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Weekly Thoughts

Horticulture & Landscape Architecture > Horticulture Extension > Commerical Nursery and Landscape Program > Weekly Thoughts

This page will be thoughts I have about the Green Industry, agriculture, pictures, news, and more.  I hope that this will be a place that you might pick up some information that you can use in your business. 



Deserving honor to an industry leader
People come and go throughout our careers in the Green Industry.  There are a small number of these people that truly inspire us to be better and be more passionate about the industry we all work so hard at making better.  Some of these people instill stories and some instill wisdom.  Some instill both.  

As I was wrapping up some email on a Friday afternoon, I came across an article in Nursery Management.  It was the annual award for Grower of the Year from the magazine.  The title was ‘2014 Grower of the Year: A thirst for knowledge’ and had a picture of someone very familiar on the cover.  The picture was of Bill Hendricks form Klyn Nurseries.  After seeing Bill and looking back at the title, there couldn’t be a more apt headline for him.  He is one of the world’s best plantsmen and an incredible grower.  Although these things are enough to ‘hang his hat on’, it is his willingness to share with anyone and everyone that makes his legacy to the industry.  Hopefully we can all try to leave just a small bit of the legacy that Bill has shared with us.

The Case of the Mysterious Hosta Eating Organism?

When diagnosing plant problems at your customer's landscape, it is important to look at the whole picture.  This is especially true at a diagnostic laboratory, such as the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory.  For an accurate diagnosis, what may appear to be the case, may not always be.  This is true with the above picture.  When you first look at this hosta, it appears to have insect feeding damage.  Without knowing the history, this might be the case.  Unfortunately, this would not be correct in this specific example.  After a little investigation, it was found that a thunderstorm occurred that produced large amounts of hail.  This hail damage won't hurt these hostas in the long-term, but without this accurate diagnosis, a pesticide may have been applied when it is not needed.  Good luck in your sleuthing this fall.
What is your attitude towards herbicides?

We can become blasé when it comes to spraying herbicides in the nursery or landscape.  Using products that effectively control weeds, with little to no damage to crops, can become routine.  What happens when a product’s formulation changes or you switch chemicals?  There becomes a potential of incurring crop damage or damage to the environment.  It is extremely important to always read the label, even if you are buying the same or similar product that you have used previously.  Also, it is your responsibility to ensure your employees are reading and applying according to label directions.  It is against the law to apply herbicides off label. 

If you are using a consultant/sales person, you shouldn’t solely take their word.  Scientific-based, non-biased, reliable information that Purdue Extension offers should be your first stop for education and educational materials.  There are many opportunities and locations to receive education from Purdue, of which you should take full advantage.  Having a blasé attitude towards herbicides can lead to problems observed in the picture below.




Ice Ice Baby

Sorry for the pun, but I couldn’t resist!  Today brings snow, sleet, and ice for central and southern Indiana, along with Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania……..   These types of winter storms are dangerous for many reasons, including travel, but one thing many people forget is the loss of electricity, which is mainly due to tree failure.  Plants are amazing living things that can tolerate so many environmental conditions.  Between hot and cold temperatures, wind, pollution, etc., many plants have adapted to survival.  Ice, and the weight that the ice brings, can cause many failures, especially in trees.  Water weighs 8.35 pounds per gallon and ice weighs about 57 pounds per square foot!  Imagine how much weight is on one branch of each tree!  Be prepared for many branches and limbs to fail with the ice that is expected today.  Also, don’t forget to stay away from any downed power lines.  Hope everyone stays safe today and this winter.


Indiana Arborist Association 


You're invited to the


2014 IAA Annual Conference


Please join us for


The Indiana Arborist Association Annual Conference will begin with a preconference workshop by Dr. Edward Gilman of the University of Florida. An interactive program will discuss roots from seed to mature tree. This includes how roots adapt and adjust to soil as they emerge from seeds, grow in the nursery, and respond to urban landscapes.


