Articles & Blogs

United States Department of Agricultural Investigates Packages

July 28, 2020

United States Department of Agricultural Investigates Packages of Unsolicited Seeds from China. USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and State departments of agriculture to investigate the situation. USDA urges anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their State plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director. Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins. To finish reading the full report from the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at: To report any suspicious seeds ... Read More

Beyond Daffodils and Narcissus

July 18, 2020

We live in an area of the country blessed with a Mediterranean climate (warm, wet winters under prevailing westerly winds and calm, hot, dry summers.) Sooo, why not venture beyond the familiar and try some South African corms in your garden? Corms? Not bulbs? Yep! Bulbs are underground stems that contain an embryonic plant complete with leaves, stems, and flower buds. These are wrapped around with scales (modified leaves) held together at the base. Bulbs will persist for many years, periodically producing new small bulbs. Corms, on the other hand, are underground stems that are solid and do not have the overlapping leaves. Each corm only lasts one year. It shrivels as it uses up its stored energy to grow and bloom. A new corm forms on top. Cormels also grow around the base. Some of the more popular are: Sparaxis, Babiana, Ixia, Freesia, and Watsonia. All can be planted ... Read More

Companion Plants for Roses

June 20, 2020

There is a long-standing debate in the rose community of whether you should plant anything else with your roses. The truth is, in the long run, monoculture is detrimental to your soil and plants. Growing them on their own is an open invitation to any pests and diseases that favor roses. But what plants play well with roses? A plant that is known for not liking others. First off, small plants or at least ones that will not overshadow. Your rose needs sun, and any companion has to let the rose get the lion’s share of light. They also cannot compete with the rose for resources. That means nothing aggressive or invasive like periwinkle, cover grasses, mint, or sweet alyssum. They should require the same type of resource, water, and care as your roses. For instance, do not plant something that wants acidic or alkaline soil. Roses like a well-balanced ... Read More

Argentine Ants in your Roses

June 7, 2020

Argentine ants are an absolute menace. They are farmers, spreading weeds. Ranchers, tending to and hearing aphids, scale, and subterranean scale. They also spread disease from one plant to another. In other words, they are a gardener's enemy. Something I have noticed in my garden and in the gardens of others, Argentine ants like white, cream, and pale color roses. I don’t know why but none of my other roses have such a recurring problem with them. This is part of why I have so few pale roses. So what can you do to get rid of them? Slow acting ant bait. As quick kill baits only kill the workers, not the queens. And yes I said, queens. Argentine ant colonies normally have three or more queens. Why not sprays or dust? The use of residual sprays or dust stresses ant colonies, causing them to split into sub-colonies and scatter. ... Read More