February E-News from Viette's                        Volume 10: No. 2

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                         February/2014

Lone tulip blooms among the creeping phlox
Snow may cover the
ground and temperatures might be frigid, but
you can still enjoy a taste of Spring in February!

Look for a Flower & Garden Show in your area!

February is the time for
these colorful, fragrant shows!
Beat the winter doldrums at a Flower and Garden Show near you!
Quick Links
Plant of the Month
Mahonia bealei in winter
Mahonia bealei in winter.
An interesting evergreen shrub
for the shade 
Mahonia is an interesting evergreen shrub that is closely related to barberry. It is a slow-growing shrub with large leathery leaves that resemble holly leaves.       
Mahonia is one of the earliest blooming of the spring shrubs, sometimes beginning to flower as early as late February. Fragrant clusters of bright yellow flowers form at the tips of each branch and last through most of spring. If pollinated, the flowers give rise to grape-shaped fruit that mature to a beautiful inky blue or deep purple. 
Mahonia bealei fruit
Immature fruit of
Leatherleaf Mahonia
There are several species of Mahonia that are popular for landscape plantings. Andre has two species in his extensive gardens.  


Mahonia bealei (Leatherleaf Mahonia) is an upright species which grows to 12' tall. This species is native to China but has naturalized in many areas of the US. It has actually become invasive in some regions of the country. Mahonia bealei is known for its extremely fragrant flowers which are very attractive to honey bees. 

Honey bee works Mahonia flowers
A honey bee works the
Mahonia flowers

Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape-holly) is native to the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It has an upright habit like Mahonia bealei but it normally grows to just 6'. It is one of the more popular Mahonia species and is not considered to be invasive. The attractive yellow flowers are slightly fragrant but not nearly as fragrant as M. bealei. The fruit of Oregon Grape-holly matures to a lovey blue-black color in late summer/early fall. The foliage turns a lovey deep maroon in the fall.
Mahonia repens
Mahonia repens blooms with a profusion of bright yellow flowers.

Mahonia repens (Creeping Mahonia) is a low growing form that makes a wonderful native ground cover for the shade. Andre has it planted as a ground cover in one of his large shade gardens where it thrives under deciduous hollies, crape myrtles, and crabapples. M. repens grows only to about 12" tall and spreads by underground stems. It is drought tolerant and makes a great ground cover for dry shade such as that found under many deciduous trees. This species is native to western North America. 
Mahonia repens in early spring
Beautiful winter foliage of Mahonia repens. Note the flower buds beginning to swell.

A great shrub for many reasons ...  
If planted in part shade, Mahonia is drought tolerant once established. It makes an interesting addition to a dry, shady area where it is difficult to grow other plants. It is especially well-suited to woodland gardens because it is deer resistant and the fruit attracts a variety of birds. The fragrant yellow flowers brighten the landscape in early spring right when the garden begins to awaken.
Mahonia prefers rich, well-drained soils that are slightly acidic. Plant in part to full shade. In colder regions, place these shrubs where they are protected from strong winds which could cause winter damage to the evergreen foliage. For the best fruit production, plant at least two shrubs to ensure good pollination. Fertilize in spring and again in the fall with Espoma Holly-tone. Hardy in Zones 5-8. May grow in Zone 4 with winter protection.

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Andre  answers a listener's question during a broadcast of 'In the Garden' 
Listen to Andre on the radio every Saturday morning
from 8:00-11:00 on
"In the Garden
with Andre Viette"
or listen live from our flagship station WSVA.

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Tip of the Month
February is a Great Time to Prune 


February marks the beginning of the end of winter for many areas and is a good time to wander through your landscape to assess the condition of your trees and shrubs.
Pruning Deciduous trees
Late winter when the trees are bare it is easy to evaluate your trees.
When the trees are bare it is easier to evaluate your trees.
Late winter, while your deciduous trees are still dormant, is a great time to do some structural pruning. With the leaves gone, it is very easy to see the branch structure and determine which branches should be removed to improve not only the symmetry of the tree but also the overall health of the tree. Remember that pruning affects the entire tree.  By assessing the plant as a whole, you can make a better decision as to what to cut to give the best results.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
  • In general, you should never remove more than 20% of live wood in one year.
  • Remember the "3 D's" of Pruning - Remove Dead, Diseased, and Damaged wood first. This type of pruning should actually be done whenever the problem is discovered. Dead wood is sometimes easier to spot when the tree is in leaf. When the tree is dormant, you can tell live wood by scratching the wood with a pen knife. If there is green wood under the bark, the branch is alive.  
  • Remove crossed branches that could rub and cause injury to another branch.
  • Remove branches that grow inward and any that crowd the center of the tree. This type of pruning, called thinning, will open up the interior allowing more light penetration and greater air circulation which will reduce disease problems. 
  • Remove branches that spoil the symmetry of the tree. Step back after each cut to reassess the shape and then plan your next cut. 
  • Prune water sprouts
    Pruning water sprouts
    Remove suckers
    (stems arising from the base of the tree or from the root stock of grafted trees) and water sprouts (vigorous stems that grow straight up parallel to the main stem). Suckers will eventually grow up and crowd the interior of the tree. Water sprouts are surface attached to the bark and are subject to wind, snow, and ice damage. Water sprouts become more prevalent after a tree is pruned severely.
  • Thinning of spring blooming trees can be delayed if desired until after the blooms fade.


