- Author: Marcy Sousa
Content for this blog was taken from the UC ANR Pollen Nation Website.
Bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, birds and bats help plants reproduce by carrying pollen from one flower to another.
Right now, honey bee and other pollinator populations are being threatened by a number of factors including disease, mites, and loss of habitat and food sources.
Three-fourths of the world's flowering plants depend on pollinators, and those pollinators need your help!
- Have you seen bees and other pollinators in your own neighborhood?
- Are there flowering plants in your garden, park, school or community?
- Did you know that many pollinators are essential for the production of most of the fruits and vegetables you eat every day?
If you answered no to any of the questions above, click here to see how you can help!
- A variety of plants will be ideal for providing diverse sources of nectar and pollen. Choose at least 20 different plant types, or fewer if the types of plants are highly attractive to pollinators. Don't forget that night-blooming flowers will support moths and bats.
- Help pollinators find and use your garden by planting in clumps, rather than just single plants. Think about "landing zones."
- Include plants native to your region. Natives are adapted to your local climate, soil and native pollinators. If you want to see some locals, plant some natives!
- Overlap flowering times between seasons and use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall.Pollinators are in a constant search for new resources. Choosing plants with overlapping flowering times from February to October will allow bees and pollinators to continually forage in your garden.
- Consider plant climate zones. Plant for success! A plant's native climate range is important in determining if it will be attractive to bees visiting your garden (and if your plant will grow well in your garden or not!).
- Design a garden that has structure. The arrangement of plants in your garden will influence your ability to observe and enjoy pollinators. Plant the tallest plants in the back with the smaller ones in the front.
- Plant in the sun. Bees prefer to visit flowers in the sun, so avoid planting your pollinator-attracting plants in the shadier parts of your garden.
- Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in your landscape, or incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control. If you use pesticides, use them sparingly and responsibly. Pesticides can kill bad insects as well as beneficial insects like bees, ladybugs and other predators of garden pests.
- Don't' forget about nesting bees! Not all bees have a hive. Make sure to leave some areas for bees to build their nests (either in bare ground or in prefabricated cavities in wood). It's ok to leave part of your garden un-mulched for ground-nesting insects to discover.
- Leave dead tree trunks and branches in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles. By leaving dead trees, or at least an occasional dead limb, you provide essential nesting sites for native bees, but make sure these are not a safety hazard for people walking below. You can also build a bee condo by drilling holes of varying diameterabout 3 to 5 inches deep in a piece of scrap lumber mounted to a post or under eaves.
- Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.
- Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees. Use a dripping hose, drip irrigation line, or place your birdbath on bare soil to create a damp area. Mix a small bit of salt or wood ashes into the mud.
- Provide a hummingbird feeder and add to nectar resources. To make artificial nectar, use four parts water to one part table sugar. Never use artificial sweeteners, honey, or fruit juices. Place something red on the feeder. Clean your feeder with hot soapy water at least twice a week to keep it free of mold.
- Author: Lee Miller
Squash bugs (Anasa tristis) are nasty pests of the cucurbit family; zucchini, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins. Adults (5/8 inch long) are dark brown or gray which keeps them camouflaged around plants. Adults and young nymphs, as they feed, inject a toxic substance that causes host plants to wilt. When feeding is severe, leaves become black and die back. This condition is often referred to as “anasa wilt” which closely resembles bacterial wilt, a true plant disease. They also stink when crushed, so be forewarned that drowning them in a container of soapy water is a good option.
I battled squash bugs for years by picking off overwintering adults and destroying their eggs when they showed up on my zucchini. I often had volunteer squash plants that I used as decoys to attract them and I would destroy the plant and the bugs. I did this for years and I usually lost the battle, but finally they met their Waterloo. I eliminated the overwintering adults before they could reproduce about 6 years ago. Since then, I have been free of squash bugs in my garden. I am fortunate that I don't have close neighbors growing squash as a nearby supply of recruits might have undone my efforts, but I am so glad not to have to deal with this serious pest anymore.
