Nursery and Floriculture Alliance
University of California
Nursery and Floriculture Alliance

From the UC Blogosphere...

Is This a Cockroach?

Advice from the Help Desk of the Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County

oriental cockroach
various life stages
Client's Question?
I found this "bug" in my kitchen sink. Could you tell me what it is and what I should do about it?

Help Desk Response:
Thank you for contacting the Contra Costa Master Gardener Help Desk.  I have inspected your insect sample, and suspect that it is a young (nymph stage) of an Oriental cockroach.  This variety of roach prefer damp areas and  cooler temperatures.  They are most commonly found in single family homes surrounded by vegetation, and will come into homes in search of food.  They are more slow moving than other roaches, and do not fly.  Because of this, they will often be found trapped in sinks or bathtubs. Because Oriental cockroaches will take one to two years to grow to their adult size, you may be seeing only the nymph stage from a recent hatching. 

adult oriental cockroach
photo: UCANR
The County Agricultural Commissioner's office at 2366-A Stanwell Circle in Concord has biologists on staff that will positively identify your insect pest.  Their phone number is 925-646-5250 and more information can be found on the web at 

I have included a link below from the UC Davis Integrated Pest Management website that will provide you with more information about roaches, including the most effective methods of control.  A combination of baits, traps, sanitation, and exclusion methods are discussed.

In the event that you decide to consult a professional exterminator company,  I have also included this link providing information on how to choose a pest control company:

I hope you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to call us again if we can be of assistance.

Help Desk of the UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County

Note: The  UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA  94523. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925) 646-6586, email:, or on the web at


Posted on Monday, October 5, 2015 at 1:34 AM

Spring Bulbs



Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

By Leonard Cicerello   Master Gardener


Having never planted flowering bulbs, I am not sure what time is right – Angela in Morro Bay.


A little work mid to late fall will reward you dramatically come springtime. Flowering bulbs come in every color of the rainbow, and more.  Who does not admire tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, and the many other varieties of spring bulbs?

Begin by choosing healthy bulbs that are not dry, withered, spongy, or moldy. Then choose the right location. Most bulbs require a sunny location and soil that is rich in organic matter, well-drained, and slightly acidic (ph 6-7). To improve existing soil, whether it is too sandy or too heavy, add organic material. Bulbs can also be planted in containers. 

Planting depth is not uniform for all bulbs.  In general, plant the bulbs to a depth of three times their height.  For example, plant allium eight inches deep, crocus three inches deep, daffodils six inches deep, hyacinth seven inches deep, and tulips six inches deep. Place bone meal or superphosphate in the bottom of the planting hole and plant the bulb with its point up, which will become the stem. If rodents are a problem, plant your bulbs in a cage made of ¼”- ½” metal mesh. Water thoroughly after planting.  During fall and winter, irrigation is only needed in the absence  of rainfall. The premise is to prevent rotting in wet weather.

Bulbs look best in clumps or drifts.  To get a natural looking effect, either dig a large area and plant several bulbs at once, or simply toss the bulbs into the air and plant them where they fall.  You will be surprised. To make sure that you do not disturb or forget about the bulbs, mark and label each bulb you plant.

When bulbs finish flowering, let the foliage die back naturally before you cut it off at ground level.  It is unsightly for a little while, but that time is important to the bulb because it will continue to photosynthesize and store up energy it will need to produce flowers next year.

If you think some of your bulbs are overcrowded, dig them up and divide them after the foliage completely dies back.

Visit to see our monthly garden chores for San Luis Obispo County.




Posted on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 8:57 PM

UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County Host Grand Opening of Sherwood Demonstration Garden

Last-minute preparations are currently ongoing for the grand opening of Sherwood Demonstration Garden, the crown jewel of the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County.  This event will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., so mark your calendars.  There is no entrance fee, parking is free and the garden is open to all. The location is behind the El Dorado Center of Folsom Lake College on Campus Drive in Placerville. 

The impressive demonstration garden was the brainchild of Bob Sherwood, a long-time UCCE Master Gardener volunteer, who envisioned a place for the public to learn about research-based home gardening techniques and practices with outdoor classes and hands-on demonstrations. Bob spent countless hours searching our county for just the right location and in 2009, in cooperation with the El Dorado County Office of Education and Folsom Lake College, El Dorado Center, broke ground on what is now the Sherwood Demonstration Garden.  Bob passed away unexpectedly last fall before realizing his dream of a garden open to the public. The UCCE Master Gardener Program pledged to honor his legacy by continuing to work towards a grand opening as soon as possible. It took a little over a year for project completion, but the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County are proud to announce the opening of its new demonstration garden this weekend.

