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The Gardener’s Dirt November 2008



The Gardener's


Information you can dig into.

North Carolina State University
College of Agriculture and Life 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

 In this Issue
Feature Article
Spotlight Plant


Pest Alert

Gardening To-Do
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

Using Native Plants to Attract Wildlife

By Shawn Banks

My wife, Debbie, loves to sit out on the porch and watch the squirrels chase each other around the yard.  There is this one squirrel she has named Crazy Squirrel, because it plays by itself doing flips, tricks and chasing a stick.  She also enjoys watching the birds coming into the yard to take a bath, catch a worm, or enjoy some seeds or nectar from the many flowers in our yard. 

The squirrels love the mighty oak trees in the front and side yard.  Native oaks like willow oak, white oak and red oak seem to be their favorite haunts running up and down the trunk and jumping from branch to branch.  They also seem to enjoy the neighbors’ pecan and tulip poplar trees.

The birds really go after the berries from the dogwood tree.  Debbie notes that the birds leave the Nandina berries until last and sometimes they don’t even eat those.  The little hummingbirds will come right up to the porch to visit the flowers of the herbaceous plants we have planted up close, even when Debbie is out there watching.  She really likes to watch the redheaded finches fight over the seeds from the purple coneflower.  It is the interaction of all the wildlife together that she enjoys watching.

Native plants (flora) have evolved with the native wildlife (fauna) to be mutually beneficial.  The birds, squirrels, and other animals eat the fruit the plants produce, and deposit the seeds in new locations.  This allows the flora to spread and find new ground to grow on.  The bees, butterflies, other insects, and hummingbirds pollinate the flowers that produce an abundance of nectar.  In each case, both the flora and fauna receive some benefit from each other. 

For more information on using native plants for landscaping including lists of native plants for wildlife, check out one of the Urban Wildlife publications (Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants, Managing Backyards and Other Urban Habitats for Birds, Butterflies in your Backyard) or visit the North Carolina Wildflower Preservation Society on the web at http://www.ncwildflower.org .  You can also contact your local office of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service for copies of the publications or more information.


Ox-Eyed daisy flowers
Ox-Eyed Daisy

Liatris flower
Liatris flower

Strawberry bush seeds and fruit
Strawberry bush
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 Spotlight Plant banner

Goshik: The Beauty Queen

By: Kelley Schroedl, Master Gardener Volunteer

Perhaps on more “most beautiful” lists than another other shrub, Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’ is lovely in all four seasons.  Spring’s growth emerges in soft pinks, oranges, creams, greens, and white.  Summer heat melts away the pink and orange hues leaving marbling and flecks of white and cream on green leaves.  Summer through winter, ‘Goshiki’ foliage adds color and texture to the landscape.

Often called a false holly because of the spiny, evergreen leaves, it lacks pricking power of a true holly.  While softer it is nearly as tough with fewer disease or insect problems.  It is deer resistant, drought tolerant once established, and adaptable to container planting.

In Johnston County, this shrub does best in part shade with fertile, moist soils.  It tolerates full sun, shade and drier soils but the growth rate will be slower and the plant will be shorter.  Having a slow to medium growth rate, ‘Goshiki’ can achieve a mature size of 8 ft. x 8 ft.  While this shrub has dense foliage and a pleasing form if left to grow naturally, it can be pruned to keep it compact.

Add this beauty queen to your garden or landscape to brighten shady corners, form hedges or grace container plantings.  Her performance and appearance are sure to give years of pleasure.  ‘Goshiki’ Osmanthus awaits adoption in garden centers near you.

Goshiki Osmanthus foliage real close
Goshiki Osmanthus foliage
Photo by Shawn Banks

Goshiki Osmanthus full view
Goshiki Osmanthus
photo courtesy of JC Raulston Arboretum

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Hand holding clipboard          Announcements banner heading            Hand holding clipboard

Fruit and Nut Tree Sale Now through November 14.  The list of available plants is on the web at https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/johnston/homehort2/08_Available_Plants.pdf and the order form is at https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/johnston/homehort2/08_Order_form.pdf or you can call or stop by the Extension Office (919) 989-5380 or 2736 NC Highway 210 Smithfield, NC 27577.  Orders with payments must be in by November 14, 2008.

