plants

Celebrate National Pollinator Week!

This week highlights the crucial role of pollinators in our food supply, crop success and persistence of the plants we admire. Pollinator activity is needed for the reproduction of over 85% of the world’s flowering plants including  over 1,200 crop plants. We can take time to learn more about pollinators and reflect on the need to celebrate and protect them every day.  Most pollinator species are insects and many of them continue to face significant conservation challenges. Reports indicate significant declines in 28% of North American bumble bee species and 19% of U.S. butterflies species are at risk of extinction. So lend them a hand by planting a pollinator garden or creating nesting sites for native bees.  

To learn more about pollinators and how to protect them visit this website: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Wildlife/Learn-About-Wildlife/Pollinators-in-Connecticut

For fun family activities for this week you can visit   https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week#pw-activities

What is a Virus?

covid bannerA virus has a very simple makeup. It is just a piece of DNA or RNA, a protein coat, and in some cases a fatty (lipid) layer. The protein coat provides protection for the piece of genetic information (DNA or RNA), and can code for different functions when the virus infects a host organism.

Viruses are considered neither alive nor dead. Viruses do not consist of cells or have any components to carry out basic functions on their own. They rely on the cell functions of their host to replicate. They hijack their host’s cells to operate in a way that allows the virus to thrive.

For this exact reason, viruses have a biological incentive to keep their hosts alive. If their hosts die, the virus can no longer replicate. Viable virus particles can exist on a surface, such as a table. But without a host, the virus can not cause disease or infection.

The first virus to be crystallized and therefore each of its parts were able to be studied, was actually a plant virus, Tobacco mosaic virus. Rosalind Franklin made this discovery in 1955. Since then, thousands of new viruses have been described.

Potato virus Y (PVY) is one of the oldest known plant viruses, and the 5th most economically important plant virus in the world, meaning that it can cause a lot of damage. Hundreds of plants can infected by PVY including potato, tomato, pepper, eggplant, tobacco, and many species of weeds.

Historically, PVY has been easy to detect in fields because of the beautiful mosaic symptoms it causes on foliage. On potatoes, other symptoms include veinal necrosis, deformed or rotting (necrotic) potatoes, and up to 70% yield losses.

Read more at:

What is a virus?

 

 

 

Plant Diagnostic Lab Offers Hot Water Seed Treatment

Our Plant Diagnostic Laboratory now offers hot water seed treatment. What is it? Watch Abby Beissinger, our plant diagnostician, explain how hot water seed treatment works and can help you.

Hot water seed treatment is supported in part by a UConn CAHNR Innovation in Extension Programming Award and a grant from the New England Vegetable & Berry Growers Association. The Plant Diagnostic Laboratory is currently closed due to the university closure for COVID-19 but will accept seeds for treatment when we re-open. The Plant Diagnostic Laboratory is a service of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture and Extension.

Video: Mike Zaritheny – https://www.mzaritheny.com/

Cold Weather and Finding Old Friends in the Garden

Lilac flower covered in snow

These are some crazy times lately. Snow in the second week of May just adds to the disruptions in our lives right now. Folks are looking to their yard and gardens to bring stability to the upheaval in their lives, and snow and cold weather does not ease the mind. However, mother nature has a way of healing the plants and in doing so, shows us we will heal, too.

Some blossoms will sustain damage without the entire plant being lost. Some plants will succumb to the freeze, but these plants are ones that grow naturally and natively in much warmer areas which would not experience snow or freezing weather. If tomatoes or marigolds were planted out in the garden, they most likely were killed from the freeze. See packets and transplant labels state to wait to plant after all danger of frost has passed. For us in Connecticut, May 15th is the average last frost date. I err on the side of caution, waiting until Memorial Day when the soil as warmed considerably before planting cucumbers, peppers, petunias, squash and tomatoes. Putting these plants into cold soil will shock and stunt them for the rest of the growing season.

Perennial plants in our area are like old friends, returning home after a long absence. The familiarity of finding them in walk abouts, makes the world seem normal. Even some stalwart rhubarb laden with snow gives me hope we will weather  our storms. Rhubarb is a hardy perennial vegetable, providing pies and baked goods from its leaf stalk. Don’t eat the leaves as they contain a high level of oxalates the body doesn’t handle well. Better to use the leaves in the compost or lay them on the ground in the vegetable garden to keep the weeds down. They cover a lot of area.

Read more at:

Cold Weather and Finding Old Friends in the Garden

 

 

What is a Virus?

examples of plant problem symptomsGiven the Coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to focus on viruses to share a little more on these infectious agents.

A virus has a very simple makeup. It is just a piece of DNA or RNA, a protein coat, and in some cases a fatty (lipid) layer. The protein coat provides protection for the piece of genetic information (DNA or RNA), and can code for different functions when the virus infects a host organism.

