Argentine Ants

Source(s): Willie Chance

When outdoor temperatures get hotter and conditions get drier, humans aren’t the only ones coming indoors. Argentine ants are marching inside, too.


If you have them, you definitely know it. They travel in trails into kitchens, offices and bathrooms searching for food and water.

These pests are usually Argentine ants which are small, just an eighth of an inch long. Native to South America, they were accidentally introduced into the United States more than 100 years ago in New Orleans coffee shipments.

They are one of the most difficult-to-control ants in the U.S. A single colony can consist of hundreds of thousands of ants.

University of Georgia entomologists say you can reduce your chances of having these ants in your home. To discourage them, rinse all drink cans before placing them into the garbage or recycling bin and by empty garbage containers often.

And, don’t leave any food or drinks out. Argentine ants love sugar and will show up to dine on it, literally by the thousands, overnight.

UGA experts don’t recommend using over-the-counter insect killer. You can use spray products for the ‘revenge factor,’ but you’ll never get rid of them all. You have to hit the nest, where all the queens are.

A bait that can be used indoors is Terro bait. It’s a liquid you can buy at most home-improvement and lawn-and-garden stores. Another effective bait is Combat Ant-Killing Gel. Use the product’s syringe and place small dabs anyplace you see ants.

If you reach a point of desperation, UGA entomologists say call a professional pest control company for help.


Center Publication Number: 266

Arborists Maintain Tree Health

Source(s): Steve Pettis

Who do you call when you need someone to prune a one hundred year old, one hundred and fifty foot tall oak tree that sits ten feet away from your house? Who do you call if your favorite 80-year-old pecan is starting to decline?


A certified arborist, that’s who. Arborists are the surgeons of the tree trade as well as the physicians. They diagnose tree problems (diseases, insect infestations, and decline), implement strategies to mitigate poor tree health, and provide emergency tree care. At some time or another, everyone will need an arborist. Remember, trees are investments that can become liabilities if not cared for properly.

What does it mean to be a ‘certified’ arborist? It means the arborist has been through a rigorous training and testing process to assure that he or she meets the standards set by the International Society of Arboriculture for a qualified professional arborist.

These persons are well trained in tree health, pest management, soil fertility, assessing storm damage, cabling and bracing, and proper pruning techniques. In other words, they are specialists in the care of trees. If you were hiring a company to do any tree work at your home, I would recommend only using certified arborists. When soliciting for quotes, ask for proof of insurance and references as well. Always get three estimates. You will usually be required to sign a contract, so read it carefully.

Tree work is tough and physically demanding. Imagine spending your whole day climbing towering trees with spikes on your boots and a chainsaw attached to your belt. At first glance one might think these people are a little crazy, especially when one sees one of them walk out to the end of a limb sixty feet in the air. Crazy that is, until you realize they are always wearing safety rigging that is attached to the main trunk of the tree. The rigging is the same type used by mountain climbers. Every responsible tree person wears safety rigging, a hard hat, earplugs, and eye protection.

When an arborist does a consultation, he or she evaluates tree health and tries to recommend a plan to stop any tree decline. The arborist might recommend pruning to remove any dead wood or to shape the tree. If the tree has any unsafe branches or bad branch angles, the tree professional might cable the offending limbs. Cabling involves using heavy gauge stainless steel cable and eye bolts to secure limbs and trunks. The arborist may recommend a fertilization regime to increase the tree’s vigor and stop any decline. Trees are often fertilized using a 3-2-1 ratio liquid fertilizers injected into holes that are drilled in the soil around the tree.

If the tree is not salvageable, then the arborist will recommend removing the unhealthy tree. Often, the tree will be in a location where it cannot be felled easily. Maybe there is a structure under or near the tree or the tree is near the property line. In this case, the arborist may decide to rope the tree. Climbing the tree, the arborist ties ropes to the branches. Then the branches are cut off one by one allowing the rope to break the fall. In essence the tree is removed from the top down. The branches will be lowered down gently to workers on the ground to prevent any unwarranted damage. After removal, the company will chip the tree into mulch with a machine or haul it away. Reputable companies will leave the property only after they have cleaned up the mess and the customer is satisfied.

