No one likes when their precious plant babies get sick, and some diseases are more manageable than others. We hate to be the bearer of bad news—but rose rosette disease is one you definitely want to take seriously. If you are passionate about growing roses, this disease can be pretty devastating. The best option is simply to destroy the affected rose plant to prevent it from spreading. But, before we go full doom and gloom on ya, let’s learn a little bit about how to identify it, prevent it, and some management tactics you can take to keep it from getting out of control.
What is Rose Rosette Disease?
Otherwise known as witches-broom, rose rosette disease is actually caused by a virus spread by a teeny, tiny little ‘eriophyid’ mite (more simply, a plant parasite). It causes roses to develop oddly deformed flowers, leaves, and stems. The mites that spread it are not visible to the naked eye, and the disease, once it takes hold, can be fatal within two to three years. It is specific to roses, and its primary host is believed to be Rosa multiflora, but pretty much all hybrid roses are susceptible to it.
How is Rose Rosette Spread?
Typically, rose rosette disease is transmitted in one of two ways: eriophyid mites or through grafting. After feeding on an infected plant, these microscopic mites can crawl short distances on your rose plant to infect other areas. They can also be carried much further on wind currents, though, which is how they can infect new roses.
While you cannot transfer the virus itself from one plant to another on tools (say, a pair of shears), it is possible to carry the mites themselves on gloves, clothing, or tools. The cold doesn’t kill these little buggers either; they can hide out in buds, spent flowers, leaf axils, or leaf scars and survive until another season. The virus will likely remain inactive in the winter, but symptoms can show up on new growth the following spring.
Multiflora rose, which is considered an invasive species in the United States, is often a carrier of the disease. It is said that all but nine states in the country have reported infestations, so it is, unfortunately, a pretty widespread problem.
It can take anywhere from two to five years for rose rosette to completely take out a rose bush, so in the early stages, symptoms may only appear on a couple of shoots or a small part of the plant.
How to Tell if Your Roses Are Affected by Rose Rosette Disease
There are some pretty distinct symptoms and signs of rose rosette to keep an eye out for. These include, but are not limited to:
- Excessive thorns
- Flower buds that emerge in tight little clusters (the ‘rosettes’ that give the disease its name)
- Deformed flowers that appear stunted in growth
- Deformed or contorted foliage
- Very bright red new growth that never turns green
- Really thick stems
- Discoloration in general (i.e., yellow foliage)
- Reduced winter hardiness
A rose that is infected with rose rosette disease could have all or just one of these symptoms. It can take anywhere from two to five years for rose rosette to completely take out a rose bush, so in the early stages, symptoms may only appear on a couple of shoots or a small part of the plant. It is also worth noting that some of these symptoms are similar to what you would see if your roses were subject to herbicide damage. It’s easy to confuse them, but generally, the sprayed foliage will not grow as vigorously as the infected bush. If you’re not sure, though, feel free to pop by the garden center to talk to one of our experts!
Managing Rose Rosette Disease
Virus transmission occurs the most when plants are in an active growth stage, so usually between May and mid-July, with symptoms usually also showing their ugly heads around July. Multiple generations of mites can occur each year right up until fall, when the females go looking for a warm place to sleep for the cooler months.
So, to control this disease, you have to be able to control the mite's reproduction cycle and stop them from spreading. Regularly scouting for signs of rose rosette and being familiar with the symptoms is very important for management.
You can also use organic pesticides like horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps every week through June and July. When doing so, pay close attention to new growth where the mites are more likely to hang out. As we mentioned earlier, mites can travel with the wind, so it’s best to avoid using tools like leaf blowers around your roses.
If you do stumble upon an infected plant, though, it is best to remove it and the soil around it immediately and safely dispose of it in a garbage bag (not in your compost) to prevent the disease from spreading any further.
The best way to prevent rose rosette from taking over your garden is to buy disease-free, healthy roses from reliable places like Carolina Seasons. And, keep your roses in tip-top shape so they are better able to fight disease.
