March 2018
Another Pest Problem
While not entirely new to Hampton Roads, Crape Myrtle Bark Scale (CMBS) is gaining attention. Crape Myrtles make up about 20% of all street trees in Virginia Beach, and 50% of those in Norfolk. Together, these two cities have nearly 200,000 crape myrtles, not counting those in private landscapes.

While CMBS is not fatal to the trees it infests, it does cause unsightly aesthetic damage. Scale are sucking insects which feed on the fluids of plants. CMBS excretes honeydew, a sticky, sugary substance that facilitates the growth of sooty mold, turning branches and trunks black. Honeydew may also cover nearby plants, sidewalks, vehicles, or other objects below the canopy of the tree.

Two beneficial insects feed on the scale - green lacewings and the twice-stabbed lady beetle. Other controls are currently being studied by Dr. Peter Schultz, extension entomologist with Virginia Tech. For more information concerning CMBS, Mary Reid Barrow recently covered this topic here. See photos below to help identify CMBS and the beneficials. The ideal time to spot an infestation is in winter and early spring when the bark is visible.

VBMG launched our new website last week. The updated design features archived links to newsletters, easy access to upcoming events, and quick links to gardening info.

If you are looking for seeds to start your spring garden, the VBMG Seed Library offers free seeds each month, along with planting and care instructions. The Seed Library is located at the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library, Virginia Beach Blvd. The Seed Library is open anytime the Central Library is open.

Happy Gardening!

Have gardening questions? Help is available year round through the Master Gardener Help Desk by calling 757-385-8156 or email your question to
Blackened bark from sooty mold; CMBS infestation of scale; twice-stabbed lady beetle.
Photo credits: Jim Robbins, Univ. of Ark., CES, & Tom Murray,
March in the Garden
Butterfly Bush
Camellia, sasanqua
Crape Myrtle
Red Twig Dogwood
Rose of Sharon
Hydrangea (summer blooming)

Dahlia tubers
Brussel sprouts*
Swiss chard
Onion Sets

* - transplants only
  • Look for pests or damage on branches and bark exposed after leaves have fallen
  • Use warm days to catch up on general garden chores left over from fall and winter
  • Divide perennials while still dormant
  • Cut back dead top growth of perennials as new growth begins to emerge
  • Apply pre-emergent on warm season grass lawns
Common Name: Mayapple
Scientific Name: Podophyllum peltatum
Bloom Time: spring
Color: white/pink
Size: 8in - 1.5ft
Zone: 3-8
Native range: Eastern North America
Growing Conditions: part to full shade

Photo credit: David Cappaert,
Common Name: Green Lacewing
Scientific Name:  Chrysoperla
Time of Year Active: summer/fall
Where to See Them: Trees & herbaceous plants, often in the evenings.
Benefits: Lacewing larvae are predators, especially for aphids and scale insects that excrete honeydew.

Photo credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

For more information about pre-emergent weed control, including organic options, listen to this podcast from Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Upcoming Events
Mar 10 - Rain Barrel Workshop
All rain barrel workshops are held at the Virginia Beach Farmer’s Market, 3640 Dam Neck Rd., 9 - 10am.    

Mar 10 - Jumpstart Your Garden with Seeds
Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library. 2pm. Free & open to the public. Part of the Seed Library Education program.

Mar 24 - Workshop: Irrigation for Your Home Garden
Learn to plan, assemble, install, and operate your own home garden irrigation system. Presented by Joey Elliott, VCE Virginia Beach Master Gardener.
Virginia Beach Farmer's Market Kitchen Garden, 3640 Dam Neck Rd. 10 - 11:30 am. Free, but registration is required. Register at

Mar 26 - Gardening Talk - Perennially Yours: Harness the Power of Perennial Plants for Your Garden
Whether your garden is in sun or shade, wet or dry, perennials can provide color & texture all through the year, and in time, yield extra plants to share. Learn which perennials are reliable in our area. Presented by Liz Maurer, VCE Virginia Beach Master Gardener.
Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library, 7-8pm. Free & open to the public.

Plan Ahead
Apr 30 - Gardening Talk - Straw Bale Gardening

May 5 & 6 - Spring Plant Sale

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Jill Wright at 757-385-4769 during the business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations 5 days prior to the event. TDD number (800) 828-1120.  
Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.