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Garden Tips

Archive for January 2015

THE YEAR OF THE COLEUS

GARDEN TIPS – written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
Written – JANUARY 16, 2015 –

The National Garden Bureau has announced 2015 as the ‘Year of the Coleus.’ I was not a big fan of coleus in my early gardening days. Yesterday’s coleus had colorful leaves, but did not fare well with exposure to bright sun and high temperatures. They also had the annoying tendency to produce unattractive flowering spikes that detracted from the foliage. This required frequent ‘deadheading’ or ‘pinching’ to remove the spikes and to encourage a bushier plant.

The coleus of today is much different and I like the changes. Over the years, plant breeders been able to develop coleus cultivars with improved sun and heat tolerance, delayed flowering, more compact growth, and different foliage colors. In the last few years, sun and heat tolerant cultivars, sometimes referred to as ‘solar coleus,’ have been introduced. Many of these cultivars perform well even in our region’s summer heat and full sun.

Botanically, coleus are classified as members of the mint family because they have square stems, opposite leaves, and lipped flowers. Within the mint family, their current genus and species is Plectranthus scutellariodes. Dutch botantist, Karl Ludwig Blume, is credited with naming and introducing the coleus to Europe in the mid 19th century. Coleus grows as a perennial in its native range of Southeast Asia, but is grown as an annual by western gardeners in temperate climates.

Coleus are easy to grow, but they like warm temperatures and evenly moist soil. They are frost sensitive and grow best when the daytime temperature is above 55 degrees. They are not drought tolerant.

In my ‘old days’ of gardening I tired of the purple, pink and creamy splashed foliage of coleus, but I have become a big fan of the new exciting introductions that plant breeders have developed. Not only are there many more single color and different color combinations available, there are also interesting foliage textures.

When plant shopping I can easily find at least one coleus that will fit in perfectly with the flowers that I am planting. My problem is narrowing my choices to just a few, but not this year. After all it is the Year of the Coleus and I am going to celebrate.

When shopping for coleus cultivars I look for ones that are extraordinary with bright foliage colors or interesting textures, but I also check the tag to make sure they are heat tolerant and do not need ‘deadheading’ to remove flower stalks. If the tag does not say it is heat tolerant, I pass on it and keep looking.

Proven Winners, Ball Company, and other companies offer a number of solar coleus cultivars including the ColorBlaze, Sunlover, Solar, Florida Sun, Stained Glassworks, and Florida City series.

I gravitate towards coleus cultivars with mottled single, bright or dark colored cultivars. I find it too difficult to create a pleasing design when I try to mix flowers with multi-colored foliage. I have tried cultivars from several different series, but I liked Proven Winners’ Sedona and ColorBlaze Marooned and Ball’s Wasabi the best. I am anxious to see what I can find this year. Happy Year of the Coleus!

Published: 1/16/2015 12:49 PM

MASTER GARDENER PROGRAM HELPING OUR COMMUNITIES ‘GROW’

GARDEN TIPS – written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
Written – JANUARY 9, 2015

When WSU Extension started the Master Gardener program in 1972, they had no idea how the program would change and grow. The original purpose of the program was to train volunteers so that they could help answer the deluge of calls for help with gardening problems coming into county extension offices around the state.

WSU Extension Area Agents, David Gibby and Bill Scheer came up with the idea of recruiting and training volunteers to staff ‘Plant Clinics.’ They developed a training curriculum to be delivered by WSU faculty and local experts. The basic course included food gardening, lawn care, landscape management, pest management, and the safe use of pesticides.

The first Master Gardener volunteers graduated in 1973 in King, Pierce, and Spokane counties after taking 40 hours of training. They were given the title of ‘WSU Extension Master Gardener’ after they returned 40 hours of service back to the program by staffing plant clinics. The program started in 1975 in Benton and Franklin Counties.

Since 1973 the Master Gardener program has grown exponentially in Washington and the rest of the US. The program has also changed. WSU Master Gardeners still receive quality training, but the basic curriculum is delivered via a quality on-line course and is supplemented with face-to-face training that meets local needs.

Master Gardeners focus on education about research-based sustainable gardening practices. This includes using less pesticides, protecting beneficial insects and pollinators, good soil management, proper irrigation and fertilization, plant selection, and other environmentally sound gardening practices.

