Simple high-summer bouquet from the perennial garden.
You can plant one!
5258 RIver Road
5258 RIver Road
Cacti and succulents combine passion for growing plants with
investing a minimum care in creating a special desert garden. They are easy to
grow and are great for containers or small gardens alike. Why plant a cacti and
succulent garden? One of the reasons is that it is budget friendly and looks great
both in concrete tubs or small coffee cups. There are about 1,500 to 2,000 species and it is easy to make an interesting design combining different sculptural shapes and colorful leaves. It is easy to create an impressive sight of color, pattern contrast and texture.
Cacti and succulent habitat spreads from Patagonia in South America to British Columbia in Canada. It is believed that the origin of the species is on the American continent. Their habitats include tropics and subtropics, deserts and semi desert areas. They have adapted and evolved to survive in an extra arid environment and most extreme climates. It is believed that they developed some 25 million years ago.
High temperature and low precipitation force the plant to collect and store water to survive long dry periods. Water is conserved in fleshy leaves, stems and sometimes even in the root system.
All cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti. Cacti have spines as highly modified leaves, and areoles as highly modified branches. These characteristics separate them from succulents.
Growth habit: Plants have stems, areoles, some have leaves, spines, roots, flowers. Metabolism -photosynthesis happens at night when the temperature is the lowest, thus reducing emission of water.
Reproduction: Pollination is done by bees, bats, humming birds.
Propagation: From seeds, cuttings and grafting. Growing medium, soil, should be low in organic material, humus, but rich in lime and sand.
Plants should be grown in bright indirect sunlight, use water soluble fertilizer once a month. Water thoroughly but not frequently. Frequency of watering depends on the size of the plant, the environmental conditions including proximity to light and average humidity.
Pests are rarely a problem. Black stem rot is a sign of overwatering.
Cacti and succulents create an impressive sight as a single plant, small garden for a coffee table or a vertical garden - living wall.
Written by: Mira Jovanovic
Bethesda Chevy Chase Greenhouse
If you have Hollies, Camellia, or Laurels, odds are that you’ve noticed a “sooty” black mold growing on the tops of the leaves or that the leaves are yellowing and dropping leaves. Most home gardeners attempt to treat these symptoms as a disease, but in reality, these types of damage are indicators of a very common garden pest, Scale insects.
Scale are small insects, that look more like little bumps on the undersides of leaves than they do typical insects like aphids or whitefly. Most Scale live under a protective “shell” that is either a cottony, wax, or other firm substance as protection for themselves and the eggs. Males from a variety of species even develop wings and look like gnats around the plants. As for reproducing, females will lay their eggs under their protective covering, sometimes without even mating, and the eggs will hatch over a period of 2 to 3 weeks. Once these nymphs (or crawler) emerge, they move around the plant looking for a place to feed. This will typically only last a day or two, and once they settle, they begin to grow their protective covering.
Scale feeds using its straw like mouth parts to suck the sap or plant tissue out through the stems or leafs. This can cause stunting and reduced vigor, as well as dieback in some cases. The damage that scale causes is also a great indicator of what type of scale you might have on your trees or shrubs.
Soft Scale VS Armored Scale
Soft Scale, like Calico and Cottony Camellia Scale, are usually found on the undersides of the foliage and feed on the sap, but can also be found stems or along leaf veins. An easy indicator of soft scale is to look out for the honeydew (a sticky and shiny sugar) that the scale excretes which will drop onto the tops of leaves below, however you will probably notice the sooty mold that grows on the honeydew before you notice the honeydew itself. Because soft scale does not feed on chlorophyll, you should not see any signs of chlorosis, or yellowing on the leaves.
Armored scale on the other hand (e.g. Prunicola or White Peach Scale), can be seen on the twigs and stems, and by piercing the plant tissue on the stems, suck out the contents. Early damage signs of armored scale are yellowing of the leaves in the surrounding areas and in heavier infestations, defoliation and possible branch dieback. It is important to note that armor scale does not produce honeydew.
Nymph (Crawler) Stage- This will be the best time to spray for scale, however, this could prove challenging to the homeowners if they do not know what type of scale they have and may miss the already short window.
American Plant Recommends: Bonide®Neem-Oil- Spray top and bottom of the leaves in affected areas. Repeat every 10-14 days.
