Calendar

August 2015
S M T W T F S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031EC

Rose rosette disease is easily spread and fatal

Roses infested with rose rosette disease take on a pinkish-red cast, develop more thorns than normal and form witch’s broom. Photo courtesy Linda Kimmel

Roses infested with rose rosette disease take on a pinkish-red cast, develop more thorns than normal and form witch’s broom. Photo courtesy Linda Kimmel

There’s a rose disease showing up in Indiana and it’s deadly. Called rose rosette disease, sometimes referred to as RRD, is a killer, affecting the $400 million domestic rose production industry.

The disease was first detected in 1941 in western states, and had spread to Tennessee by 1994, affecting primarily multiflora roses (Rosa multiflora or R. poliantha), which are considered an invasive species. A wingless mite, 1/200 of an inch long, feeds on an infected rose, gets blown by wind to our gardens, bites our roses and wham, infected plants.

“My roses became infected at the end of last year,” reports reader S.M. “I cut them off and hoped they would be fine this spring. Had no idea what was causing the leaves to turn dark red then brown, and the tip of the buds to twist, curl and become deformed. The entire bud area turns fiery red and stunted.”

That pretty much describes what people see on infested plants. The virus causes development of more thorns than usual and a clustering of branches, called witch’s broom.

“I live on the southern edge of Marion County, surrounded by farm fields and have RRD bad,” said Linda Kimmel, district director of the Illinois-Indiana Rose Society. “About eight to 10 percent of my roses get infected every year and have to be removed. Some rose growers who live in town or suburbs, not so much of a problem.”

Tom Creswell, director of Purdue University’s Plant and Pest Diagnostic Lab, which tests for the virus, has seen only a handful of queries about the disease. Widespread in Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma, our planting habits contribute to the spread of the disease, he said.

“Planting large drifts of the same variety of rose, or just large drifts of any rose, in public spaces increases the risk, if the disease gets started,” Creswell said.

Unfortunately, rose rosette disease is fatal. There is no cure. Miticides do not work on the mite that spreads the virus. Remove and destroy roses as soon as you notice the disease. Once infested roses and their roots have been removed, you can replant roses.

Kimmel said research shows that Knock Outs are no more vulnerable than any other rose. It’s just that there are planted everywhere, from gas stations to road medians to our gardens. The virus can be dormant in roses for two years before symptoms appear.

Rose Show Sept. 26, 2015

La Quinta Inn & Suites South, 5120 Victory Drive (I-465 & Emerson south), Indianapolis. The Rose Show is open to the public at noon and free. Registration is $40 for the full event, which includes lunch and programs by Stephen Scanniello, curator of Rockefeller Rose Garden in New York, and  Bruce Monroe of Delaware, who will give a program on rose photography and how to improve our rose photos.

Ball takes the guess work out of container planting

Eye Caramba, Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

Eye Caramba, Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

A common dilemma among some gardeners is trying to figure out what plants go with which ones and what colors look good together, especially combos for pots.

Besides a container of colorful flowers and interesting textures, you want the plants to play nice together and require the same light and water requirements. When we buy hanging baskets and combo pots in the garden centers, those concerns are usually reduced.

Ball Horticulture Co., has developed Mix Masters, a program that takes the guesswork out of combining plants in containers. Marketed as Drop ’N Bloom in Home Depot and Ready Refill at Lowes, Ball premixes the combos so all you have to do is plop them in the pot.

Playdate. Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

Playdate. Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

“One of the themes driving (our) breeding efforts is reaching the modern gardener,” said Katie Rotella, a marketing communicator at Ball Horticultural Co.

“And we’ve found that today’s gardener is oftentimes a decorator, not necessarily a digger.

“So, by bringing pre-mixes to the industry, we’re reaching new gardeners who love to add flowers to their outdoor living spaces, but may shop by color, and not really by specific plant variety,” she said.

This year, Ball sent me three combos to trial and they all did really well. These combos will not be available until next year.

Playdate has Cabaret Deep Yellow, Rose and Purple calibrachoas, sometimes called million bells.

