Wood-boring insects are among the most destructive pests of ornamental trees and shrubs. Most borers are the larvae (immature stages) of certain moths and beetles. They tunnel and feed under the bark in living wood, destroying water- and sap-conducting tissues. This causes girdling, branch dieback, structural weakness, and decline and eventual death of susceptible plants. Infestation sites also provide entry points for plant pathogens.
Clearwing and flatheaded borers are the main types that attack woody ornamentals. The groups differ somewhat in their habits and host preferences, which can affect the approach for controlling them with insecticides. The keys to controlling these pests are to keep plants healthy and, if necessary, to treat during those times of the year when the insects are vulnerable to insecticides.
While some are attracted to a range of hosts, most attack only certain kinds of trees and shrubs. The most damaging clearwing borers are associated with dogwood, lilac, ash, oak, rhododendron, and ornamental Prunus species, including flowering peach, plums, and cherries. It is important to know when the adults of each species are active and which plants are vulnerable in order for treatment to be effective.
Source: University of Kentucky Entomology department
Clear the air
Departments - View Point
University of Washington researchers modify a pothos to remove benzene from the air.
Researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified a pothos ivy to remove chloroform and benzene from the air around it. The modified plants express a protein, called 2E1, that transforms these compounds into molecules that the plants can then use to support their own growth. The team published its findings Dec. 19 in Environmental Science & Technology. Both benzene and chloroform exposure have been linked to cancer.
“People haven't really been talking about these hazardous organic compounds in homes, and I think that's because we couldn't do anything about them," says senior author Stuart Strand, who is a research professor in the UW's civil and environmental engineering department. "Now we've engineered houseplants to remove these pollutants for us."
The team used a protein called cytochrome P450 2E1, or 2E1 for short, which is present in all mammals, including humans. In our bodies, 2E1 turns benzene into a chemical called phenol and chloroform into carbon dioxide and chloride ions. But 2E1 is located in our livers and is turned on when we drink alcohol. It's not available to help us process pollutants in our air.
"We decided we should have this reaction occur outside of the body in a plant, an example of the 'green liver' concept," Strand says. "And 2E1 can be beneficial for the plant, too. Plants use carbon dioxide and chloride ions to make their food, and they use phenol to help make components of their cell walls."
The researchers also tested how well the modified plants could remove the pollutants from air compared to normal pothos ivy.
For the unmodified plants, the concentration of either gas didn't change over time. But for the modified plants, the concentration of chloroform dropped by 82 percent after three days, and it was almost undetectable by day six. The concentration of benzene also decreased in the modified plant vials, but more slowly. By day eight, the benzene concentration had dropped by about 75 percent. To detect these changes in pollutant levels, the researchers used much higher pollutant concentrations than are typically found in homes. But the team expects that the home levels would drop similarly, if not faster, over the same time frame.
For the best results, plants in the home would also need to be inside an enclosure with something to move air past their leaves, like a fan, Strand says.
The team is currently working to increase the plants' capabilities by adding a protein that can break down another hazardous molecule found in home air: formaldehyde, which is present in some wood products, such as laminate flooring and cabinets, and tobacco smoke.
Plants aren’t just nice to have, they’re a must-have. As an industry, we can’t assume that consumers know these facts. We must continue to spread the message of why plants are critical to our well-being.
At the end of 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor reported unemployment rates are holding firm at 3.7 percent. This is a nearly 50-year low. If you’re an employer, you don’t have to be told what this means: it’s really tough to find great talent right now. Expand your pool of candidates by considering those who don’t have a college degree.
One of the biggest misconceptions among employers is that people must hold a college degree to be a viable candidate. for certain positions. It’s just not true.
Not only are there plenty of smart young people out there who are choosing not to follow the traditional path, those who do follow it often don’t have the skills employers need. It makes no sense to cling to old hiring practices when we live and work in a whole new world.
Let’s change the conversation around how we educate America’s workforce. Not only are colleges failing to deliver candidates with the skills businesses need, many talented young people are bypassing college altogether. They see the astronomical price of a four-year degree and are unwilling to cripple themselves financially to attain one. Plus, they believe (and rightly so) that they can find better educational options and hone their skill set elsewhere.
So why do employers still believe traditional education is needed? Because the presence of a degree is a signal—a psychological shortcut that enables us to make good decisions without doing the exhaustive research needed to investigate every option. But signals can lose their meaning, and that’s what has been happening for some time now.
