hanging baskets

What are those paper envelopes in my Mother’s Day hanging baskets?

hanging basket plant with sachetsThese small paper “envelopes” are slow release “sachets” that contain beneficial predatory mites that attack young thrips larvae.  (Thrips are very small insects (1-2 mm.  long) with narrow bodies and fringed wings. As they feed they can deform flowers, leaves and shoots. Thrips are primarily a greenhouse pest and not a major pest in the home garden.)

More greenhouse growers are using biological controls to manage thrips. These sachets for the hanging baskets consist of bran, whitish food storage mites (that feed upon the bran) that are a food source for the small beneficial predatory mite Neoseilus (Amblyseiuscucumeris commonly referred to as “cucumeris”.  Cucumeris is a beige predatory mite (less than 1 mm. long) that attacks thrips larvae on the leaves and flowers. They pierce the thrips larvae and suck out their contents, killing them. The sachets serve as a breeding system or “nursery” for the beneficial predatory mites which then emerge from the sachets over a 4 week period.

Slow release sachets are now available as mini-sachets for individual hanging baskets. They are best placed in the plant canopy so they are protected from bright sunlight. If the mini-sachets are placed in bright sunlight, high temperatures and low relative humidity adversely affects the reproduction of the predatory mites. The small mites do not travel far and cannot fly, so a sachet is placed in each hanging basket.

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

(By the way, they do not contain fertilizer.)

Ten Tips for the August Gardener

Photo credit: Clemson University

It’s a beautiful weekend – UConn Extension offers these ten tips for all of you working in your gardens:

1. Pick summer squash and zucchini every day or two to keep the plants producing.

2. Keep an eye out for insect, slug and snail damage throughout the garden.

3. Colorful plastic golf tees can be stuck in the ground to mark the location of dormant plants such as spring flowering bulbs or perennials.

4. Check on water needs of hanging baskets daily in the summer. Wind and sun dry them much more quickly than other containers.

5. Plant another row of quick-maturing bush beans.

6. Think about what fruits trees you might like to add to your yard this fall.

7. Sketch out where you planted various vegetables in your garden so that next spring when you plant, you can rotate your crops to help prevent disease.

8. Late August is a good time to renovate strawberry beds.

9. Stop pruning evergreen trees and shrubs to avoid promoting new growth that may not harden off before first frost.

10. Do not add weeds with mature seed heads to the compost pile. Many weed seeds can remain viable and germinate next year when the compost is used.