Finding Alternatives to Peat Moss in Greenhouse Mediums

Sphagnum peat moss is an important component of greenhouse and nursery plant potting media, but mining of the material is unsustainable due to its negative environmental impacts. A new research project (funded by USDA Northeast SARE) is evaluating hemp hurd fiber as an alternative substrate for peat moss, which is a non-renewable resource. Dr. Jessica Lubell-Brand is leading the project. The research project is looking at hemp hurd fiber in growing media for container production of horticultural crops. Knowledge will be acquired about what crop groups may be grown using hurd, the amounts of hurd that may be combined with traditional media components, and the impact hurd substitution has on the availability of nutrients. If it can be shown that hurd may be successfully substituted for peat during the production of horticultural crops, then growers will seek to use this byproduct of the hemp industries.

New England Greenhouse Floriculture Guide

poinsettias in a greenhouse
Photo: Stacey Stearns

New England greenhouse growers rely on the New England Greenhouse Floriculture Guide for its unbiased, detailed information. It includes insect and mite management, disease prevention and management, weed control, and plant growth regulation. The Guide is updated every two years. 

Dr. Rosa Raudales and Leanne Pundt were co-editors for the 2021-2022 version. Raudales led the effort to develop an online format for the Guide. She also provided overall editing and updated the section on plant growth regulators. Pundt edited the sections on IPM and insect biology, weeds, algae and liverworts and co-edited the section on disease management with Dr. Cheryl Smith, emeritus from the University of New Hampshire. 

The New England Floriculture, Inc., sponsor of the Northeast Greenhouse Conference, in collaboration with University Cooperative Extensions from New England States is proud to introduce the free online version of the New England Greenhouse Floriculture Guide: A Management Guide for Insects, Diseases, Weeds, and Growth Regulators. 

Article by Leanne Pundt

Webinar Series for Greenhouse Growers on Vegetable Seedling Production

rows of seedlings growing in a greenhouse

UConn Extension Offers Vegetable Seedling & Transplant Production in Greenhouses Webinar Series for Greenhouse Growers

A webinar series for growers producing vegetables and herbs as seedlings or transplants in heated greenhouses. Topics include transplant uniformity, root-zone management, organic fertilizers, disease & pest control.

One pesticide recertification credit has been approved for three of five one-hour webinar for New England states.

More information here. (including program description and online registration).

For more information contact:  Rosa E. Raudales ( & Leanne Pundt (

Northeast Greenhouse Conference Webinar Series

greenhouse flowers
Photo: Leanne Pundt

The Northeast Greenhouse Conference and Expo has announced that they will offer a webinar series this fall, beginning Nov. 4 sponsored by New England Floriculture Inc., in order to deliver content relevant to greenhouse pests, diseases, biocontrols, PGRs, and sanitation.  Although having to postpone the Northeast Greenhouse Conference and Expo to 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic is regrettable, the hope is that these webinars will provide important education (and pesticide recertification credit) for the greenhouse community in 2020. Pesticide recertification credits will be offered for the New England States and New York.


Webinar Topics

  • Pests of Chrysanthemum, and an Insect Management Update
  • Biological Control: How to be successful

  • Growing Garden Mums Without Disease Losses

  • Learn the Newest Strategies to Keep Root Rots from Hurting Your Bottom Line

  • Young Plants and Plant Growth Regulators: Saving time and Improving Quality

  • Cleaning Surfaces in the Greenhouse

Visit for the dates/descriptions and registration information.

High-Value Greenhouse Production

greenhouse flowers
Photo: Leanne Pundt

High technology greenhouses across Connecticut provide cover for many types of plants. Bedding plants, edibles (vegetable and herb transplants, greenhouse vegetables grown for production), ornamental herbaceous perennials, hemp and poinsettias all grow in greenhouses.

UConn Extension supports the Connecticut greenhouse industry with information and educational programming on sustainable production methods. In Connecticut, the greenhouse industry is a significant part of agriculture. Greenhouse and nursery products are Connecticut’s leading source of agricultural income.

Approximately 300 commercial greenhouse businesses have eight million square feet of production space under cover. In addition, many Connecticut farmers have added greenhouse crops to their businesses to increase income.

UConn Extension offered 111 training sessions to Connecticut wholesale and retail greenhouses with 1,566,088 square feet of intensive greenhouse production and 1,021,000 square feet of outdoor container production in 2019. Diagnostic trouble shooting, grower visits, phone calls, emails and text messages helped growers not participating in the intensive program offered by our UConn Integrated Pest Management (IPM) educators.

One grower stated, “I would like thank you for all the guidance and information that you provided the interns and me this year. I always receive a new piece of information that helps me keep the crops on track for that excellent product.”

