University of Maryland Extension

August 2013 HGIC Newsletter

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August 2013 Newsletter

From the Director…

This is the third edition of our re-formulated newsletter. We hope it’s a convenient and useful source of information for you each month. If you like it, please forward it to other gardeners you know and encourage them to subscribe.

Gardeners have the opportunity to witness the fascinating interaction of plants, soil, weather, and animals and how that changes each year.  For example, Japanese beetle populations are generally higher across the state in 2013, not because of the recent warm, wet weather pattern, but because of favorable conditions in July and August 2012. High soil moisture levels enabled a high percentage of eggs to hatch into white grubs that overwintered and emerged as adult defoliators in late June and July. And chances are good for a bumper crop of these colorful pests next year!

Understanding plant and animal life cycles is a principle of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and essential for sustainable gardening. The articles, photos, and videos you’ll find in this newsletter will help you learn about key plant and pest problems and organic solutions. Explore our website for more information and call us (1-800-342-2507) or Ask a Gardening Expert 24/7 for expert answers and advice.

And speaking of the mysterious and fascinating life of plants, check out this video posted by UME Master Gardener Erica Smith on the Grow It Eat It blog about how cucumber tendrils do their thing- "Cucumber Tendril Mystery."

Happy gardening!

- Jon Traunfeld 
HGIC Center Director

Grow It Eat It Update

Can't grow it local? Then get yourself to a farmers' market and BUY LOCAL!

By Ria Malloy

If you can’t grow your all of your own food (and who really can?), then by all means BUY LOCAL! Even if you do have your own lush garden, a trip to the Farmers Market is a great experience!

Go to the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s website to find a local farmers market.

If you can’t grow your all of your own food (and who really can?), then by all means BUY LOCAL! Even if you do have your own lush garden, a trip to the Farmers Market is a great experience! Farmer's Market Week in Maryland is August 5-11.

Go to the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s website to find a local farmers market.

CLICK HERE for a virtual stroll through Baltimore City's Farmer's Market and Bazaar

Double Trouble: Squash Bug and Squash Beetle

By Jon Traunfeld

If the squash vine borer or bacterial wilt disease don’t take out your squash plants this summer you will probably be battling an old nemesis-
bug- and may encounter a new pest- squash beetle (see photo). 

Still not sure what's causing your cucurbits to crash? Ignore this link at your own peril!

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Update - August 2013

Adapted from the July 26, 2013 TPM/IPM Weekly Report article by Stanton Gill 

Adult BMSB are still active on plants this week. Adults are being found in baited pheromone traps, but they are declining numbers. These adults overwintered from last season.

An interesting thing is that nymphs are also being found in pheromone traps. To get to the trap, the nymphs have to walk up a 3 ft. structure and enter the trap chamber. The nymphs know that female adults will often feed after mating. So the nymphs migrate to where mating adults hang out.

More about BMSB research, findings, and what it means to you.

Watch footage of stink bugs on corn filmed recently in Howard County by HGIC.

Southern Blight Is Active In The Landscape Now!
By David Clement

Southern blight on Lysimachia.
Arrow indicates the tan spherical sclerotia

Southern blight is caused by the fungus Sclerotium rolfsii. This fungus can probably attack all herbaceous perennials. It is active only during hot weather, so plants can grow well in infested soil during most of the growing season and only become damaged during the hottest part of the summer. The first symptoms seen are wilting and collapse of individual stems or entire plants. Close inspection of the stem at the soil line reveals white mycelium (strands of fungus growing on the stem and mulch or soil surface) and small (1/8 to 1/16 inch), tan spherical sclerotia that resemble mustard seeds. (They are white when first formed and gradually over several days turn brown.) Roots of infected plants are unaffected. Cortical decay of the stem at the soil line is common during hot, humid weather.

Click here to read about Southern Blight and management strategies

This month's featured video is about running bamboo. This invasive species will spread aggressively if you don't take measures to contain it. A barrier placed into the ground around the perimeter of the bamboo planting can help keep it contained. Watch the video below for more information. 

HGIC director Jon Traunfeld details his design for an easy, low-cost deer fence for your garden.  Check out other HGIC videos on our YouTube Channel.


Ask A Maryland Gardening Expert

Common or interesting questions from the last month at the HGIC. Ask your own question here or call:
800-342-2507 in Maryland
410-531-1757 outside Maryland.

- Compiled by Debra Ricigliano


Dog Vomit FungusQuestionPlease help me figure out what is killing my zucchini. I am not sure if it is a disease or an insect. The leaves are drooping like they need water and when I examined the stems near the ground I noticed some kind of larvae (look like maggots) in the rotting part of the stem. I pulled out two of the worst plants, but it looks like it might be spreading. Can I apply anything to save the plants? If I can't apply anything and must pull them out, can I replant something else in its place? Do I have to worry about this disease/pest in other plants?

AnswerFrom your photo it looks like your squash is infested with squash vine borer, a very common garden insect that attacks only squash. The adult (see photo) lays eggs on the plant but mostly on the stems near the ground. After the eggs hatch the larvae bore into the stems and feed for a number of weeks. This feeding causes the stems to wilt. If you observe an active borer infestation early enough, the following technique may save the plant. Using a razor or sharp knife, make a vertical slit upward from where frass is observed, being careful to only cut half-way through the stem. Remove and kill the borer, then mound soil to cover the entire stem from the soil line to beyond the wound to encourage new roots to form. Look at the information we have on the Grow It Eat It website for additional control measures.


QuestionWe have had a lawn service company tending our lawn for many years. This summer we noticed these areas of brown grass. The company diagnosed the problem as brown patch disease. They applied a fungicide and for a short while our grass looked better. Now, the disease looks like it is progressing and the lawn looks pretty bad. My question is twofold - should we have another fungicide application and should I continue to water the lawn?

AnswerThis has been one of the worst summers for brown patch that we can remember in a long time. At this point do nothing, including applying fungicides, and stop watering your lawn. This disease loves moisture, heat and humidity and that is why it has been so bad this year. Fungicides do not work very well on home lawns and we do not recommend using them. First of all they need to be applied preventively, they do not cure infected plants and multiple applications are necessary which can be expensive. Brown patch does not kill the growing point or crown of the grass plant and chances are the lawn will recover. Progression of the disease will stop when temperatures become cooler and less humid. An early September application of a lawn fertilizer will help your lawn recover. Wait until September and see if your lawn greens up, if not you will need to reseed damaged areas. Next year keep in mind that lawns fertilized in the spring and summer have more brown patch problems.

Featured Plants
Elephant Ears Helene Spirea Fountain Grass
Hardy Begonia

Clusters of light pink flowers with light green heart shaped leaves.

Rose of Sharon ‘Helene’

Beloved for centuries for its prolific bloom during summer doldrums when most flowering shrubs grind to a halt.

Spirea 'Pink Parasols'

Its neat blue-green foliage turns vivid orange and red in fall.

Fountain Grass 'Karley Rose'

Particularly beautiful when backlit by morning or evening sun.

Quick Tips
Fruit Flowers Houseplants Lawns
Insects Wildlife Soil, Mulch, Compost Trees/Shrubs

HGIC Home and Garden Information Center
12005 Homewood Road
Ellicott City, MD 21042


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