Pest Alert: Spotted Lanternfly

Spotted Lanternfly (Photo: NY Department Environmental Conservation)

The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is a new invasive insect that is native to China, Bangladesh and Vietnam, and introduced to Japan and Korea where it has become a major pest of grapes. Spotted Lanternfly primarily feeds on tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) but can also feed on a wide variety of plants such as grapevine, hops, maple, walnut and fruit trees, which has posed a great threat to these industries. This invasive pest was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since been found in New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia. In New York. A dead insect was found in Delaware County in the fall of 2017. In 2018, insects were reported in Albany, Monroe, Yates and Suffolk counties. Following these reports, the DEC and Department of Agriculture and Markets immediately began extensive surveys throughout the area. At this time, no additional insects have been found.

The Spotted Lanternfly adult is approximately 1 inch long and 1/2 inch wide at rest. Immature stages are black with white spots and develop red patches as they grow to maturity. Nymphs are black with white spots that turn red before transitioning into adults. Spotted Lanternfly can be seen as early as April and adults begin to appear in July. Their forewings are grayish with black spots. The lower portions of their hindwings are red with black spots and the upper portions are dark with a white stripe. In the fall, adults lay 1-inch-long egg masses, which when first laid are are smooth and brownish-gray with a shiny, waxy coating. Older egg masses appear as rows of 30 to 50 brownish seed-like deposits in 4 to 7 columns on the trunk, roughly an inch long.  Spotted Lanternfly is capable of jumping and flying short distances and is spread primarily through human activity. They can spread to new areas when they lay their eggs on vehicles, firewood, outdoor furniture and stone.

Lanternfly Life Cycle (Photo: Pennsylvania State Cooperative Extension)

Attacked trees will develop weeping wounds which appear wet, while leaving a greyish or black trail along the trunk. The sap may give off a fermented odor and will attract other insects to feed, notably wasps and ants. To destroy egg masses, scrape them off, place them into alcohol or hand sanitizer and double bag. It is important to collect specimens of any life stage and report sightings of egg masses, nymphs, or adult spotted lanternfly to your local DEC or Cooperative Extension for further verification.

Plans are in place for the detection and prevention of Spotted Lanternfly in the New York area. Extensive trapping surveys will be conducted in high-risk areas throughout the state as well as inspections of nursery stock, stone shipments and commercial transports from infected areas. The DEC and partner organizations encourage everyone to be on the lookout for this pest.

Sources: Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension and NY State Department of Environmental Conservation

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Late Summer/Early Fall Pest Alert: Fall Webworm

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Fall Webworm

Fall is approaching and a common garden pest, the fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea) can become noticeable on trees, causing unsightly larval nests covering entire branches, resulting in stress to the tree and severe leaf damage. Fall webworm are caterpillars that weave loose webbing around the tree’s outer foliage while feeding on leaves, compared to tent caterpillars that appear in spring and build their more opaque nests within the inner crotch of the branches. The webworm caterpillar is approximately one inch in length with a light greenish-yellow body and black to reddish head. Adults emerge later on as white moths with dark spots on their wings.

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Fall Webworm Caterpillar

The best way to eliminate fall webworm is to remove the infected branches immediately, before the larvae hatch and take over the tree. If the caterpillars have already left the nest, it is recommended to spray with an organophosphate insecticide such as Acephate (contained in Orthene or Sevin) or Malathion. Acephate is both a foliar and soil systemic which keeps on working 10–15 days after application. Malathion is a foliar insecticide which is also commonly used, but note that Malathion may leave a residue. The best proactive method of killing overwintering larvae is to apply a dormant oil in early spring while the tree is dormant. Dormant oil is a more natural solution and works by smothering and killing the overwintering eggs.

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Fall Webworm Adult Moth (Source: Wikimedia Commons Author TampAGS, for AGS Media)

In the spring, adult moths emerge and deposit eggs, continuing the life cycle of the caterpillar. These caterpillars may go through as many as eleven growth stages before leaving the web.

