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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:

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!

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!

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!

“Help! How do I prune my hydrangea!”

The Issue at Hand:

Hydrangeas are one of those plants it is hard to remember how to grow. Do not misunderstand this, however. I do not mean that hydrangeas are hard to grow. They are among some of the easiest plants to grow, but we forget how to care for them. And unfortunately when we think we do, we generally get it wrong. But how do you prune hydrangeas?

But before we move on to the how to prune hydrangeas, we must note that there are different types of hydrangeas. This article covers primarily on the Big leaf (macrophylla) and Mountain hydrangeas (serrata). These are the 2 hydrangeas that people have the most problem with. They are the one which we prune because they look like they should be pruned.

These hydrangeas grow more like a perennial than a shrub. Beyond that, throughout the winter and into early spring, they look dead. But this is not the case. Not only are they alive, but they need this wood to bloom.

And this brings us to the question at hand: “how do I prune my hydrangea?”

How do I prune my hydrangea?:

Now that you have identified your hydrangea as one of the ones that bloom on old wood, how do you prune them?

The short answer is that you remove the old flowers, remove the old canes, and clip back the tips that do not grow back in the spring. Let us look at how to do each of these.

    1. The Old Flowers:

      When it comes to pruning off the old flowers, you have a few different options of when it can be done. Some people prune them when they are old and others prune them off later, some people even waiting till late winter to cut them off.

    2. The Old Canes:

      This is a thing that most people forget to do. Out of the 3 things that are on the list, this is the one that takes the longest, but it should not be forgotten. It helps make sure that hydrangea is revived. It rejuvenates the plant and makes it grow better.

    3. The Dead Tips:

      After the hydrangeas have started growing back, you may find that the winter has caused some branches to freeze back a few inches. If you see that this is the case, you can prune back those tips. In some cases, you might also do this to give your hydrangea a more uniform shape.

Have you ever made the mistake of pruning back your hydrangea or have any further thoughts? Comment below.

What is Growing on? No. 1

This is the first post in a series on what is going on at Ken’s Gardens. It will cover what is going on at the greenhouse, things that will be going on in the coming weeks, and what plants look good right now.

Spring is only a few weeks away and we are in full swing getting ready so that we have the plants you want when you come in. Seasonal employees have returned and some new employees have started. Seeds are being planted. Plugs are coming in and being transplanted all to get ready. But this is not to say it is not worth coming in, here are 4 reasons to visit now.

    1. We have flowers in bloom:

      Nothing is better to break up the winter than seeing flowers in bloom. Even just seeing them can bring a smile to your face! We have pansies, tropicals, primroses, english daises, and more.

    2. We have fresh made planters:

      One of the best parts about spring is that planters can once again be grown. We have a good selection of premade planters all made in house by Don Deiter. These planters make great gifts or just a great up lift for the middle of winter.

    3. Tropicals and house plants:

      Right now is a good time to get house plants and tropicals. Although there are still more to come, you still should be able to find what you are looking for.

    4. Seeds:

      Seed starting season is soon going to soon be in full swing. Not sure when you should start seeds? there are many tools online that will help with this. Just search seed starting dates and you will find many tools.

What are you excited for this spring? Comment below!

6 Thoughts on Starting Seeds Indoors

In the next few weeks, people will begin planting seeds indoors. Here on 6 thoughts on starting seeds indoor.

Perhaps you are one of the people who start seeds each year. Perhaps your parents had done it when you were growing up and now you want to follow in their steps or are thinking of trying to start seeds for the first time. Here are 6 thoughts about starting seeds indoors:

    1. Make sure that you have enough light:

      One thing that is often forgotten when starting or growing plants indoors is how important light is. What we must realize, however, is that just generic light is not enough. Regular light bulbs are not as efficient as specially designed grow lights. Grow lights are specially tailored to provide light that matches the spectrum of the sun or is on a spectrum that lends to photosynthesis.

    2. Beware of diseases:

      Disease is the seed starters scourge. One must remember that when starting seeds, there will be losses. Disease is one of the main cause of these losses. There are many reasons why disease is a concern when starting seeds indoors. One of the main reasons why this is an issue indoors is lack of air circulation. Another way to limit diseases is to make sure that containers and soil is sterile.

    3. Make sure you start seeds at the right time:

      One of the biggest struggles of starting seeds is starting them at the right time. Fortunately, there are many tools online that will help with this. Just search seed starting dates and you will find many tools.

    4. Be careful not to overwater:

      Overwatering can be a big problem when starting seeds. You don’t want to underwater, but seeds are so easy to over water. Overwatered seeds can rot and overwatered seedlings can spoil.

    5. Warmer soil speeds seed germination and seedling growth:

      As one might expect, warmer soil helps with seed starting. Consider purchasing a plant heating mat to provide seed trays with warmth.

    6. Make sure that acclimate the plants when you take them outdoors:

      Planting seeds is more complicated than just starting them and sticking them in the ground. Before they are planted out side, plants must be acclimated to the climate. This can be done, by carrying the established seedlings outside for a few hours in the days before transplanting and gradually increasing the time out side. Also, it is important that seedlings are covered if it is to be cold, so they do not freeze.

Are you starting seeds this year? Comment below with what you plan on starting!

Succulent Presentation at Country Gardener’s Club

On February 15, 2018 @ 7:00 P.M., Ken’s Gardens will be at the Country Gardener’s Club in New Holland offering a presentation on growing succulents in containers.

Succulents are all the rage today. Look in the gardening magazines. Look in the stores. Chances are that you will find succulents. A simple search on Google will turn up 54 million results.

Perhaps you have noticed this, and perhaps you want to get in on the action, but you are not sure where to start. This presentation is for you!

In the presentation, we will:

  1. We will look at some examples of succulent containers.

    In this section, we will see that there are endless types of succulent containers and designs.

  2. We will go over how to creates a succulent container.

    In this section, we will look at the different types of succulents, soils, and containers.

  3. We will look at how to care for your succulent container.

    In this section, we will at everything that you need to know to keep your succulent container looking nice!

  4. We will look at a fun idea that you can do with succulents.

    In this section, we will go over a way that you can have fun with gardening with people you know and those you don’t yet!

  5. And lastly, we will open up for questions.

Want more information? Visit the Country Gardener’s website for more information.

Will you be there? Comment below.

5 Reasons to Visit Your Garden Center Now

Chances are that you are not thinking of visiting your local garden center now. It is February after all. But here are 5 reasons that you should rethink that.

Most people would not think it, but February is a busy time at the garden center. Although, the end of December and the beginning of January is slow, by February we are in full swing. Plants for spring are being planted and being moved to get ready for when you come to shop in the coming months.

But why should you come in? Here are 5 reasons:

    1. Let’s face it, winter is long:.

      Regardless of who you are, winter is long. It is good to get out of the house and just to see the green of the plants. We fail to realize how much we miss the green and lively color.

    2. Silk Flowers:

      Another way to break up the winter and to liven your house is to get silk flowers. Right now, we have about the best selection that we will have in silk. We have both pre-made arrangements and loose silk for you to create your own arrangements.

    3. Seeds:

      Right now, we have a full supply of flower and vegetable seeds, so you can get them while we still have the best selection and before you get too busy to get an early start!

    4. Spring flowers:

      Nothing brightens your home more than spring flowers. Right now, we have a supply of primroses, cyclamens, with more flowers coming soon!

    5. Houseplants:

      Houseplants are often something that we forget about, but they are perfect way to bring a life into your home year round! We have air plants, succulents, ivy, and other house plants! Enjoy the benefits of the reduced stress by bringing a plant into your home!

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