What You Need to Know about Spotted Lanternfly

Spotted Laternfly in Lancaster, PaWhat You Need to Know about Spotted Lanternfly

Chances are that you have heard of the Spotted Lanternfly. There have been countless articles, flyers, and news segments on it. It is especially important in light of the fact that Spotted Lanternfly has been found in Lancaster, and will continue to be an issue.

The issue with Spotted Lanternfly is not only how fast it multiplies, but how fast it is spreading. Perhaps you have heard that it is in Lancaster County, but you do think that it is that big of a deal. Or maybe you know that it will be–but think it won’t be for a while. This is where we were. Sure, we had heard they would be an issue but did not expect that it would affect us this year. And yet they really are here. We have had countless customers come and ask how they should control the Spotted Lanternfly, something that we will go into greater detail on in future posts. We will also take a closer look at the life cycle of Spotted Lanternflies in a future post.

Here are some things that you should know about the Spotted Lanternfly:

  1. They are an Incredibly Invasive Pest:

    Chances are if you have heard about spotted Lanternfly you have heard that they are incredibly invasive. But chances are you are underestimating how big a problem that they are. We must not think of several insects but clusters of them much like with Japanese Beetles, only on the trunks of trees, not the small flowers. Spotted Lanternfly is native to China, India, and Vietnam, but it was accidentally spread to Korea in 2006 and were found in the United States in Berks County, PA in 2014.

  2. They will Affect You:

    When you think of the Spotted Lanternfly, maybe you think that it will not affect you. After all, you aren’t much of a gardener. Sure, you do have some plants. Maybe you just have a few flower beds and a tree. But here is the thing that it is possible not to realize. Spotted Lanternflies drip a honeydew residue that turns to mold. This mold can cover the side of a house or cover an outdoor item like steps or decks. For this reason, even if you do not have a single flower, they will affect you.

    Another thing worth noting is that the honeydew also builds up on plants, blocking access to sunlight. This can eventually kill the plants.

  3. They have no Major Native Predators:

    This is perhaps one of the main concerns with Spotted Lanternfly: they have no native predators in the U.S. Sure, Praying Mantises, spiders, and Assinbug sometime eat them but not enough to control the populations. Beyond that, it does not seem like birds eat them. The good news, however, is that there is currently research into a type of parasitic wasp that was introduced to prey on Gypsy Moths that is known to attack egg masses. Undoublty, there will also be efforts into studying the introduction of Spotted Lanternflies natural predators from China. There is also talks to use RNAi technology against them.

  4. If You See Them, You should Kill Them:

    If you see a Spotted Lanternfly, you should kill them. But what is the best way to do this? It depends how bad they are. If there is only a few on the plant, tree, or the side of a building, etc, you can kill them mechanically with a broom or a fly swatter, etc. However, if there are a lot of Spotted Lanternflies present, you will want to spray. We recommend using Bonide Eight, however, there are several other sprays that can be used (see under Sources and Further Reading).

  5. They Tend to Prefer Tree of Heaven:

    One of the most important things to know about Spotted Lanternfly is that they prefer Tree of Heaven, but this can be easily misunderstood. This does not mean they do not eat other plants, it merely means that they prefer the Tree of Heaven, but eat other plants. Other favorites include Maples, Grapes, Pine, and fruit trees. But the problem is they eat almost everything.

  6. They do not Bite:

    The good thing about Spotted Lanternfly is that you do not have to worry about them biting you. They are not known to bite which makes them safer than a flies.

Have you heard of Spotted Lanternfly? Have you seen them? Comment below!

Sources and Further Reading:

Replacements for Burning Bush

Replacements for Burning Bush:

In the last post, we looked at Burning bush and why it is so hard to find. In this post, we will look at replacements for Burning Bush.

As we had said in the last post, the reason why Burning Bush is hard to find. It is hard to find because it is invasive and many nurseries have willing dropped it, limited their selection, or no longer have the availability from growers.