Just like the first class of graduates, today’s Master Gardeners staff plant clinics and answer gardeners’ questions, but they assist WSU in providing educational outreach programs in communities:

-They establish and maintain demonstration gardens where they teach about gardening, demonstrate gardening skills, and produce fruit and vegetables for local food banks.

-They provide leadership for the Plant-A-Row for the Hungry program and assist in setting up community and school gardens.

-They mentor community gardeners.

-They teach children about plants and gardening.

-They offer classes on food gardening, landscape care, lawns, irrigation, tree care, integrated pest management, and more.

I have been working with Master Gardener volunteers since 1976. What I cherish about the program are the people, their love of gardening, and their dedication. Not all are expert gardeners, but each brings a unique set of skills to contribute to the program.

In 2014, our local Benton-Franklin WSU Master Gardeners returned 11,895 hours of service helping people solve their plant and pest problems and learn about gardening. They also donated 2128 lb. of produce from their Demonstration Garden to the local food banks. Under Master Gardener leadership, 600 local gardeners participated in the Plant-a-Row program and donated about 21,000 lb. of produce to people in need in our communities. Benton-Franklin Master Gardeners helped build eight new community gardens and mentored gardeners at 24 local community and social service gardens. They also taught almost 3000 youth about plants, gardening, and insects.

Back in 1973, I do not think that Gibby and Scheer could have imagined the growth and evolution of the Master Gardener program into the wildly successful and diverse program it is today. I know they would be proud of the many volunteers. They are an awesome group of people.

Published: 1/9/2015 12:46 PM

THE BLACK FINGERS OF DEATH FOR CHEATGRASS?

GARDEN TIPS – written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
DECEMBER 26, 2014

Cheatgrass is an exotic annual weedy grass. It is not a problem for most home gardeners, but it is a troublesome and costly problem in the semiarid rangelands of the West.

Cheatgrass, also known as downy brome, is considered an “exotic” weed because it is not native to the US, arriving from Eurasia sometime in the 19th century. About that same time, the use of western rangeland for cattle grazing started. This allowed cheatgrass to take over rangeland by outpacing native perennial bunch grasses that were not able to recover quickly from the effects of heavy grazing.

Cheatgrass is considered aggressive because it produces copious seeds every year. It is now found on 100 million acres of rangeland and has taken over 41 million acres of land where native plants once dominated. If you look to our surrounding area hills in the spring, the grassy green you see is mostly cheatgrass.

So what is so bad about cheatgrass? First, it has contributed to the loss of millions of acres of native plants, like sagebrush, grasses, and forbs, that support native wildlife. Second, dry cheatgrass is very flammable and fuels wildfires. As a result, wildfires in the semiarid areas of the West are much more frequent than when native plants dominated the landscape. This makes it more difficult for native plants to reestablish.

Third, cheatgrass-fueled wildfires lead to more soil erosion and increased carbon dioxide emissions. Fourth, the production of cattle on rangeland is hampered because the cheatgrass is not palatable for cattle after it dries up. Fifth, gardeners trying to establish landscapes with native plants are also plagued by this seedy, weedy grass.

Before we talk about efforts to curb cheatgrass, we should talk about its life cycle. Cheatgrass germinates in fall or late winter followed by a period of rapid growth in early spring. By late spring it “flowers,” sets seed, and dies. The seeds drop to the soil during the summer and wait for fall and winter moisture to germinate. Of course not all the seed germinates, leaving some viable for the next several seasons and insuring their persistence.

Range managers have tried fire, tillage, and herbicides to control cheatgrass. However, because of the massive acreage and the type of lands involved, control of cheatgrass has been difficult, expensive, and not very effective. Finally, some researchers are making some progress in the fight against cheatgrass. Hooray!

Researchers, supported by the Joint Fire Science Program, are investigating a naturally occurring fungus that might hold the key to getting cheatgrass under control. The fungus, Pyrenophora semenifperda, kills germinating seeds in the lab and in nature. The fungus, nicknamed “Black Fingers of Death” (BFOD) for its appearance in infected seed, secretes toxins that allow it to invade, feed on, and destroy cheatgrass seed.

