wait. Miracles do happen.
 
Sometimes hibiscus get pests or fungus. Treat your hibiscus with Triple Action when this happens. It is an organic pesticide and fungicide all in one that does the trick every time. Spray your plants when you first notice the problem, Don’t let the bugs get out of hand.
 
There are so many beautiful pictures of hibiscus from the nursery. Here are some examples of the colors and varieties Maas carries. If you want a special variety, call before coming. Our stock changes daily. My advice is come to the nursery and see what we have. It’s a fun outing and the hibiscus won’t disappoint!
 

Elephant Ears.

Interested in Elephant Ears?
Are you looking for an interesting tropical plant for that spot in your yard that doesn’t drain well? Or perhaps you’re looking for a striking plant for a container or water garden. Take a look at the many elephant ear varieties available, a group of tropical perennials grown for their large heart-shaped leaves, for both sun or shade.
Elephant ears belong to the family Araceae, as do caladiums, and can either be from the genera Colocasia (Taro) or Alocasia, native to tropical Asia and Pacific islands, or Xanthosoma, native to tropical America. All are grown year-round in more tropical areas but die back and go dormant during our zone 9 winters.
Colocasia varieties, perennial in USDA zones 8-11, prefer full sun and wet soil, and can tolerate standing water.
 
These can make an attractive addition to any water garden. The plants grow from tubers or corms, with propagation by division only. Alternately, Alocasia varieties, perennial in zones 8b-11, prefer shade or part sun with frequent watering in well-drained soil. Grown from both tubers and rhizomes (underground creeping rootstalks), both can be used for propagation of new plants.
By appearance, Colocasia varieties can be identified by their downward pointing leaf tips, with leaves extending from long petioles (succulent stems) coming directly from the corm and attaching near the middle of the lower surface of the leaf. Alocasia and Xanthosoma leaf tips point outward and upward generally, with the petioles attaching at the base of the leaf.
The plants do well in pots with lots of organic matter mixed into the soil and appreciate regular watering. Many varieties of the Colocasia genus are wetland plants that can also be featured in water gardens, but Alocasia varieties prefer well drained soil. Both varieties do well in part shade to sun with some protection, but the darker purple-leaved types especially enjoy full sun. In beds, elephant ears can be planted en masse, or play well with other striking tropicals like cannas, criniums, or bananas. Coleus and caladiums also make good planting companions.
Many elephant ear species have traditionally been grown as a staple food for the edible starchy corms or tubers.
 
The Hawaiians pound the cooked taro (Colocasia esculenta) tubers into a paste known as poi and use the leaves to wrap fillings like chicken or fish that are then steamed. (All parts of the plant contain calcium oxalate crystals, and uncooked, will cause stomach upset if consumed; sap can be a skin irritant.)
Some fantastic Colocasia selections at Maas Nursery include Black Coral, a clumping variety with deep purple leaves, growing 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, and Hawaiian Punch, a clumper with small 8-inch-long green leaves and bright red stems. Alocasia selections include the Yucatan Princess, a dark green leafed beauty with burgundy stems that grows 6 to 8 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide, or the large similarly sized Portadora with dramatic ribbed leaves. We also carry Lime Zinger, a bright chartreuse Xanthosoma variety growing 2 to 4 feet tall and 1.5 to 3 feet wide that will brighten up any planting area.

Xanthosoma-Lime-Zinger

Colocasia White Lava.

Colocasia Black Coral

Colocasia-Hawaiian-Punch-

Yacon Pear of the Earth

By Jenna Haden
If you have grown every vegetable and are just looking for something new or are looking for something exciting to brag about to your friends then the yacon or pear of the earth is the plant you’ve been looking for! The yacon is a tuberous vegetable that is very easy to grow. It is drought tolerant, so if watering your plants in the heat of the summer isn’t for you, you’ll love this. In fact in a severe drought it will lie

Yacon

dormant til the moisture returns. Yacon is in the sunflower family so on top of being easy to grow and delicious, you’ll  get flowers.The flowers are small, yet beautiful. This is a fall harvest vegetable so when all the flowers and leaves die back it’s time to harvest. There are two types of tubers, small red ones close to the surface and large brown ones underneath. The red ones are edible but are typically reserved for next year’s crop (store in cool dark place til spring), the brown ones are for you to enjoy! The taste is unlike any vegetable you’ve ever tried, it is more like a fruit, being sweet tasting like watermelon, pear, and crunchy like a apple. Grow yacon in full sun. Oh did I mention it is Pest free! The only way to mess up growing this wonderful plant is to over water. When you’re ready to eat your yacon you can enjoy it right away or let sit in a dark place to get even sweeter. Slice fresh and toss into fruit salad or try recipe below.