Plants near a fish pond? Substitute Organocide 3n1 Garden Spray, made with fish oils that will not harm fish.
Mature Scale- At this stage, most horticultural oils will not penetrate the scale’s protective covering so systemic insecticides are the most effective.
American Plant Recommends: ORTHO ®Tree & Shrub Insect Control- This granular treatment need only be applied once and will protect against scale and other garden pests for 10-12 months and also comes with a measuring cap for easy application. This should be applied around the drip line of the plant and be sure to pull away any mulch before application. Also available in 64oz concentrate.
Overwintering scales and eggs can also be controlled through the use horticultural oils like Neem-oil and Summit Horticultural Oil.
For more information on scale in our area, please visit
Landscape and Nursery IPM Alerts
Scale Commonly Encountered in Maryland Landscape and Nurseries
Common Scale in Maryland
Calico Scale (Eulecanium cerasorum) (soft scale)
Plants Damaged: dogwood, honeylocust, magnolia, maple, sweet gum, tuliptree and ornamental fruit trees.
Description: Adults are about the size of a pencil eraser. They are round and mottled white and dark brown to black. They are named after the calico pattern on their shell.
Monitoring: Look for copious amounts of honeydew in late May and early June. Look for the oval-shaped, yellow-bodied crawlers in June.
Crawler Stage: There is one generation a year. Early June through late September
Cottony Camellia/Taxus Scale (Pulvinaria occifera) (soft scale)
Plants Damaged: Taxus yews, camellia, holly, rhododendron, Japanese maple, English ivy, and mulberry
Description: These scales are cream to tan, elongated and flat. When females are producing eggs they create a white cottony ovisac that are two or more times their size.
Monitoring: Look for sooty mold and honeydew on the foliage. Examine the undersides of leaves for the white cotton-like sacs.
Crawler Stage: There is one generation a year. Crawlers begin to appear in mid-June.
White Prunicola Scale (Pseudaulacaspis prunicola)
Plants Damaged: Cherries, cherry laurels , magnolia, ligustrum (privets), rhododendron, forsythia, boxwood, and lilac.
Description: Females have a round, white body with orange to yellow center, like a fried egg. Males are more elongated and give bark a fluffy appearance.
Monitoring: Both male and female crawlers are salmon colored.
Crawler Stage: Three generation a year. First generation occurs in May. A second generation occurs in July and a third in September. Crawlers appear about 2 weeks earlier than white peach scale.
White Peach Scale Crawlers are out in early May to June. Second generation crawlers are out from mid-July to mid-August. The third generation crawlers are out in September.
Written by Wes Allen, Garden Supply Manager at 7405 River Road
Our trees are gorgeous, durable, sophisticated, realistic and unique.
Light strands unobtrusively extend a light to almost every tip,
giving you a brilliantly lit tree without unseemly wires.
The decorator favorite. The Bryce Canyon Pine is the perfect tree.
Available in 4 sizes: 6.5’| 7.5’| 9’| 12’
A good place to start would be identifying what exactly a fungus gnat is before we look at what a fungus gnat does.
Fungus gnats are an insect belonging to the fly family Diptera. They are a dark, delicate looking fly very similar in appearance to a mosquito and are often mistaken to be black fly or midges. Adult fungus gnats primarily are a nuisance. Because fungus gnats are attracted to lights you may first notice them flying near windows indoors or around potted plants resting on soil and leaves. Adult fungus gnats will not bite people or animals. The females, however, cause the real trouble when they deposit their eggs into soil or other damp organic material. The eggs will spawn larvae with a shiny black head and an elongated whitish to clear legless body that will damage plants. The larvae’s preferred food source is fungi but when that food source runs out they will feed on roots which leads to stunted plant growth and diminished health in affected plants.
How to deal with an infestation?
A highly effective way to kill larvae without extending risk to pets, birds, or wildlife, Mosquito Bits contains a highly selective, biological larvicide recommended safe for greenhouses and home gardens.
Another method is to eliminate the gnats before they have an opportunity to lay their eggs. Safer Brand Houseplant Sticky Stakes control fungus gnats, whiteflies and other insects by attracting and then trapping insects hiding in houseplants.
