Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Lifestyles

September 16, 2013

PLATEAU GARDENING: Become a plant detective

CROSSVILLE — Master Gardener training involves learning how to identify and solve plant problems. That is appropriate since problems in their yards and gardens are what my friends and neighbors most frequently ask about. I still chuckle remembering trying to do crunches and at the same time answer questions about azaleas with leaf spot and hydrangeas that would not bloom, after my exercise instructor announced to the class that Rae had just become a Master Gardener.

A three-element relationship known as the Plant Disease Triangle was part of my studies. I still use it today. The first side of that triangle is a susceptible host plant, the second a pathogen capable of infecting the plant and third a favorable environment. All three must come together to produce a problem. In other words, only if environmental conditions are right will the pathogen interact with a susceptible host plant in a way that produces disease.

That honeysuckle vine with powdery mildew growing along the north side of my neighbor’s house cited in last week’s article is a classic case. Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) is a susceptible host, different powdery mildew fungi cause the disease on different plants, but the fungi are common and spread by the wind (pathogen), temperatures from 60 to 80 degrees F and shade favor this disease (conducive environment).

I got on-the-job training in plant problem analysis while examining samples of infected, infested and damaged plants homeowners brought to the Ask-a-Master-Gardener desk at the University of Tennessee Cumberland County Extension office in Crossville. Sometimes after consulting available in-office research materials and conducting online searches, the identity of the plant and/or the exact nature of the problem still remained a mystery to me. In that situation, a digital camera was used to take photos of the plant material or insect pest in question (including highly magnified images taken using a microscope with the camera). A text form with environmental details and the images were transmitted to resource professionals at the Plant and Pest Diagnostic Center in Nashville through an Internet program called Distance Diagnostics. Within a day or two, we would receive an email answer giving the identity of the plant, diagnosing the problem and detailing appropriate treatment. One of the experts in Nashville at that time was Alan Windham.

Though never officially enrolled in one of professor Windham’s classes at UT, I’ve learned a lot from him over the years.  I caught his presentation titled "Be a Plant Detective: Solve Plant Problems" in August during the Fall Gardener’s Festival at UT Gardens Crossville.

Plant detective strategies are:

1. Identify the host plant because plants have certain primary insect pests and diseases. Knowing the plant can lead to the problem identity.

2. Look for signs and symptoms which are clues to identifying problems.

3. Identify biotic (living) pathogens like fungi, bacteria, viruses and nematodes or non-living ones like moisture (too much, too little), temperature extremes (heat or cold), pesticide injury, soil pH extremes and nutrient deficiencies as probable causes

4. Use a digital camera to document damage, symptoms or signs associated with the unhealthy plant.

5. Collect a specimen. Helpful resources are the county Extension office, the Soil, Plant and Pest Center Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SoilPlantPestCenter), the online image library showing various plant problems (www.ipmimages.org), becoming a Master Gardener and the Soil, Plant and Pest Center webpage (http://soilpalntandpest.utk.edu/).

• • • 

Plateau Gardening is written by Master Gardeners for gardeners in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland Region. Contact UT Extension Cumberland County at P.O. Box 483, Crossville, TN 38557 (484-6743) for answers to horticulture questions, free publications and how to become a Master Gardener. Send email comments or yard and garden inquiries to Master Gardener Rae, MGardenerRae@frontiernet.net. 

 

1
Text Only
Lifestyles
  • FFG Resident Services Painting.jpg FFG Resident Services presents painting to the Pat Summitt Foundation

    A dramatic portrait of Pat Summitt, painted by Chuck Jensen, was presented to the Pat Summitt Foundation by Fairfield Glade Resident Services at its Community Information Event on memory care.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 127 seniors JosephZarolla-W6.jpg Zarola entertains 127 Seniors

    The members of the 127 South Senior Center met Friday, July 25, for bingo and Mexican Train domino game. Conversation, along with coffee and sweets, was enjoyed by all. Helen Lord called the bingo numbers, and the prizes were furnished by Eye Centers of Tennessee. Life Care Center checked everyone's blood pressures.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marriage licenses (Published July 30, 2014)

    July 29, 2014

  • Habitat-Group photo-Crisp Dedication .jpg Habitat celebrates 55th home dedication

    Anne Crisp is excited that she and her two daughters have a home to call their own. Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity (CCHFH) dedicated the 55th home to be built in partnership with low-income families. Crisp put more than 500 hours of "sweat equity" into her home and has completed 50 hours of self-improvement, where she attended classes on budgeting, home maintenance and good neighbor among others.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Gypsy Rose to visit Fair Park

    The Cumberland County Playhouse is currently performing the award-winning Broadway play “Gypsy.” A great American story set during the 1920s fading vaudeville circuit, "Gypsy" portrays the rise of famed burlesque performer and stage mother Gypsy Rose Lee as she journeys across the country with her mother and sister during a time when Vaudeville was dying and burlesque was born. The complex character of Rose could be described as bold and brassy, as she steamrolls everyone in her way to turn her daughters June and Louise into child stars.

    July 28, 2014

  • plateau gardening-springBlooms4361.jpg Match August garden tasks to plant biology

    During all seasons in temperate climates like ours the greenery around us is changing. New shoots appear and leaves pop out of swollen buds after spring rains.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pleasant Hill Ramblings.jpg Landis reunites with Japanese teacher

    There is a special lady living in Pleasant Hill who spent 42 years of her life in Sendai, Japan, teaching English at a Japanese Christian school and as a missionary with the United Church of Christ Board for World Ministries.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lion of Year.jpg Lions Club recognizes Lion of the Year

    Charles Loveday, charter member of the Crossville Lions Club, was recognized as the Lion of the Year at the annual installation of officers picnic July 8. Loveday earned this award for his service as first vice president, membership chairman, eye glass chairman and his help with fundraisers and other matters where needed. From left are Loveday and President Gary Laura.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 8-8 counseling center-play with dolls.jpg Christian Counseling Center celebrating 12 years

    Help the Christian Counseling Center of Cumberland County (C5) celebrate 12 years of community service. Dine at Ruby Tuesday of Crossville Aug. 8, 9 or 10. Print the flyer from the center’s website, www.cccotp.org, and give it to the server.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • A Time 4 Paws collecting shoes to help Soles4Souls in fight against global poverty

    Attention anyone with a closet! Those shoes no longer wanted are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.

    July 24, 2014