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News Filed Under Lawn and Garden

November 16, 2017 - Filed Under: Smart Landscapes

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Home gardeners and landscape professionals are invited to the first Mississippi Smart Landscape Symposium at Mississippi State University to learn how to design and manage low-maintenance landscapes.

This full-day training course will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 26 in the Bost Extension auditorium at MSU. The event is hosted by the MSU Extension Service.

A close-up of white and pink dianthus blooms.
November 13, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Even though the air is still warm in many parts of Mississippi, it’s time to plant annual winter color. Last week, I wrote about pansies being a great color choice. Another sure-fire pick is dianthus.

A close-up of a pink pansy with a dark maroon blotch in the center.
November 6, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

These days, I have to wear my hoodie sweatshirts and long pants for anything below 60 degrees. But the falling temperatures also signal something great: racks and racks of great, cool-season color as pansies fill local garden centers.

A head of cabbage grows in the center of a gorgeous red cabbage plant.
October 30, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This year, I’m getting an early start on my ornamental kale and cabbage planting for the fall.

A couple of weeks ago, I found these plants being marketed in variety packs, so I picked up a selection of kale and cabbage. What an easy way to select plants for your landscape this weekend.

A brown marmorated stink bug with numerous small spots on its body and two white lines on its dark, brown antennae sits on top of a red and yellow apple.
October 30, 2017 - Filed Under: Fruit, Household Insects, Insects-Pests

Brown marmorated stink bugs took up residence in the Northeast nearly 20 years ago, but established populations of the destructive pest are now confirmed in the Southeast, including two reports in Mississippi.

Blake Layton, an entomology specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, is asking homeowners and producers to report any sightings of the insect. These insects are on a different level than other stink bugs in the South because of the damage they cause in fruit and the issues they cause when they invade buildings, he said.

Confederate rose is an heirloom plant that blooms prolifically in late summer and fall.
October 23, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens
I have weekly favorite plants, as you may know, and one of my favorites started blooming in earnest over the last couple of weeks. The sheer number of flowers on the Confederate rose makes this plant a must-have in our Mississippi landscapes.

Confederate rose is sometimes called Cotton rose and Cotton rosemallow. Despite the references to cotton, this plant is actually a hibiscus that originated in Asia.
A small brown bat looks into the camera as it hangs upside down.
October 20, 2017 - Filed Under: Insects-Human Pests, Insects-Pests

 Mississippi’s climate is ideal for a wide range of insects, many of which make nuisances of themselves when they gather outside buildings.

Blake Layton, an entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said homeowners can take steps to minimize their houses’ attractiveness to insects.

American beautyberry, a native shrub with tiny flowers and prolific berries, is excellent in home landscapes.
October 16, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens
After cleaning the mess from Hurricane Nate, I had the chance to participate in two outstanding field days in Mississippi and Louisiana. I really enjoyed the plantings at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station and the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.

These events inspired me to share ideas over the next several weeks for great plants to put in your garden and landscape that you will enjoy next fall.
Two men kneel over a square test plot and feel the texture of the sod.
October 13, 2017 - Filed Under: Weed Control for Crops, Turfgrass and Lawn Management

Mississippi’s sod producers experienced good news and bad news from 2017 weather conditions. Jay McCurdy, turfgrass specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the good news was a modestly warm spring with timely rainfall provided good growing conditions for most of the state’s sod farms. The bad news was the same weather promoted the growth of weeds and fungal diseases.

 Several blue containers in this colorful landscape garden are blown over after heavy storm winds.
October 9, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

While Hurricane Nate was obviously not in the same class as Katrina, the last hurricane to hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it did provide gardeners a lesson in getting their landscapes ready before a storm.

I know it’s a bit backwards to wait until after the storm to make a list of tips to get your garden ready ahead of time. But this was the first hurricane I’ve experienced since moving to the Gulf Coast, and I’ve been thinking what I could have done better in advance.

October 6, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape and Garden Design, Landscape Management, Environment

Gardeners can purchase hard-to-find native plants during the Crosby Arboretum’s popular Fall Native Plant Sale.

The semiannual sale will be Oct. 21 and 22 at the arboretum. It begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Arboretum members can enter at 9 a.m. Admission is free.

Toucan Rose canna flowers in a garden landscape with shades of pink and dark red are brightened by sunlight.
October 2, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Cannas are commonly grown as large-specimen plants and look fantastic mass planted in landscapes. Their tropical-looking foliage lends bold texture to the space until the flowers steal the show from summer through fall.

In fact, the cannas I have planted in my Ocean Springs landscape right now are looking the best they have so far this year.