The “I have a degree, therefore I am smart, hardworking, and well-to-do” signal made sense back when only five percent of males born in 1900 had a college degree. Today, nearly 40 percent of working-age Americans hold degrees. Many degrees are useless to employers, curricula are disconnected from the needs of today’s marketplace, and college typically fails to develop needed skills like critical thinking, complex reasoning, and written communication.
If you insist that the person you hire have a degree, you might well be missing out on the perfect candidate.
Shift your mindset to override the “degree” signal. Take a long, hard look at what really leads to success and performance, recognizing that university degrees aren’t the key, and revising your job postings to reflect the stuff that actually matters. You won’t be the first; in 2015 Ernst & Young professional services in the United Kingdom removed degree classification from its hiring criteria, citing a lack of evidence that university success correlated with job performance. Similarly, Laszlo Bock, former head of people operations at Google, went on record saying that grades in degree programs are “worthless as a criteria for hiring,” and currently as much as 14 percent of employees on some Google teams never attended college.
Drop the application tracking system, or at least switch off the filtering related to education. While you’re tweaking your hiring process, lean more into the assessments and simulations that actually give you a sense of what candidates can bring to the table. When Ernst & Young did this, they saw a 10 percent increase in the diversity of new hires.
Look at candidates who have pursued more progressive, cutting-edge options. Many students are now choosing hybrid programs like the one offered by Minerva Schools at KGI, or a “last mile” training offered by MissionU, or a program like Praxis, whose slogan is “The degree is dead. You need experience.”
Consider ditching the resume requirement. People often embellish the truth (or outright lie) on resumes. Instead, ask candidates to fill out an online application that has behavior questions and asks people to do tasks they’ll need to be able to do on the job. This provides a much better picture of whether they’ll be able to perform. Plus, some candidates might have exactly the qualities you want but don’t come across well on a resume.
Ask candidates to perform a task that simulates the job. These could be built into your online application. For example, if you’re hiring a writer you would ask them to complete a short writing task. This is a good way to weed out those candidates that don’t have the technical proficiency to do the job, which will make narrowing down the list much easier.
For more complicated jobs consider paying a candidate to take on a project. Or hire someone on a contract basis to make sure they have the right stuff before you extend a more permanent offer.
During the interview, focus mostly on chemistry and culture fit. By the time a candidate gets to this phase, they will have demonstrated that they have what it takes to do the job. What the interview can really tell you is how well you’ll get along with the person.
Cultivate the things that matter by developing a culture of learning and growth. While it’s important to find the right candidates, it’s even more important to make sure you continue to develop people after you hire them. There are many great books on this subject. Also, consider engaging training providers, such as Mind Gym, The Center for Work Ethic Development, and my own company, Mirasee.
Danny Iny is the author of Leveraged Learning: How the Disruption of Education Helps Lifelong Learners and Experts with Something to Teach. He is a lifelong entrepreneur, best-selling author, and CEO of the online business education company Mirasee. www.mirasee.comPhoto courtesy of Mirasee
It’s not ‘The Landscape of Eden’
Departments - Native tongue
Choose to grow and sell plants that make the garden truly alive.
No one writes poems and verses about landscapes. It’s a “garden” that incites poetry and dreams; where we want to hang out, muse, or just relax. What separates the use of the term garden from landscape? What’s the difference between hiring a landscape firm, a landscape architect, or a gardener if you wanted someone to design and plant your backyard? What differentiates a garden from a landscape? Do you want a gardener taking care of your plants or a landscaper? There should be a lot of questions asked.
Visualize a garden. Maybe a yard you have visited. A nice little lawn shaded by some beautiful mature trees. A wonderful variety of shrubs faced by lots of flowering perennials. Some comfortable chairs to take a seat and it smells pretty good. You may notice the sounds of birds before you see them. Observe for a while and you recognize the butterflies bouncing by and the hear the buzz of some pollinators. It’s a cool way to spend some time. Now consider a landscape. A couple of trees placed equidistant from the corners of the property. A few, mainly evergreen shrubs, placed around the foundation of the house or commercial property, probably chosen because they are “carefree” and cheap. And finally, lots of turf to be mowed, blown, and fertilized.
What do native plants have to do with gardens versus a landscape? It all depends on whether you’d like a garden alive with butterflies, pollinators, birds, and wildlife or a landscape that has a lot less. Let’s do some quick Google searches and compare the plant lists. Try “landscape plants,” “garden plants,” “plants for butterflies,” and “plants for birds.” This is an easy one to do yourself.