Other pests that we all deal with are slugs and snails. The brown garden snail, Cornu aspersum, is the nemesis of California gardeners. It was introduced from France during the 1850s for use as food. They do provide food for my chickens, but I'll take a pass. I don't know who brought them over, but likely someone with little knowledge of the ecological harm such introductions can do. Such is the case with myriad introductions. Starlings, Japanese beetles, various other insects in the USA and rabbits in Australia come to mind.
There are baits which help control snails and I have used both the metaldehyde bait which is not child or pet friendly and the iron phosphate bait which is safe to use around pets. However, four years ago I decided to remove snails by hand picking and I have been successful in reducing their numbers, but will likely never eliminate them. I go out early in the morning, sometimes with a flashlight to do my snail hunting. The first year, 2012, I picked off 3,287 and in the following year, 3,747. In 2014, they were much harder to find and I only got 220. This year, I am at 230 and still counting. Since I reduced snail abundance, my iris leaves are unblemished.
This year we had a much warmer than average spring and there were few aphids on rose buds. It could be cause and effect, but it could have been other factors. Complex environmental factors can affect different life stages of populations. As gardeners we can be glad the aphids were not abundant on our roses, but last summer I had problems with aphids on cucumbers, zucchini and melons. The IPM website, http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r116300711.html, lists information on cotton aphids (Aphis gossypii) that attack melons.
Unlike rose aphids, the cotton aphid thrives in hot weather. It can vector cucumber, zucchini yellow, and watermelon mosaic viruses, among others. These virus diseases may be more destructive than direct aphid feeding. Host weeds for this aphid include milkweed, jimsonweed, pigweeds, plantain, and field bindweed, so keeping these host weeds controlled may be helpful. If cotton aphids, which are difficult to control, will just not show up this year on my melons, cucumbers and zucchini, I will be one very happy gardener!
- Author: Nadia Zane
Shady areas have proven to be one of the most challenging areas to grow plants in the water-wise garden. There are plenty
Plant adaptations to shade boil down to two things: maximized light-capturing abilities, and the efficient use of energy. This has resulted in physiological differences between shade-lovers and sun-lovers; it would be wise to take advantage of this in the garden, rather than to fight it. The extra challenge of dry shade makes it difficult, but not impossible, to have a beautiful landscape full of interesting textures and colors.
Within the shade community, there are varying degrees of tolerance. Plants requiring some sun to thrive but able to do well with partial days spent in the shade are called “shade tolerant.” These are plants you might find labelled “part shade”; providing 4-6 hours of sun will help them do their best. Plants labelled “full shade” are likely to be shade-loving (sciophilous), and might burn if exposed to more than a few hours of sun a day, especially in the afternoon.
The following plants are recommended for their hardiness in our climate and ability to thrive on a few deep soakings a month once established. Those marked with an asterisk* provide forage for wildlife, either directly (pollen, nectar, nesting material), or indirectly (habitat for insects eaten by birds, etc).
Part shade (4-6 hours of sun)
Agapanthus (Agapanthus spp and hybrids)
*Bush anemone (Carpenteria californica)
*Chaparral currant (Ribes malvaceum)
*Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
*Douglas iris (Iris douglasiana)
*Hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea)
*Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis)
*Rosy buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens)
*Santa Barbara daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus)
*Seaside daisy (Erigeron glaucus)
Full shade (less than 4 hours of sun)
*Island alum root (Heuchera maxima)
*California pipevine (Aristolochia californica)
*Coffeeberry (Frangula californica)
Corsican hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius)
*Creeping Oregon grape (Mahonia repens)
Daffodils (Narcissus spp)
*Evergreen currant (Ribes viburnifolium)
Japanese holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)
Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus)
*Pigsqueak (Bergenia crassifolia)
*Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
*Spicebush (Calycanthus occidentalis)
*Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa)
*Woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
- Author: Marcy Sousa
Plant a Tree to Celebrate Arbor Day! Have you ever wondered how this national (and international) holiday got its roots? Arbor Day is an annual observance that promotes tree planting and care and reflects a hope for the future. As a formal holiday, it was first observed in 1872, in Nebraska.
