Master Gardener tips for the Panhandle – Week of May 16, 2022

Kirstee Schutte, Nebraska Extension Master Gardener

Are you looking for agricultural information that you can trust? Look no further than University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension publications! They provide research based, peer reviewed information on a wide variety of topics. Written by specialists and educators in UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, topics include Animal Agriculture; Communities and Leadership; Crops; Farm Management; Food and Nutrition; Insects; Lawn and Garden; Pesticides; Plant Diseases; 4-H and much more. Just go to and click “Browse Publications. 

Are you interested in becoming a Nebraska Extension Master Gardener? While applications are closed for 2022 training season, classes will resume between January and March of 2023 at the Panhandle Research Extension Center. Requirements for new master gardeners include: 40 hours of education and 40 hours of volunteer services the first year plus the initial registration fee. Veteran Master Gardeners looking to recertify must complete 10 hours of education plus 20 hours of volunteer services. For more information contact the Panhandle Research Extension Center at 308-633-2866.

We know a cultivar is a part of the scientific name of a plant that follows the genus/ species. Its first letter is capitalized, and the name is often set off by single quotation marks, but what is it? That can be confusing. Cultivar, meaning cultivated variety, has been produced through selective breeding. Typically, cultivars are vegetatively grown through cuttings, grafting or from tissue cultures to ensure it retains the characteristic of the parent plant. Thus, growing a plant from a cultivar would not produce the same plant, or true to seed. 

A variety is a part of the scientific name of a plant that follows the genus/ species and is always written in lowercase and italicized. It has the abbreviation v-a-r for variety preceding it. What exactly is it though? In nature, when a population of plants within a species differs in some significant way from the other members of that species, such as flower color, it would likely be deemed a variety. Varieties are identical to other members of the same species; except they might have white flowers instead of pink flowers. 

What's the buzz about bees? Less than what it used to be due to a declining population. Exact causes are still being studied but likely have much to do with monoculture, and excessive pesticide use. Next time you consider the use of a chemical, perhaps consider a more sustainable practice. Small sacrifices such as these could make a big difference for the bees!