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Welcome to the UConn Home & Garden Education Center
We're here to help you grow!

The UConn Home & Garden Education Center (HGEC) is a horticultural informational resource for the citizens of Connecticut and beyond. The staff at the Center reach nearly 400,000 citizens in outreach efforts each year.

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Planting lettuce plugs

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New Plantings, Veggie Maintenance, Hummingbird Flowers & Other June News

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June is for

" It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside."

- Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib


 

Establishing New Plantings

Potted nursery plants on a patio.
Plants ready to be planted in the ground! Photo by H. Zidack

Many gardeners have done a majority of their seasonal work by the start of June. While spring is the best time to plant, you will see trees, shrubs and perennials going into the ground as projects pop up over the summer. It CAN be done but NEEDS to be done wisely! Here are some tips to keep any new plantings as healthy as possible in the warmer summer months.

  • The sooner plants can be put into the ground, the better! Plan to purchase and plant within a short timeframe (over the same weekend, if possible). Plants in containers tend to dry out faster and will almost certainly need daily watering if left in hot temperatures and sunny locations.
    • Pace yourself and break up your projects if you need to!
  • Dig a hole the same depth as the pot. Digging wider than the root ball will help it spread but digging too deep can risk burying the crown of the plant which can lead to complications further down the road.
  • If the soil and plants are not nutrient deficient, fertilizing is not necessary. We always recommend fertilizing based on a soil test analysis whenever possible.
  • Do not divide plants in their first year of establishment.
  • Water the soil line with the goal of providing enough water to move beyond the root ball. This will encourage roots to continue to stretch outward.
    • Apply 2-3 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter immediately after planting.
    • Be advised: Watering with sprinklers or drip hoses will only water the first couple inches of soil unless run for long periods of time.
  • ​​​​​​​Check for water regularly.
    • Keep in mind that different plants have different needs and instructions on the tag may provide insight into watering. 
      • Plants that are stressed, exposed to extreme weather conditions, or producing flowers/fruit may need closer attention.
    • The best way to know if a plant needs water is to check the soil. Feel the first few inches of the soil to determine if it is wet or dry
    • Many potting media mixes used by nurseries may dry out faster than the soil surrounding the plant in the ground. Check as close to the center of the root ball as possible, being careful not to disturb the roots.

Read More About Planting Trees & Shrubs


Row covers on raised beds.
Row covers on raised beds. Photo by Pamm Cooper

Continuing Veggie Garden Success

  • Split garden chores up. If you weed for 30 minutes every night after dinner it can be much more enjoyable than having to spend hours of energy on it all in one go.
  • Keep an eye on the weather - plants will need more water and even possibly more support on hot or windy days. When tomatoes start to show up - heavy rains may cause them to split so picking them early can help to prevent losses.
  • Start scouting now! Look for signs of insects and eggs on the underside of leaves while plants are small and manageable.
  • If you have had squash vine borer, cabbage moths, or other types of flying insects - consider using row covers. Keep in mind you may have to hand pollinate if you use this method.


Planting to Attract Hummingbirds

Bat faced cuphea, Black & Blue Salvia, Solomons seal and Bleeding hearts up close.
From left to right: Bat Faced Cuphea, Black & Blue Salvia, Red Throated Hummingbird, Solomons Seal and Bleeding Hearts all attract hummingbirds.

Gardeners all over North America strive to create a garden space enticing enough for hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators to stop by on their travels.

  • Even though we all associate the color red with these little creatures, they actually see many more colors than the human eye can even detect. You can select other colors to make your garden enjoyable for you and your winged friends.
  • Flower shape matters! Hummingbirds like tubular or trumpet shaped flowers best.
  • Create a hummingbird haven by making sure there is always something in bloom in your garden. Gardeners can achieve this with long blooming annuals, a series of perennials that bloom one after another, or a combination of both.

We've helped to create a brief list of plants that will improve your chances of attracting hummingbirds into your garden spaces!

Annuals

  • Cuphea spp.
    • Mexican Heather
    • Bat Faced Heather
    • Cigar Plant
    • Firecracker Plant
    • Lantana
  • Salvia spp. 
    • Black & Blue
    • Rockin' Series
  • Torena 
  • Verbena 

Perennials

  • Delphinium
  • Dianthus 
    • Garden Pinks
  • Dicentra
    • Bleeding Heart
  • Hosta
  • Monarda spp. 
    • Monarda fistulosa Bergamont​​​​​​
    • Monarda didyma Jacob Cline

Learn More About Attracting Hummingbirds

View the 2024 Hummingbird Migration Map


Native Plant Highlight: Mountain Laurel

White Mountain Laurel flower up close.

Kalmia latifolia is broadleaf evergreen native to eastern North America and is found in open woods, edges of water or along woodland edges.

Flowers are white and are n bloom from late May to early June. It can form thickets in the woods, and the older specimens have rather picturesque gnarling of trunks and branches. There are multiple cultivars of this plant, some with very colorful flowers.

Learn More About Mountain Laurel


Native Insect: Elderberry Borer

Elderberry Borer

This native long-horned beetle is a spectacular, though uncommon. It can be found in natural areas where there are elderberry plants. It is large, has long serrated antennae, and has elytra that are orange and bright metallic blue. Larvae are borers of elderberry stems and roots but are not a serious pest in the wild where elderberry are numerous.

Learn More About the Red Admiral


Wildlife Highlight: Turtles

Our native turtles will be or are already looking for suitable places to lay their eggs. Sometimes they travel a distance from the water source they live in. As they travel, they are often a victim of motor vehicles as they cross roads at a less than rapid pace. If you decide to help a turtle cross the road, make sure to place it on the side of the road it was trying to get to, as females will only try to get to the side they were originally headed for. Pictured  is a spotted turtle on its way somewhere.

 

Learn More about Connecticut Turtles


CT Updates its Invasive Species List

The Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group has helped in the efforts to bring more plants to the state invasives list. This year, legislation was passed that will affect the sale and transport of: 

  • Bradford/Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) 
  • Quackgrass (Elymus repens)
  • Japanese angelica tree (Aralia elata)
  • Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda)
  • Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) 

Additionally, Porcelainberry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) and Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), will be added to the state's prohibited from sale list as of October 2024.

 

In the News: NBC CT

CIPWG Official Announcement


Vegetable Gardening Resources

During the growing season, UConn Extension publishes a regular pest alert. Additionally, the New England Vegetable Management Guide offers a lot of information about specific vegetable crops.

While the target audience for these publications is usually commercial growers, home gardeners can learn a lot from these materials including identification and management of common pests in your veggie gardens!

If you ever need confirmation on an ID or have additional questions about what you read in these reports, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at the Home & Garden Education Center! We're happy to help your gardens thrive.

5/10/2024 Vegetable Pest Alert

Read Previous Pest Messages

New England Vegetable Management Guide 2023-2024


UConn Fruit Update

The UConn Fruit Program publishes a fruit update, very similar to the IPM Vegetable Pest Alert. If you keep fruit trees, this may be a valuable resource for you! If you ever need help understanding how to apply these principles to your own home garden, let us know!

Read the 5/31 UConn Fruit Update

New England Tree Fruit Management Guide


June 2024 Weather Outlook

A seasoned gardener always keeps their eye to the sky at any time of year! NOAA's National Weather Service released their discussion about how weather patterns in June will continue to lead us into the growing season!

