dandelion with seeds blowing

Stop weeds before they emerge with corn gluten meal

by Connie Oswald Stofko Stop weeds before they even pop out of the ground–that’s what pre-emergent herbicides do. Pre-emergent herbicides act on seeds at the germination stage. Corn gluten meal is an organic pre-emergent herbicide. There are synthetic pre-emergent herbicides, too. These can work well on grass seed and broad-leaf seeds. However, like every herbicide, they don’t kill every type of weed. They don’t kill existing weeds. And they don’t work on plants with tap roots, such as dandelions. They…

arabis 'Spring Charm'

Gardens to Go: A flat of perennials that suits your garden’s needs

by Connie Oswald Stofko Want more color throughout the season? Have a problem with deer? What native plants are good for a garden? How can you attract hummingbirds or butterflies? There’s an easy answer to all these conundrums: Gardens to Go. Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses in Williamsville is creating flats of perennials on different themes, such as Constant Color, Western New York Natives, Deer Resistant and Butterflies. Each flat contains 12 different varieties of plants on that theme, for a…

yard covered in lesser celandine

Act now to get rid of lesser celandine

_____ by Connie Oswald Stofko Lesser celandine is an invasive weed that can take over your lawn and gardens. “Whatever you do, don’t ignore it,” said Master Gardener Lyn Chimera. It’s pretty, but… Lesser celandine (Ficaria verna, formerly Ranunculus ficaria) is easy to ignore, Chimera acknowledges. It’s a spring ephemeral and dies back, so it’s easy to forget about it once it disappears–but it will return. And because it’s pretty, many people don’t recognize it as a weed. Chimera was one…

Spotted lanternfly egg masses

Report egg masses that might be spotted lantern fly in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Now is the time to watch for and report egg masses of the spotted lanternfly (SLF). It’s an invasive pest from Asia that feeds on a variety of plants including grapes, hops and maple trees, posing a severe threat to New York forests and agriculture. You can volunteer with NY iMapInvasives to look for SLF and its preferred host plant, tree-of-heaven, which is also an invasive species. Controlling infestations of the tree can help stop the spread…

pea flower in snow

What plant hardiness is, plus more from Master Gardeners

When we think of plant hardiness, we think of hardiness zones. If a plant can’t withstand the cold temperatures in Western New gardens, it’s not hardy in our area. But water– too much or too little– is another factor that determines whether plants will survive here. See more in the article “Plant Hardiness” by Carol Ann Harlos in the latest edition of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. Other articles in this…

Four tips to keep deer from eating your plants

by Connie Oswald Stofko We can never get enough tips on ways to keep deer from damaging plants. Some of these ideas may work for you and some may not. And even if the technique you’re using does work, it may stop working after a while, so you have to try something new. Here are four new tips on dealing with deer in your garden. Recipe for deer deterrent Michael Sheehan of the Western New York Hosta Society says this…

rabbit with daisies

Roses can help save other plants from rabbits

by Connie Oswald Stofko I was intrigued by this tip. I have rabbits in my yard, and in the spring they munch on everything, including my rose bushes. But here is a way to use the canes from rose bushes to protect your other plants from hungry rabbits. This tip was shared by a reader named Susan: We had problems with rabbits munching our morning glory vines (or any lovely vine, for that matter). When I trimmed the rose bushes,…

baskets on top of hosta plants

Tip to keep voles from damaging hostas

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here is a tip about voles from Kathy Guest Shadrack, board member and communication liaison with the Western New York Hosta Society. She has a problem with voles even though hawks, foxes and coyotes visit her gardens. In order to give her garden a fighting chance, she covers the crowns of her hostas with baskets she got from a dollar store. If the crown is really large, she chooses deer netting instead of a basket. She…

birch bark

Find better alternatives to silver birch in WNY Gardening Matters

People love the beauty of silver birch trees (Betula pendula) but have realized that variety is short lived and susceptible to the birch borer. Find other native alternatives that are more interesting in this article by Lyn Chimera. It’s in the current issue of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. “Remember, if you want to plant a tree always check for an appropriate native first,” Chimera said. Other articles in this…

brown marmorated stink bug near window

These stink bugs won’t harm you or house; may damage plants

by Connie Oswald Stofko Gardeners are once again beginning to notice brown marmorated stink bugs flying and crawling in their homes. These invasive pests are looking for a place to spend the winter. They don’t pose any harm to humans and they won’t damage your home. However, they are ugly and annoying in your house. They make a loud buzzing when they fly and a big thump when they land. When you squish them, they stink. More important, they feed on…