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 Insect Investigator banner
Euonymus scale on leaf
Euonymus Scale on leaf

Armored Scales

Order: Homoptera

Gloomy Scale under microscope
Gloomy scale on maple

Are your plants wilted, yellow, have curly leaves, cracked bark, and deformed blemishes or discolored halos on the fruit?  These are all symptoms of armored scale injury on ornamental plants. Armored scales destroy plants by inserting a tiny straw-like mouthpart into bark, fruit, or leaves and sucking fluid from these. Armored scales are insects that produce a waxy plate-like cover over their bodies.  They vary in color and are less than 1/8 inch in diameter.

If scales become too numerous, spraying infested plants with horticultural oil on a day when no rain or fog is expected in late winter or early summer should provide good control.   Horticultural oils on deciduous plants are effective in spring or summer.  Scales are often well controlled by natural enemies such as lady beetles, predaceous mites, and small parasitic wasps.

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 Gardening to-do Banner


  • Soil SamplingCollect
    samples for FREE testing,
    so you'll know how
    fertilizer & lime to add.  Test your lawn, flower beds &
    garden.  Testing should be done every 3 years.  The kits are
    at the Cooperative Extension office.
  • Clean up and throw away any diseased plant material
    throw it in a compost pile.  Leaving infected plant
    (leaves, fruits, nuts)
    on on the ground or plants, provides a source of
    inoculum for re-infection next year.


  • Fertilize fescue lawns for winter.  The November
    (near Thanksgiving) is the most important one of the year for
    cool-season grasses. The soil is still warm enough to permit the growth
    of strong roots that will enable the grass to withstand next summer's
    baking heat. Use a slow-release fertilizer formulated for turf, and
    apply according to soil test results.


  • Planting ShrubsFall is for
    September through early February is
    an ideal time
    to plant deciduous trees/shrubs and perennials. Plant evergreen plants
    from September – November.  The cool weather permits
    establishment of a root system before next year's hot weather. Find
    pictures of recommended planting techniques at: https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-601.html
  • It's time to move shrubs from one place to
    another. https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/brunswick/mastergardener/mg201113.html
  • Mulch shrubs/trees, perennials & herbs after the 1st
    frost for winter protection. Apply a layer 3" deep. Mulch comparisons
    and general info: https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-608.html
  • Plant spring flowering bulbs as the weather turns cold.
    best landscape effect, plant groups of bulbs in between shrubs, or
    scatter bulbs in wooded areas; avoid planting bulbs in straight
    Always plant quality bulbs.  Daffodils ,
    Bluebells (Hyacinthoides
    hispanicus), and Snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum) are bulbs to consider.
    By contrast, Tulips and Dutch hyacinths decline after their
    first season and are best treated as annuals. Tips for
    planting/purchasing bulbs at: https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-611.html 
  • Use shredded leaves as mulch.  Fallen leaves contain
    of nutrients,
    but they decompose slowly. Help the process along by grinding up yourCompost Pile
    leaves rather than sending them to the landfill.  You don't need a
    simply rake the leaves into rows and run them over with a lawnmower.
  • Compost your yard waste! As
    you cut back your perennials
    preparation for winter, think about returning that bounty to your
    garden in the form of compost.  Compost is nature's favorite
    and soil conditioner.  Recycle grass clippings, leaves, and
    garden refuse.  For information on how to compost: https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8100.html
  • Here are some tips on how to protect your plants from cold

  • Before you put those plants in the ground, consider this ….Landscape
  • Landscape with a plan. A well-thought-out landscape plan
    will produce a
    more "finished" effect.  Analyze your
    property and draw a simple map, noting which areas are sunny, shady,
    moist or dry.  Consider where you need evergreens for screening,
    shorter plants to maintain a view, and about creating a
    landscape that will be appealing throughout all four seasons. 
  • Put the right plant in the right place.  Choose
    plants well suited to the growing
    conditions in your yard.  We can provide many publications
    describing plants
    well-adapted to our county. Master
    Gardener Volunteers, nursery professionals, gardening books geared
    toward North Carolina are also excellent
  • Allow space for plants to grow to their mature size. 
    mistake is placing a large or fast-growing plant where there is not
    enough room for its full height and spread.  The error results in
    pruning in an attempt to keep the plant to a size nature
    never intended it to be.  Builders and beginning landscapers often
    shrubs too close together, because the plants look so small when they
    come from the nursery.  Find out how large the plant can be
    to grow, and place them where they can fulfill their potential.
  • Put the garden to bed for the
    . Pull out all annuals
    that have completed their
    life cycle and cut back perennials.


  • HerbsWinterize your herb
    : https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8112.html
  • Rototill the vegetable garden
    expose harmful insect
    larvae and
    disease organisms to the cold and predators. You'll be set to plant
    spring instead of
    waiting for the soil to dry out enough for tilling.


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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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