Consider one of these 9 plants to replace Burning Bush:

  1. Aronia

    Aronia or chokeberry is a plant that is becoming more popular. There are several reasons for this. One of which is that there are newer and shorter varieties coming out. But the main reason is for health reasons. The berries are also really good for you. They have many health benefits.

  2. Nandina

    Another good plant to replace Burning Bush is Nandina. Nandina has one of the best fall colors of any plants. More than that, Nandina is semi-evergreen so it holds its leaves longer than a lot of other plants.

  3. Highbush Blueberry

    Blueberries are an underrated plant for using in landscaping. Sure, many of us grow blueberries for the fruit, but not many people grow it in the landscape. Consider planting 2 varieties for better berry set. And when planting 2, consider planting an early and a late variety for an extended season.

  4. Itea

    Iteas are a great plant. The best variety to replace Burning Bush and just, in general, the best variety is ‘Henry’s Garnet.’ The one thing about Itea, which can be good or bad, is that Itea does spread.

  5. Fothergilla

    Fothergilla is one of those plants that are not used as often as they should. It is also known as Bottlebrush as the flowers look like tiny bottle brushes.

  6. Smokebush

    Smokebush is a plant that many do not know about. The one thing worth noting is that some varieties get tall and grow really fast. ‘Grace’ a good example of this. It is more properly known as Smoketree, rather than Smokebush as it gets more the size of a small tree rather than a shrub.

  7. Fragrant Sumac

    Fragrant Sumac is one plant that is becoming more popular in the last few years, even being used in some commercial plantings. It gets more of a red/orange than a red/pink like Burning Bush does.

  8. Some Dogwood Varieties

    There are several different dogwood varieties that are relevant to our discussion here. Some of the Red Twig Dogwoods may be applicable here though they usually do not get the reliably red fall color like Grey and Silky Dogwoods do.

  9. Some Viburnum Varieties

    Another good plant to consider planting in place of Burning Bush is some type of Viburnum. There are many different Viburnums that get great fall color. Consider Arrowwood or even some Fragrant Viburnums as a replacement.

  10. Diervilla (Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle)

    There has been several really nice Dwarf Bush Honeysuckles that have come out in the past several years. Consider the Kodiak series from Proven Winners.

Have you used one of these replacements for Burning Bush? Can you think of any others? Comment below!

Help! Why can’t I find Burning Bush?

Help! Why can’t I find Burning Bush?

One of the showiest fall plants is Burning Bush. Ask anyone on the street if they have ever heard of burning bush and they will probably know what you mean. They may know it as “Fire Bush” rather than burning bush. But once you get past that, they will know what you mean. More than that, a lot of people would like to have one.

And if you are one of the people who want a Burning Bush, you are likely having trouble finding them. This might strike you as odd. One only has to drive into an older development to see how popular Burning Bushes once were. And yet they are now hard to find.

But why is this? The reason is Burning Bush easily becomes invasive. Though it is not a banned plant in PA–at least just yet–it is listed as an invasive plant in PA. This does not mean that it is not allowed to be sold in PA, but many nurseries have chosen willingly to drop them.

If there is any silver lining to this, it is that there will be sterile varieties of Burning Bush coming out. The trouble is, however, that it may take some time for these plants to come out. And further, it will take time for the legislation that has been passed to be overturned or amended to accommodate this reality.

In the meantime, we are left with the reality that burning bush is an invasive plant. And though it is not formally controlled in PA, we should note that Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, and New Hampshire have already banned burning bush. In other words, it is not out of the question that they would be banned in PA in the future.

What is the concern?

Having found out Burning Bush is invasive should lead us to ask a question. What is this question? It is, “So what? So what that burning bush is invasive?”

One of the things we often do when we find out that something is invasive–or even just not native–is to dismiss it as bad outright. But we should realize that this is incorrect. We must first think it through and study the facts.

An example of this is a lot of people want native plants for pollinators particularly, Honey Bees. But what most people do not realize is that Honey Bees are not native. But this does not mean that Honey Bees are bad. One merely has to look at the headlines to find out how import they are to the ecosystem and let alone the economy. But if they were not only beneficial but also necessary, they would be considered invasive. But this being said, we must consider Burning Bush.

