February 21, 2007

A Tale of Two Beetles

Names of insects are a common source of confusion, in part because gardeners are prone to nickname plants and animals they see, and many common names sound similar. Such is the case with two invasive insects found in Iowa, both relative newcomers to the landscape. 

Japanese beetle.

Fungal Cankers on Evergreens

Two fungal canker diseases are common on various types of evergreen trees. A canker is an area of dead bark on a limb or trunk of a tree. On evergreens, cankers usually are visible as areas on the bark leaking abundant white, sticky resin. When a canker grows all the way around the limb, it girdles the limb, killing it. We usually first notice canker diseases when several scattered branches on the tree die.

Starting Tender Perennials Indoors

Dahlias, tuberous begonias, and other tender perennials are attractive plants for the home landscape. The "bulbs" (actually tubers, rhizomes, and other structures) of tender perennials are usually planted directly outdoors in spring. However, these attractive ornamentals can be enjoyed for longer periods by starting them indoors in late winter.