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The Gardener’s Dirt January 2007

January 2007

The Gardener's

Information you can dig into

North Carolina State University
College of Agriculture and Live Sciences
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
Johnston County Center
2736 NC 210 Highway * Smithfield, NC 27577
919 989-5380

Shawn Banks
Extension Agent
Agriculture – Consumer Horticulture

This newsletter offers timely information for your outdoor living
spaces.  Addressing the most common questions ranging from container
gardening, tree pruning, wildlife management, to fire ant control,
insect identification and lawn establishment.

Feature Story Banner

Plants With Winter Interest

    The winter garden has a quiet beauty. No longer overwhelmed by the lush foliage and exuberant colors of the summer and fall garden, subtle changes in texture and hue are readily appreciated. The varied structures of deciduous trees and shrubs become fascinating. Bark intrigues.

    Stand at the curb and take a look at your home. Stroll through your yard. If quiet beauty, appreciation, intrigue and fascination are not words you would choose to describe your landscape, consider adding some of the plants listed below.   

    Use a backdrop of evergreens to contrast texture and highlight the bark color of deciduous shrubs. Position a fuzzy looking needled plant next to a shiny broadleaf evergreen to make both look more interesting. Contorted branches add drama. Berries, flowers, and bark add pops of color. Several spring bloomers have the bonus of a sweet fragrance.

 Trees Shrubs Perennials Vines
Contorted Mulberry
Corkscrew willow
Crepe myrtles
Hardy orange/Flying Dragon
Harry Lauder’s Walking stick
Hawthorn—especially 'Winter King’
Lacebark elm
Persian parrotia
Prunus mume
Paperbark maple
River birch
Windmill palm

Cornelian Cherry dogwood
Ilex verticillata—winterberry
Japanese kerria
Japanese yew
Paper bush—Edgeworthia
Pieris japonica
Red chockberry
Red twig dogwood
Sabal minor palm
several Viburnums
William Penn barberry
Winter honeysuckle
Witchhazel—except virginiana
Yellow twig dogwood
Arum italicum
Asarum gingers
Black mondo grass
Christmas fern
Creeping raspberry
Crocus tommansiniansu
Cyclamen coum and hederafolia
Dog-tooth violet
Evergreen Candytuft
Gladiolus tristis
Hens and chicks
Holly fern
Iris unguiculata
Opuntia cacti
ornamental grasses
Phlox subulata
Snow crocus
Winter aconite
Carolina jessamine
Jasminum nudiflorum

Spotlight Plant banner

Walking Stick in FlowerWalking Stick
Corylus avellana 'Contorta'

    Comon names: Harry Lauder's Walking Stick, Hazelnut, Devil’s Walking Stick, European Filbert.
    Planted in well drained soil, in sun to partial shade, this deciduous, twisted stemmed shrub usually grows to 8-10 foot tall with a similar spread. The flowers appear in early to middle spring are yellowish-brown "catkins”. However, this shrub is not grown primarily for its blooms but for its unusual branching adding winter interest to a garden.

Red Heleborus in flowerHellebore

Distinctive, long-lived evergreen plants, ranging from 18 to 36 inches, blooming for several months in winter and spring. Plant this perennial in good amended soil in partial or full shade with regular to moderate water. The Lenten Rose is the easiest of the Helleborus to grow



Hand holding clipboard     Announcements banner headingHand holding clipboard

Regional Web-page Design Workshop; January 10 and 17.  For those producing product to sale who would like some information on how to market their products to local clients there will be four workshops held to provide this information.  Each workshop will provide the same information so attendance at only one workshop is needed to help provide marketing strategies.  For more information on these workshops call 989-5380 or e-mail amie_newsome@ncsu.edu .

Grapevine Pruning Demonstration Feb 17, 2007 10:00am – 12:00pm at Hinnant Family Vineyard located at 826 Pine Level-Micro Road in Pine Level.   Connie Fisk from Duplin County will be there to present information.  For more information call 989-5380.

Fruit Tree Training and Pruning March 3, 2007 10:00am-12:00pm Demonstration at Central Crops Research Station on Highway 70 in Clayton.  Dr. Mike Parker, tree fruit specialist at NC State University, will be presenting information on how to train and prune your fruit trees to get the best production.  For more information call 989-5380.

Johnston Community College Arboretum activities require preregistration and a small fee, call to reserve your seat 919-209-2052 or 209-2517.  e-mail to fryel@johnstoncc.edu or parkera@johnstoncc.edu

  • Night with Allium Bistro January 16, 2007 7-9pm.  Food will be served at this event   
  • Soap Crafting and Bath Salts for Valentine's Day February 6, 2007 7-9pm.
  • Spring lawn February 20, 2007 7-9pm Preparations and perennial picks for your garden.