Viruses are considered neither alive nor dead. Viruses do not consist of cells or have any components to carry out basic functions on their own. They rely on the cell functions of their host to replicate. They hijack their host’s cells to operate in a way that allows the virus to thrive.

For this exact reason, viruses have a biological incentive to keep their hosts alive. If their hosts die, the virus can no longer replicate. Viable virus particles can exist on a surface, such as a table. But without a host, the virus can not cause disease or infection.

The first virus to be crystallized and therefore each of its parts were able to be studied, was actually a plant virus, Tobacco mosaic virus. Rosalind Franklin made this discovery in 1955. Since then, thousands of new viruses have been described.

Read more…

Article by Abby Beissinger

Pruning Guide

hydrangea plant

Check out this handy pruning guide and refresher from our Sustainable Landscaping and Nursery IPM Educators.  This was written for professionals, and is also applicable to home gardeners just getting started with the basics of pruning. It includes links to other resources for continued learning as well!

PRUNING TIPS AND RULES OF THUMB

– Identify the purpose of each pruning job. (Table 2)
– The amount of living plant material that can be re-moved at one time depends on the age and level of establishment of the plant (Table 3).

– Dead, broken, or diseased plant material can be pruned at any time of the year.

– To rejuvenate multi-stemmed shrubs, remove one or more of the oldest stems at the base each year to stimulate new shoots to arise from the base of the plant. Many flowering shrubs bloom more prolifically on younger, 2 to 3-year-old wood. Shrubs that respond well to having some of the 3+ year-old stems removed include forsythia, weigela, deutzia, mock orange and beauty bush.
– Newly established hedges should be pruned early in the growing season to promote the desired growth and density. More established hedges may be kept vigorous and dense by thinning out older branches, which will encourage new growth.”
Read more at bit.ly/Pruning_UConn

UConn Recruiting Hydroponic Greenhouse Growers

hydroponics

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: http://s.uconn.edu/surveyrootrot

For questions, contact Cora McGehee at cora.mcgehee@uconn.edu  or Rosa Raudales (rosa@uconn.edu or 860.486.6043).

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

Holiday Plant Care

pink and cream poinsettias
Photo: Pamm Cooper

Did you receive a plant during this holiday season? Poinsettia, holiday cactus and rosemary trees are filling the shelves in greenhouses, grocery stores and even big box stores appealing to the giver to gift a plant lover on their list. While they are beautiful plants, they will need the correct care to keep them that way and in good health.

The familiar red foliage of the poinsettia plant are modified leaves called bracts. They surround the actual small, yellow flower at the center of the red bracts. Once the pollen from the flowers are shed, the bracts are dropped from the plant. Chose plants with little to no pollen for the bracts to be retained for a longer length of time. Plant breeders are developing different colored bracts, including variegated, offering many options than just red. Read more…

Article by Carol Quish of the UConn Home and Garden Center

10 Tips for the October Gardener

  1. Dig and store tender bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and tubers in a cool, dark, place.
  2. Remove plant debris from the flowerbeds. Bag any diseased plant parts and put it in the trash or take it to a landfill but do not compost.
  3. Take a scenic drive to observe the changing fall foliage. The CT DEEP has fall foliage driving routes for Connecticut.
  4. Rosemary is not hardy in most areas of Connecticut. Bring plants in before temperatures drop too low but check plants thoroughly for insects such as mealybugs. Rinse the foliage, remove the top layer of the soil surface, and wipe down containers.
  5. Squash and pumpkins should be harvested when they have bright color and a thick, hard skin. These vegetables will be
    butternut squash stacked on a table at a farm stand in Connecticut
    Butternut squash. Photo: Stacey Stearns

    abundant in farmer’s markets and will make a colorful and healthy addition to fall dinners.

  6. As tomatoes end their production cut down plants and pick up any debris and put in the trash or take to a landfill. Many diseases will over-winter on old infected leaves and stems, so these are best removed from the property.
  7. Remove, bag and trash any Gypsy moth, Bagworm, or Eastern tent caterpillar egg masses or spray them with a commercial horticultural oil to smother them.
  8. Cold-hardy fruit trees including Honeycrisp and Cortland apples, Reliance peach, Superior plum, most pawpaws and American persimmon can still be planted into October. Continue to water until the ground freezes hard.
  9. Outwit hungry squirrels and chipmunks by planting bulbs in established groundcovers.
  10. Drain garden hoses and store in a shed, garage, or basement for the winter. Turn off all outside faucets at the inside shut-off valve, turn on the outside faucet to drain any water left in them, and then shut them off.

For more October gardening tips, visit the Home and Garden Education Center resources, or one of our nine Extension Master Gardener offices statewide.

Article: UConn Home and Garden Education Center