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April 2012 Archives

Some gardeners may have set eyes on a rather 'pretty' pink flowered spreading plant with Henbit.jpgfoliage very similar to creeping Charlie. However, it is not - repeat not - creeping Charlie.  It is another of our winter annuals belonging to the mint family (Labiatae or Lamiaceae) and known as henbit, Lamium amplexicaule L. (see right; photo by Bob Mugaas).

Henbit typically branches out from the base with several stems, but, unlike creeping Charlie, there is no rooting along the stems except for very near the base.  Also, henbit has it flowers positioned at the top of their stems as opposed to creeping Charlie where the flowers tend to be located all along the upright flowering stems in the area of the leaf axils.  Like other members of the mint family it typically has the square stems and minty fragrance when plant tissue is broken apart.

Because of its winter annual growth cycle, it is often easier to physically pull out once flowering begins.  It does self-seed which of course is how it survives year-to-year and increases in population size.   If it were in a situation where herbicides could be used, such as in grassy areas, conventional post-emergence broadleaf weed killers will provide control or, simply keep it mowed and prevent the formation of seed - the parent plant will eventually die off on its own due to its being a winter annual.   

Treating the newly formed rosettes in the fall (which by the way may occasionally flower too) is also a good way to achieve control.  When henbit is located in landscape beds, other desirable broadleaf plants in those same beds may be at risk for injury by post-emergence broadleaf herbicides used to control henbit.  Therefore, a combination of hand removal plus careful spot treatment of individual henbit plants will help minimize herbicide injury risk to those desirable plants.  Also, be sure to use herbicides formulated for low volatility, such as the amine forms, so that volatilization on a warm day following application won't result in off-target volatilization injury to desirable plants.

Retired Extension educator and turfgrass specialist, Bob Mugaas, began a
haBob Mugaas.jpglf-time position at the U of M Rosemount Research and Outreach Center (RROC) as Horticulturist and Garden Program Director on April 2, 2012. This position is housed in the University's College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences (not Extension).

The general nature of Bob's new position will be to provide oversight of horticulture research/educational/display projects and programs currently being conducted by Master Gardener volunteers in the RROC Education, Research and Display Garden. He will not be serving in his past capacity as a turfgrass extension specialist, but as a program director focused on horticulture education at the RROC.

With the anticipated initiation of new gravel mining operations directly across the street from the current garden, Bob will also be working with the Master Gardeners along with faculty, staff and community partners to site a new location for the horticulture education-based garden. Bob will also collaborate with other organizations, both internal and external, to plan, develop and implement related horticulture education and projects that are part of a larger, more general, RROC horticulture programming desire. Bob says "I am looking forward to the interesting and exciting parts of that process as it moves along in its planning and development".

A: Sometimes Master Gardeners get questions from citizens asking if they can hire a Horticulture student or a Master Gardener to help them with landscaping around their home.

Hiring a Horticulture student to do landscaping: The Department of Horticulture Science P1040674.JPGno longer has landscape design classes in its curriculum. Landscape design classes merged with Landscape Architecture in 2009. People or businesses wanting to hire a University of Minnesota student should post a job description and salary on is the U of M's online database to help connect students and alumni with employers, volunteer organizations, and internships across the country.

Hiring a Professional Landscaper:
Master Gardener volunteers don't provide free labor for such projects. The caller should consider hiring a landscape professional. They might want to contact a local garden center that offers professional landscaping or call the MN Nursery and Landscape Association. Or, if there's a great looking landscape in the neighborhood,  the caller could simply ask the homeowner who did the work. There are also lots of opportunities to meet and talk with landscape professionals at home and garden shows around the state.

It has been an early spring, but that doesn't mean that it's time to start transplanting seedlings to your garden. But if you haven't begun growing those seedlings inside yet, you can and should get going. There's a frost-free growing season in Minnesota of about 140 days--give or take a few as you move north or south--and whatever challenges you may encounter, through the heat, the bugs, and the chilly days, U of M Extension has the answer. Read more ...
Calling all Master Gardeners!

The early spring this year means it is much more difficult to know when insects and diseases will arrive in gardens and landscapes. We would like your assistance to help us track when pests are occurring!
Please  report to us the first occurrence of pests that you see. Specifically, we would like you to e-mail us your sighting accompanied ideally with a picture(s). This information will be very helpful for us when we are talking to people about what to expect for a particular problem as well as when we are writing newsletters.

While sighting of any identifiable pest is useful, we especially are looking for sightings of:
  • caterpillars - especially forest tent caterpillar, cankerworms, eastern tent caterpillar;
  • sawflies - especially azalea sawfly, columbine sawfly, European pine sawfly, roseslugs;
  • honeylocust plant bug and fourlined plant bug
  • cutworms
  • Colorado potato beetle,
  • asparagus beetles
  • iris borer
  • ground-nesting bees

Regarding diseases: please be on the watch for
  • sporulation of w hite p ine blister rust on pines
  • apple scab
  • black spot on roses
  • cedar apple rust on junipers
  • anthracnose on shade trees
  • bacterial blight on lilac
  • Botrytis blight on peony.

If you are unsure what any of the above pest problems look like, check out 'What's wrong with my plant?' .

Report insect information to Jeff Hahn,

Report disease information to Michelle Grabowski,

Thank you for your help!
The Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) was at the vendor fair at the recent WestonkaP1020418.JPG Horticulture Society Hort Day where I serve on the board of directors. Reading their material, I immediately thought of posting this as resource for Master Gardeners and the public on this blog.

In an effort to get people to compost more and collect and use rainwater, the Recycling Association of Minnesota website,, features rainbarrels and compost bins at reduced rate.

Compost bin - Regular price: $105. Sale price: $55
Rain barrel - Regular price: $115. Sale price: $69

Both are made of durable plastic.

You can also join the Recycling Association of Minnesota at various membership levels. RAM is "committed to promoting resource conservation through waste prevention, reuse, recycling, composting and purchasing practices, using the most cost-effective and environmentally sound methods available in Minnesota." Find out more at
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