The scientists have also found that many of the native grasses are resistant or somewhat resistant to BFOD. The team is now working to breed a more virulent strain of the pathogen. They then hope to develop it for use as a commercial biocontrol product. However, if they are able to develop a commercial BFOD product, it will not be a silver bullet. Cheatgrass control will require an integrated approach using other tools and good management practices to reclaim the many acres it currently dominates. For more about the research team and their work, go to http://www.cheatgrassbiocontrol.org/ or http://www.firescience.gov/Digest/FSdigest13.pdf

Published: 12/26/2014 12:41 PM

GOOD WINTER READING FOR GARDENERS

GARDEN TIPS – written by – Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

published – December 19, 2014

Winter is a great time for gardeners to catch up on their reading. If you do not already have a stack of books waiting for you, here are a few suggestions for your winter respite.

Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies by David G. James and David Nunnallee could be classified as a ‘coffee table’ book because of all the beautiful color photographs of not only adult butterflies, but also each stage of their life cycle. You might not think of butterfly caterpillars as attractive, but this book reveals their unique beauty.

This comprehensive volume was ten years in the making and covers the life histories of the 158 butterfly species found in British Columbia, Washington, northern Idaho, and northern Oregon. Gardeners, hikers, amateur entomologists, and natural history buffs should not miss this book. James and Nunnallee also cover the biology, ecology, and rearing of each butterfly species included in the book.

A botanist at heart, I am intrigued by the book, The Drunken Botanist. Few botany books make it to the New York Times Bestseller list, but this one written by Amy Stewart, is a bonafide hit. It is subtitled ‘The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks’ and focuses on the herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and even fungi that humans have used to make alcoholic brews and spirits. This book is said to be a mix of ‘biology, chemistry, history, etymology, and mixology’ and includes fifty cocktail recipes as well as growing advice on many of the plants used in the recipes.

This is not Stewart’s only book with an intriguing title. She is also author of Wicked Bugs – The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects and Wicked Plants – The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities.

Next on my list for reading is any issue of Green Prints – The Weeders Digest, but I would suggest subscribing and starting with the 100th issue of this literary gardening magazine. I recently received a copy and it reminded me of this wonderful little quarterly magazine. The editor started the magazine 25 years ago with the intent of getting to the human side of gardening, not the how-to of growing plants. In any issue you will find sweet short stories, heart-warming tales, anecdotes, pretty artwork and poetry about gardening that will make you laugh, smile, or cry. It will certainly cheer the gray winter days. To subscribe go to: www.greenprints.com.

If you want to make the most of these winter months, you might want to study one of the best references available for gardeners on the topic of pruning, American Horticultural Society Pruning and Training by Christopher Brickell and David Joyce. This book is subtitled ‘The Definitive Guide to Pruning Trees, Shrubs, and Climbers.’ The most recent edition was revised and updated in 2011. Dr. Ray Maleike, retired WSU Extension Horticulture Specialist, recommends this book to gardeners with pruning questions. Available only in paperback, it costs less than $20. Another good paperback tome on pruning, An Illustrated Guide to Pruning by Edward F. Gilman, costs over $100, but it is rich with diagrams and illustrations. If you read all 496 pages, you will be a pruning expert!

Published: 12/19/2014 12:37 PM

TIME WILL TELL IF PLANTS HURT BY COLD WEATHER

GARDEN TIPS – written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published-DECEMBER 12, 2014

Weather-wise, this has been a strange fall. We had a wonderfully balmy October. Frost and cool temperatures were delayed well past October 15th, the average date of the first fall frost. Unfortunately, the extended abnormally warm weather was followed by an abrupt spell of bone-chilling low temperatures.

Many plants were just not ready for the severe cold and may have experienced damage from low temperatures that they could normally withstand in mid-winter. Further complicating the issue was the warmer-than-normal weather that followed this frigid spell. Then, the warm weather was immediately followed by another period of severe cold.

Gardeners knew these departures from the norm could mean trouble for the trees, shrubs, and perennial plants in our yards and gardens. The frost-killed leaves still clinging to trees were a hint that something was awry. The abnormal high and low fluctuating temperatures had prompted gardeners to ask me if they should anticipate dead or injured plants next spring. It is one of those questions that I can not answer with a simple “yes or no.”

First, we have to ask if a particular plant was dormant and ready for winter’s cold. Plants hardy in a particular region physiologically prepare or “acclimate” themselves for impending winter cold based on environmental cues. These two main environmental factors are shortening days and gradually cooling weather that work to slow plant growth until a plant becomes dormant. Each species of plant responds to our local cues somewhat differently because they are adapted to the cues from the environment in their native geographic region. The timing of these cues and the acclimation process can differ from species to species.

As fall and winter advance, hardy plants continue to acclimate until they reach “maximum mid-winter hardiness,” assuming the temperatures gradually become cooler. Fluctuations between warm and cold periods interrupt the process. During warm periods, plants de-acclimate or lose some of the hardiness they have achieved and then start to re-acclimate when it turns cooler again.

Environmental cues are not the only factors that figure into plants acclimating to cold weather. Cultural conditions that promote late season growth can delay dormancy and the acclimation process. Pruning and fertilizing in late summer or fall stimulate new growth and delay dormancy. Because of our arid climate we still need to water our plants in the fall, but excessive irrigation also encourages growth and slows the process.

Plants weakened from drought stress, insect or disease damage, environmental extremes (such as our extended record heat last summer), nutrient deficiencies, root problems, or physical injuries may not be able to acquire full potential hardiness. The same goes for plants planted in late summer or early fall that did not have a chance to become established fall.

To protect against cold temperature injury experts recommend:

1. Plant trees, shrubs, and perennials that are designated hardy for the area. (This is USDA Zone 6 for most of our region.)

2. Do not prune or fertilize your plants after the first of August.

3. Cut back on the frequency of watering in the fall, but avoid drought stressing your plants.

4. If planting or transplanting trees and shrubs in the fall, wait until they are dormant.

5. Apply protective mulches on tender plants only after the soil has cooled to 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Should we anticipate damage on our trees, shrubs, and perennials? My answer is, “Probably, but only time will tell which plants and how severe the damage will be.”

Published: 12/12/2014 12:33 PM

GIFT IDEAS FOR GARDENERS

GARDEN TIPS – written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published Novemeber 28, 2014

Now that Black Friday has arrived, most of know it is time to start our holiday shopping, if we have not already. If you are looking for a great gift for the gardener in your life, I have a few suggestions…

My favorite place to shop for other gardeners and also for myself is Lee Valley & Veritas (www.leevalley.com). It is like Cabelas, but for gardeners instead of hunters and outdoors men. They offer high quality garden tools including Felco and Lowe pruners; hand tools, shovels, rakes, spades, weeders and hoes including the ergonomically designed Radius brand; tool sharpeners; Haws watering cans; a full line of drip irrigation supplies and so much more.

One Lee Valley catalog item that has piqued my interest is a pair of Hog Ring Pliers and clips. The original intended use of these pliers was for attaching ear tags to hogs, but gardeners can use them for repairing wire fences and tomato cages, attaching netting to support wires, and more. (You might be able to find a pair at a local farm store.)

Another tempting item from Lee Valley is the Gardener’s Wash Basket. It is a chrome-plated wire basket used for washing vegetables fresh from the garden. Produce is placed in the basket and hosed off with potable water. It should be especially handy cleaning freshly dug potatoes and root vegetables.

If your gardener is into natural, homespun garden gadgets, checkout Minnie and Moon (www.minnieandmoon.com). They offer a solid oak dibber; balls of green and natural jute twine on an oak spindle; oak plant tags; paper potters for creating seed pots from newspaper; and more. The Minnie and Moon garden trug is on my personal wish list. Both the small and large trugs are made from Pacific Northwest myrtlewood, fastened with copper nails, and finished with food safe mineral oil. Lightweight, functional and sturdy enough to use for toting garden tools or harvesting veggies, they are also pretty enough to use for home decorating.

Consider giving an amaryllis bulb to gardeners who are already pining for next year’s gardening season. Amaryllis can be grown indoors for bloom this winter. Some fairly inexpensive bulbs with red, white, or pink flowers are available right now at local discount department stores. I have been tempted to buy a few just for myself. Plus, amaryllis bulbs will bloom again next winter if cared for properly.

Specialty mail order companies offer more spectacular amaryllis cultivars than can be found locally. Bluestone Perennials (www.bluestoneperennials.com) sells some lovely double flowered amaryllis, like Blossom Peacock with white and red bicolor petals or Double Dragon with velvety red petals. Their bulbs come in kits that include a large amaryllis bulb, a white plastic pot, and growing mix. White Flower Farm (www.whiteflowerfarm.com) has a wider variety of single and double flowered amaryllis cultivars.