So what about Burning Bush? The dilemma is that it spreads and takes over, particularly in woodlands through birds eating the seeds. These Burning Bushes then push out the more edible plants. And when these are pushed out, it makes it harder for wild animals to find food. For this reason, it is important that the spread of Burning Bush is controlled.

See also:

Have you been looking for Burning Bush? Do you have one? Comment below!

Best Plants for College Students

Best Plants for College Students

Are you a college student wanting to make your dorm look a little more like home? Or are you just looking to add a bit of a personal touch? Houseplants are a great way to do both of these things. Not to mention that houseplants are known to reduce stress and purify the air. (Read more here)

Perhaps you are a freshman and this is your first time in college and you are looking for a plant for that sunny window or to spruce up your desk. Or you have just got past unpacking and you find that your room needs a personal touch, but you are not sure what and you just so happen to think of a plant. But regardless of how you have arrived here, the reality is that you know that you want a plant, but you don’t know where to begin.

We have some good news for you. We can help. Although there are more, here are 8 plants to consider:

1. Succulents and Cactus

Succulents and cactus are among the best choices for growing in your dorm. Why is this? Because they require little care and beyond that, they just look great! There are so many different varieties, shapes, colors, and textures. As many may have noticed, it is these things that have caused succulents to be one of the “in” plants right now so you find a lot of information on planting, designing, and care. If you want even more hands-on advice, consider going to a succulent workshop, such as one of the ones that Ken’s puts on (Click here to see schedule).

2. Ferns

Another plant you might consider growing in your dorm is ferns. Although you may have ferns like the one pictured in mind, the truth is that there are many different kinds. They not only vary in color and texture but also leaf shape. Another thing to consider is that some ferns grow a medium size so they can be perfect for beside a desk or on the floor, as long as they get enough light. There are other ferns that stay smaller and are perfect for by a window.

3. Air Plants

If you want a unique plant that can be used in a wide variety of ways, Air plants are an excellent choice. The cool thing is that air plants grow without soil. For this reason, there many things that can be done with them. Consider placing them in glass globes or jars, in containers, or on desks or shelves.

4. Aloe Vera

Aloe is a good choice as an indoor plant. What is the reason for this? Not only does aloe look good, but it can for cuts, sunburn, etc. Since it is a desert plant, it also requires little water.

5. Snake plant

Along with succulents, snake plants are one of the “in” plants right now. They require very little care and can be used in many places. A small plant can be used on the window sill and older larger plants can be used throughout the room.

6. African Violet

The African Violet is a cute plant that comes in many different colors. Not only are the flowers different colors and textures, but so are the leaves. The one thing is that does require a bit more care some of the other choices in that it needs more water than some of the other plants, being that it is not a desert plant.

7. Money Tree

Money Tree is a cool plant that you most often will find with a braided trunk. It is a native of South and Central America, where it can get 60 feet. The good news is that it stays much smaller indoors, rarely exceeding 3-6 feet indoors.

8. Spider Plant

Spider plant is a nice little plant. It is very adaptive which makes it a great plant for a dorm. The name comes from the fact that it sends out runners with small plants that make remind some of little spiders.

Do you have any plants in your dorm? Do you have any plants not listed? Comment below!

Replacements for Hemlock

Hemlock Trees

By Nicholas A. Tonelli from Northeast Pennsylvania, USA – East Branch Swamp Natural Area (6), CC BY 2.0, Wikipedia Commons

Replacements for Hemlocks

In the last post, we went over the reason why hemlocks are hard to find, and in this post, we will go over some possible replacements for hemlock. And although I am doing this, don’t let this dissuade you. If you really want to grow a hemlock, then you should. You just need to be prepared to do the extra work of spraying if it comes to it. But if you do not want to hassle with it, there are plenty of other evergreens that you can grow instead.

Consider the evergreens in the following list:

  1. Chamaecyparis

    Chamaecyparis or False Cypress is a large group of evergreens containing many varieties that we love and rely on in our own landscapes. In addition to the varieties listed, there are many other varieties.

