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Volume 15, Issue 22 ~ May 31 - June 6, 2007


Fight Pests Before They
Conquer Your Holly

Undermining the holly leaf miner and midge

The beautiful, native American holly thrives in Southern Maryland. Some of the best in the state grow in Chesapeake Country. Dark green leaves — accompanied by bright red berries in the late fall — make this small tree an ideal landscape plant, perfect for screening.

The American holly is, however, very susceptible to holly leaf-miner damage. This insect tunnels under the surface of the leaves, disfiguring the appearance of the foliage and making it less desirable for decorations.

Most home gardeners mistakenly delay spraying their plants until the symptoms appear. At this point, it’s usually too late to control the pests, wasting time and chemicals.

The holly leaf miner can easily be controlled with a single application of Orthene insecticide when the new growth is only six to eight inches long. Apply the systemic insecticide when new growth is young, so it enters into the plants circulatory system for total protection throughout the growing season.

This single spray of Orthene also helps in controlling the holly midge, another pest that attacks hollies. A single spraying at the proper time is better for the environment than multiple sprays too late.

To help your healthy American holly produce dark green leaves, mulch with compost. Spread an inch of compost in a four- to six-foot diameter circle under the branches to assure the plant ample nutrients, especially if your plant produces an abundance of berries. Aesthetically, dark green foliage provides an even better contrast in color for the bright red berries. Trees that produce a surplus of berries without adequate nutrients in the soil tend to be pale green.

Nurture your holly this summer, and it will reward you with greenery to bring inside for the holidays.

Q Many thanks for your excellent columns in Bay Weekly. They are informative and a great help to us in maintaining our gardens and landscape.

We are considering using soaker hoses for our gardens and lawns and would appreciate any information you can provide as well as your advice.

–Marie and Darrel Loucks, Annapolis

A I suggest that you go to A.M. Leonard’s web site — www.amleo.com — to look at the irrigation available. There are some inexpensive drip irrigation systems that are good and easy to install. To conserve water, I strongly recommend using the plastic tubing with emitters at 12-inch intervals. I have used these around my home and in my garden for years. If you store them in darkness during the winter months they will last for years.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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