Plant your roses fairly far apart, so mites are not able to crawl from plant to plant, and follow a proper fertilization schedule to promote healthy growth. Pruning your roses in late winter and early spring may also stop mites from damaging your plant before they have a chance. Since they like to overwinter in flower buds and seed heads, pruning them and disposing of them in early spring can eliminate any mites that might have made a home in there.
Protecting your roses from winds in the area is another great prevention tactic. You can do so with walls or with other plants. Since the mites that spread the disease are easily blown by the wind, this will reduce the risk of them landing on your roses.
Plant disease can be devastating for gardeners. But, with the right knowledge, you can tackle problems like rose rosette with confidence. Or, if you need someone to bounce ideas off of, the team at Carolina Seasons has plenty of know-how we’d be happy to share.
If you are hoping to become a budding fruit tree grower of the apple variety, you’ve probably heard about rootstocks by now. While the idea of planting a seed right from an apple may seem dreamy and appealing, in actuality, it’s not quite that simple! Growing a fruit tree of any kind from seed can take upward of eight years before it will start producing fruit. Furthermore, it’s just generally not how apple trees are typically grown.
The Ultimate Guide to Apple Rootstock
Apple trees are grafted (or fused) onto a rootstock that helps determine the size and strength of your tree once it has reached maturity. Grafting is a practice that has occurred for thousands of years. More recently, immense amounts of research have resulted in a list of the apple rootstocks believed to provide the best results. The online world is full of lots of complicated information, which is why we put together this guide to help you navigate your way to a better understanding of apple rootstocks.
So What Is a Rootstock, Anyway?
In simple terms, “rootstock” refers to the base of a tree, including the roots and trunk, that a scion (or the flowering or fruiting part of the tree that you see above ground) is grafted to. For the grafting process to be successful, the rootstock and scion need to be fairly close relatives. Rootstock varieties can come from a few different places: naturally growing trees, plant mutations, or genetically bred. When a “successful” rootstock is identified, it is cloned so that it can be used over and over again! In addition to determining your tree’s size and strength, apple rootstocks are also selected based on attributes like their level of disease resistance, cold hardiness, and the type of conditions they can thrive in.
What Is The Best Rootstock for Apple Trees?
When it comes to determining what the best rootstock is, there are a lot of factors to consider! What is ideal for one grower may be different for another. There are so many different rootstock variations that have been scientifically studied, bred, and established over decades. But, for the sake of simplicity in our guide, we are going to focus on some of our favorites that you can pick up at Carolina Seasons.
B9: This is what one would consider a “dwarfing” rootstock. As we mentioned earlier, rootstock variations determine the size and strength of an apple tree, and a B9 rootstock will limit the size of the tree to about 10 feet once it reaches maturity. While they are resistant to root and collar rots, they prefer a well-draining planting site and require permanent staking. The B9 rootstock produces a tree that is resistant to fire blight. B9 is also called Bud 9 which is short for Budagovsky 9.
M111: This is a vigorous semi-dwarfing rootstock that produces a tree that grows to about 85% of a standard-sized apple tree. They are considered one of the more adaptable of all rootstocks; they are quite winter hardy, have a fairly shallow-spreading root system, and are relatively drought tolerant. They are also resistant to woolly apple aphid, collar rot, root rot, and fire blight. Trees grown from an M111 rootstock will bear fruit at a relatively young age. The M111 rootstock is also known by the names MM111 and EMLA 111.
M106: An M106 rootstock is another semi-dwarfing variety that will produce a tree that is about 70% the size of a standard apple tree. They are quite productive and do not usually need staking. They should not be planted in wet spots due to their susceptibility to root rot. Rather, if you are looking to plant a tree in your backyard and go with an M106 rootstock variety, be sure to select a location with well-draining soil. Trees on the M106 rootstock are resistant to wooly apple aphid and show some resistance to fire blight. The M106 rootstock is also known as MM106 and EMLA106.