The official conference proceedings will begin with a keynote address from Steve Bray, WISH-TV Chief Meteorologist talking about climate, weather, and our environment. The program will continue with many educational sessions and opportunities for continuing education units (CEU's) and continuing credit hours (CCH's) for the credentialed and licensed attendee. There will be speakers from all over the country providing information on research, current trends and industry issues.


Our Wednesday night social event will provide some new excitement for our guests with A Night at the Casino.




Pre-Conference Workshop- Tuesday, January 21

Annual Conference- Friday Jan. 21- 23

Casino Night- Wednesday, January 22




Indianapolis Marriott East

7202 E 21st St, Indianapolis, IN 46219
(800) 228-9290

Click here for more information:


March 29, 2013

Please don't let this happen again this year: Using preemergence herbicides at the right time



With the warming temperatures, nurseries and landscape companies are gearing up for the upcoming months.  One of the first thoughts in early spring should be of weed control.  We have all heard the saying ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.  This statement rings especially true when thinking about weed control techniques.  Preemergence herbicides work by creating a barrier zone, which come into contact with germinating seeds, thus killing the plants.  The barrier zone must be in place before weeds begin to germinate, which will be occurring in the next few weeks, and also corresponds to when most summer annuals get their start.  If you recall in the spring of 2012, St. Patrick’s Day was t-shirt and shorts weather, with temperatures hovering in the mid-80’s.  Due to the early warm temperatures, most preemergence herbicide applications were too late (See accompanying photo above).  The beginning of the 2013 spring has been more ‘normal’ (if that is still a word that can be used to describe the weather anymore?).  Depending on where you are in the state, preemergence herbicides should be applied relatively soon.  One question that I have received many, many times over the years (even though I am not a turf guy) goes something like this, ‘When do I put out herbicides to prevent crabgrass?’  My response is ‘When the forsythias are in bloom’.  This is a good rule of thumb to determine the appropriate timing of application, since both processes are temperature dependent.  Different species of weeds have a continuum of germination times throughout the spring, summer, and fall, so spring and late summer preemergence applications are recommended to prevent summer and winter annuals, as well as some perennials.  It should be noted that I strongly recommend a strong preemergence program should be the focus of your weed control plan, and not an afterthought to postemergence control.  These herbicides are more costly on the front end, but less money when factoring in postemergence cost, labor, and potential for phytotoxicity issues.  There are many good references from Purdue, as well as other sources for weed control techniques and plans.  If you have any questions, please email me at


March 22, 2013
Starting Anew



This simple word invokes thoughts of escaping the gripping cold winds of Old Man Winter to visions of warm breezes blowing the smell of a bouquet of flowers from the garden.  Spring is a time of renewal, and not just in nature.  It is interesting to me when thinking about our industry and how it is tied to nature, both literally and metaphorically.  Yes, we work with the ebb and flow of the seasons, just as plants break bud, grow leaves, produce food, reproduce, abscise and senesce, and finally go dormant, your business follow a similar trend.  In the metaphorical sense, this season is also a new season for your respective businesses to grow and thrive.  Last year was difficult on everyone in the Green Industry due to the extremely early spring, high summer temperatures, and drought, as water became scarce and cities instituted watering bans, making both operations and plants to be stretched to their limits.  As the economy looks to be slowly improving, this spring should instill a renewed hope in your businesses and our industry.  I want to wish each of you the best for a successfully renewed season.  Remember, if we can be of assistance to you over the coming months, don’t hesitate to contact Purdue Extension.