In 1854, Julius Sterling Morton moved from Detroit to Nebraska City, Nebraska. Morton was a nature lover and felt
Morton became editor of Nebraska's first newspaper and used the paper to share agricultural information, ideas on environmental stewardship and his enthusiasm for trees to a receptive audience. He was ahead of his time as his own version of a master gardener!
In 1872, Morton presented the State Board of Agriculture a resolution “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” The Board declared April 10 Arbor Day. More than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day. With this first tree planting holiday observance, J. Sterling Morton became known as the “Founder of Arbor Day.” Arbor Day did not become a legal holiday until 1885, when the legislature set aside Morton's birthday, April 22, as the holiday.
For more information on planting and caring for landscape or fruit trees visit the UC California Garden Web website.
To learn more about Arbor Day, visit the Arbor Day Foundation Website.
To conserve water and meet California's new water-use restrictions, one place to start is literally in one's own backyard. More than half of all household water use is typically used outdoors on landscape, according to University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources experts.
For homeowners, there are six key things to do to conserve landscape water, says Karrie Reid, UC ANR Cooperative
- Tune up your irrigation system right away. When water is efficiently and accurately applied, less water is needed to keep plants healthy. Spray heads can get knocked out of alignment and end up spraying the sidewalk, street or driveway and running to the gutter. Check all spray heads to ensure they are hitting the target and twist those that aren't back into place. Some heads have adjustable angles of spray, which can be fixed with a tool available at a hardware store. Look for cocked heads, which spray water up into the air, and sprays blocked by grass or those that have sunk below grade. Make sure all spray heads are made by the same manufacturer and are from the same line so they deliver water at the same rate, otherwise they'll leave dry spots. Low-volume spray heads or rotators deliver water more efficiently.
- To check the watering depth, use a soil probe.
Water the whole root zone. On allowed watering days, irrigate until the water reaches 12 inches deep forgrass, 12 to 18 inches for shrub and perennials, and 12 to 24 inches for trees. This provides a greater reservoir of water for the plants to draw from, and many will be able to get by on weekly, twice-monthly or monthly irrigation if they are conditioned to send their roots deep. To check the watering depth, use a soil probe or push a long screwdriver into the ground. The depth it reaches easily indicates how deeply the water has infiltrated.
- Avoid wasting water to runoff. If water runs off before the watering cycle finishes, split the cycle time. Set the timer to water in two, three or even four cycles at least an hour apart to allow the water to soak in. To ensure water isn't flowing below the root zone, check the watering depth after each cycle.
An irrigation scheduling worksheet created by Loren Oki, UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, and Darren Haver, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor in Orange County, helps fine tune irrigation timing. The worksheet is available for free online at the Center for Urban Horticulture website http://www.ccuh.ucdavis.edu.
- Switch to inline drip tubing for beds. Drip irrigation applies water where it is needed with less loss to the air. Be sure to lay tubing so water reaches plants' entire root zone.
- MULCH, MULCH, MULCH. Adding 3 or 4 inches of organic material such as wood chips, shredded bark or bark nuggets will improve soil health while retaining water and lowering stress on your plants. Place mulch away from the street curb to prevent heavy rains from washing it into the storm drains
- Inline drip tubing applies water where it is needed.
- Replace water-needy plants with low water users in the fall. All plants use a lot of water to get established when they are planted in the spring and summer, and for about a year after. Trees may need extra water for several years until their roots have grown well into the surrounding soil. By waiting until temperatures cool in the fall to plant, it will be easier to abide by the water restrictions. It's also important to use hydrozoning, which means placing plants with the same water needs on the same valve. Otherwise, irrigating to the thirstiest plants on that station will give other plants more water than they need.
WUCOLS IV provides an assessment of irrigation water needs for over 3,500 taxa. Photo by Ellen Zagory.
To find low-water use plants that are suitable for a specific location, check UCANR's online Water Use Classification of Landscape Species athttp://ucanr.edu/sites/WUCOLS. Click the Plant Search Database tab, enter the name of the city, then select the desired type of plants (shrubs, perennials, trees, etc.) and the preferred water category (low, moderate, high). The application will generate a list of plants suitable to grow in a location that fit the specified criteria.
Article originally posted here on Monday, April 20, 2015 at 8:35 AM