Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Horticultural Oils Smother Tiny Insect Pests on Landscape Plants

Crabapple LandscapExperts are ever-vigilant in their search for insect pests in landscapes under their care. Sometimes if a landscape shrub begins to turn olive in color instead of maintaining a rich leaf-green, the problem can be traced to nearly invisible mites or sap-sucking insects. Piercing mouthparts invade the vascular system of the plants, robbing them of their sap and sometimes indirectly causing harm by introducing plant diseases.

In cases like these, Crabapple LandscapExperts choose the safest and best insect control for the job, and in the cool days of early spring occasionally turn to horticultural oil to stop insect pests. Safety for residents and their pets is our primary concern.    

Horticultural oil is a low-toxicity choice especially formulated for use on plants. It can be plant-based or petroleum-based oil with an emulsifier added that allows it to be mixed with water and applied using a regular garden sprayer. It kills scales, mites, aphids, whiteflies and other soft-bodied pests that are present by suffocation, blocking the air holes (spiracles) through which insects breathe, and causing them to die from asphyxiation. Horticultural oils are also effective in controlling plant viruses that are spread by these same piercing and sucking insects.

Horticultural oils pose few risks to people, their pets, or even to beneficial insects (like honey bees or Ladybugs), or to natural enemies of plant-eating pests. Toxicity is minimal, and oils quickly dissipate through evaporation, leaving little residue. Oils also are easy to apply with existing spray equipment and can be mixed with fungicides to control plant diseases if needed.

Crabapple LandscapExperts know that thorough spray coverage is essential when using oils. Since these products are not poisons and are non-toxic to humans and pets, they must contact the insect. All plant surfaces: stems and both tops and bottoms of leaves, are thoroughly coated with spray for best results.

Close-up photo courtesy Wolf Hill Garden Center

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fall Flowering Shubs, Part 4 of 4

Flowering Shrubs for FALL

Whether deciduous with good fall color or evergreen that bring a sense of the garden to the winter landscape, flowering shrubs are reliable and bloom year after year. Crabapple LandscapExperts know that fall blooming shrubs are a welcome addition to the landscape and fill the niche between lower growing perennials and taller understory trees. 

Some Fave Fall-Flowering Shrubs
 Crape Myrtle 
Crape Myrtle is ideally suited for late summer/early fall community plantings since it is long-lived, withstands drought after becoming established and is relatively free of disease and insect pests. There is a Crape Myrtle for every size, from ground covers to 40-foot tall multi-trunked tree forms like Natchez, and colors range from the traditional “watermelon pink” , red and pink to lavender and white 

Beauty Berry
Beauty Berry has no fall flowers but instead offers brilliant orchid or white fruit that light up the autumn landscape.

Rose of Sharon  
A beautiful woody relative of the Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon is a tough plant for dry sun and forms a vase-shaped shrub reliably covered with flowers of lavender, pink or white.

Sasanqua Camellia   
Always in bloom on voting day in early November, Sasanquas are fall-blooming, broad-leaved evergreens beloved in the South. Think of Sasanqua Camellias when planting a hedge, since not only are they evergreen, but they flower at the waning of the gardening season. 

What fall blooming shrubs do you like? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Summer Flowering Shrubs, Part 3 of 4

Typically flowering shrubs have one burst of bloom then recede into background the rest of the year. But Crabapple LandscapExperts know it is more desirable when they contribute to the garden giving three or four seasons of interest, and this is the goal of new plant breeding and the new plants on the market. 

For example, there are now twice-blooming Azaleas, Lilacs and Gardenias among other summer-blooming plants. Fragrance adds an indispensable bonus to the garden as it wafts through the air. Interest is sustained by shrubs with broad leaf evergreen foliage, as well as variegated foliage that brings a bright spot of color to an otherwise green pallette. Brilliant fall color and/or long-lasting  berries contribute to the garden design in the third season of the year, while in winter, textured or colored bark and the sculptural qualities of plant form lend a subtle interest. These contributions are all part of selection of the best plants for the landscape. 

Fave Summer-Flowering Shrubs are welcome! 

Among summer flowering shrubs, there are several favorites. The blue Hydrangea is one of these, in either its "mophead" or "lacecap" forms.Blue Hydrangeas are the emblem of metro-Atlanta summers. They do well in the shady neighborhoods and bloom blue on our acidic soils, requiring a moist soil for peak performance 

Oakleaf Hydrangea is a larger, native shrub, and the big white trusses last for weeks before eventually turning pink and then tan. If not cut, they last throughout winter and the leaves turn wine and red in the fall. 

Gardenia - Penetratingly fragrant, the waxy white flowers are beautifully contrasted by the dark, evergreen foliage. New Gardenias bloom throughout the summer, finishing up in fall with a second flush of blooms. Plant in ground or in containers, but in either case, enjoy fragrant Gardenias near the patio, picnic table or outdoor living area.

Lavender is a sub-shrub with aromatic "evergray" foliage. It is best positioned near a walkway so the clean, sweet fragrance is released when it is brushed by ankles or gate. Lavender is a good choice for sunny, well-drained locations, and thrives with a little lime added to Georgia soils. 

We can't overlook Landscape Roses that bloom non-stop for months, from April until frost in metro-Atlanta. There are the full-sized Knock-Outs and the low spreading Carpet or Drift roses, and a host of intermediate-sized shrub roses. These are bred for resistance to disease and long bloom season, and are really tough and easy to grow. Many colors are available; plant in full sun and water during establishment, then jump back as they shower you with a profusion of bright flowers .

So ask your Crabapple Rep about adding some summer-blooming shrubs to the landscape. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spring Flowering Shrubs, Part 2 of 4

Many deciduous flowering shrubs bloom in the springtime, giving Crabapple LandscapExperts a wide variety of choices to brighten up you landscape. Formerly attention-grabbing only in spring, selection and new plant breeding have produced additional seasons of interest, and to benefit smaller landscapes or intown gardens.

Fave Spring Flowering Shrubs

Forsythia-  Familiar yellow flowers herald the spring. Tough deciduous shrub but add interest with the variegated foliage of Korean Forsythia “Ilgwang’

Azalea - The embodiment of springtime in metro-Atlanta, extend your season with twice-blooming Azaleas such as the well-known Encore Azaleas or the new for 2012 Bloom-A-Thon Azaleas that bloom reliably in Spring and Fall as well as sporatically all summer long.

Spirea – The familiar, arching Bridal Wreath Spirea with good fall color is a great old standby, but try my favorite, the slender-stemmed, narrow-leaved Spirea thunbergii.  This Chinese spirea has small starry flowers on gracefully arching branches and the willow-leaved foliage turns a bright yellow in fall. 

Viburnum – A large genus and kissing cousins with Hydrangeas, the Viburnums are typically white-flowered like Snowball and Double-File Viburnum. Some of the most fragrant members of this genus are Korean Spice and Burkwood Viburnum, while a few like Leatherleaf and Prague Viburnum have evergreen leaves.Many of these shrubs have bright fall foliage, an added extra. 

Blueberry- Small, urn-shaped, white flowers in spring; delicious and healthful blue berries in summer; brilliant scarlet red leaves in fall; and red twigs in winter make native Blueberries the ideal four-season garden choice.

Fothergilla, while unusual, is a personal favorite. White “bottlebrush” flowers on low shrubs grow well even in shade, and the deciduous leaves turn flaming colors of yellow, gold, orange, red and purple for 6 weeks every fall, creating a second season of show-stopping interest for this native shrub. 

There are myriad spring-blooming shrubs. Which are your favorites?