Trees are assets that add value to one’s property and should be cared for properly. With the help of certified arborists, homeowner’s trees will remain healthy and safe through proper fertility management and pruning. If you have need for a certified arborist, please call the Gwinnett County Extension Service for a list of local companies at (678) 377-4010.


Source(s): Jack Arnott

Aphids (plant lice) are small (1/8″), soft-bodied insects that can be many colors with pale yellow or green being the most common. Most are not winged but there may be some winged adults. There are many species of aphids. Some of the aphids, woolly aphids, are covered with white, waxy threads.


Generally aphids are found in aggregations on tender new growth. They are fairly sedentary and don’t move much unless disturbed. Aphids have needle-like piercing/sucking mouthparts. These are inserted into the plant and sap is withdrawn. They suck in more than they can use. The excess comes out the two cornicles, (which look like tailpipes) on the abdomen and is often called honeydew. Honeydew is a sugary protein substance that may be fed upon by other insects such as ants. Honeydew that isn’t taken by the ants drops to the leaf surface and serves as a medium for the development of fungus such as sooty mold. Sooty mold can coat the leaf and reduce its food making ability.

Aphid females generally reproduce asexually producing more females. The adults live about three weeks and can produce large numbers in a short time. Males usually produced prior to winter then mating occurs and the eggs are laid to overwinter under bark or bud scales. Large numbers of aphids can reduce the plant vigor; however the loss of sap generally does not pose a serious threat to healthy, established plants, trees and shrubs. While feeding, aphids inject saliva into the plant. Some aphids do little damage, while the saliva others causes curled or distorted growth or transmit plant viruses.

CONTROL: Before resorting to chemical methods check for natural controls at work.

Biological: Many natural enemies are usually present in the yard already. There are several species of ladybugs or ladybird beetles which feed on aphids. Their larvae (young) also eat aphids. Other aphid predators include green lacewings and their larvae (called aphid lions), syrphid fly (hover fly) larvae, predacious stink bugs and assasin bugs, and the praying mantis. Some wasps and fungi parasitize aphids and help control their levels.

 Aphids can be removed by pruning out the affected part of the plant. For a light infestation using a strong spray from the garden hose directed at the aphids can knock them off where they will die if not eaten by predators. If infestation is light, pick them off with your fingers. Maintain good screening on windows to prevent access to houseplants.

Chemical: Some plant species are very sensitive to nitrogen and an outbreak can be triggered by a high nitrogen fertilizer. Use a slow release fertilizer. Options include summer oils, insecticidal soaps, cyfluthrin, imidacloprid or malathion. Spot treat with a pyrethrin based insecticide. These products kill by contact so thorough spray coverage is essential. Read the label carefully before purchase and use. Insure the target pest and plant are on the label. Some insecticides and formulations might burn desirable plants. Indoors use only pesticides that are labeled for control of insects inside. FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS ON LABEL.

Resource(s): Insect Pests of Ornamental Plants

Center Publication Number: 51

Annual Bluegrass Control in Warm Season Turf

Source(s): Jacob G Price

Introduction: Annual bluegrass, Poa annua, is a very common tufted winter annual that can be difficult to control. Annual bluegrass has a yellow-green color and forms whitish spiklets on the branch tips. This grass produces seedheads throughout its lifecycle with most of the seedheads being formed in the spring.