Finally, every gardener and homeowner with a lawn, landscape, or garden should have an open-sided soil sampler probe for taking cores of soil from the lawn or garden to a depth of 17 inches or more. It takes the guesswork out of determining when the soil is dry and needs irrigation. Probes can get to be pricey, but Ben Meadow’s (www.benmeadows.com) offers an economical low-cost one made of nickle-plated steel from JMC (item # 106078) for $41 and a steel one electroplated with copper and then chromed from Hoffer (item#220160) for $80. A soil probe is an awesome gift, but you may have to explain what it does.

The great thing about shopping for all the garden gifts that I have suggested is that you can shop from the comfort of your home while sipping a hot cup of tea.

Published: 11/28/2014 12:29 PM

TREE PEONIES NOT REALLY TREES

GARDEN TIPS – written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published – November 14, 2014

From the prices in a plant catalogs you know that tree peonies must be something special, but why? Despite a name that includes ‘tree,’ this relative of the garden peony is really a deciduous woody shrub.

The tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) is slow-growing but eventually reaches a height of six feet. Unlike the herbaceous garden peony, tree peonies do not die back to the ground in the fall. Two other close relatives, Paeonia lutea and Paeonia lutea ludlowii, have been used in tree peony breeding to create hardier and yellow-flowered tree peony hybrids.

Tree peonies are native to northwestern China and are reported to have been in cultivation for centuries in both China and Japan where a number of cultivars (cultivated varieties) have been developed.

Despite their exotic origins and large gorgeous flowers, tree peonies are supposedly not difficult to grow. Tree peonies are hardy to Zone 4 and deer resistant. Tree peonies need a well-drained neutral to slightly alkaline soil that is rich in organic matter. In our region they will need to be provided protection from wind and be located where they receive light or partial shade in the afternoon.

Before planting, loosen the soil in the planting bed to a depth of at least 18-24 inches deep and 12 inches wide. When preparing the soil, mix in organic matter, such as compost. Tree peonies can last many years with good soil preparation and proper care.

When planting bare-root plants, note the swollen area of the stem of grafted plants. This graft should be situated four to six inches below the surface of the soil. Non-grafted plants growing on their own roots should have the swollen portion of their stems located two inches below the surface of the soil. If you are planting a container grown plant, plant it at the same depth it was growing in the container.

Gardeners with herbaceous garden peonies know it is important to not plant them too deep or the plants will not flower. When growing tree peonies it is important to plant them deep enough and not too shallow.

If you buy a tree peony from a specialty nursery, like the Peony Farm in Sequim, WA (ilovepeonies), Klehm’s Song Sparrow (songsparrow.com) or Peony’s Envy (peonysenvy.com), you may be surprised to find that the least expensive ones cost at least $50 and others cost $75 to $200 or more. Sure, the large 6-9 inch single, semi-double, or double flowers are gorgeous and come in beautiful shades of white, yellow, gold, pink, red, purple, pink-purple, and maroon, but why do they cost so much?

First, grafted plants are more labor intensive to propagate, making them more expensive. Tree peonies are slow-growing, putting on only one to six inches of growth per year, lengthening the time it takes to grow them into saleable plants and making them more costly to produce. Finally, these are specialty plants and many of the cultivars are rare and not available in large numbers.

Garden peonies are a favorite of many, but tree peonies can add a touch of the exotic to a garden or landscape, plus they bloom a couple of weeks earlier than garden peonies. I just may plant one in my garden next spring.

Published: 11/14/2014 12:20 PM

LAVENDER IN THE GARDEN

GARDEN TIPS – written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published NOVEMBER 7, 2014

Are you a fan of lavender? I am. I like this garden perennial because it has pretty, delightfully fragrant flower spikes, it has attractive aromatic gray foliage, it attracts honeybees, and it has few pests.

Our region of Washington is well adapted to growing English lavender. This is not surprising since English lavender is native to the mountainous areas of the western Mediterranean region, not England.

English lavender grows best in full sun and well-drained soil that is slightly alkaline. It is considered drought tolerant once established and will suffer if the soil is kept too wet. Hardy to Zone 5, it will survive our cold winters and it performs extremely well under our hot summer conditions.

The species form of English lavender is considered an evergreen or semi-evergreen, woody shrub. It grows to a height of six feet and produces lavender (no surprise) flower spikes, sometimes twice a the season.

Plant breeders have worked to create many different English lavender cultivars (cultivated varieties) of varying sizes and flower color including deep purple, pink, and white. Hidcote with deep violet blue flowers is a popular cultivar that tops out at a height of 16 inches and Munstead with lavender blue flowers reaches a height of 18 inches. If diminutive is more to your liking, look for tiny Nana or Lavance that only grow10 inches tall.

