Local Interest

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

 When it comes to August’s garden, many gardeners, plant enthusiasts and landscapers are willing to skip the month entirely because of the seemingly few plants that provide interest during August. I’d like to challenge that notion, mainly because August is a perfectly fine month of frost-free weather and why not make good use of it? Whether your goal is to spruce up a drab corner or benefit pollinators, look to some lesser-known flowering plants to brighten your August garden.

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

 Despite winter and spring conditions that we hoped could thwart them, the Japanese beetles are at it again. They fall on us as we mow beneath trees, eat our hard-won fruits as they multi-task, and drown in the dog’s water dish.  Here are some important considerations:

 ▪Japanese beetles do lay their eggs in the soil.  Managing Japanese beetle grubs to stop the damage to turfgrass IS effective. Targeting grubs IS NOT an effective means of damage prevention to trees, roses, and grape vines.  This is because there are ditches, fence lines and creek banks that are never treated for Japanese beetle grubs and emerging adults will always fly to where there is food.

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

 The silvery checkerspot caterpillar, Chlosyne nycteis, can be found right now, happily eating away on sunflower, aster, Echinacea, goldenrod and Rudbeckia.  The checkerspot caterpillar has branched spines on its back that are black in color. Sometimes the caterpillars will have an orange stripe or two.  Depending on weather conditions, there will be one to two generations per year. Once first generation caterpillars are an inch long, they will stop feeding and form a pupal case on foliage. As the growing season winds down, the second generation caterpillars will hibernate as third instar larvae.

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

Mulch is an aspect of the landscape that doesn’t provoke much thought.  Wood chips or rock?  Landscaping fabric or not?  The reality is that the right kind of mulch, applied to the proper depth, has a BIG impact on plant health, especially during the heat of summer.

Root function stops when soil temperatures reach 85°F and higher.  This means no water and nutrient uptake occurs when soil temperatures are hot. No water moved through roots leads to leaf burn and heat stress. Woodchips and shredded bark act as insulation, protecting the soil from direct sunlight and buffering air temperature extremes.  The result is cooler soils that favor root uptake of water.

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

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