Selecting and growing an apple tree might seem overwhelming at first, but we hope this guide has helped break down some of the general mysteries in the beginning stages of that process. If you’ve still got questions, pop into our nursery, and one of our experts would be happy to help start you on your journey toward growing and enjoying delicious apples for years to come!
Houseplants are almost as popular as pets these days—and for good reason! They help improve air quality by filtering out toxins, they add to your decor by bringing an overall added ambiance to the home, and it can feel wonderful to nurture them and watch them grow. But as much as you may want to fill your entire North Carolina home with houseplants, if you also happen to have fur babies, they need to come into play when deciding which plants to bring into your home.
Unfortunately, not all of the trendy houseplants out there are safe for curious dogs and cats. But, don't let this fact deter you; there are plenty of pet-friendly houseplants out there to choose from! Read on for our top 10 list of pet-friendly houseplants that will look fabulous and keep your furry friends safe.
1. Spider Plant: The spider plant may be the ultimate houseplant for beginners! Known for being highly tolerant of low light and forgetful waterers, spider plants are excellent for folks with busy schedules or very little natural light in the home. When the plant is allowed to thrive in bright, indirect light and regular waterings, it will grow “pups,” or baby plants that can be plucked off, planted, and shared with friends! Best of all, they’re perfectly safe for both pets and young children.
2. Money Tree: Pachira aquatica, most often called a money tree, is a lovely, easy-to-care-for, pet-friendly houseplant to add to your collection. It is known as a symbol of good luck as well as financial success. Its braided trunk and bright green, palm-like leaves will bring a unique, tropical feel to your home.
3. Areca Palm: If you love the tropical look, the areca palm is a safe and beautiful way to give your space that “vacation” atmosphere. Areca palms are statement plants that can grow to be up to 8 feet tall, and yet they’re also easy to care for and perfect for beginners. Fair warning; their graceful fronds may be tempting for your pets to nibble on, but the foliage itself is harmless.
4. Air Plants: Tillandsia, more commonly known as air plants, have an almost ethereal feel to them. They seem to grow from nothing, as they don't require any soil to thrive. This magical quality makes them part of the epiphyte family, which means they grow on other plants (usually tree branches) rather than in the ground. There are hundreds of different varieties and almost as many ways to display them. While they are pet-friendly, they might also look like a fun toy to cats, so we recommend getting creative as you figure out how to display your air plants. You can attach them to hanging planters, make a DIY hanging terrarium for them, or even turn them into surprising little fridge magnets using suction cup hooks.
5. Bromeliads: Bromeliad plants are a bit of a triple threat, in the best way possible. Like air plants, many of them are epiphytes, which means they can be grown without soil. They like bright light and humidity, but otherwise, they are relatively low maintenance, pet-friendly houseplants.
6. Boston Fern: These beautiful, feather-like plants have an incredibly whimsical feel to them. They can grow quite large if cared for properly and make for wonderful hanging plants. They thrive in indirect sunlight, moist soil, and relatively high humidity. While all ferns are not pet-safe, the Boston fern is one of a few exceptions. The birds-nest and staghorn fern are a couple of other pet-friendly options.
7. Hoya: Hoyas are a family of beautiful air-purifying houseplants that helps to improve air quality in your home by removing icky things like benzene and formaldehyde. Their distinct, lustrous green leaves and fragrant flowers range from pink to white in color, and they won't do any harm to your furry friend.
8. Calathea: This eye-catching family of houseplants feature showy foliage with intricate markings. We’re especially fond of the Rattlesnake calathea, with it’s almost snakeskin-patterned foliage with rosy-purple undersides. Not only are calatheas an excellent pet-friendly houseplant for smaller spaces, but their unique appearances add something exquisitely different to your collection.
9. Basil: While basil probably isn’t what comes to mind when you think “houseplants,” the plant is a perfect companion to a bright kitchen. Keeping some fresh basil on hand comes in handy for enhancing hundreds of dishes, plus it looks great and smells fantastic. Unlike some other herbs, basil is also safe for pets, making it a pretty and practical addition to your collection.