Sweet Escape has Sun Spun Yellow petunia, Aztec Burgundy Wink verbena and Cabaret Light Pink calibrachoa.

Eye Caramba has Flash Mob Bluerific petunia, Aztec Violet Wink verbena and Cabaret White petunia, which is my favorite.

Sweet Escape. Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

Sweet Escape. Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

Most of the plants have been trialed throughout the country, so their success is all but assured.

“These new programs at Home Depot and Lowe’s put much of the growing into the hands of the consumer, however that initial roadblock of ‘what works with what’ is removed, since the combos are proven to perform,” Rotella said.

All-America Selections on display at demonstration garden

A giant swallowtail gathers nectar on Interspecific Jolt Pink dianthus in the All-America Selections Demonstration Garden at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

A giant swallowtail gathers nectar on Interspecific Jolt Pink dianthus in the All-America Selections Demonstration Garden at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

I hope you get a chance to visit the All-America Selections Demonstration Garden at the Indiana State Fair, which runs through Aug. 23.

Despite the record rainfall, the plants look pretty good, even the tomatoes and peppers, which have not done well in many gardens this year because of how wet everything has been.

All-America Selections are award-winning plants that have been grown in trial gardens throughout the United States and judged to be superior to similar ones on the market. They may produce more fruit with improved taste, grow larger flowers, have a better form, be resistant to disease or insects, or exhibit other desirable attributes.

Volunteers tend the Purdue Extension Marion County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden, which features All-America Selections from several years along with 2015 winners. It’s a great opportunity to view some of the best selections for you try. Here’s a sampler:

Bounce Pink Flame New Guinea impatiens (I. hybrida ‘Balboufink’) has a spreading habit that is similar to bedding impatiens (I. walleriana), which suffers from impatiens downy mildew, a deadly fungus disease. Shade tolerant New Guineas are resistant to this disease.

Bounce Pink Flame New Guinea impatiens has a similar growth habit as bedding impatiens. Photo courtesy All-America Selections

Bounce Pink Flame New Guinea impatiens has a similar growth habit as bedding impatiens. Photo courtesy All-America Selections

If you’ve grown annual dianthus, you know that it frequently fades when it gets hot. Interspecific Jolt Pink Dianthus is extremely heat tolerant and does well in pots or as a bedding plant in sun.

Tidal Wave Red Velour Petunia. Photo courtesy All-America Selections and Park Seed

Tidal Wave Red Velour Petunia. Photo courtesy All-America Selections and Park Seed

Breeders keep improving the Wave brand of petunias, both in color and form, and Tidal Wave Red Velour (Petunia x hybrida) is a huge jump forward. True to its name, it has deep red, velour-like textured flowers that cover the ground. The color does not fade and the plants are pretty much carefree in a sunny spot.

Dolce Fresca basil (Ocimum basilicum) has lovely ornamental value and great taste. It does well in the ground or in a container in a sunny spot. It quickly recovers after harvesting the leaves for pesto or other dishes.

Pretty N Sweet ornamental pepper that tastes as good as it looks. Photo courtesy Park Seed and All-America Selections

Pretty N Sweet ornamental pepper that tastes as good as it looks. Photo courtesy Park Seed and All-America Selections

Pretty N Sweet pepper (Capsicum annumm) is an apt name for this attractive and edible pepper. Although it may look like a hot pepper, it isn’t. It only gets about 18 inches tall, but is very prolific, making it a perfect pick for a container in full sun.

The demonstration garden in on the north side of the fairgrounds, near the Department of Natural Resources building. It is open to the public throughout the growing season. Learn more at on the garden’s Facebook page.

Tips for outdoor living with skeeters

Indianapolis has three times as many  mosquitoes as normal. (C) Benhammad/iStockphoto

Indianapolis has three times as many mosquitoes as normal. (C) Benhammad/iStockphoto

The mosquitos have been particularly bad this summer. Normally a pest early in the morning or at dusk, mosquitoes seem to be everywhere all the time.