Lavandin lavender (Lavandula x intermedia), often referred to as French lavender, is a sterile hybrid or cross between English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ) and spike or Portugese lavender (Lavandula latifolia). Lavandin is less hardy and blooms only once a season, blooming later than English lavender. Because its seed is sterile, it is propagated by cuttings.

Containing more camphor, Lavandin lavender has a much stronger, pungent fragrance. It is favored in commercial production for use in cosmetics, soaps, and perfumes because it yields larger amounts of essential oil than English lavender. English lavender is usually preferred for culinary uses because of its milder, sweeter flavor.

There are also a number of different lavandin cultivars, most having lavender to violet blue flowers and not reaching a height of more than three feet. Provence and Grosso are cultivars used for lavender oil production in France.

Lavender should be pruned heavily every year starting when the plant is young to discourage growth from becoming woody and scraggly. If pruned properly, lavender shrubs can remain attractive and productive for 10 to 15 years or more.

Starting when the plants are one year old, prune the stems back by one third early in the season when new growth starts to emerge from the base. Flowers are formed on new growth so you will not be removing flowers if you prune early. You may also cut back green growth immediately after flowering.

Some experts advise pruning more severely every two to three years, pruning the plants back to a height of six to eight inches. However, if that means pruning to brown woody leafless stems, do not do it. This wood has few, if any, live buds capable of growing. If you have an older, woody lavender, try pruning the shrub back severely in the spring, but still leaving two to three inches of green productive growth on the ends.

If you do not have English lavender your garden, plant some next spring. Pruned properly, it is a great addition to any landscape or garde
Published: 11/7/2014 12:17 PM

WHAT IS IN THE PESTICIDE BOTTLE?

GARDEN TIPS – DECEMBER 5, 2014 –
written by Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

Have you checked the labels of your favorite home and garden pesticide products lately? Do you know what is in the bottle? Over the years I have noticed that marketers of major brand home garden pesticides sometimes change the active ingredients in a particular product but keep the product name the same.

Why do they do this? In some cases an ingredient was pulled off the market and another chemical was substituted for it. In other cases, a more effective ingredient is exchanged for the original or combined with the original for a better working product. In yet other cases, an additional ingredient is included to provide added value, creating a product that does more. Whatever the reason for the change, manufacturers often keep the product name the same because of their customers= familiarity with it.

For example, most gardeners are familiar with glyphosate marketed by Monsanto and sold under the trade name of Roundup Weed & Grass Killer. Once Monsanto=s patent for glyphosate expired, other home garden pesticide marketers were able to offer similar glyphosate products. To Astay in the game@ Monsanto needed to create an Aadded value@ product or one that performed better.

Roundup Weed & Grass Killer Concentrate Plus contains glyphosate and diquat as the Aplus.@ Diquat is not new. It is a contact herbicide that acts very quickly, killing weeds down to the roots within one to three days. Its quick action is very satisfying for the user, but it does not kill weed roots. Glyphosate is still a needed for killing the roots. However, an application of glyphosate alone can be less gratifying because it takes longer (three days to a week or more ) before weeds start to die.

Another Monsanto glyphosate product for home gardeners is Roundup Max Control 365. It contains glyphosate and diquat along with an additional ingredient, imazapic. Imazapic works as a pre-emergent (preventer) and post-emergent herbicide in controlling some broadleaf weeds and grasses. Imazapic provides long-term control of germinating weeds because it stays effective for several months or more.

With the added imazapic, Roundup Max Control 365 promises a full year of control. It is only for use on driveways, patios, sidewalks and gravel areas. It is not for use in landscape beds, lawns, flower or vegetable gardens, or anywhere in the root zone of desirable trees and shrubs.

Home gardeners may also find Roundup Ready-to-Use on store shelves. It is a basic home garden glyphosate product that contains pelargonic acid that acts similarly to diquat. In addition, there are Roundup Brushkiller products that contain the herbicide triclopyr along with glyphosate.

It can certainly get confusing. That is why it is important to read the label of any a pesticide (insecticide, herbicide, or fungicide) product, even if you have used it before. The ingredients and the directions may have changed. To protect your family, yourself, and plants, be sure to read and follow the label directions.

Published: 12/5/2014 11:55 AM

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