On Saturday visitors will have the opportunity to tour all 16 themed garden, including:  All Stars, Bog, Butterfly, Children's, Cottage, Japanese, Mediterranean, Orchard, Ornamental Grasses, Native, Perennial, Rock, Rose, Shade, Succulent and Vegetable. 

UCCE Master Gardener volunteers will be onsite and available in each garden to answer questions and explain how and why a particular garden was planted, what kind of irrigation is used in each, facts about specific plants chosen, pest management practices, and more. A very limited quantity of plants will be available for sale (no credit cards; cash or checks only) and there will be treasure hunt prizes. Free refreshments will also be available. 

UCCE Master Gardeners are very excited to showcase this garden and we hope to see many of you present on Oct 3.  It's going to be fun! For more information about this garden go to the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County website at



Do you have a garden or event you would like featured on the statewide UC Master Gardener Program blog? E-mail:


Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 1:21 PM
  • Author: Sue McDavid

Non-native snails introduced by French for escargot

The brown garden snail is found in 26 California counties. It was introduced from Europe 'with an eye to the pot.'
A perennial bane in many California gardens, brown snails were intentionally introduced into a vineyard in the mid-1800s in Santa Clara County "with an eye to the pot," reported Dan Brekke on KQED News. The snails are highly prized in Europe as escargot. The brown snail joined many other species of native and non-native snails and slugs that are detailed on a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources website dedicated to the slimy mollusks.

Approximately 280 species of snails and slugs are found in California; 242 are thought to be native. The vast majority of the native species are not considered to be pests of nurseries or other production systems. 

The most damaging snails and slugs are those that have been accidentally or purposely introduced from areas outside of the US. Most of California's pest gastropods are European species.

Other news:

The Chico News & Review published a profile of local UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advsior Dani Lightle. Lightle works with Glenn County growers of walnuts, almonds, prunes, olives, pistachios, pecans and fruit. “Basically, if it grows on a tree, it comes my way,” said Lightle, referring to the calls she receives at her Orland office. The article provided background information about UC Cooperative Extension and ANR. "The system's purpose was to be a bridge between public universities and the general public," the article says.

The news website reported on research underway in Northern California on the role of bats in orchard pest control. An intern, under the guidance of UC ANR farm advisor Rachael Long, is comparing orchards with nearby bat boxes with orchards that do not have the convenient dwellings for the flying rodents. "If you increase diversity by relying on insects, bats, raptors, etc., you help strengthen your farming system," Long said.


Posted on Monday, September 28, 2015 at 11:28 AM


Help and Advice from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County

Client's Question:  Hello! Are you able to help with plant ID? My husband and I visited Ukiah (Mendocino County) over the weekend, and I spotted this interesting bush that was in one of the small creek beds in town:

Pokeweed in the "wild"
photo: UCANR

MGCC Help Desk Response:  Thank you for contacting the Master Gardener Help Desk for assistance with your plant identification.

Pokeweed berries
photo: UCANR
The plant in your photo appears to be Common Pokeweed [Phytolacca americana L.].  It is an erect herbaceous perennial with coarse unpleasant-scented foliage and a thick fleshy taproot. It is also a well-known reseeder. The attraction to this plant is definitely the distinctive flossy purple-black berries and because of its overall beautiful appearance, it is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental plant.  It is a moderate water user and its light requirement is only part shade. Common Pokeweed's habitats are roadsides, gardens, orchards, vineyards, crop fields and other disturbed places.  This plant can get quite large, 6 - 12 feet tall.  The bad news is that all plant parts, especially the root, contain numerous saponins and oxalates that can be fatally toxic to humans and livestock when ingested raw or with improper preparation.

n addition to the fact that the plant parts can be toxic, you need to be aware that this plant is considered an invasive weed in California and could present problems in your (and your neighbors') garden in the future because of the invasive characteristics.

Here is a link for more information on Pokeweed on the California Invasive Plant Council website:

And here is a link to an excerpt about Pokeweed and its control from the book “Weed Control in Natural Areas in the Western United States, 2013” by UC Davis Weed Research and Information Center:
Please feel free to to contact us if you have any additional questions.

Pokeweed in springtime
photo: UCANR
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County

Note: The  UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA  94523. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925) 646-6586, email:, or on the web at

Posted on Monday, September 28, 2015 at 1:37 AM

Next 5 stories | Last story

UCD College of Ag
Plant Sciences Department
Webmaster Email: