Maryland Grows

Featured Video: Keep Bugs Off My Vegetables! How to Deal With Insects in the Garden

Mike Raupp, “The Bug Guy” for the University of Maryland Extension, talks about an easy way to get rid of pesky bugs in your garden.

Learn more about plant pests.
Take a look at more videos on the HGIC YouTube channel.

Plants for Monarchs: Milkweeds and More

asterQ: I planted seeds of what I thought was a milkweed (Asclepias). The plants look somewhat like milkweed, but they are close to 4 feet tall with no sign of flower buds to confirm their identity. There are leaf buds at the axils, which I don’t see on other milkweeds. What is this plant? I would like to have milkweed plants for Monarch butterflies.

A: What you have here is not a milkweed. It is Tall White Aster, Symphyotrichum lanceolatum, and the good news is, it is actually what the Monarchs need more at certain times of the year than Asclepias. More on that in a minute, but first, a few notes and a caution about planting milkweeds.

As many people know, milkweeds are essential host plants for Monarch butterfly caterpillars. We commend people for adding milkweeds in their gardens to support butterfly conservation!

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Q&A: Is this giant hogweed or poison hemlock?

poison hemlock

Poison hemlock can be mistaken for giant hogweed

Q: I think I might have giant hogweed on my property, or maybe it is poison hemlock. How can I tell for sure?

A: Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) was found recently in Clarke County, Virginia, and it has raised awareness and concern about the plant – and rightfully so. The plant produces toxic sap that can cause very severe skin inflammation. We have received a lot of questions about it lately.

poison hemlock

Poison hemlock Photo: E. Nibali

What you have here is NOT giant hogweed. It is poison hemlock (Conium maculatum), which is much more common. The ferny foliage makes it possible to distinguish it from giant hogweed.

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Garden podcasts: best distraction from the heat

It’s hot out there! And sure, you don’t need me to tell you that, but that’s what gardeners (and humans) do: interact by complaining about the weather. If you were smart, you got as many of your gardening tasks as possible done by last month while temperatures were still bearable–though what with the cold rainy spring, this was a difficult year to get a jump on necessary jobs, and I can tell you I didn’t manage all of mine.

Even if you are fully and properly mulched and irrigated and fenced and planned down to the last seed and transplant, you still need to be outside doing some harvesting (and probably weeding and watering too). And let’s face it, it’s not pleasant. So perhaps, like me, you need a distraction from the sweat and mosquitoes? Let me suggest… podcasts! Read More

Monthly Tips for July

BegoniaOrnamental Plants

  • Chrysanthemums should be cut back halfway to encourage fall blooming. If not trimmed they will bloom later this month and not in the fall.
  • Pinch out the flower buds of asters, mums, goldenrod and other fall bloomers to keep plants bushy and prevent early flowering.
  • Although this is not the best time to divide and transplant perennials, it can be done if necessary. Divide and re-plant quickly in the early evening, keeping the root system moist at all times. Water the new divisions daily until they are established. (PDF HG 99 Dividing Herbaceous Perennials)

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Beyond dead dirt: healthy soil is alive

This post is modified from an article originally published in The Delmarva Farmer (2/13/2018)

Most people would probably be surprised to know that bacterial cells outnumber human cells in our bodies by 10-to-1 and that just one teaspoon of healthy soil contains more than 1 billion bacteria and fungi (microbes for short). Yuck, right?  Well, not exactly.

SoilMicrobes have gotten a bad rap because the small fraction of bacteria and fungi that cause disease get all the attention.  In fact, most microbes are friendly, and neither humans nor plants can live without them.

Although the chemical and physical properties of soil have dominated discussion (and soil testing) in the past, the focus is now changing as soil is recognized as a living ecosystem.  With this change, it is becoming clear that sustained agricultural productivity requires farming practices that protect the soil and increase the diversity of life underground.  Home gardeners can also benefit from gardening strategies that protect and promote the living things in their garden soil.

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What Can I Do About All These Weeds?

Ground Ivy

Ground ivy or creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea). Photo by Betty Marose

The famous quotation about the certainties of life which we all know includes death and taxes should also mention weeds! They are sprouting up all over. Even the most meticulously tended landscapes are not immune.

Where to Begin?

The first step is identification. You need to know your opponent. Control is more attainable if you know whether it is a grassy or broadleaf weed. Is it an annual, perennial or biennial? When does it germinate? Fall, spring, or summer?

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