Some people think they can ward off pesky skeeters by surrounding their seating area with plants, such as lavender, basil or lemon grass, and of course, citronella-scented geraniums. In reality, the oils may be repellents, but not the plants themselves. Of course, there are tiki torches, stakes, citronella candles, foggers and other devices to keep bugs at bay.

It pays to be serious when combating mosquitoes because they carry disease, including West Nile virus, which is bad for people and birds. Dogs can get heartworm disease from mosquitoes.

We all know it’s the female mosquitoes that bite, drawn to us by the carbon dioxide and other gases we emit. Some people are more susceptible than others. Mosquitoes can sometimes bite through clothing, but it doesn’t hurt to add the extra protection of long sleeves and pants, socks and a hat. There is also clothing you can buy that has been treated with repellents (and sunscreen).

The National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine examined 11 studies that looked at the effectiveness of citronella oil as a mosquito repellent, in laboratory settings. The researchers found “citronella products are less effective than DEET (diethyltolumide) products in terms of duration of protection. Adding vanillin (an artificial vanilla) to citronella oil products could prolong the protection time.”

There are several natural and synthetic repellents on the market. DEET is commonly found in many spray-on repellents, but some people are concerned about applying the chemical to their skin or on their children. Some repellents are sprayed on clothing, rather than the body. There are citrus oil wipes, bracelets and pins laced insect repellents and clip-on devices. Which ever product you use, be sure to read and follow the label directions.

People with ponds, water gardens or areas where water pools know to use Mosquito Dunks, which contain a bacteria that is toxic only to mosquito larva. It’s always a good idea not to let water stand in plant saucers or other items. It’s a good practice to put fresh water in the birdbath every day or two to eliminate any mosquito larva that might be living there.

There are companies that will come and spray your landscape periodically to control mosquitoes. Several use organic or natural compounds, such as garlic oil. Ask the company rep what products are used and what potential harm might come to ornamental and edible plants, furniture and desirable wildlife, such as bees, butterflies and birds.

Get the garden ready for the second season

Sow a mix of lettuces in a container for a colorful, edible display. Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

Sow a mix of lettuces in a container for a colorful, edible display. Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

Go for it! A second growing season begins now! Many seeds will sprout very quickly because the ground is warm and well, we’ve had plenty of rain. What are the second season-crops to grow? Here are some suggestions. Read the seed packets for even more information.

Arugula. This leafy lettuce-like plant is pretty and adds a nice bite to salads.

Basil. Sowing seeds now will result in succulent, green leaves until frost kills the plants.

Broccoli. Some garden centers will have transplants of broccoli ready for the garden. Broccoli can take several hits of cold temperatures, which just sweetens the taste.

Carrots. Sow seeds now for late fall and winter harvest. For a harvest well into winter, cover the plants with a thick mulch of straw.

Chard. Rainbow-colored varieties are very pretty. The fact that you can eat the chard is sort of a bonus.

Cilantro. This herb goes to seed very quickly and savvy foodies know to sow cilantro seeds every few weeks for a season-long harvest. Remember the seeds are coriander and can be used in pickling.

The caterpillars of swallowtail butterflies feed on the leaves of fennel (pictured), parsley, fennel and other members of the carrot family © blackboard1965/Dollarphotoclub.com

The caterpillars of swallowtail butterflies feed on the leaves of fennel (pictured), parsley, fennel and other members of the carrot family © blackboard1965/Dollarphotoclub.com

Dill. The swallowtails will thank you for planting more dill or ferny fennel. Late-season caterpillars devour the leaves on these herbs and parsley. By planting more, you’ll have enough for you and enough for the caterpillars.

Greens. Just about any of them: Romaine, mesclun, leaf, mache, baby mixes, mustard, spinach and Asian greens. Harvest until a freeze kills the lettuces. You can extend the harvest by covering most greens with a tent of spun plastic row cover or cotton sheet.

Sow the seeds or plant seedlings in the spaces between plants or the vacancies left when summer-grown, declining vegetables, such as tomatoes, are pulled from the garden. Of course, you can always grow the plants in pots, too.