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Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Growing and Maintaining Itoh Peony

Peony Bartzella Itoh 2018

Itoh Peony Bartzella

HISTORY: After may years of experimentation, Japanese horticulturist, Dr. Toichi Itoh, successfully created seven peony hybrids from a tree peony in 1948, which were known to became the first Itoh peonies. Itoh Peony are derived from a cross breeding between herbaceous and tree peonies, forming a stronger, longer blooming variety over its predecessors. Similar to tree peonies, members of this cultivar have large, long lasting blooms and strong stems that do not require staking. The deeply lobed dark green foliage on a 3-4 foot high by wide plant lasts all summer and into fall, making an attractive addition to the garden. Itoh peonies are also known to be more disease resistant and are not preferred by deer.

Itoh Peony 'Bartzella' in Perennial Border

Itoh Peony ‘Bartzella’ in Perennial Border

GROWING AND MAINTAINING: Itoh peonies prefer to be placed in full sun to partial shade in a rich, well-drained soil. Feed in spring with a low nitrogen fertilizer to promote blooms. Fertilization is not recommended in late summer to fall when the plant is going into dormancy. Once blooms have completed in late spring, Itoh peony can be deadheaded by removing spent flower stalks, leaving its attractive foliage to remain for the rest of the growing season. In autumn, once the foliage turns brown, cut back plants to about 4-6 inches up from the soil level. It is recommended to mulch around the plant to insulate the roots from freezing temperatures. Once spring comes around, your peony will emerge for another growing season. Itoh peony can also be divided in autumn as you would herbaceous peonies.

I discovered this wonderful peony a few years back and have enjoyed its beautiful, sturdy, and disease resistant blooms in the garden. You may find them to be a nice addition as well!

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Contagious Fungus Attacks Ornamental Pear Trees on Long Island

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Pyrus (Ornamental Pear) Spring Blooms

Ornamental Pear trees have been recently under attack from a hard to treat fungus known as Trellis rust. Originally from Europe, Trellis rust or European Pear Rust is caused by the rust fungus Gymnosporangium sabinae. The disease may present a serious health threat to members of the Pyrus species, including both ornamental and fruit pear types. Ornamental Pear trees have been popular trees planted for decades noted for their fast growth rate, tolerance of urban conditions, fairly compact shape and white blooms that appear in early spring. Unfortunately, hundreds of trees have been noted dying in Rockville Center and the disease has been spreading to the Nassau and Suffolk County areas of Long Island. The fungus has spread from the mid-western states to upstate New York and Connecticut over the past several years and seems to be getting progressively worse. According to horticulturists, part of the problem is that the trees have been over-planted, resulting in a rapid spreading of the disease.

Symptoms to look out for are yellow-orange leaf spots (see photograph), which develop into spores in late summer. The spores can be spread to other host plants by wind or to the roots if the trees are close enough together. The secondary host during the winter months is juniper, allowing the fungus to survive when the pear trees drop their leaves; hence, continuing the cycle in the spring.

If you spot damage on your tree, remove and destroy the infected leaves to prevent spores from spreading. If caught early enough, systemic and spray fungicides can be applied to inhibit the spread of the disease. Best preventive measures are to be alert in monitoring your trees, and when in doubt, call a tree professional.

Snow Warnings and Care of Landscape Plants

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March Snowstorm

The seasons have been shifting in the northeast, leaving many homeowners in much dismay when it comes to winter garden maintenance. Winter storms can hit late winter into early spring, causing more distress to plantings once they have experienced warmer than normal temperatures. As we await another winter storm, there are some precautions you can take to ensure the vitality of your landscape plants and protect them from possible damage.

SNOW WEIGHTED TREE BRANCHES: Most evergreen trees and shrubs can handle snow build-up on their branches, but in the instance of a heavy snow, the branches may become weighted down. Certain Arborvitae are susceptible to the weight of snow pulling down on them and may have already experienced sagging branches. Further damage can easily be avoided by wrapping the branches together with arbor tie. The cloth tie cannot be seen from the outside, will prevent future damage from another snow, and the tree will look unscathed.