Pre-emergence Control: For centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, zoysiagrass, and dormant bermudagrass, Atrazine and Simazine are listed as having excellent control. Balan (benefin), Surflan(oryzalin), Barricade (prodiamine), Regalstar (oxadiazon + prodiamine), and Echelon (sulfentrazone + prodiamine), are also listed as excellent for the above grasses, and bermudagrass does not have to be dormant at application. Products such as Halts and Pendulum (pendimethalin) also give good control.   Apply these pre-emergence herbicides in late September to early October.
Post-emergence Control: For control of annual bluegrass in centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, zoysiagrass, and dormant bermudagrass, products containing Atrazine or Simazine provide control. However, Atrazine and Simazine may not control annual bluegrass if it has been used year after year in the same location. Certainty (sulfosulfuron), should provide some control on smallbluegrass on the above turfgrasses. In zoysiagrass and bermudagrass lawns only, Revolver(foramsulfuron), and Monument (trifloxysulfuron-sodium) are excellent.
For non residential  (Sod and Seed Farms, Golf Courses, Athletic Fields, Commercial Properties, etc.) with zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, and bermudagrass, TranXit (rimsulfuron), provides excellent control of emerged annual bluegrass.  Katana (flazasulfuron), applications in the spring are effective. Kerb (pronamide), takes 4-6 weeks to work and can be used on the above grasses and in St. Augustinegrass.
Post Emergence Herbicides
                                           St. Aug.      Centipede      Zoysia         Bermuda
T   dormant
(T = tolerant); (S = sensitive, do not use this herbicide on indicated turfgrass); * not effective on mature bluegrass.
Produced: 2009/Revised:  2011 : Jake Price of the University of Georgia Extension Service, Lowndes County.


An Herbal Glossary

Source(s): Wayne J. McLaurin

An Herbal Glossary
Herbs In Southern Gardens 
Common terms used in the culture of herbs:
Absorption: A method of extracting plant oil by laying herbs on tallow or lard, as in the making of pomade.
Annual: Plant that completes its life cycle in one growing season.
Biennial: Plant that requires 18 to 24 months to complete its life cycle.
Blanch: To process quickly in boiling water to help prevent deterioration.
Bouquet garni: A bundle of herbs tied with string and added to soups and stews and other dishes; the classical bouquet garni consists of two stalks each parsley and thyme, one sprig of marjoram or chervil, and one-half bay leaf.
Composite: A flower head made up of smaller complete flowers.
Cultivar: A cultivated variety of a plant.
Decoction: A method of extracting juice and oil from roots, bark, or seeds by soaking the plant material in water that is slowly heated to boiling and left to cool before use.
Dentate: Toothed or jagged, as a leaf edge.
Distillation: A purification process through which liquid is vaporized, condensed, and collected.
Essential Oils: Concentrated plant extracts responsible for flavor and fragrance, often derived through distillation.
Fixative: A material, such as gum benzoin or orris root, that preserves the scent of potpourri by absorbing the plant oils and slowly releasing them.
Fines herbes: A mix of several herbs used to flavor food during cooking; herbs traditionally used include parsley, chervil, tarragon, chives.
Floret: The smaller flower that in combination makes up the larger flower head.
Herb: From the Latin herba; usually, though not always, a green, succulent, temperate- zoned plant; generally used today to indicate a plant with culinary, fragrance, cosmetic, or medicinal use.
Herbaceous: Non-woody, generally dying back to the ground each winter.
Herbal: A book describing the appearance and use of plants.
Hybrid: Plant produced by a cross between two cultivars, usually within the same species.
Inflorescence: The characteristic arrangement of flowers on a stalk or in a cluster.
Infusion: An herbal liquid made by steeping leaves and stems in boiling hot water, covering for several minutes, then straining.
Knot garden: A garden design involving plantings in intricate, interwoven geometric patterns.
Maceration: Extraction of plant oils by soaking herbs in water or oil.
Perennial: A plant that continues its growth cycle year after year.
Pharmacognosy: A body of information about the history and medicinal uses of herbs and plants in their natural state.
Pharmacopoeia: The reference compendium of medicine used by physicians.
Phytotherapy: The use of plants for medicine.
Potherb: A plant that furnishes edible flowers, leaves, or stems usually prepared by boiling or steaming.
Potpourri: A mixture of dried fragrant plant materials combined with a fixative.
Poultice: A moist medicinal pack made by filling a small sack of thin material with an herbal paste.
Ravigote: A sauce made of various herbs mixed with vinegar.
Remoulade: An oil or mayonnaise-based sauce with mixed spices and herbs.
Rhizome: An underground stem that produces new plants at nodes.
Sachet: A small cloth packet containing dried herbs or herb mixture and used to scent drawers and closets.
Simple: A term used in colonial America for a medicinal herb used to cure a single disease or ailment; use reflected in the word “officinalis” in the scientific name of the plant.
Spice: From the Latin species, a term usually applied to a substance made from roots, bark, seed, or fruit of a tropical plant and used for culinary, fragrance, or medicinal purposes.
Stolon: A stem growing along the surface of the ground from which new plants grow at nodes.
Umbel: A flower head in the shape of an inverted umbrella, often a cluster of smaller flowers.
Tea: An infusion made by pouring boiling water over dried herb stems or leaves.
Tilth: Soil condition indicating degree of soil particulation or friability.
Tisane: A delicately flavored herbal drink made by pouring boiling water over fresh or dried herb leaves or flowers, steeping for several minutes, and straining out the plant material.
Toilet Waters: Mixtures of herbs and/or plant oils with water or isopropyl alcohol.
Topiary: A horticultural art by which shrubby plants are clipped into shapes or vining plants are trained over a form.
Tussie-mussie: A small herbal bouquet originally carried in Medieval times to ward off odors.

Resource(s): Herbs in Southern Gardens

Center Publication Number: 264


Source(s): Jacob G Price


Alligatorweed is a perennial aquatic weed commonly found in shallow waterways in Florida and other southern states. It belongs to the pigweed family and is sometimes accidentally introduced to landscape situations with new St. Augustine sod. It can survive on terrestrial sites that remain wet or boggy.



Alligatorweed has 2 to 5 inch oppositely arranged leaves that are elliptic shaped and have a distinct mid-rib. This species has white flowers. Leaves have hollow and very smooth stems. It can go unrecognized in closely mowed St. Augustine turf.


The best control is to inspect sod to make sure the weed is not present. If the weed is present in large enough quantities it can compete for water and nutrients and cause sparse areas in the new turf. Under normal circumstances the weed should die out in 4-8 weeks because soil and moisture conditions in Coastal Georgia are not favorable to alligatorweed. There are no herbicides labeled for alligatorweed control in turfgrass. However if the problem persists for more than 2 months and the turf is well established, Image can be sprayed at maximum rates. Image has good activity on pigweeds, and as alligator weed is in the pigweed family, Image may very well control this weed. Alternatively two-way and three-way herbicides that contain 2,4-D and dicamba may also be used. But, these products can severely injure St. Augustinegrass, and should only be used at the lowest rate recommended on the label for St. Augustinegrass and centipedegrass.

Resource(s): Weed Management

Center Publication Number: 81

Abiotic Problems of Citrus in Georgia

Source(s): Randy Drinkard

Citrus experience problems, such as:

  • fruit shedding,
  • leaf drop,
  • fruit splitting,
  • attack from insects and disease.

Fruit Shedding

Natural abscission of flowers and fruits prevents citrus from overproducing. Homeowners frequently become concerned about the excessive shed of young blossoms and fruits in early spring. This is a natural abscission of blossoms and fruits characteristic of all citrus. Another natural fruit shedding occurs in May and June when the fruits are marble sized. Only one or two percent (sometimes less than one percent) of the blossoms are needed for adequate yields.

Leaf Drop

Healthy trees lose large numbers of their leaves which is a natural leaf drop that may be most noticeable in early spring. Citrus leaves live for 18 to 24 months and then begin shedding, with some leaf drop occurring throughout the year. The homeowner should always be alert to other possible causes of leaf shedding, including mite damage, excessive or insufficient soil moisture, cold damage or root diseases.

Fruit Splitting

In late summer (August – September) fruit splitting may occur with certain oranges and tangerines. It usually occurs when a period of fruit growth cessation (associated with moisture stress) is followed by a rapid increase in fruit size as the result of heavy rain. Other than alleviating moisture stress, little can be done about the problem.

Citrus Insect and Disease Control in Georgia

Citrus fruits may be grown successfully in the home garden with little or no control of insects and disease. Fruits produced without pesticide sprays may be very poor in external quality as a result of damage by several mites, insects and fungus diseases. Although these unattractive fruits may have little eye appeal, this external damage usually has no detrimental effect on the internal fruit quality. The appearance of the tree may suffer, but trees are seldom critically damaged by most citrus pests. Natural biological controls will assist in maintaining pests at low population levels.

For those who prefer to spray, three cover sprays during each season should be sufficient. A post-bloom spray for scales, mites and fungal disease, a summer oil for scales and mites and a fall mite spray usually are satisfactory.

Formulating a spray program can be somewhat difficult because of the many factors involved. Government regulations are constantly changing regarding the use of agricultural chemicals. Consult your local County Extension Agent for information on developing a spray program for home citrus trees.

Resource(s): Citrus Fruits for Southern and Coastal Georgia


  • Steve Brady, CEA – Cobb County. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
  • Jennifer Davidson, CEA – Muscogee County. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Center Publication Number: 173

A Teaching Garden

Source(s): The Cherokee County Master Gardeners

The Cherokee County Master Gardeners have put their knowledge to work and on display. They have come up with solutions to many gardening dilemmas. Their teaching garden is located on the grounds of the Senior Citizens Center at 1001 Univeter Road in Canton, GA.

garden1 garden2

Lifetime Master Gardener Marcia Winchester oversees the entire garden, holding two work days a month. The sessions are educational and are an excellent tool for teaching new Master Gardener interns.

In 1996, the CCMG had no budget so the garden was developed solely with plant donations from the Master Gardeners and senior citizens. A large portion of it was a vegetable garden, planted so that seniors could enjoy fresh vegetables.

Over the years, the garden has slowly evolved. A cement pad and two swings were donated by contractor Bob Castle. Home Depot in Woodstock donated materials for a pergola, and Bates Lumber Co. in Canton contributed nails. On April 27th, instructor Carlos Jones of the Sequoia Vocation Arts Dept. directed some of his students in the building of the pergola. This anchored the garden, giving it a nice central focal point. Modeled after the Cobb county Backacher garden, the garden was broken into several smaller gardens and a chair and co-chair were assigned to maintain it. A grant was given to pour a cement path so that seniors could maneuver easily.

Plantings in the front of the building are formal. Plants are low maintenance, drought tolerant, annuals and perennials. A shaded, dry area underneath a spanse of windows near the entrance posed a challenge. It is planted with evergreen plants and white blooming annuals that take very little time to maintain. If you are tired of watering, this is an excellent example of drought tolerant plants that work well in home gardens.

In 2003, a Patriot Garden was installed around the roadside mailbox, with a memorial plaque dedicating the garden to our military. The color scheme is predominately red, white and blue, in memory of 9/11 and military veterans who use the senior center.

The large area in back is divided into several gardens, separated by cement paths. The “Vegetable Garden” consists of several raised beds. Permanent trellises were installed several years ago to provide support for climbing vegetable plants. Recently the two front vegetable beds were converted into experimental peanut beds. Five blueberry bushes, donated by a MG training class from several years ago, provide senior citizens with blueberries for several weeks during the summer.

The area around the pergola is the “Fragrant Garden”. Plants there were funded by a State Master Gardener grant. This is a lovely place to sit in the shade and enjoy the fragrances year round.

The “Heirloom Garden” is full of plants reminiscent of gardens from the Old South. China plates mark plants with their common names, and the area includes yard art to support the garden’s theme: a gazing ball, a wheel barrel used as a planter, an old chest left open with annuals cascading out, and a brass headboard that serves as a short fence. Purple, yellow, orange, and white blooming flowers are repeated throughout the garden.

The “Butterfly Garden” is one of our oldest gardens. It is in the process of being redesigned as light patterns have changed. The “Memorial Garden” (in memory of all the Meals-on-Wheels volunteers) is a small heart-shaped garden, outlined with dwarf hollies and inset with ice plant for summer color. It includes a white Crepe Myrtle for gentle shade. A donated wrought iron table and two chairs are located nearby—for sitting and remembering old friends.

A “Xeriscape Garden” is located by one of the downspouts of the Senior Center. In one corner it gets lots of water when it rains; otherwise the soil is extremely hot and dry. The soil is a mixture of orange clay and gravel from the construction of the building. Native plants have been used in its design. The “Holding Area” was expanded and screened off with a decorative white picket fence. Two new propagation beds were installed this summer.

In 2004 the Cherokee County Commissioners funded the installation of an irrigation system. At the request of the County Extension Agent, Todd Hurt, we decided to install a “drip” irrigation system to demonstrate water use efficiency and minimize weed growth. A variety of low volume emitters were used to show the flexibility of low volume systems.

DIRECTIONS to the garden driving from I-575: Take exit 14. Traveling from the south, turn left at the end of the exit ramp. Go through 3 lights and at 4th light turn right onto Univeter Road. Travel .8 miles and the Senior Center will be on the left. Traveling from the north, turn right at the end of the exit ramp and go through 2 lights. At the 3rd light turn right onto Univeter Road. Travel .8 miles and the Senior Center will be on the left.


Resource(s): Landscape Plants for Georgia

Center Publication Number: 123

A Shady Perennial Garden

Source(s):  Rebecca Pickett


Herbaceous perennials usually die back in winter and reappear each spring to thrive and bloom again. They don’t always live forever, nor are they free of maintenance.



  • Good bed preparation is essential for the growth of healthy perennials. Prepare all beds in the summer for fall planting and in the winter for spring planting. Correct drainage problems before planting.
  • Check the drainage by running a percolation test. Dig a 10″ hole and fill it with water. The next day, fill the hole with water again and time how long it stays in the hole. If the water is gone in 8-10 hours (1″ per hour), this site is suitable for most perennials.


  • Dig or till your soil 8 inches deep.
  • Remove all this worked soil and set it aside (your topsoil). -With a spading fork loosen the next 8″ of soil and work in coarse (granite) sand or wood chips.
  • Replace your topsoil and mix in 4″ of coarse sand or granite dust and 4″ of organic material (compost, shredded bark, etc.). This results in a 24″ thick layer of improved soil.
  • Add lime and fertilizer as recommended by your soil test. (Barbara Allen)

Resist the urge to plant one of each kind. Use odd numbers of plants (3,5,7) and plant them in asymmetrical groups or “drifts.” The visual effect of this type of planting will be more effective than a polka-dot or geometric design.


FOR PARTIAL SHADE: (Afternoon shade or dappled light under trees)





Ajuga reptans(bugleweed) ‘Burgundy Glow’,


blue, lavender,

pink, white

4-12″, late springGround cover grown mainly for foliage. Several types available.
Anemone vitifolia(grapeleaf anemone)


pink11/2-3′, early fallSpreads rapidly. Nice foliage all

summer. Also try A. japonica.

Aquilegia canadensis(Canadian columbine)red & yellow1-2′, springBetter here than the hybrids.
Astilbe arendsii‘Deutschland’; ‘Fanal’;

‘Rheinland’, ‘Finale’

white; red;
1-3′, late springLovely feathery blooms. Needs lots of water. Watch for spider mites.
Astilbe chinensis‘Pumila’pink1-2′, springNeeds less water than arendsii.
Digitalis mertonensis(strawberry foxglove)rosy pink3-4′, summerLasts 2 or 3 years. Very pretty.
Heuchera americana(alum root)


greenish white1-11/2‘, summerDoes better than hybrids.
Heuchera micrantha(alum root)
‘Palace Purple’
creamy1-11/2 ’,summerGrown for its purplish foliage.
Lobelia cardinalis
(cardinal flower)

(big blue lobelia)



2-4′, late summerMust have rich, moist soil. Likes stream banks. Reseeds like crazy.
Phlox divaricata(woodland phlox) ‘Fuller’s White’


12-15″, springEvergreen, spreads slowly. This native should be used more.
Tiarella cordifolia(foamflower)white6-12″, springRich, moist soil, not much sun.
Tradescantia virginiana(spiderwort)
‘Snow Cap’
‘Zwanenburg Blue’

deep blue

1-2′, summerBlooms mornings & cloudy days.
Will take a good bit of sun.
FOR FULL SHADE: (meaning little if any direct sunlight)
Begonia grandis(hardy begonia)pink2′, late summerAngel-wing leaves. No dividing.
Brunnera macrophylla(heartleaf brunnera)light blue18″, springForget me-not flowers, big heart­ shaped leaf. Goes dormant in heat
Chrysogonum virginianum(green and gold)


yellow6-9″, springThick mat of foliage. Blooms on and off all year. Evergreen.
Dicentra eximia(fringed bleeding heart)pink, white1-1½’, springBetter than spectabilis for heat.
Dicentra spectabilis(common bleeding heartpink, white1-1½, springBeautiful sight in spring.
Helleborus orientalis(Lenten rose)shades of deep rose to white18”, FebruaryEvergreen foliage. Flowers las a long time. Reseeds prolifically.
Hosta(plantain lily, funkia) hundredsWhite, lilac6” – 4”, summerGrow different kinds for contrast of foliage. The shade plant here.
Iris cristata(crested iris)Blue with yellow crest6”, late springSpreads quickly. Charming dwarf.
Mertensia virginica(Virginia bluebells)Blue1-2’, early springDies back after early bloom. Nice.
Sanquinana canadensis(bloodrootWhite6”, early springThe harbinger of spring
Trillium grandiflorum(wake-robin)None1-2” early springSpring delight. Cutting will kill.
FernsJapanese Painted Fern,
Christmas Fern (evergreen),
Maidenhair Fern (evergreen),
Japanese Shield Fern
None12” and upThere are various textures and heights to try. They offer a pleasing contrast to the leaves of hostas and can fill in where early spring bloomers have died back


  • Best planting time in Atlanta is near Oct. 15 or April 1.
  • Loosen root balls and set the crown no deeper than it was before.
  • Firm soil gently around roots and water deeply.
  • Markers will help identify and protect. Put stepping stones in wide beds to limit soil compaction caused by footsteps.
  • Heavy winter mulch is not recommended here; it encourages crown rot. A 1 1/2 to 2′ summer mulch of pine straw, bark or wood chips is necessary to hold moisture in and keep weeds out.
  • Once established, fertilize your bed with 1 1/2 lb, of 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 per 100 sq. ft. in early spring and again during late spring and/or midsummer. A pound of granular fertilizer is equal to about 2 cups.
  • Water deeply once a week during dry spells. Avoid frequent, shallow watering or watering late in the day. Wet foliage promotes disease problems.
  • Keep weeds, dead foliage and spent blooms removed.
  • Some plants will need staking. Try bamboo stakes and soft jute twine, or cut up tomato cages.
  • When foliage dies in fall, clean it out and do not let leaves pile up in winter. Yep, crown rot again! Give the bed a good cleanout in spring and add new mulch as summer heat approaches.
  • Some plants will need dividing every two or three years, others will not. Divide and share with friends.


  • Snails or slugs: They eat leaves and leave a slime trail. Try beer in saucers or crushed eggshells around plants.
  • Spittlebuq: Deposits foamy ‘spittle’ in crown or leaf joint. Try rotenone or recommended insecticide.
  • Mealybug: Small, cottony spot on stem. Blast off with hose or touch with alcohol swab.
  • Leafminer: Leaves trails in leaf of columbine. Pick off leaf or use appropriate pesticide.
  • Aphids: Clusters of oval green/black/brown specks on leaf or stem. Blast with hose, use insecticidal soap or an insecticide.
  • Thrips: Cause malformed, brown flower buds. Pick off affected buds or use insecticide.
  • Spider Mites: Cause a stippled white or dried out look on leaves. Daylilies turn bronze or yellow. Blast with hose or use a miticide.
  • Powdery Mildew: A white haze develops on leaves, especially phlox and crepe myrtle. Use a recommended fungicide for both prevention and treatment.
  • Crown rot, Root rot: Just about any plant will succumb to these if planted too deeply or allowed to have wet feet for too long.

Many thanks to the following for the benefit of their ideas:

  • Barbara Allen, Master Gardener (Her ‘Recipe’ for preparing a bed is one of many methods.)
  • Allan M. Armitage, The University of Georgia
  • Jane Bath, Land Arts, Inc,, Monroe, GA
  • Jimmy Stewart, Garden Designs, Atlanta, GA
  • Chuck Zdeb, Master Gardener

Resource(s): Flowering Perennials for Georgia Gardens

Center Publication Number: 1

A Landscape Feature that Helps Protect Water Quality

Source(s): Steve Brady, Cobb County Extension

How can your landscape help protect water quality? By installing a rain garden you can have an attractive display of interesting colors, textures and forms that improves water quality.


A rain garden is not a bog garden or a swamp. It is designed to receive some of the water that pours off of your driveway, roof or other impervious surfaces. Instead of sending it rushing off to the nearest storm drain or stream, the water is allowed to slow down and pause long enough for some of it to soak into the water table. This helps reduce the volume of water that scours our creeks. In addition, the water that exceeds the pool capacity of your rain garden has a moment to settle out soil particles, fertilizers, chemicals, etc in a process called biofiltration.

Naturally people think a rain garden will breed mosquitoes. If properly constructed, the water that is held in the garden will perk into the soil in 24 to 48 hours after a rain event. Mosquitoes need more than three days to breed in calm water.

Construction of the garden is not without challenges. The Demonstration Rain Garden here in Cobb County met and overcame several. A stormwater channel carries water off of the highway and runs next to our rain garden site. Just days before we started construction, a 4 inch rain event filled the channel and water backed up to the Cobb County Water System’s back door. Before we could go any farther the channel had to be re-engineered.

The next challenge stemmed from the fact that this location was once used as a steam locomotive factory. Te soil was not only extremely compacted, but also had a pH of 7.8 (very high) due to all the ash. After much plowing, grading, amending, and tilling the rain garden was functional.

Today the garden not only reduces runoff and pollution, it also serves as an environmental education site, and place for plant evaluations. It adds beauty to an otherwise boring landscape.

The garden is located at 660 South Cobb Drive where it intersects with Atlanta Road in Marietta. It is behind the Cobb County Water System’s building. The public is always welcome.

An excellent and easy to follow brochure is available called Rain Gardens for Home Landscapes. It will take you through the construction step by step. It includes the plants that are adapted to both wet and dry periods. You would only water this garden to get plants established. After that, the plants should be able to tolerate the extremes and still add interest to your landscape. Consider adding this low maintenance landscape feature to your yard and help protect water quality at the same time.

Resource(s): Landscape Plants for Georgia