Consumer Horticulture News September 2022
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Fall Extension Gardener Classes – Registration Open!
- Thursday, Sept. 8th/Gardening with Natives
- Thursday, Sept. 22th/Invasive Plant Species – Stay Away!
- Thursday, Oct.13th/The Way to Better Soil Health
Classes will be conducted in-person at the Franklin County Extension Center, located at103 S. Bickett Blvd., Louisburg, in the Annex meeting room.
Late Summer/Early Fall Bloomers
There are a couple of late summer bloomers that you should look at adding to your landscape. Tall Ironweed blooms from mid-summer to early fall in woodland edges, pastures, and roadsides. The flower color ranges from deep purple, lavender, and magenta. It’s native to the eastern US and a wide variety of butterflies and bees
pollinate the flowers. The name Ironweed comes from the toughness of its stem and how hard it is to uproot the plant. Autumn Joy Stonecrop or Sedum is one of the most dependable perennial succulents and is attractive all year.
It grows best in full sun and well-drained soils. It does not like to be in soggy conditions. Once established, it is drought tolerant as well. Autumn Joy works well in containers and planted in borders or rock gardens. In the spring, rounded, fleshy green leaves emerge. In the summer, flower buds are light pink and open to red in late summer and early fall. In the winter, browned flower heads can be considered ornamental. To maintain the bushy shape and thick stems, cut or pinch plants back in early spring. Plants can be propagated by division, stem or leaf cuttings. Autumn Joy Sedum makes a good pollinator plant, especially for butterflies. Mexican bush sage, Salvia leucantha, is a tender perennial that reaches 3 to 4 feet and is also drought tolerant. Flower spikes are long, with purple and white blooms in late summer. Mexican sage does best in full sun and as a specimen or accent plant.
Blue-winged Digger Wasps
This time of year, it’s common to see Blue-winged Digger Wasps hovering over lawns or visiting patches of native goldenrod or mountain mint. These wasps enjoy nectar-rich and showy flowers but what are they doing flying low over yards and parks? These wasps are actually looking for grubs to feed their future larvae. Blue-winged Digger Wasps are a parasitoid of insects such as green June beetles and Japanese beetles. After mating, female wasps burrow into the ground and sting a beetle grub, paralyzing it. She then lays an egg on the grub. As the wasp larva develops, it consumes the beetle grub and eventually kills it. The following year, the next generation of Blue-winged Digger Wasps will emerge; take that pesky Japanese Beetle! Despite their large size, these native wasps are not aggressive and there’s no need to fear them. Just consider them as a free and natural source of Japanese beetle control for your yard or garden. These wasps are your friends!
Contact N.C. Cooperative Extension, Franklin County Center, or Colby Griffin, 919-496-3344, email@example.com for information about consumer horticulture.