    1. Soft Serve ®

      Soft Serve is a worthy choice from Proven Winners to replace hemlock. The nice thing about it is that it is smaller in size than your typical hemlock, so you can use it places where you would not be able to fit a hemlock. Want further interest? Also, consider Soft Serve Gold®. H. 7-10′, Sp. 5-6′, Zones 4-8

    2. Golden King

      Golden King is another good choice as far as Chamaecyparis goes. Easy to grow. As the name suggests, it is gold in color. Plant in full sun for best color. H. up to 40′, Sp. 15-18′, Zones 5

    3. Oregon Blue

      Oregon Blue is a nice variety of Chamaecyparis. One of the most beautiful Chamaecyparis, it has a unique blue color. H. 30′, Sp. 8-15′, Zone 5

    4. Sullivan

      Very nice plant. Soft green color. Looks very much like Soft Serve®, but slightly taller. H. 20′, Sp. 8-12′, Zone 5

    5. Willamette Elegance

      This green Chamaecyparis is an excellent substitute for both Hemlock and Leyland Cypress. Grows in sun to part shade. H. 15-25′, Sp.10-15′, Zone 5

    6. Alaskan Cedar

      Alaskan Cedar is a very beautiful tree that makes a great specimen plant. There are many different varieties to choose from, including weeping and narrow varieties.

  2. Spruce

    As far as the replacements for Hemlocks, Spruces are one of the best. Just on their own, spruces are a great tree.

    1. Norway Spruce

      One of the easiest trees to grow. If you are not sure what evergreen to plant, Norway Spruce is the one that many go with. There are also many sub-varieties that you can choose. H. 40-50+’, Sp. 15-20+’, Zones 2-7

    2. Serbian Spruce

      One of the best spruce. Green with a silver tint. Grows in full sun to partial shade. H. 40+’, Sp. 15-20+’, Zones 4-7

  3. Arborvitae

    Although they often do not get as wide, Arborvitaes can be a good replacement for Hemlocks. The good thing about these arbs is that they tend to grow fast which makes them good for hedges and to fill areas.

    1. Green Giant

      This Arb. is an excellent variety. It can grow up to 3 feet a year, rivaling Leyland Cypress. Very beautiful. Deer Resistant. H. 40-50′, Sp. 15-25′, Zones 5-8

    2. Atrovirens

      Very similar to ‘Green Giant’ only slightly smaller and denser in growth. Deer Resistant. H. 30-40′, Sp. 15-20′, Zones 5-8

    3. Steeplechase

      If you want Green Giant, but don’t have the room Steeplechase is the arb for you! Though growth rate is much the same as ‘Green Giant’ but the terminal height is half the size of Green Giant. Deer Resistant. H. 20-25′, Sp. 8-12′, Zones 5-8

  4. Eastern Red Cedar

    Eastern Red Cedar is actually a type of Juniper. There are also other varieties of Juniper that you might consider as a replacement, like ‘Moonglow’, ‘Wichita Blue’, and others but we will focus on Eastern Juniper.

    1. Eastern Red Cedar

      Although the foliage is different in texture, Red Cedar is very similar in color to Hemlock. Very tough. Plant in full sun. H. 30′, Sp. 15′, Zones 3-8

Can you think of any other trees that would make a good replacement? Have you grown any of the trees we listed? Comment Below!

Help! Why can’t I find Hemlock?

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Archive, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station / © / CC-BY-3.0-US

Help! Why Can’t I find Hemlock?

If you have been looking for hemlock, chances are that you have not been able to find them. But why this? Read on to find out!

Once hemlocks covered the east coast, but now they are few and far between. Sure, you can find spots where they do still grow in the wild, but not compared to what they once were. Why is this? A small insect called Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.

Here are 8 things to know about Hemlock Wooly Adelgid:

    1. Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is closely related to aphids:

      Hemlock Wolly Adelgid is closely related to aphids and does damage in much the same way. They both do damage by feeding on the plants in sucking out the sap.

