Sunday, April 11, 2021

Orange Slime on the Muscadine


This has been a better than usual year for spotting bright orange slime on native muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia) vines. Almost every large vine on our property has it compared to just one that had it a couple years ago. This is Fusicolla merismoides, a fungus or, more often, a complex of fungi and yeast that colonize the sap that leaks from a tree wound.

It doesn’t hurt the vine (or tree if it is on some other woody plant) and usually is just a springtime occurrence as sap is rising and leaking from wounds on woody plants. Obviously the bigger the wound or amount of sap, the more orange you might see.

So if you see an orange smear, take a moment to appreciate what’s happening and then go happily on your way. I visited all of ours this year with grandson in tow and we admired them and remarked on the small bugs enjoying the slime.

The slime on the upper right is fading while the left is gooey

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Go Forth and Multiply


Packera aurea
Valeriana pauciflora

Multiply the supply of native plants in gardens, that is. As I’m prowling through my garden this time of year, admiring flowers and pulling early weeds, I always find extra plants to pot up. In years past, I’d pot them up to donate to plant sales. I’m not participating in a local sale this year so they’re going to friends and neighbors. The two plants shown above were given to me by friends as extras from their gardens.

As I wrote in January, my son’s family has a new yard. They’re getting beardtongue (Penstemon sp.) for the mailbox. It’s a tough as nails perennial that is fairly deer resistant (they have deer). I have two species to share with them: Penstemon digitalis and Penstemon tenuis. As the season progresses, I’m sure there will be more for them – we’ve been removing nandina shrubs at their house to create a new area for pollinator plants.

Even Max potted up some small trees
Penstemon ready to go

Several friends who are building their native plant collections are getting an assortment of extra perennials and shrubs. I love how I can get extra room for my garden while still making other people happy!

I’m also creating a grouping of native perennials along the property line with my neighbor. This has to be composed of deer resistant plants. So far I’ve planted beardtongue (Penstemon), mountain mint (Pycnanthemum), sedges (Carex), perennial rye (Elymus), and bushy St. John’s wort (Hypericum densiflorum). Helping to hold the sloping ground around it is the native dwarf cinquefoil (Potentilla canadensis). As the plantings grow, I reduce the cinquefoil.

If you’re a native plant gardener, take advantage of new spring growth to find plants to help other gardens grow. It’s as nice for you as it is for them. Pot them up with a lightweight mix of topsoil (house-brand from a big box store is good) mixed with shredded mulch (not dyed) or bagged soil conditioner. Sometimes I use a small amount of perlite in it. No need to buy expensive growing mix. Now you’re ready to go forth and multiply the amount of yards with native plants!