23 June 2015

Twice-stabbed stink bug

Pentatomidae - Cosmopepla lintneriana - Twice-stabbed Stink Bug

That's the little stinker seen above on the columbine in a local garden.  While this particular bug, the Twice Stabbed Stink Bug, will not defoliate a plant, it does have a penchant for seeds which can be a problem for raspberry growers and apparently pea plants.  Otherwise, there's no need to be alarmed when you see them as they pose no significant risk to your perennials.

The Twice-stabbed Stink Bug can be identified by its markings, the two red dots on its back.  It is black with a shield shape.  They are common in the prairie provinces and a mild winter may precipitate sightings of greater numbers.  Usually the cold winters of the prairies keeps their numbers in check.  

To help prevent future "infestations," do a thorough clean-up in the fall of all debris.  The stink bug likes to overwinter in leaf litter.  They may also be seen gathered together beneath mulch and rocks.  

If you are inclined to pick them off by hand, wear gloves because these shy stink bugs bite!  They're not called stink bugs for no reason either.  When threatened they release an odor similar to that of cilantro.  You may pick them up and drop them in soapy water to dispose of them, as one gardener suggested.

You will find their eggs lined up neatly in rows on the undersides of leaves. Check for dark markings on the eggs before disposing of them as the markings indicate they have likely been parasitized so the work is done for you.

Parasitic wasps, ladybugs and birds are their natural enemies.  So welcome these predators to your garden and avoid the use of chemicals which may harm beneficial insects as well.

03 June 2015

Inviting Bees to Your Garden

This Grass is So Popular, it's Sold Out Everywhere!!! Spotlight on Karl Foerster Ornamental Grass

Karl Foerster grass is a tall clumping feather reed grass with wheat like seed heads that turn golden in the autumn.  It is much sought after for its architectural impact in the garden, both residential and commercial. 

Photos in above collage were taken at the St. Albert Botanical Garden last fall.

The grass blades are upright and deep green.  In summer it sports seed heads which turn golden in the autumn and remain through the winter offering food and shelter to birds.  

Karl Foerster grass at the Legislature Grounds, Edmonton Alberta.  Photo taken during the fall.

Karl Foerster grass grows best in well-drained soil and is drought tolerant after established.  

Karl Foerster grass in a boulevard, Edmonton Alberta.

Photo above taken at Muttart Conservatory April 2013.

Stalks of seed heads remain upright, rising above the snow; providing winter interest.  In early spring, cut back to the ground. Clumps may be divided in spring. Amend soil with worm castings, sea soil or compost.

Photos in this collage were taken at a local boulevard during the winter.  The Karl Foerster grass is a popular landscape specimen in commercial applications.

Botanical name:  Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
Overall Height:150 cm/ 60 inches
Foliage height:  91-122 cm/36-48 inches
Spread/width:  60 cm/24 inches (clumping - not invasive)
Full sun or part shade
Zone Hardiness:  3-9
Flowers:  July-August.  Will bloom in light shade.  Flower heads become pink/purplish green then turn golden brown in autumn.
Soil:  medium - wet.  Drought tolerant once established
Good for moist low spots, narrow beds, pond or stream plantings
Deer resistant
Growth rate:  medium
Tolerates: air pollution, black walnut (where few things will grow), wet soil, clay soil, erosion, variety of soil moisture levels but prefers moist well-drained soil.
Soil ph:  neutral, alkaline or acidic
Maintenance:  low

Perennial plant of the year 2001

Additional sources:

11 May 2015

Impatiens Downy Mildew Disease

Back in March 2013 I wrote an article (Impatiens Downy Mildew) about the downy mildew disease which has been devastating impatiens.  There is still no cure and you'll likely not find Impatiens Walleriana in the greenhouses this year either. Your best bet is to substitute the impatiens with a variety that is resistant such as New Guinea Impatiens (impatiens x hawkin) or substitute with another shade loving plant.  Pansies, sweet alyssum, forget me nots, begonias, ageratum, fuchsia, caladiums,  and coleus are a few you may want to consider instead.  

Fuchsia in a hanging basket offers an enormous pop of colour in the shade.

For more information see:


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