May Temperature Map May Precipitation Outlook

 


Upcoming Events and Things to Do

  • Visit a farmers market - Find fresh produce, local goods, and all sorts of special treats all summer long.
  • Celebrate Father's Day June 16th.
  • Elizabeth Park is open daily for visitors and June is a great time to visit their historic Rose Garden. Join them June 16th for their Rose Sunday event to celebrate the 120th anniversary of their Rose Garden!
  • Celebrate Pollinator Week- Check out these virtual events happening June 17th - June 21st. Or get out and plant some pollinator friendly plants with your friends!
  • June 8th is Connecticut Open House Day- Over 200 local tourism attractions are open to the public with free or reduced admission.
  • Connecticut Historic Gardens Day - June 23rd. Visit one of many of Connecticut's Historic Gardens for tours, garden talks, and other events.
  • Attend a Juneteenth celebration! Juneteenth is observed on June 19th. Many towns and local organizations will host events and activities throughout the month to celebrate freedom, culture, and community. Keep an eye out for what's happening near you!

Educational Opportunities & Workshops


      May Gardening Tips

       

      • Plant vegetable starts after all danger of frost is gone and the soil is warm. This is usually the last week in May.
        • Direct seeding of beans, corn, cucurbits and melons can be done at this time as well.
        • Peppers & tomatoes like warm weather!
      • Put nets over ripening strawberries to protect them from birds and other wildlife.
      • Lily leaf beetles often show up first in spring on leaves of the crown imperial (Fritillaria). Check both sides of the leaves and down inside the center whorl of leaves. Also check the undersides of leaves for tiny orange eggs. The larvae have orange, brown, or greenish yellow bodies that are sometimes hidden under their excrement. Hand-picking the adults and the egg masses is the easiest control method.
      • Aphids and lace bugs will appear soon. Spray with water or use a low-toxicity insecticide to control them. Asian lady beetles are a beneficial insect that feed on aphids.
      • Remove any tree wraps or guards you placed on young trunks for winter protection.
      • Clematis vines like cool roots so apply mulch or plant a low-growing ground cover to shade the ground.
      • Use fresh potting soil in your containers as old soil has fewer nutrients and may contain harmful bacteria and fungi.
      • As night temperatures moderate into the 60's, move houseplants outdoors. Help them with the transition by putting them outside on warm days and bringing them in on when nights are too cold. Avoid putting them directly into full sun or windy locations.
      • Hummingbirds and orioles return to northern states by mid-May. Clean and refill feeders to attract these colorful birds to your backyard or fill hanging baskets with flowers that will attract them such as petunias, salvia, and fuchsia.
      • Aerate and moisten the compost pile to speed decomposition.

       

      More May Gardening Tips


      This Month’s Newsletter Contributors: 
      Pamm Cooper, Dr. Nick Goltz, Dawn Pettinelli, Marie Woodward, Heather Zidack 

       

      Newspaper Articles

      Mixed containers of annuals

      Firefly Petunias Light Up the Night

      By Dr. Matthew Lisy, UConn Adjunct Faculty

      A pot of white flowered firefly petunias
      Firefly Petunias by Day. (Photo by M. Lissy)

      The world of genetics has really had a tremendous impact on our lives. There is a lot of talk about GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, in the news. Labels even alert us to the presence of these crops in our foods. I wanted to share a new plant called the Firefly Petunia. It was not fireflies, but mushrooms that gave this plant its ability to glow. This is known as bioluminescence in the world of biology.

      Through feats of genetic engineering, a gene is taken from one organism and placed into another.  This is where people become worried. Humans, however, have been doing this for hundreds of years. The best looking or most productive organisms were bred together for the next generation.  This is called selective breeding, and it essentially concentrates beneficial versions of genes in the offspring.

      Now what is determined to be the most beautiful is truly in the eye of the beholder. Some people, for example, selected for white flowers in a normally purple flowered species, Echinacea purpurea. Some have even taken things a step farther and crossed different species of plants to obtain new colors of flowers. In nature, separate species have evolved isolation mechanisms to maintain their identity. When our plant breeders force a cross of the species boundary, much of the time it was done with closely related species of plants within the same genus.  A great example of this is the crossing of Echinacea purpurea, the purple cone flower, with Echinacea paradoxa, the yellow cone flower. This was done to obtain hybrid offspring that have red or orange flowers. These were back crossed with the parent varieties, so they have the same growth habit and form, but with new colored flowers.