March 1, 2013

Plants and Your Health

I read an article in Nursery Management this week entitled ‘A Prescription for Plants: Horticulture provides a bevy of healthy benefits’.  It featured four research articles, with each demonstrating various effects of plants on people.  One study, conducted at the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign, demonstrated children with AD/HD exhibit fewer symptoms in a park-type setting.  Another study at the University of Washington’s College of Forest Resources showed that nature, whether grass, flowers, or trees, is effective at relieving stress.  There was also a study at Texas A&M reported using landscaping and landscaping features at elderly long-term facilities encourages residents to spend significantly more time outside, thus improving health.  The study that I found the most interesting addressed the issue of trees and human mortality.  In areas where the emerald ash borer killed the ash trees suffered from 15,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 6,000 from lower respiratory disease when compared to areas the emerald ash borer had not infested.  This is an astounding finding by the U.S. Forest Service! When planting trees and planning landscapes, this study should serve as a reminder of the importance of plants.  Note that the trees in your landscape could be as good for you as an apple a day.
 Click below for the article:
February 22, 2013
Changes in temperature=Changes in tree bark?
I received a call this week regarding bark falling off of a box elder.  This may be a natural sloughing off, or there may be a biotic (living) cause.  Regardless of what is causing this to occur, the reason it is falling off now is due to the freeze-thaw cycle of the winter months.  Just as a sidewalk or roadway tends to break up during the winter due to this cycle, a tree can experience the same issues.  Another phenomenon that can occur due to the freeze-thaw cycle are cracks that occur in the bark.  These are horizontal cracks that can range from 1” to the entire length of the trunk.  White tree guards may help prevent this from occurring due to the reflection of the sun, preventing overheating on the bottom of the trunk.  This type of cracking is commonly referred to as Southwest injury.  Any type of cracking that occurs originates from a point of injury, such as a pruning or other mechanical injury.  Try to prevent any type of damage that could cause cracking in the winter.

January 17, 2013
Indiana Green Expo

At this time one week ago, I was in the middle of the Indiana Green Expo learning from outstanding speakers, attending productive meetings, moderating sessions, co-directing the educational sessions, meeting new people, further developing relationships, and more.  Needless to say it was a thoroughly exciting week, and a definite learning experience!  Being my first year at the Indiana Green Expo as a Director of Education, alongside Aaron Patton, I would say that IGE was a resounding success.  Early numbers indicate attendance was up considerably, while trade show exhibitors had nothing but great comments of the new and improved trade show.  We have already started planning for 2014, with many great ideas in going forward.  IGE 2014 will prove our dedication to making this event a can’t-miss opportunity for the Green Industry in the mid-west.
I couldn’t be more excited about the future of the Nursery and Landscape Industry in Indiana.  I am so impressed by the people I have met in the industry since arriving in June, as I have been welcomed in as if I have been a part of the Indiana Nursery and Landscape Industry for years!  I hope that in going forward, I can develop programming that will have a resounding effect on this incredible industry.  Please let me know how I can make effective programming for you.  Until next time…………

Construction Damage in the Landscape20-OCT-2012
Construction is a necessary element for renovation of current infrastructure and new infrastructure for increasing and expanding populations. In past times, the first step on a construction site was to clear the land of all vegetation. The current practice of saving trees when feasible is a result of society, in general, being more environmentally conscious and aware of the benefits of trees. The major benefits of trees are not realized until maturity, so replacing trees at construction sites does not have the same, immediate, benefits as leaving them. When trees are saved, it is probable that they will be under much stress due to the construction. There are innumerable ways in which trees are subjected to stress. Just to name a few:

  • Compaction from equipment (Fig.1 )
  • Added soil causing compaction (Fig.1)
  • Severe pruning to allow room for equipment (Fig.2​)
  • Disturbing roots (Figs. 3-5)
  • Chemical/Fuel spillage
The pictures provided are more extreme examples of damage that can occur. The majority of today’s construction sites are very cognizant with regards to protecting trees. Sometimes damage is inevitable, but taking steps to reduce the impact can lead to new infrastructure and healthy, mature trees.
For a list of urban tolerant trees in Indiana, visit the Indiana Urban Forestry Council Tree Selection Guide (pdf file).
A Purdue Extension Bulletin entitled Construction and Trees: Guidelines for Protection (pdf file) written by Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist, is another good resource.
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