First up is a search for landscape plants. The first pages that pop up, top of the fold so to speak, are fairly generic. Plus, they are not regionally selective in many of the suggestions. Many are attractive landscape plants, peony, loropetalum, cotoneaster, daylilies, evergreen hollies, liriope, and some exotic grasses. But some of these plants may be alarming — barberry, Japanese spiraea, Miscanthus, and butterfly bush can be highly invasive, and perhaps illegal, in many areas of the U.S. Do you really think the average consumer will find the ones that have been bred to be sterile? And we all know that nandina berries are poisonous to birds. All these plants are very familiar to us. I saw them all recently at the trade shows, perhaps in your booth. They are extremely common in landscapes, but plants that are not reasoned to be ecological friendly. Do your own search and see what you find.
The search for “plants for butterflies,” “plants for pollinators,” or “plants for birds” brings up a completely different set of pages and plant lists. Many are regionally specific, listing the type of wildlife they attract, and diverse in suggestions. They also contain plants that are readily available, such as echinacea, lobelia, rudbeckia, Ilex, Physocarpus, Cercis, and Cornus. Most of these plants are very familiar to us, too. I bet you saw them at the trade shows, maybe in your booth. And these plants will certainly bring the wildlife to your yard. These are the plants that create a garden that truly makes it alive.
If you haven’t been paying attention to what our scientific community has been saying about the immense decline in birds, bees, and butterflies happening around us, do a search on that. You certainly are aware of the decline in monarch butterfly populations. The horticulture industry can choose to play a decisive part in this battle, although it hasn’t up to this point. Think of the free marketing and public relations, not to mention sales, that could be made if we joined together as an industry. Joining in on saving the pollinators, birds, butterflies and so on. Can you imagine all the consumers (think millennials and gen X) out there that would buy more of these plants to help? I know it’s completely different than the constant focus on patents and branding, but the payback may be the future. Saving the earth, one plant at a time.
Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of GIE Media, Inc.
Bill Jones is president of Carolina Native Nursery in Burnsville, N.C., a specialty grower of native shrubs, perennials ferns, and grasses. www.carolinanativenursery.com
Departments - Green Guide
Consider this evergreen shrub for its charming flowers and appeal to pollinators.
The genus Phlomis contains some 100 or so species that are native to the Mediterranean region and east to central Asia and parts of China. There are several horticulturally significant species, chiefly Phlomis fruiticosa and Phlomis russeliana. Phlomis is commonly called Jerusalem sage and the leaves do have a distinct sage-like appearance, though it is more closely related to mint, being a member of the family Lamiaceae. The leaves of P. fruiticosa have a distinct blueish color and a soft velvety texture, while P. russeliana’s leaves are greener and have a sticky feel. Both species sport beautiful bright yellow flowers throughout spring and summer. The flowers surround the stems in tiers and individual flowerlets are hood-shaped and are often tipped with white. They are very attractive to bees and butterflies. Phlomis russeliana flowers are fragrant as well.
Phlomis does well in full sun but will also tolerate light shade. It prefers well-drained soil and is quite drought tolerant once established. P. fruiticosa is evergreen in USDA Zone 7 and root hardy to Zone 5, while P. russeliana remains evergreen in USDA Zone 5 and is root hardy in Zone 4. If desired, Jerusalem sage can be harshly pruned in fall after seed heads have dried out and it will quickly sprout new leaves that will last through the winter. A mature plant will have a quite woody central structure that can, over time, begin to look ragged and that’s a good indication that the pruning shears need to come out. Mature plants can reach a height of 4 feet and a spread of 6 feet. They are resistant to deer.
Phlomis can be grown from seed, and is also easily grown from rooted cuttings, which I feel is the preferred propagation method. In my experience, rooted cuttings will produce a more robust, attractive plant.
Why grow Phlomis?
It’s an attractive evergreen shrub.
It has beautiful yellow flowers, which in the case of P. russeliana, are fragrant.
It’s loved by pollinators.
It’s abhorred by deer.
It’s drought tolerant once established.
Phlomis spp. is easily propagated by seed or cuttings.
Mark Leichty is the Director of Business Development at Little Prince of Oregon Nursery near Portland. He is a certified plant geek who enjoys visiting beautiful gardens and garden centers searching for rare and unique plants to satisfy his plant lust. firstname.lastname@example.org.