      Firefly petunia flowers glowing green in the dark.
      Firefly petunias by night. This is no trick, the plants actually glow (photo by M. Lisy)

      This hybridizing never really ruffled many feathers though, as the plants were very closely related anyway. More modern GMOs, like our Firefly Petunias, are obtained not through “natural” pollination processes, but through genetic manipulation. Scientists literally take one or more genes from one species and place them in another. These species are not closely related, so it may become an ethical conundrum. Here, one may ask if we should take a gene from a mushroom and place it into a plant. A similar circumstance was seen over twenty years ago in the aquarium industry, where genes from corals and jellyfish were placed into tropical fish to make them fluorescent Glofish.

      On the question of ethics, I cannot tell you what to think, or what is right or wrong. We each will need to answer that question for ourselves. It does remind me of a quote from Jurassic Park, where Dr. Ian Malcolm states “…your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” The real question is where do we go from here. For the fish, it was species after species of Glofish, and for me, the novelty started wearing off. After all, how many species will be made fluorescent before it just gets boring? Now for our plants, will we have roads lined with glowing trees to eliminate the need for streetlights? Will we have glowing houseplants that function like night lights? Ultimately, it will be up to you, the consumer.

      For me, this is just cool science. We ship and plant petunias all over the world. Are these glowing petunias going to cause any harm? Probably not, as none of the other ones have. When I go outside at night to take the dog out and see the bioluminescent petunias, it puts a smile on my face. It reminds me of the fact that we, as humans, are capable of many things. I can’t help but ponder if this will inspire a sense of awe and wonderment in our children. Maybe some may even study genetics because of these petunias. What if one of them ends up finding a cure for a debilitating human disease, all because of a glowing plant? And while some may say that this daydream of mine is just science fiction, need I remind you that so were glowing plants a few years ago?

      For your gardening questions, feel free to contact us, toll-free, at the UConn Home & Garden Education Center at (877) 486-6271, visit our website at www.ladybug.uconn.edu or contact your local Cooperative Extension center.

       

      UConn Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

      The UConn IPM program educates growers and the general public about the judicious and safe use of organic and synthetic pesticides and alternative pest control methods. The program incorporates all possible crop management and pest management strategies through knowledgeable decision-making, utilizing the most efficient landscape and on-farm resources, and integrating cultural and biological controls.

      Learn More.

      Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG)

      The mission of the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group is to gather and convey information on the presence, distribution, ecological impacts, and management of invasive species; to promote uses of native or non-invasive ornamental alternatives throughout Connecticut; and to work cooperatively with researchers, conservation organizations, government agencies, green industries, and the general public to identify and manage invasive species pro-actively and effectively.

      Learn more.

      Ticks & Tick Testing

      The two species of ticks most likely to be encountered in Connecticut are the wood or American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and the smaller black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus) often called the deer tick as white-tailed deer are a favored host. Both carry diseases but it is the black-legged one that can transmit Lyme disease, human babesiosis and human granulocytic anaplasmosis.

      Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory - Tick Testing Options

      Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station-Information on Submitting Ticks

      CAES: Spotted Lanternfly, New Invasive Insect

      The Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White), an invasive planthopper, was discovered in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014. It is native to China, India, Vietnam, and introduced to Korea where it has become a major pest. This insect attacks many hosts including grapes, apples, stone fruits, and tree of heaven and has the potential to greatly impact the grape, fruit tree, and logging industries. Early detection is vital for the protection of Connecticut businesses and agriculture.

      Learn more.

      Diagnostic Services

      UConn Home and Garden Education Center - PDL icon

      Plant Diagnostic Laboratory

      The UConn Plant Diagnostic Laboratory diagnoses plant problems including diseases, insect pests and abiotic causes.

       

      Plant Diagnostic Lab

      UConn Home and Garden Education Center - UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab icon

      Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory

      The Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory processes about 14,000 soil samples annually. Samples are routinely tested for a variety of major and minor plant nutrients, lead and pH.

      Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab

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