    2. Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is easy identified by their egg cases:

      Egg cases are the easiest way for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid to be identified. These eggs look much like small pieces of cotton and occur on the needles and stems of the branches.

    3. Eastern Hemlock is not resistant to Hemlock Woolly Adelgid:

      Unfortunately, the most common variety of Hemlock on the East Coast, the Eastern Hemlock is not resistant to the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. And unfortunately, neither is the Carolina hemlock, also found on the East Coast.

    4. Hemlock Wooly Adelgid more than likely came from Japan:

      Hemlock Woolly Adelgids were first noted in 1951 in Virginia. More than likely they originated from Japan coming with shipments of ornamental Hemlock shipments from Japan. It is worth noting, however, that Hemlock Woolly Adelgid does live on the West Coast and are thought to have been there for thousands of years. For this reason, Western Hemlocks have had time to become resistant to Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.
      Hemlock Wooly Adelgid was first found in Pennsylvania in the late 1960s. And unfortunately today it is found most places east of the Appalachian Mountains. The unfortunate thing is that is killing much of the hemlocks throughout the Appalachian Mountains as well. But if there is a bright side, it is that west of the mountains has tended to avoid infestation.

    5. Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is easily controlled by using pesticides:

      Although Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is a big problem, they are easily controlled by pesticides. The best time to apply pesticides is from late September to October. This will kill the females preparing to over winter.

    6. Hemlock Wooly Adelgid has no natural predators in the US:

      The unfortunate thing is that Hemlock Woolly Adelgid has no predators native to the United States. There are efforts to introduce predatory insects from Japan but this is an ongoing project and they are not readily available quite yet.

    7. The main reason why plants die are secondary causes (Or at least is quickened):

      Although the damage is not generally enough to kill the plant on its own, it is generally enough that the secondary causes will kill the plant or at very least kill it faster. Mortality generally happens within 4-10 years.

    8. Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is mainly an issue on wild plants:

      Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is not a big issue on cultivated plants. The reason for this is that pesticides easily control them. It is, however, a big issue on the wild trees as they do not have intensive care as in cultivated settings. But in spite of this, many nurseries are reluctant to sell hemlocks and many customers in the know are unwilling to buy or deal with the hassle.

Do you have Hemlock? Have you had trouble with Hemlock Wolly Adelgid? Have you wondered why you can’t find Hemlock? Comment below.

Further reading:

What are Rose Slugs (Sawflies) and do I have them?

Rose Slug damage

Chances are you have not heard of Rose slugs (also known as Rose worms) and chances are that you would not be interested to find out what they are unless you are having trouble with your roses. However, it is good to know what they are even if you do not. You do not know when you will need this information.

Rose slugs are a pesky problem. They are only something that became a problem for us in the last few years. At first, we did not know what was going on. All that we knew was that something was eating the roses and leaving them bare. After a little research, we found out that it was these pesky critters.

Rose slugs look more like caterpillars than slugs. They are actually sawfly larvae, a bug in the same family as wasps, bees, and ants. The adult sawflies look like a cross between a fly and a wasp.

One of the biggest issues with rose slugs is that they tend to eat at night. For that reason, you generally see the damage and not the rose slugs.

These larvae are destructive. They leave the leaves as skeletons or eat them entirely. The good thing, however, is although the Rose slugs do damage, they do not harm the overall health of the plant (See here.) The trouble is that they make the plant look quite bad.

Fortunately, they are easy to control. In fact, they are controlled easier than Japanese Beetles if the pesticides are applied correctly.There are a wide range of products that can be used. When applying the insecticide, try to target the underside of the leaves, as this is where the larvae tends to eat.

Most insecticides will control sawflies, but stop in and we can give you a hand if you need help picking out one!

Have you had trouble with rose slugs? Comment below!

5 Reasons to Buy Miniature Evergreens

After a long wait, they are finally in. The miniature evergreens have arrived!