10. Christmas Cactus: The Christmas cactus is another quirky succulent that is both pet-friendly and nearly impossible to kill. They also have a somewhat misleading name, as they are a little different than most desert variations that likely come to mind when you think of cacti. The Christmas cactus originates from the rainforest, so it does like a bit more humidity than you might expect. They thrive in indirect sunlight, bloom spectacular flowers around Christmas time, and when cared for properly, can live for decades.
Ready to fill your home with lush greenery, knowing Fido will be safe and sound? We have a wide variety to choose from, so stop by our garden center to browse our full collection!
There is not much else in the world that is more satisfying than starting your own garden from scratch. Growing a vegetable, herb, or flower garden from seed is both economical and immensely gratifying. There is just something so exciting when you first see them break their little heads through the soil, and the excitement only continues as they become full-fledged, beautiful little plant babies. This handy guide touches on some of the basics of starting seeds in North Carolina, but there is plenty more to know as you get a head start on your garden in the new year.
Take a look through some common seed starting questions and how we would recommend starting your garden from scratch.
How To Choose Your Seeds
This may seem simple enough, but successful seed starting starts with, well...the seeds! There are a couple of things to keep in mind when selecting your seeds for the year. The first is your experience level. Some plants are easier to grow and tend to than others. While a more advanced gardener may enjoy the challenge of starting perennials from seeds, those of you who are newer to the seed starting game may want to stick to vegetables and annuals until you get your green thumb honed in a little more.
The other thing to consider is making sure that you choose seeds that will thrive in the environment where you live. The USDA divides the United States into several cold hardiness zones, which are based on the average low winter temperatures. North Carolina's hardiness zones range from 6a to 8a, so depending on where you are in the state, you will see more success with plants rated for your particular zone or lower. Doing this means your plants will have a higher chance of surviving the winter. Less commonly used, but just as important, is the American Horticulture Society’s heat zone rating, which shows the average number of days above 86℉. Try to choose plants that can handle the hot summers.
What Is The Best Time To Start Seeds?
The best time to start seeds indoors will depend on where you live. As a general rule of thumb, it's best to plant annuals approximately six weeks prior to the last frost you will see in your area, but there is some variation in this when it comes to cool season versus hot-season plants. While it can be tempting to get started growing your seeds indoors at the turn of the new year, starting too early can cause all kinds of headaches. There is a chance you may have to repot your seedlings into larger containers if they outgrow their current environment before it's time to put them in the ground, or you may be tempted to plant them early and could risk them being hit by frost.
Be Sure To Space Your Seeds Properly
Spacing your seeds out according to the seed packet instructions will save you time and labor later on when you, undoubtedly, will need to do some thinning. While it can be tempting to stuff your containers with seeds in the hopes that you'll have a better chance of germination, it's not always the best approach. Providing space between the plants allows each seedling to soak up everything that it needs. Overcrowded seedlings can end up turning into weak plants with stunted growth. Indoor seeds can even end up with mold in the soil if left unthinned due to poor air circulation.
What To Do After Seeds Germinate
Once a seed has germinated, you want to give it the right amount of light, water, airflow, and food. Grow lamps are generally best kept about 2 to 4 inches above your seedlings, and you want to keep your soil moist, but don't want to leave your seeds drowning in water either. If you notice the soil in your starting cells pulling away from the edges of the cell, your seedlings probably need water. To assist with airflow, you can set up a fan on a similar timer as your grow light, which should mimic the timing of sunrise and sunset.
How To Thin Seedlings
You will, inevitably, need to thin your seedlings a little. Thinning seedlings can be a bit of a depressing task. After putting all of that work in to bring those seeds to life, you have to decide who gets to stay and who gets the boot. But it is, unfortunately, an essential part of the seed starting process. What we mean by thinning seeds is removing some of the seedlings while they are relatively small to make room for the remaining plants to grow big and strong.