“The yellow color of the trap as well as the glue will attract the gnats, whiteflies, aphids and other insects on your potted plants. Shake the plant gently. The insects hidden on the leaves will fly to the trap.”
Written by Francis Felice, Garden Supply Manager
One of the biggest misconceptions in the gardening world is the idea that your garden goes away in the winter months. While it’s true that all our plants go dormant, or die back at the end of autumn, it is not true that the garden ceases to be a fixture of your landscape. Green isn’t the only color you are stuck with when using evergreens, many conifers change color in the cold weather, offering more seasonality. Using an evergreen is a classic choice to keep color going, but there are also many deciduous plants that are just as showy, if not more. Woody plants aren’t the only choice in many cases, many perennial plants sport evergreen features as well.
Evergreens with Alternate Looks - Don’t limit yourself to green, green is a background color, green is not your showstopper. Expand your palette with yellows, blues, bronzes, and reds. Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Golden Mop' stays a bright yellow most of the year, the coloring is muted slightly in the winter. Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold' also offers vibrant tones of yellow. Blue is also easy to add, with a Colorado blue spruce, which comes in many sizes and shapes with all the cultivars available. Groundcover junipers like Juniperus Squamata ‘Blue Star’ and Juniperus Horizontalis ‘Blue Rug’ also offer more subtle pops of color. Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ or Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar is fairly ubiquitous in our area, and for good reason, nothing else in your garden will look quite like a mature tree of this type. For a bright red flare, look no further than Nandina ‘Firepower’ or ‘Gulf Stream’, you’ll find shockingly red foliage that lasts all winter, but will fall off and replace itself in early spring.
Deciduous Shrubs and Trees - Using the color, texture and shape provided by the bark and branching of your shrubs and trees can create great highlights against an evergreen hedge or border. Trees like Paperbark Maple (Acer Griseum) or River Birch (Betula Nigra) evoke a woodland feel. To bring some color in, use a Red-twig or Osier Dogwood (Cornus Alba/Sericea), you can find these in Red and Yellow varieties that also sport handsome flowers, foliage and berries at other points in the year. Weeping Japanese Maples also offer striking silhouettes when all their foliage has fallen, they also offer an uncommon shape to accentuate any holiday lighting. Harry Lauder's Walking Stick (Corylus avellana 'Contorta') is likely one of the most unusual looking shrubs you may have ever seen, it features extremely contorted branches, made more visible after leaf drop, which may remind you of the Brothers Grimm darker fairy tales, or a good Tim Burton film. Take the birds into account when planting too, native plants like American Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana), Winter Berry Holly (Ilex Verticillata), or Blue Muffin Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) offer color to us, and nourishment to the creatures we share our gardens with.
Mostly Evergreen Perennials – If you have a shade garden, you will find an additional benefit from many shade loving perennials. Certain ferns are considered evergreen, Christmas and Tassel fern are both in the genus Polystichum, and their hardy foliage will help spruce up the barren garden beds, or forest floor. Many ferns will keep their fertile fronds upright throughout the winter, offering little promises of spring. Cinnamon fern has better color with its orange fronds; Ostrich fern is a drab dark brown, but still plenty interesting. Lenten Rose (Helleborus) are a year round champ, flowers in late winter that persist most of the year, and evergreen foliage that withstands the harshest of winter weather. Most of the foliage will end up looking tattered by winter’s end, but a quick trim will refresh your perennials for the spring emergence. For the sunny garden, look no further than your wide assortment of perennial grasses. Schizachyrium Scoparium, Miscanthus Sinensis, Andropogon Gerardii, the list is shockingly long and it’s very hard to go wrong with tall stalks of bronze/brown grass that accentuate the winter winds.
Written by Patrick Gravel, Perennials Manager
No one knows exactly when the cultivation of miniature trees first originated; but the art of creating and maintaining bonsai reappeared in China in the third century and was made popular among the Japanese nobility between the 10th and 12th centuries. It was not until the 18th century that bonsai reached all levels of society, appearing in Europe toward the end of the century.
