February 9, 1996

Plant Hardiness Zone Maps


Every so often, a winter comes along that tests our mettle, and so far the winter of 1996 seems to be one of those occasions. Blizzards, dangerous wind-chills, and record breaking low temperatures turn even a simple trip to the grocery store into an epic battle for survival. But have you ever wondered how our landscape plants manage to survive climatic extremes.

Starting Impatiens from Seeds


Impatiens are excellent plants for shady areas in the home landscape. Impatiens are ideal for flower beds, planters, and hanging baskets. Their versatility and adaptability to shade have made impatiens the most popular annual bedding plant in the United States. Impatiens are relatively easy to grow from seeds. However, they are slow growing. Home gardeners should sow seeds in early to mid-February to produce stocky transplants by spring. Suggested impatiens for Iowa include varieties in the Accent, Impact, and Super Elfin series. Plants in these series are compact and free flowering.

Plant Disease Clinic : 1995 Summary -- 1996 Reminders


The Plant Disease Clinic provides diagnostic support for county and area Extension personnel and the citizens of Iowa. In 1995, the Clinic received a record 2,878 plant samples for diagnosis. Trees accounted for the majority of the samples received (52.3%). In 1995 the Clinic received 60% of its plant samples from Extension personnel. Theremainder of the samples were submitted directly by homeowners or commercial growers.

The majority of the samples (86%) were mailed to the Clinic. The remaining samples weredelivered by the clients in person.

Successful Seed Germination


A seed is a miracle waiting to happen. The embryo comes pre-packaged with a food supply and the vital genetic information needed to become a plant just like its parents. Seeds exist in a state of dormancy, absorbing oxygen, giving off carbon dioxide, and slowly using up their stored food reserves. During this process the seed continually monitors the external environment waiting for ideal conditions specific for the particular seed. Once the ideal conditions occur, the seed breaks dormancy and germinates.

Shopping Reminders


Gardeners are excitedly looking through all the catalogs this time of year. When selecting varieties, remember to consider disease resistance. Varieties are available that offer resistance to various leaf blights, powdery mildew, and wilt diseases. For example, certain zinnia varieties are resistant to powdery mildew and Alternaria leaf blight. Rose varieties available that are resistant to powdery mildew and black spot. Check the plant descriptions in catalogs for information about disease resistance.

New Turfgrass Reference Books


Two new reference books on turfgrass integrated pest management are now available. What follows are descriptions taken from publisher promotional materials.

MANAGING TURFGRASS PESTS, by Thomas L. Watschke, Pennsylvania State University, Peter H. Dernoeden, University of Maryland, and David J. Shetlar, Ohio State University. 1994. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL. ISBN: 0-87371-999-9. $69.95.