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Nick Federoff's Blog


Whether there's one or a hundred and one they're called Thrips. 

When I was in college my entomologist instructor impressed on the class that it's a Thrips not a thrip that's the main reason for damaged ficus trees this time of year. Thrips are tiny insects that are usually yellow, tan or black. They damage plants by sucking juices from leaves which in turn cause yellow pale spots and leaves will curl.  

In severe infestations, especially with Ficus nitida - a commonly used street tree, leaves will turn yellow and die. Thrips thrive in hot dry summer-like conditions. Minor thrips infestations can be handled with a strong blast of water and feeding the plants.

Otherwise, you may have to break out the insecticidal soap or a ready-to-use natural control like Captain Jacks Dead Bug Brew.  

Rose Companions Add Diversity and Beauty to Your Garden!

You love your roses, but you want something more. You want to mix in other plants, whether to create an even more aesthetically pleasing display or to increase your garden's diversity in order to attract a wider variety of birds and insects.

When choosing companion plants, select ones with similar soil, water, and light requirements, and make sure they won't overrun your roses. Clumping-style grasses and perennials and well-behaved shrubs and annuals are good choices, as they shouldn't spread aggressively or provide too much shade.

Aesthetically, companion planting opens the door to an almost infinite combination of textures and colors. It allows you to get away from the sense of formality that rose gardens so often embody. If a formal rose garden is what you want, that's wonderful. But if you want a freer, more relaxed display with an organic flow, than companion planting is for you.

For decades, Rose aficionados have recognized Jackson and Perkins as the best source for garden roses, and now, garden enthusiasts, you will be pleasantly surprised to find a fantastic number of plants that are ideal for use as companions to your beloved roses on Jackson and Perkins' website.

There are also practical reasons for growing certain plants along with your roses.Shrubs and perennials that provide food and habitat for hummingbirds are ideal, as hummingbirds will happily eat aphids that may be plaguing your roses. Garlic helps against aphids as well. Aphids hate garlic, and ants and snails are none too fond of it either. In addition, studies have shown that garlic has anti-fungal properties, helping to keep diseases like blackspot at bay.

Roses have a long-established relationship with boxwoods and other evergreen shrubs, joining together to create gorgeous hedgerows, the evergreens bringing interest to the landscape throughout the year. Herbs such as sage, rosemary, lavender, and thyme have long been planted around rose bushes, and entire books have been written about that most classic of combinations—Roses and Clematis.

As a rose lover, the main focus of your garden may always be your roses, but remember that allowing them to form relationships with a variety of other plants will bring even more beauty and character to the landscape, and in many cases keep your roses healthier for years to come!

For more information on our rose companions, visit

Happy gardening!

Growing Cloned Plants

Did you know you've been growing cloned plants in your own house for years - and I bet you didn't even know it.

Cloning plants, especially houseplants, has been done for years. Tissue culture is the official process.  This is the reproduction of a plant in a chemistry laboratory.  What's done is to grow a small piece of plant in a test-tube.

The mixture it grows in is gelatinous with cane sugar, growth hormones, and water. Sounds tasty!  Every two weeks, or so they can cut the plant in half, or quarter, making  two (or four) plants where they had one.  In a few months, one can produce a million duplicate plants.  In real numbers, doubling, say 16 times, gives 64,800 plants. Adults have a hard time believing this, but kids will, and this is where rocket scientists come from. 

Words may change their meaning but not in gardening

Words may change their meaning but not in gardening. 

Isn't it funny how the meanings of words have changed over the years?  When you need a pot in gardening it doesn't have anything to do with illegal drugs.  And the same goes if you have a weed growing in your planter beds, you don't have to worry the police won't be on your doorsteps.  A weed is nothing more than an undesirable plant.

 If you're a pacifist, we need to kill stuff in the yard and garden all of the time.  Sometimes we use chemical warfare, other times it's conventional - think about it - gardening can be really gruesome with all of the killing that's done.  Oh, and my favorite is steer manure - do you actually know where steer manure comes from - and you touch the stuff and put it on your vegetables?  EWWWW.  

Furry friends in the yard and garden or are they really foes.

Furry friends in the yard and garden or are they really foes.

We normally don't equate rodents as one of mans best friends but some are harmless - even beneficial to the yard and garden.  And yes, some can create damage beyond repair.  One of the good guys are the shrew.

They're insect eaters that have long pointed noses or muzzles with tiny eyes.  It's accurate to say shrews aren't true rodents. If you come across a small sized animal that has big black eyes, noticeable ears and a long tail you've got yourself a field mouse.  Field mice come in numbers and like to eat grain and seed.  Secure your feed in air tight containers so field mice don't become a nuciense.  A field vole is one rodent that you don't want visiting your garden.  It's has black fur, a short tail, barely visible ears, and small eyes. 

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