Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Pacific Northwest

November, 2007
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

There are over 300 species of dianthus, and while some will reach heights of up to 3 feet, most are low-growing (6 to 8 inches) and are perfect for borders. Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus) are cottage garden standards, reaching 10 to 20 inches with dense clusters of 1/2-inch flowers. Chinese pinks (D. chinensis) are more compact, up to 1 foot, with slightly larger flowers.

Dianthus are commonly known as pinks because the edges of the flowers seem to have been trimmed by pinking shears. The plants enjoy full sun and produce white, pink, red, yellow, and even violet flowers with a spicy fragrance. They're the perfect transition plants, blooming prolifically all summer long and right into early winter.

Clever Gardening Technique

Dealing with Fall Webworms
The insect pest commonly known as fall webworm is beginning to make its annual appearance. People often confuse fall webworms with another pest, the tent caterpillar, which is active only in the spring season. Fall webworms are only considered nuisance pests while tent caterpillars can cause serious problems.

Fall webworm caterpillars (larvae) produce a web of fine silk over the terminal branches of more than 100 deciduous tree species. Some favorite trees are elm, ash, alder, willow, poplar, walnut, sweet gum, and fruit trees. The caterpillars feed only within their silk nest. Nests become quite unsightly over time as they expand and the branch tips within them become defoliated. Webworm feeding causes no health danger to the tree, but it lowers the overall beauty of the tree.

There are 86 different predators and parasites of fall webworms and, given the opportunity, these beneficial insects generally keep pest populations under control. A biological control is also available -- i>Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki -- but it is best applied in August when caterpillars are small. I like to give the beneficial insects time to do their work, but I've also pruned out some unsightly fall webworm nests. If you opt to use Bt, be sure to read and follow all label directions.


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