Feed your trees after Pruning
An organic fertilizer such as Espoma Plant-tone or Holly-tone should be applied to trees and shrubs after pruning. Remember, these natural organic fertilizers breakdown gradually and provide a long lasting food reservoir for your plants throughout the growing season. Applying them early will ensure they are available when growth begins. Apply according to the label directions.
Did You Know?
We are constantly saying it, "READ THE LABEL before using any pesticide!" 
But WHY is it so important?
Well - for one thing, it's the LAW!  It is against the law to use a pesticide in a way contrary to its labeling. Any use not indicated on the label is prohibited. You are required by law to read and follow the label directions. If you are unsure about anything on the label, you should contact the manufacturer. 

What does the label tell you? 
  • It identifies the chemical ingredients in the container and provides specific emergency first aid procedures in case of an accidental exposure that would require medical attention.
    • The pesticide label is the most important information you can take with you to the ER if someone has been poisoned. Without the label, it may be difficult for them to help. 
  • It lists the protective equipment and proper clothing required for safe handling
  • It lists what types of insects or diseases will be controlled
  • It instructs how to mix the chemical/how to use it if it is ready-to-use
    • It is against the law (and potentially dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and the environment) to exceed the dilution rate listed on the label or to exceed the number of applications allowed in a season. 
  • It lists how, when, and where to apply
  • It lists specific organisms to be protected and how to apply in order to keep these from harm; e.g. bees, beneficial insects, fish, and so forth and which plants may be subject to spray burn
  • If it is labeled for use on food crops, it will give a Days to Harvest which lists the minimum number of days that must pass between the last pesticide application and crop harvest.
  • It tells if a spreader sticker or surfactant should be used to extend the effectiveness of the chemical by spreading the spray more evenly on the foliage and increasing adherence.
  • There is a lot of critical information on the label
Reread the label each time you use a pesticide. 
It is the responsibility of the applicator to comply with all this information. Do not rely on your memory!


Read more about pesticide labels  

MACEventsDon't Miss this exciting Show!

MAC Events Home & Garden Show 2014 A little bit of Spring in the midst of a cold winter!

MAC Events Home
& Garden Show

February 7th - 9th
Enjoy lush, colorful gardens, expert demonstrations, vendors, shopping and more. This great show features three days full of great ideas for your home and garden including remodeling solutions, landscaping ideas, the latest in interior design trends, furnishings, and how to make your home more environmentally friendly! 

All under one roof at the 
Greater Richmond Convention Center!
Learn Tips & Tricks from Home and Garden Pros
Launch your spring gardening plans with timely tips from the experts. Relax as entertaining speakers share their know-how and answer your home and garden questions. Meet garden expert Mark Viette and Richmond's own DIY gurus Sherry and John Petersik of Young House Love. Don't miss this getaway in the garden and get inspired to update your home inside and out. These great seminars are included in your ticket price.

Mark Viette
Join Mark Viette at the MAC Events Home & Garden Show
Join Mark Viette
for an informative gardening
seminar on Saturday,  
February 8th at 12:15 pm 
"Easy Garden Makeover"
Do you have an overgrown, weedy and neglected garden? Are your shrubs blocking your windows or walkways? In this interesting gardening seminar, Mark will show you how to rejuvenate and renovate your garden to give your gardens a brand new look. Proper trimming, pruning, thinning and fertilization of your trees, shrubs and flowers will be discussed.

After his seminar, Mark will have drawings for Super Compost, a Gardening Book, New Viette Daylilies, and other gardening items.

ark will be giving away a FREE Viette hybridized daylily to the first 100 attendees to his talk.
ark's seminar is sponsored by Blue Ridge Organics.  
Visit their booth at the MAC Events Home and Garden Show on Saturday (2/8) to learn about their amazing Super Compost and their new Garden Soxx!  
Purchase tickets online and save 50%! 
Visit MAC Events for more information 
Don't Forget!
February is a great time to spray your trees and shrubs with a horticultural oil spray to kill many different overwintering insects and insect eggs waiting to hatch!  
Euonymus scale on stem
Scale covers this Euonymus stem
Many insects overwinter in the egg stage on the branches of your trees and shrubs. Horticultural oils sprayed during the dormant season effectively smother these insect eggs by forming a coating of oil over them. Scale insects and certain mites that winter on plants as adults or as immature stages are also suffocated when the horticultural oil blocks their spiracles, the air holes through which they breathe.
Horticultural oils may also be effective in smothering fungal spores, thus reducing the incidence of certain fungal diseases like rust or powdery mildew.
The application of a dormant oil in late winter is one of the most important sprays for your fruit trees. This helps kill the eggs of the codling moth and other insects which are so destructive to apples, peaches, pears, and other fruits. Don't miss this important fruit tree application. Be sure to make your dormant oil application in late winter while your trees are still dormant.

Bonide All Seasons Oil, PureSpray Green, or Bayer Advanced Natria Multi-Insect Control are good choices for a dormant oil spray.
Dormant applications are made with a higher concentration of the horticultural oil than applications made during the growing season. Be sure to follow the label directions and mix the concentrate at the dilution rate recommended for a dormant spray.
  • Dormant oil applications should be made when the outside temperature is above 40�F.  
  • To avoid plant injury, do not apply a sulfur spray within three weeks of spraying horticultural oil.

Read and follow the label directions!

On the Viette's Views Gardening Blog 

   01-20-2014 17:24:54 PM

I just noticed that the leaves of my Schefflera are sticky and so is the floor under the plant. What is going on?" "Some of the leaves on my jade plant are covered with a black sooty film and the table it is sitting on is becoming sticky. Help!" We get questions like these all [...]...�


   01-10-2014 17:28:03 PM

Last night a period of freezing rain moved through the Shenandoah Valley. The temperature dipped just below freezing in the early morning but fortunately the ice didn't accumulate much before it warmed up and everything began to melt off. We were lucky this time! Ice and snow buildup can sometimes cause major damage to trees [...]...�

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