Backlit Gulf Muhly grass glows like a rich, pink cloud in this landscape.
September 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I know some homeowners who look at ornamental grasses and wonder what is the big deal; these plants are only grass. But when fall rolls around, many of these naysayers change their opinion 180 degrees.

Fall is a great time to appreciate ornamental grasses, as their flower plumes, actually called inflorescences, really pop out in their full glory.

One of the best and showier grasses is not a selection that was bred for any particular characteristic. I’m talking about Gulf Muhly grass, a Mississippi native grass that really struts its stuff in the fall and winter.

September 22, 2017 - Filed Under: Landscape Design and Management

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Home gardeners and landscape professionals attending the 62nd Ed Martin Landscape Symposium Oct. 18 at Mississippi State University will gain insights on native plants, water use and smart landscapes.

The event lasts from 9 a.m. to noon at the Bost Extension Center at MSU. Registration is $25 until Oct. 1 and $30 at the door. The event is hosted by the MSU Extension Service and the Garden Clubs of Mississippi Inc.

Red, green, and yellow pods on a Chilly Chili plant, a colorful pod producer without the heat.
September 18, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Late summer and early fall are among my favorite times of the year because the ornamental peppers are starting to really color up.

More and more fellow gardeners are jumping on the bandwagon and planting these beauties in their landscapes. These plants are hot -- in landscape character and accent -- and they carry the garden through the fall season and maybe beyond.

Most ornamental peppers begin setting fruit as the temperatures rise, so the best show is always saved for late summer and continues through the fall as they keep producing. This means you need to set these plants out in the late spring.

September 18, 2017 - Filed Under: Turfgrass and Lawn Management

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A turfgrass specialist at Mississippi State University is receiving a major national accolade.

Jay McCurdy is the latest young professional recognized by the Crop Science Society of America for making significant contributions to the field within seven years of completing a final academic degree. He will accept the CSSA 2017 Early Career Award and accompanying $2,000 stipend late next month at the organization’s annual meeting in Tampa, Florida.

A Tennessee native reared on a sod farm in the Gibson County city of Dyer, McCurdy came to MSU two years ago after completing an Auburn University doctorate in agronomy and soils. He earned earlier degrees at University of Tennessee campuses in Martin and Knoxville.

The Pinecote Pavillion stands in the background of the pond at the Crosby Arboretum.
September 12, 2017 - Filed Under: Landscape Design and Management, Environment

PICAYUNE, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum celebrates its formal, 20-year partnership with the university on Sept. 15. 

On that date in 1997 the facility was incorporated into the MSU Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. Managed by the MSU Extension Service, the arboretum is an award-winning, internationally recognized native plant conservatory dedicated to research, education and preservation of plants found in the Pearl River Drainage Basin. 

"The arboretum is regarded as the premier conservatory in the Southeast, and it is an important keystone of Piney Woods heritage,” said Pat Drackett, arboretum director. “It is a wonderful educational tool that helps teach people about our local ecosystems and preserves them for future generations. We are honored every day to help fulfill the vision shaped by the Crosby family and the Crosby Arboretum Foundation almost 40 years ago."

A small tree grows in the shadow of a mature tree.
September 12, 2017 - Filed Under: Landscape Design and Management, Trees

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are devastating reminders that storms take a terrible toll on landscapes and proof that some trees hold up better than others.

Mississippi landscapes must withstand flooding, hot summers, seasonal drought, ice storms, winters that can dip to single digits, a humid and subtropical climate, and high winds from hurricanes and tornadoes.

John Kushla, a forestry professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, said native vegetation handles a wide variety of environmental conditions, but some species are able to survive storms better than others.

A Lycoris, pink/red flower with no foliage, better known as the spider lily or naked lady.
September 11, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This is the time of year many gardeners have been waiting for all summer.

If you’re thinking about the cool front that blew through this past weekend, I’m afraid you’re incorrect. What I’m talking about is the emergence of naked ladies in gardens all across Mississippi.

I’m talking about the seemingly magical plants known botanically as Lycoris. Common names include magic, surprise or resurrection lily, but some gardeners simply call them nekkid ladies.

Man examining a pine tree for evidence of beetles
September 7, 2017 - Filed Under: Trees, Forest Management, Forest Pests

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi is having a breakout of tiny beetles that use pheromones to gather sufficient numbers of reinforcements to overwhelm healthy trees.

Current Mississippi Forestry Commission flyovers indicate nearly 5,000 separate Southern pine bark beetle outbreaks across the state. Outbreaks can range from just a few trees to more than an acre of infested and dying pines.

Outbreaks are especially bad on national forestland, but homeowners and private landowners are also experiencing the problem.

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