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Arborvitae and Snow Care

BROKEN OR DAMAGED TREE BRANCHES: Before an approaching storm, try to walk outside and inspect trees and shrubs on your property for any broken or damaged branches. If you do spot a damaged branch, tie the two split halves together by wrapping them tightly together with arbor tie. Start by wrapping the two halves tightly together and continue wrapping above and below the crack for extra support. If caught in time, the cambium (or growing layer) of the plant will repair itself and fuse the two parts of the damaged branch together. I have personally saved split branches on holly, azalea and arborvitae using this technique and the plants have recovered beautifully. Identifying these issues now and tending to them prior to the snow can mean the survival of your plant.

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Arbor Tied Split Branch on Holly

SNOW REMOVAL: While it is tempting to go outside and start removing snow from weighted branches it is also a good time to exercise caution. Under the snow-covered branches could also be a frozen layer of ice.  Any manipulating of the frozen branches could result in easy breakage and permanent damage to your tree.  A helpful tip is to very carefully dig snow from around trapped branches and allow them to spring back up on their own. Never shake branches with ice.  It is best to let nature take its course and allow thawing to occur. The branches will gradually regain their shape as the ice melts preventing any harm to your landscaping.

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Snow Removal From Branches

SPRING BULBS AND SNOW:  Just as your spring bulbs are emerging, a late winter snow storm in March can cause much distress and uncertainty. Besides having to tend with the snow, there is some reassuring news!  While mulch protects dormant bulbs from cold, once they start blooming, a covering of snow will act as an insulator. The snow will help to hold in the natural warmth from the soil and provide protection. Once the snow is gone, you can continue to enjoy your bulbs!

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Spring Bulbs and Snow Cover

As mentioned previously, plants are very resilient, and with a little care can bounce back and recover nicely after a major snow. With a March snow on the way, warmer days may not look promising at the moment, but Spring is right around the corner!

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Constructing a Natural Stone Patio or Walkway

Hardscape elements can add much beauty as well as serving a function in your outdoor space. Creating a natural stone patio or walkway can add an extra dimension to your landscaping and can be accomplished in one to two days, depending on the size of your area. There are a series of necessary steps that must be followed in order to ensure the stability and lifetime of your project.

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Walkway Construction

Before starting your project, clear your space of any grass, stone or debris and level the area as best as possible. There should be a slight pitch for water drainage, but no more than a five degree slope is recommended.IMG_5667

After leveling, construct a border for your walkway using a standard steel or plastic landscape edging. Lay a layer of landscape fabric to cover the area in order to keep out soil and prevent weeds from coming through. Use metal anchors to keep the landscape fabric in place. (Note:  Steel Edging comes in 16 foot sections.)IMG_5665

Once the edging and landscape fabric are in place, install a 2-3 inch base for your stone to sit in. Here a 3/4 inch pea gravel base is being used. Rake out the gravel to create a level surface.IMG_5663

Now you are ready to lay down the irregular bluestone slabs into the gravel base.  A recommended size for the bluestone slabs is approximately 2′ x 3′. Move the stones within the gravel to ensure they are level and comfortable for walking and push the gravel up around the edges. Your new walkway is now complete and ready to enjoy!

Completed Patio

Irregular Bluestone Patio on RCA Base

To construct an irregular bluestone patio, first clear the area of any grass or debris.

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Level the area and install a base of three to four layers of RCA (recycled concrete) while tamping down after each layer is deposited.  A solid layer of approximately four inches is recommended.IMG_5729

Afterwards, add a layer of clean sandbox sand and use a level to make sure the area is flat.IMG_5742

Once the base is fully prepared, using a stone saw, carefully  cut and piece the irregular bluestone slabs together to fit like a puzzle.  This can be a bit tedious but better to take your time.  Once all the stone is laid, fully clean off any dust or debris and wash down the new patio with a hose and allow to dry.  Once completely dry, it is time to brush polymeric sand into the grooves of the stone without getting any onto the surrounding area.  The polymeric sand will form a permanent bond between the pieces of stone to complete your patio project. Wet down lightly with a spray nozzle and let set overnight. (Note: Polymeric sand hardens like a cement and will not come off the surrounding patio once set with water.  Take caution when applying to ensure the area is clean of any remaining dust or debris.) Once these steps are completed your new patio is ready to enjoy!