Greenhouse production continues to be one of the largest segments of Connecticut agriculture, and the success of the industry helps build the infrastructure that other operations depend on.

Article by Leanne Pundt

Garden Centers are Open Statewide

greenhouse flowers
Photo: Leanne Pundt

Is it time to get outside and work on your garden? Or are you looking for the perfect gift for mom this weekend? There are garden centers with curbside pickup and online ordering available throughout the state.

Find a garden center near you and the services offered at:
And, don’t be alarmed if you see a small envelope in your plant. These small paper “envelopes” are slow release “mini-sachets” that are a breeding system or “nursery” for beneficial predatory mites that emerge from the sachets over a 4 to 6-week period.
The beneficial predatory mites attack a very small insect, thrips, may distort and damage flowers. Thrips are primarily a greenhouse pest and are not a pest in your home garden. To provide you with attractive flowers, growers place these mini sachets in your baskets to prevent any damage to the flowers.

These nursery sachets consist of bran and food storage mites (that feed upon the bran) that are a food source for the small predatory mite Neoseilus (Amblyseiuscucumeris commonly referred to as “cucumeris”.   Cucumeris is a small, tan predatory mite (less than 1 mm. long) that attacks thrips larvae found on the leaves and in the flowers. They pierce the thrips and suck them dry, killing them.  These predatory mites do not travel far and cannot fly, so growers place a mini-sachet in each hanging basket.

The moral of the story – leave the envelope in your hanging basket, and enjoy the flowers!

Article by Leanne Pundt

UConn Recruiting Hydroponic Greenhouse Growers


The University of Connecticut Greenhouse Research & Extension team are conducting a study in root rot of hydroponically-grown leafy greens. They would like to collect plant samples with root rot from commercial operations in the U.S. Your participation will help better understand how microbes interact in roots and potentially identify beneficial microbes that reduce the risk of plant pathogens in hydroponics. 

Participants would benefit from this study by receiving a free diagnosis of what is causing root rot in the sample and early access to the information generated from this project. If you are interested in participating, follow this link:

For questions, contact Cora McGehee at  or Rosa Raudales ( or 860.486.6043).

This project is sponsored by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch Multistate project accession number 1020637.

Bedding Plant Program for Greenhouse Growers

greenhouse flowers
Photo: Leanne Pundt

Get the latest information on bedding plant crop diseases, case studies on greenhouse production issues and more from University experts and network with professionals and fellow growers.  This educational program will feature the following topics of interest to those who produce spring crops in the greenhouse: 

·         Case Studies on Greenhouse Production Issues  

Rosa Raudales, Greenhouse Extension Specialist, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

·         The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of Glyphosate, Candace Bartholomew, UConn Extension

·         Tales from the Field, Leanne Pundt, UConn Extension, (Feb 6th only)

·         Update on Bedding Plant Diseases, Abby Beissinger, UConn

·         Recap 2019, Bedding Plant Diseases to Prepare for 2020, Dr. Yonghao Li, CAES (Feb 11th only)

·         What’s New with Diamide Insecticides from OHP, Carlos Bogran, OHP  (Feb 11th only) 

For your convenience, this program will be offered in two separate locations.

·         February 6ththis program will be offered from 9:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Tolland County Extension Office at 24 Hyde Avenue, Vernon, CT.

·         February 11th, this program will be offered from 9:30 to 2:30 at the Litchfield County Extension Center at 843 University Drive, Torrington, CT.


Four Pesticide recertification credits available! 

For more information, contact Leanne Pundt, at 860.626.6855 or email:

The University of Connecticut is an equal opportunity program provider and employer.

Christmas in July at CT Greenhouses

It is Christmas in July for the greenhouse producers who grow poinsettias. In order to have plants that are blooming for December sales, greenhouses start the process early. Poinsettias require months in the greenhouse before they are ready to be purchased and taken home.

Leanne Pundt, one of our Extension educators was scouting the plants for whitefly immatures at one the Connecticut growers last week and took these photos.

poinsettias as seedlings
Poinsettias are purchased as seedlings by the greenhouses. Photo: Leanne Pundt
poinsettia plants in a water tunnel
The planting line in the watering tunnel. Photo: Leanne Pundt











poinsettias on cart to be transported into the greenhouse
Potted plants are placed on carts to be transported into the greenhouse. Photo: Leanne Pundt
poinsettias growing in the greenhouse
Poinsettias growing in the greenhouse. Photo: Leanne Pundt









poinsettia plants in the greenhouse
Poinsettia plants in the greenhouse. Photo: Leanne Pundt