Height:
4-6 ft.
Spacing:
24-36 in.
Hardiness:
USDA Zone 7b-11
Yacon and blue cheese salad

It’s not easy to improve upon the famously fabulous combination of walnuts and blue cheese but the addition of yacon, with its succulent sweet crunch, really lightens and freshens this deliciously different lunch.
Serves 4 as a starter
Small handful of shelled walnuts or pecans
Juice of 1 lemon
1 medium-large yacon
Handful of salad leaves
180g blue cheese, such as Dorset blue vinney, roquefort or gorgonzola
For the dressing:
1 tbsp apple balsamic vinegar
Pinch of flaky sea salt
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the walnuts or pecans out onto a baking tray and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, shaking halfway through, until lightly coloured – keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t burn.
Fill a bowl with water and add the lemon juice. Peel the yacon, cut into slices and toss into the lemony water to prevent them from discolouring.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar with the salt before adding the olive oil a little at a time, whisking all the while until smooth. In a bowl, lightly dress the salad leaves in a little of the dressing and divide between 4 plates.
Arrange the sliced yacon on top, crumble over the blue cheese, then trickle over the rest of the dressing. Scatter the nuts over the top and serve immediately.
Come to Maas to get this awesome pest free, drought tolerant, and delicious vegetable!

Give Mom the Gift of Herbs

 by Kim Nichols Messer

 

        It is important to celebrate our moms all year long, but on May 14th we want them to feel extra special.  Consider an herb pot.  You may select one already potted, we have many to choose from, or design your own.  A 19 inch pot will hold six herb plants easily depending on the growth pattern of the herb.  An Herb de Provence pot will provide an excellent source for seasoning many kitchen creations from baked chicken to roasted vegetables.  Using a 19 inch clay pot, put drainage material in the bottom and add a good organic soil.  The Provence herbs of your choice may be planted together.  I would put Basil in the middle as an anchor plant for some height. Oregano, Thyme and Sage on the outside ring, and Prostrate Rosemary can dangle down the side of the pot. The Basil will also repel mosquitoes as an added bonus.
       You may do a combination mint pot for cool and refreshing summer beverages.  Peppermint, Spearmint and Chocolate Mint are all fun and easy to grow.  You may do a pot with Fennel and Lemon Grass sharing the center of the pot as an anchor, then add Garlic Chives and Thai Basil, or Coriander and Cilantro for a stir fry or soup pot.  Lemon Grass will do double duty and also repel mosquitoes.
        A simple pot of Basil will provide almost endless pesto opportunities for al fresco dining.  And now that tomatoes are ready, my favorite combination, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes and mozzarella with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, some olive oil and cracked pepper… Yum!
       Give the gift of herbs.  They are easy to grow and low maintenance. Sunshine and well drained soil will give you happy plants to cook with and share with others, Good gardening!

Adventures in Butterfly Gardening

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By Kathryn Courtney

I have always butterfly gardened. I did it because I liked it and butterflies make me happy. I knew very little about endangered species, vanishing habitats, and dangerous pesticides.I butterfly gardened for my own personal pleasure. Then I came to work at Maas. I began to learn that not only were butterflies fun, but that they needed a gardeners help. Butterflies are in very real danger of extinction. Backyard butterfly gardens provide butterflies with the habitat that is being taken from them by widespread pesticide and herbicide use. Now I butterfly garden for fun and so that my grandchildren will be able to enjoy these magical insects just like I do. Here are some things I learned during my adventures in butterfly gardening.

 

     The first thing I learned during my pursuit of the perfect butterfly garden was to start small. Do not overwhelm yourself. It takes all the fun out of it. I started with a back corner of my yard that gets full sun. If you don’t have a sunny spot that’s okay. There are butterfly plants for shade also. All of the flowers I

Lantana

planted were nectar plants that provided the butterflies with food.

 Coneflower.

Lantana became my best friend. I gradually added purple coneflowers, coreopsis, verbena and zinnias. I was careful to avoid any type of pesticide, organic or not. All pesticides can kill butterflies. I have found that almost all butterfly nectar plants are very tough and are rarely bothered by pests. Most are drought tolerant once established and need very little if any added fertilizer. Then I started my job at Maas. I found my butterfly garden was missing a few things.

     For one, I had forgotten about the caterpillars. I learned I needed to add host plants for the baby butterfly caterpillars to eat after they hatched. These caterpillars only eat certain types of plants depending on the species and need this food for the generations to continue. My butterfly garden began to expand. I added milkweed for monarch butterflies, parsley, dill fennel and rue for

Milkweed

swallowtails, and a cassia bush for my favorites, the sulfur yellow butterflies.