The trick to thinning seedlings is, rather than digging them out, you really just want to loosen the soil around them, so you can gently pull them out without disrupting all of their neighbors. Thinning can be done with a small knife, pencil, or any other small, sharp tool.
When To Thin Seedlings
Hopefully, you will have given your seeds enough space to begin with when you planted them, which will make the process a little less arduous. It's best to thin seedlings by the time they are about 2 to 3 inches tall and when they have one to two sets of leaves. Trying to thin them any earlier than this may pose a challenge as it will be a little more difficult to grasp and pull them out.
Follow these simple steps, and you should have a beautiful, thriving starter garden! If you still have some questions or face any challenges, we'd be happy to help. Just give us a call or stop by the nursery.
Are you thinking of brightening your home with a poinsettia for the holidays? Or, perhaps you’ve already fallen in love with one and brought it home. Either way, the poinsettia is a lovely plant both for Christmas and year-round, if you choose to keep it, as it’s perfectly capable of living a long life. Plus, caring for a poinsettia plant indoors is easy-peasy. Here’s how to care for poinsettias!
Poinsettia Care Instructions
1. Choose a healthy plant. If you don’t have your poinsettia yet, be sure to pick a healthy one. Signs of health include thick, deep green foliage and firm, colorful flowers.
2. Protect it from the cold when you bring it home. While our North Carolina winter is milder than many, the cold from outdoors could still be a shock to your poinsettia, which is a tropical plant native to Mexico. So when you take it home, protect it from that cold outdoor air by covering it with a cellophane bag or pillowcase.
3. Put it in a sunny, warm place. Like real estate, poinsettia care is all about location, location, location. Once you get your plant home, put it in a spot that’s both sunny and warm.
4. Meet its sun and light requirements. The poinsettia prefers a minimum of 6 hours of bright sunlight each day. A pro tip: to get the Christmas-time bloom period to last as long as possible, also ensure that your poinsettia gets at least 12 hours of darkness each night. An easy way to remember to meet this requirement is to put the poinsettia in a dark place when the sun sets and return it to its sunny location when the sun rises.
5. Meet its warmth requirements. As already mentioned, the poinsettia is quite sensitive to cold. It’s happiest when it’s in a consistently warm room free of cold drafts and hot drafts, so keep it away from places like the ledge of a drafty window or radiators. Its ideal daytime temperature range is 64 to 70°F, while at night, it’s still fine if the temperature dips as low as 61°F.
6. Water it only when the soil is dry. Poinsettias often fall victim to overwatering. If your poinsettia has leaves turning yellow, that’s a strong sign you’re overwatering the plant. Water your poinsettia only when the surface of its soil has become bone-dry.
When you water it, immediately empty any water that collects in the plant pot saucer, as waterlogged soil is harmful to the plant. One efficient way to prevent waterlog and make the watering process easier is to put the saucer aside, move the plant into the sink, and water it generously. The excess water will then drain out directly into the sink, and you won’t have to fuss with emptying the saucer.
What About Poison Precautions?
Now, what about the stories of poinsettias being poisonous? Is there anything you should do to protect pets and kids from your poinsettia? As it turns out, poinsettias are not poisonous—that’s a myth. However, they’re not edible either, and in fact, are mildly toxic. So even though they’re unlikely to cause serious illness, it’s still best to keep your poinsettia out of the reach of pets and kids.
How to Care for Poinsettia Flowers
Before we answer this, first, an interesting fact: what you might think of as the flower on a poinsettia is not a flower. The colorful non-green parts of a poinsettia are actually bunches of modified leaves called bracts. In the center of the bracts are the diminutive flowers, which look like tiny yellow buds.
So how do you make those bracts last as long as possible?
Holiday Plants at Carolina Seasons Nursery
Whether you’re in the market for a poinsettia or looking for other holiday plants, we have lots available. Contact us so we can check our stock for you and recommend plants that will meet your needs. Happy Holidays!
Carolina Seasons Nursery