When purchasing a bonsai, one must consider the commitment in time that it will take to keep the plant healthy. They need food and water and the proper light to thrive. Bonsai are broken down into two catagories--indoor and outdoor. Outdoor bonsai such as juniper. maple, spruce, pine or yew need cold weather dormancy to survive. Ideally they should be planted outside in a protected area or kept in an unheated garage with windows during the winter months. Indoor bonsai include bougainvillea, ficus, fuchsia, serissa, Brazilian raintree and portulacaria afra (jade tree). They each have different light and water requirements so be sure to choose a plant based on the lighting available in the area that you wish to keep the plant.
Take note of the water requirements for the species of bonsai when purchasing. Some need to stay moist , while others would rather dry down a bit. If the plant is watered too often, it can drown; conversely a plant that is allowed to dry completely can damage the fine feeding roots. The best way to water bonsai is to use a fine spray, let the water drain and repeat, or place the plant in a tray of room temperature water until the plant soaks up the amount of water that it needs, then let it drain. For indoor bonsai, water the plant approximately once or twice a week, ideally with water that has been allowed to sit for several days which allows the chlorine to evaporate. Outdoor bonsai will need much more frequent watering in the summer--probably more than once a day--and less during dormancy.
Bonsai trees respond best to slow- acting fertilizers with a composition of 50% nitrates, 30% phosphate and 20% potash. In general, bonsai should be fertilized during the spring and summer months. Follow the directions on the container for frequency and dilute to 50% strength if using houseplant or garden fertilizers.
Bonsai plants need to be pruned often to maintain their shape and a pleasing appearance. This is part of the appeal of owning a bonsai tree. The frequency of repotting depends on the variety, age of the plant and size of pot. However, the best time to repot any plant is during the early spring, before the growing season.
Written by Robin Katzen, Greenhouse Manager
AMARYLLIS BULBS NOW AVAILABLE
Popular for their 6-10 inch trumpet shaped flowers born on 1-2 foot stalks, Amaryllis are simple care houseplants that add a burst of color to your Winter mosaic. Although red is the most commonly seen color, Amaryllis also come in varieties of pink, salmon, bicolor and rose. These bulbs are easy to grow and very gratifying once their exuberant blooms begin to take shape.
Whether you’re giving an amaryllis as a gift or lucky enough to have received one, here is what you should do to take care of it…
Plant your Amaryllis bulbs in good potting soil, water regularly and provide bright, indirect sunlight. Remember to rotate the pot periodically to make sure the stalk grows straight as they tend to lean towards the light. Blooms will begin to appear 4-6 weeks after planting.
Being a principal houseplant of the holidays, be sure to plant Nov 1st - Nov 15th for Christmas blooms.
Plant bulbs in a sturdy 6-8 inch pot to support what will soon be a top heavy Amaryllis. A lighter weight pot may tip over.
Plant the bulb, pointed end up, in potting soil. Plant the soil around the bulb so approximately 1/3rd of the bulb stays above the soil line. Once you’ve gone this far, water sparingly until the sprout begins to emerge from the bulb, then water regularly and watch your new holiday tradition produce its enormous, festive blooms.
Written by Francis Felice. garden Supply Manager
Needing bright light with some direct sun and less frequent watering than most foliage and flowering plants, these tolerant plants in the succulent family are ideal for adults just starting to build a collection or children learning how to care for plants. All cactus are succulents and are differentiated from other succulents by the aeroles on the body of the plant which grow spines, flowers and offsets.
The word succulent means "juicy” and is an appropriate name for this category of plants as they store water and nutrients in their leaves and stems. This allows the plants to withstand harsh conditions outside as well as some neglect inside the home. The worst treatment that can befall a succulent is being watered too often or being allowed to sit in standing water. Good drainage is a must. Use a good cactus soil or mix regular potting soil with sand to ensure adequate drainage.
Great to display alone, as a grouping or planted together in a shallow container or glass terrarium, the great variety available ensures that most everyone can find a plant or plants that appeal to them. There are 50 or more families considered to be in the succulent category. They need to be watered completely when the soil is dry, fertilized every few weeks in the spring and summer and placed in an area with bright light and some direct sun to thrive. If you are not lucky enough to have that sunny window, it is still possible to grow succulents. There are some varities of succulents that can adapt to medium light contitions like gasteria or some of the haworthias. Also available are incandescent grow lights which enable succulents to grow anywhere in your home.
Written by Robin Katzen, Greenhouse Manager