Cassia

Now my butterfly watching habit included checking for baby caterpillars on these host plants along with watching the adult butterflies. I was surprised to learn that my 18 year old satsuma was the perfect host for giant swallowtails which was the reason I saw so many of these butterflies in my yard.

     I began to read a few books and talk to my fellow Maas coworkers and realized that I needed a place for butterflies to “puddle” and shelter when they were tired. The sheltering part was easy enough as my cassia bush had grown large enough to provide a good rest stop for my butterflies. Butterflies like to puddle in very shallow water to get nutrients and water from the ground. To make an artificial puddle I used a terracotta pot saucer sitting on top of an inverted terracotta pot.I added sand two thirds of the way to the top of the pot saucer and placed flat rocks in the sand. then I added water to barely cover the sand .The tops of the rocks were out of the water to provide landing spaces for the butterflies. I now had a very easy, do it yourself butterfly puddle. There is one last piece of advice I learned the hard way with my butterflies. If you have bird feeders, place them as far away from your butterfly garden as you can. Birds will go quickly from eating at the feeder to eating the baby caterpillars in no time.
     Over the years I have added plants and taken some away. My whole backyard is pretty much all butterfly garden. I found pentas were great for shade and there is even one called butterfly pink. I also

Butterfly Pink Pentas

have pipevine in the shade for pipevine swallowtail caterpillars. My butterfly garden has a wild, natural look to it but it can very easily be pruned to look more formal.Butterfly gardens are very easy to setup and maintain. The plants are easy to grow, most require very little water once established, and they need no special care. There are many knowledgeable butterfly enthusiasts working at Maas. They will gladly help you find the perfect plants for your own butterfly garden.Take a corner of your yard and devote it to saving the butterflies. You will love it and the butterflies will thank you.

When Your Neighbor’s Trash Is Your Treasure !

By: Deb Pavlosky
Some days one person’s trash is YOUR treasure!  I was fortunate enough to come across my treasure on the street in my neighborhood as I was driving to work one day recently.  It was trash day and one of my lovely neighbors had left a broken wooden chair on the curb for pick up.  As I drove by, all I could think was, “Surely, I can do something with that.”  The chair was beautifully painted and looked like it would only need some minor repairs.  So, that’s when my husband got the call to swing by and pick it up.  Luckily for me, I married a man who will do weird things like pick up a chair off the side of the road without asking too many questions.  So, he did and I couldn’t wait to get home that afternoon.
Below is a picture of the chair.  The frame needed to be screwed back together and there was no seat, but that didn’t matter because I decided to turn the chair into a planter.
  Trash to Treasure 1
First things first — My husband is also quite handy.  He was able to easily fix the frame of the chair and reinforce it with both an exterior adhesive and screws.
 
Second, I sealed the chair with multiple coats of exterior clear, matte sealant.  I made sure to thoroughly spray all joints and screws as well as the underside of all surfaces.  I allowed the finish to dry between
 coats.

 

Third, I purchased a plastic planter that fit exactly inside the seat opening on the chair.  I used plastic because it is lightweight.
 
Fourth, I prepared to plant the plastic pot by drilling large drainage holes in the bottom and placing a layer of weed barrier on the bottom underneath a few cups of expanded shale (to aid with drainage).  The weed barrier keeps the shale and soil from falling out the bottom of the pot, but it still allows water to flow freely through.
 
Fifth, I selected my plants to fit in the pot and the location for the chair in my landscape.  Luckily for me, again, we had just received a shipment of Rex begonias at Maas Nursery.  I have wanted to grow Rex begonias forever, but I never really had the right place to put them.  With this chair project, I now do!
When creating a mixed container planting, there is a formula to follow: Thrillers in the back, fillers in the middle and spillers in the front.  Filler plants are typically in the middle of a mixed planting and provide contrast for the thrillers (tall and showy) and spillers (growing over the edge of the pot).  But, with Rex begonias as fillers, they are also thrillers!!!  Along with the begonias, I tried my best to pick other plants with similar light (shade, part shade, dappled light) and water (well drained and dry between waterings) requirements.  For spiller plants, I chose silver falls dichondra and a hoya.  For thriller plants, I chose Mariachi Pink picotee lisianthus.  Though lisianthus like a little more light and a little more water than begonias, I was able to situate the planter in my yard so that they get just enough light.  Also, they are planted at the back of the pot, so if they need to be watered, I can water only these plants and not the others.    There are usually ways to make things work!
 
And lastly, the most fun part, I put it all together and I have the cutest planter I have ever made!!!

So, don’t pass up that trash on the side of the road that caught your eye.  It may be your treasure!!!