Gardening to-do Banner

Another year has begun.  Resolutions have been made (some already broken). 
Maybe this year will be the year to start a vegetable garden or a new flowerbed. 


  • Cold, dry winter winds can remove moisture from the soil and from plant tissues very quickly. Don't forget to water newly planted trees and shrubs if it has been more than a week without rain or if the soil is dry around the plant.
  • Protect plants from weather extremes. Wide swings in climate – balmy breezes one day, arctic blast the next – can be really hard on plants.  https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-604.html
  • Remember: Watering just before a cold snap can help plants survive bitter temperatures!Bagworms on Leyland Cypress
  • Check bare shrubs for insects – They often overwinter or lay their eggs on the twigs of plants (ie. bagworms).  Remove and destroy them before they hatch in the spring. 
  • While looking for insects examine plants for Dead, Damaged, or Diseased limbs that should be pruned out.  Also look for crossing limbs that may rub against one another and prune one of them away as well.
  • Red Amaryllis in vaseCheck holiday plants  and gift plants for insects before locating them near your other plants.
  • Enjoy winter-blooming perennials such as Rosemary, Erysimum (wallflower), and Hellebores. Evergreen ornamentals and shrubs, especially those with berries, add color to the winter landscape.
  • Amaryllis  blooms best in tight quarters. Use a pot that provides only about an inch of space from the bulb to the sides of the container.  https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8529.html
  • Enjoy those catalogs – but beware glowing claims of "blooms all summer," especially from companies based in northern states. Some of those plants really are great, but some are not well adapted to our growing conditions! Look for key words like "heat resistant" or "tolerates humidity." Talk to Master Gardener Volunteers for information on plants that are well adapted to our area.
  • Trees and shrubs infested with scale or spider mites can be treated with a horticultural oil which works by smothering pest eggs, larvae, and adults.
  • Clean up fallen leaves and build a compost pile. Do not include leaves from diseased plants.
  • Thinking about growing plants indoors under fluorescent lights?  Four-foot tubes are generally the cheapest; mix cool white tubes with warm white ones to provide a wider light spectrum.
  • Divide perennials like daylily , shasta daisy and peony  when the ground is dry enough toOrange daylilly clip art work.
  • Prune broadleaf evergreen shrubs such as holly and boxwood.
  • Deciduouse shrubs that bloom on new growth may be pruned now.  Examples include vitex, Rose of Sharon, and butterfly bush.
  • Winter-blooming camellias (Camellia japonica) should really start to show off this month, but after the show, rake up and dispose of fallen flowers to help discourage camellia petal blight.
  • Beets, carrots, peas, lettuce, mustard, radish, spinach, irish potatoes, and turnips can be sown outside as early as the beginning of February.
  • Leaves of chard on tableGrow cold-tolerant leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, and collards . Some may be killed by frost, but it's worth it to have fresh greens for salads. Try planting greens in with your pansies for a pretty and useful winter garden.
  • Don't forget to ventilate cold frames on warm sunny days.
  • Mulch strawberry beds for winter protection with a layer of wheat straw or pine needles 2-3" thick. Pull the mulch back when blooms appear.
  • Asparagus crowns can be planted now through March.
  • Order seed catalogs, and plan your garden.  Choose disease resistant varieties.
  • Let your houseplants rest. The four major causes of houseplant deaths during the winter A red Christmas Cactusmonths are over-fertilizing, over-watering, under-watering, and improper light. Most houseplants are semi-dormant in the short days of winter, so do not fertilize them. Your plants will rest and be ready for vigorous growth in the spring.
  • Keep an eye out for indoor insect pests; most can be controlled easily with insecticidal soap.
  • Check stored bulbs, tubers, and corms such as dahlia, caladium, and gladiolus. Soft rotting tubers indicate too much moisture; discard any that are soft, and move the healthy ones to a drier place. Shriveling roots and tubers indicate that the tubers are too dry, so slightly moisten the material in which they are stored.

 Need Help


Got Questions? We've got answers!

If you have a gardening issue you would like to see addressed in this newsletter please let me know I will do what I can to get you the information you need.  Contact me by e-mail at shawn_banks@ncsu.edu or by phone at (919) 989-5380.

The Johnston County Master Gardener Volunteers are available Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 1 to 4 pm to answer questions as well.  They can also be contacted by phone at (919) 989-5380 or by e-mail at jcmastergardener@yahoo.com

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