Following these simple steps will help guide you into creating a welcoming patio or walkway for your landscape to enjoy for years to come. For other design and hardscaping ideas,  be sure to check out my book A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, which is available on Amazon.

 As Always…Happy Gardening!

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Author: Lee@A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance, © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved

The Late April Garden: Bursts of Spring Color!

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The month of April is abundant with blooms as we start off spring, and one of the wonderful aspects of my job as a landscape designer is that I get to be surrounded by them on a daily basis.  For early spring color the use of flowering trees and shrubs such as Weeping Cherry, Kwanzan Cherry, Flowering Plum, Eastern Redbud, Magnolia, Viburnum and Ornamental Pear along with spring blooming bulbs such as muscari, hyacinth, crocus, tulips and daffodils bring bursts of color to the landscape. Add some early blooming perennials such as ajuga and phlox to the mix and you have an array of color! Here are some of the more popular flowering species for your early spring garden, followed by information for each individual plant.

Weeping Cherry

Weeping Cherry  (Prunus subhirtella Pendula)

Plant Type: Flowering Tree
Deciduous/Evergreen: Deciduous
Hardiness Zone: 5-8                Hardiness Zone Map
Light Needs: Full Sun
Water Needs: Low
Mature Size: Height 15-20′ x 15-20′ Wide

cherry blossom

Weeping Cherry Blossom

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Red Tulip

tulip, pink

Pink Tulip

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Orange Tulip

yellow tulips

Yellow Tulip

Plant Type: Bulb (Tulip Assorted)
Deciduous/Evergreen: Herbaceous
Hardiness Zone: 3-9    Hardiness Zone Map
Light Needs: Full Sun
Water Needs: Moderate
Mature Size: 12-18″ tall

prunus kwazan cherry

Kwanzan Cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’)

Plant Type: Flowering Tree
Deciduous/Evergreen: Deciduous
Hardiness Zone: 4-8   Hardiness Zone Map
Light Needs: Full Sun-Part Shade
Water Needs: Moderate
Mature Size: Height 20-30 ‘x 20-30’ Wide

Creeping Phlox

Creeping Phlox

Plant Type: Perennial, groundcover
Deciduous/Evergreen: Herbaceous
Hardiness Zone: 3-8   Hardiness Zone Map
Light Needs: Full Sun
Water Needs: Moderate
Mature Size: 4-6″ tall x 16-24″ wide

Viburnum Fragrant 2

Fragrant Viburnum (Viburnum x carlcephalum)

Plant Type: Flowering Shrub
Deciduous/Evergreen: Deciduous
Hardiness Zone: 6-8   Hardiness Zone Map
Light Needs: Full Sun – Part Shade
Water Needs: Moderate
Mature Size: 6-10′ tall x 6-10′ wide
Growth Rate: Moderate

Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow' Flower

Ajuga ‘Burgundy Glow’

Plant Type: Perennial, groundcover
Deciduous/Evergreen: Herbaceous
Hardiness Zone: 3-9   Hardiness Zone Map
Light Needs: Full Sun – Full Shade
Water Needs: Moderate
Mature Size: 4-6″ tall x 12-18″ wide

Krater Plum Blossoms 2

Krauter Plum Blossoms (Prunus cerasifera ‘Krauter Vesuvius’)

Plant Type: Flowering Tree
Deciduous/Evergreen: Deciduous
Hardiness Zone: 5-8   Hardiness Zone Map
Light Needs: Full Sun – Part Shade
Water Needs: Moderate
Mature Size: 15-20′ tall x 15-20′ wide

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Try some of these beauties for spring delight in your landscape. For much more information on flowering trees, shrubs and perennials,  check out my book A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, available on Amazon.

 As Always…Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance, © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved