Blog Post: http://www.ksuhortnewsletter.org
Video of the Week: Easy to Make Grow Light
Winter Watering of Landscapes
This has been a dry fall and winter for much of Kansas. Watering now is important if soils are dry to help alleviate moisture stress.
A good, deep watering with moisture reaching at least a foot down into the soil is much better than several light sprinklings that just wet the top portions of the soil. A deep watering will help ensure that the majority of roots have access to water. Regardless of the watering method used, soil should be wet at least 12 inches deep. Use a metal rod, wooden dowel, electric fence post or something similar to check depth. Dry soil is much harder to push through than wet.
Although all perennial plants benefit from moist soils before winter, it is especially important for newly planted or overseeded lawns as well as newly transplanted trees and shrubs due to limited root systems. Even trees and shrubs planted within the last 2 to 3 years are more sensitive to drought than a well-established plant. Evergreens are also more at risk because moisture is lost from the foliage.
Trees or shrubs planted within the last year can be watered inexpensively with a 5-gallon bucket. Drill a small hole (1/8″) in the side of the bucket near the bottom. Fill the bucket and let the water dribble out slowly next to the tree. Refill the bucket once more, and you have applied 10 gallons. Very large transplanted trees and trees that were transplanted two to three years ago will require more water.
A perforated soaker hose is a good way to water a newly established bed or foundation plantings. However, soaker hoses are notorious for non-uniform watering. In other words, you often receive too much water from one part of the hose and not enough from another. Hooking both the beginning and the end of the soaker hose to a Y-adapter helps equalize the pressure and therefore provide a more uniform watering. The specific parts you need are shown in the photo above and include the soaker hose, Y-adapter and female to female connector. It is also helpful if the Y-adapter has shut off valves so the volume of flow can be controlled. Too high a flow rate can allow water to run off rather than soak in.
On larger trees, the soaker hose can circle the trunk at a distance within the dripline of the tree but at least ½ the distance to the dripline. The dripline of the tree is outermost reach of the branches. On smaller trees, you may circle the tree several times so that only soil which has tree roots will be watered.
If using a soaker hose, note the time watering was started. Check frequently to determine the amount of time it takes for water to reach 12 inches. From then on, you can water “by the clock.” Use a kitchen oven timer so you remember to move the hose or shut off the faucet. If you are seeing surface runoff, reduce the flow, or build a berm with at least a 4-foot diameter around the base of the tree to allow the water to percolate down through the soil, instead of spreading out.
Fall planted or overseeded lawns can be watered with an overhead sprinkler. Watering to a depth of 12 inches with this method would be a challenge but try to reach at least 6 inches deep.
Watering once a month if it remains day and warm should be adequate.(Ward Upham)
How to Tell Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper Apart in the Winter
During the growing season, these plants are easy to tell apart as Virginia Creeper has five-leaflets per leaf and Poison Ivy has three. However, during the winter, distinguishing between the two vines can be more difficult as the leaves have dropped. The reason it is important to be able to tell the difference is that Poison Ivy causes a rash in most people but Virginia Creeper does not. First, let’s cover some facts about Poison Ivy.
– Urushiol is the oil present in Poison Ivy that causes the rash.
– Urushiol is present in all parts of the plant but especially in the sap.
– Urushiol can cause a rash from 1 to 5 years after a plant has died.
– The amount of urushiol that covers the head of a pin can cause a rash in 500 people. The stuff is potent.
– Poison Ivy can grow as a ground cover, a shrub or a vine. We are concerned with the vine in this article.
– Using a chainsaw on Poison Ivy in the winter can release sap which makes a rash more likely. This is worse on warm days where there is more sap rise.
So, how do you tell the two apart? This is actually easy once you know what to check. Look at the aerial roots on the vines of Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper. They resemble hairs on Poison Ivy but are plumper on Virginia Creeper and are about the size of a pencil lead. (Ward Upham)
Native Plant Publications
We have information on establishing and maintaining a native plant area on our website. Go to https://hnr.k-state.edu/extension/horticulture-resource-center/publications/ and click on “Native Plants.” It includes a publication from a collaboration among K-State Research and Extension – Douglas County (KSRE), the Grassland Heritage Foundation (GHF), and the Kansas Rural Center (KRC) titled “Planting Natives in Northeast Kansas. Also included is a publication from the Agronomy Department titled “Establishing and Managing Native Prairie Plants in Small Areas.” A native plant list is also provided as well as a publication on developing a small Scale Monarch Butterfly Habitat from the Southwest Research and Extension Center. (Ward Upham)
Dr. William Reid, the Pecan Research and Extension Specialist for Kansas and Missouri for 37 years, has an excellent blog on growing pecans in Kansas and neighboring states. In retirement, Dr. Reid is tending his 30 acre pecan orchard and continues to blog his observations. The blog is titled “Northern Pecans.”
If you are at all interested in pecans, this is a blog you must visit. Excellent photography accompanied by Bill sharing decades worth of experience makes this a gold mine of information. The URL is http://northernpecans.blogspot.com/ (Ward Upham)
Conservation Trees from the Kansas Forest Service
The Kansas Forest Service offers low-cost tree and shrub seedlings for use in conservation plantings. Plants are one to two years old and sizes vary from 8 to 18 inches, depending on species. Two types of seedlings are offered; bareroot and containerized. Containerized provide a higher survival rate and quicker establishment. Orders are accepted from now through May 1st, but order early to ensure receiving the items you want.
Orders are shipped beginning in mid-March. Approved uses for these plants include windbreaks, wood lots, wildlife habitat, timber plantations and educational and riparian (streambank) plantings. They may not be used for landscape (ornamental) plantings or grown for resale.
All items are sold in units. Each single species unit consists of 25 plants. For example, a unit of Eastern red cedar has 25 trees per unit. Though a single species unit is most commonly purchased, four special bundles are also available including a quail bundle, pheasant bundle, eastern pollinator bundle and western pollinator bundle.
Tree planting accessories are also available including marking flags, root protective slurry, rabbit protective tubes, weed barrier fabric and tree tubes. If there have been problems with deer browsing on young trees, the tree tubes are a must.
For details and an order form, go to: http://kfs.mybigcommerce.com/all-items/ Note that there are three pages of items that are accessed by clickable links at both the top and bottom of the listing. Order forms are also available from local K-State Research and Extension offices. (Ward Upham)
Contributors: Ward Upham, Extension Associate