Why should you consider buying miniature evergreens? Perhaps you are thinking of making a planter this year for your patio table and you do not want the same old same old? Do you want something new and unique, something that no one else has? Or perhaps you want something as a showpiece and a miniature evergreen fits the bill.

Here are 5 reasons to consider:

  1. They offer year-long interest:

    One of the nice things about miniature evergreens is that they offer year-long interest. Although in some cases it might be good to bring them indoors for more protection over the winter, they hold their beauty all year long.

  2. They can last more than one year:

    One of the nice things about miniature evergreens is that they can last for several years in planters and still look nice. Although the upfront cost is generally higher, the savings from the second year will generally offset this. Not to mention the cost saved in the following years.

  3. They require little care:

    One of the best thing about miniature evergreens is that there is no deadheading required. Compare this to geraniums or even petunias and you will save a lot of time.  The only thing that you might have to do is the occasional quick trim.

  4. They are unique:

    If you want something unique, miniature evergreens are a great choice. They come in a variety of shapes, colors, and textures.

  5. They look good:

    One of the best reasons to buy any plant is that they look good. Why would you want to buy a plant that looks bad? And the nice thing about miniature evergreens is that there are many nice ones.

Are there any other reasons that you can think of? Comment below!

4 Reasons to Consider Gardening in Containers

One of the newest trends is gardening in containers. This is not to be confused with container gardening but is growing vegetables and herbs in containers.

One of the main things that keep people from gardening is space. Compared to previous times people have far less yard area. Because of this, some have started to grow herbs and vegetables in containers and had good success. The only issue is when this first began, people would tend to do only one thing, like only one type of lettuce, etc. But as time has gone on, this practice has changed and people have started to get fancier with what they plant.

Not only are they using different types of greens, but they are also using different colors too. Now, not only do these containers not look plain, but they are worth growing even if you do not use the vegetables in them. Or if you do use them, you can grow them without missing the annuals that you would have planted there.

Here are 4 reasons why should consider growing vegetables in containers:

  1. It is nice to have fresh vegetables and herbs:

    Vegetables and herbs are a great addition to any meal, but you can’t beat fresh ones and you can’t beat homegrown. Not only are they tastier, they are also healthier.

  2. They are easy to grow:

    Growing herbs and vegetables in containers is really easy. All that needs to be done is watering, harvesting, and maybe a little trimming.

  3. It adds interest to your patio:

    Containers add interest to your patio or yard. They can be used to break up an area or fill an empty spot. Regardless of where you put them, they will brighten up your patio.

  4. They look good:

    Let’s face it, another good reason to grow herb and vegetables in containers is that they look good. A quick search will give you far more ideas than you need to create many different combinations.

Have you ever tried container gardening or can you think of another reason why you should garden in containers? Comment below.

What is Growing on? No. 2

This is the second post in a series covering things presently going on at the greenhouse and things that will be going on. It will also highlight plants that have just come in and plants that look good right now.

Though the weather has only started to feel like spring this weekend, spring has been in full swing for a few weeks here at the store. Trucks have come in and the shrub yard has been filled up. Seeds that were planted a few weeks ago have not only sprouted but have been growing and some have been even been repotted. Some have already bloomed. Basically anywhere that you stand at the store you can look around and see that spring is in full swing.

It will not be long before even the most tender of plants will be ready to plant. It will only be a few weeks till corn, basil, and tomatoes can be planted in the garden and begonias, angelonia, and impatients in the flower beds. Consider the following things.

    1. If you have not already, consider what plants you may plant:

      Now is the time to start planning your garden if you have not already. Decide how much and where you want to plant. This will make it a whole lot easier when you get to the greenhouse. This is not to say that your plans won’t change when you get to the greenhouse, but it is to hopefully make it easier.

    2. Remember about containers:

      Right now is a great time to consider what you are going to do as far as containers go. Perhaps start looking for ideas on Pinterest or through searching. If you have not grown planters in the past, consider whether you want to grow them this year.

    3. Remember seeds:

      If you have not got seeds yet, it is still a good time to get them. Starting seeds is a great and easy way to save money.

What are you planting this spring? Comment below!