Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Myrtle Rust

Plant material sampled from a cut flower/foliage producer in NSW has been
confirmed as Uredo rangelii (Myrtle rust). This is the first time this fungus has
been found in Australia and is identified as a disease of significance in the
Nursery Industry Biosecurity Plan.

The Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP) has agreed
that further survey work is required around the infected property. Trace forward
and trace back actions are occurring to find other possible incidents of this plant
rust. Infected plant material has and is being treated with fungicides to contain
the infection on site while further surveys are undertaken.
This is the first known identification of the Uredo rangelii (Myrtle rust) on Agonis
flexuosa (Willow Myrtle), a species native to Western Australia but planted widely
across Australia as an ornamental. Once more is known about the extent of
spread of the rust, a response plan will be considered by the CCEPP.
Myrtle Rust:
This plant disease is closely related to the fungi causing guava rust, which is
also known as eucalyptus rust, and part of a complex of rusts that infect the
Myrtaceae family of plants which include many Australian native species.
Rusts are highly transportable. Their spores can be spread via contaminated
clothing, infected plant material, on equipment and by insect movement and wind
These types of rust affect commercial plant growing operations and native
ecosystems. The response is being managed in consultation with state and
commonwealth environment agencies.
Industry Response:
The NGIA has agreed to distribute this Pest Alert nationally to encourage the
nursery industry to inspect your crops/stock and on-site vegetation for signs of
this rust disease. A fact sheet with photos of the disease and information on
identifying and reporting the disease is attached for industry to quickly detect any
further infected sites across Australia.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Azaleas in the Landscape

Azaleas in the Landscape

Azaleas and Camellias have very similar growing requirements and are the perfect companions in home gardens whether they are suburban, country, courtyards or simply pots on balconies. Azaleas are easily grown in pots as specimens, hedges, mass planted or grown as a standard.


Azaleas grow best in acid soils - pH 5.5 - that have a high organic content and are fully at their best when planted into soil that has been enriched with organic matter so that the roots are able to move out freely and soil moisture is retained for longer periods.

Azaleas will grow and bloom in quite open positions, providing watering is adequate. Semi-shade positions under high trees which provide protection from the hot midday sun will give better blooms, a prolonged flowering period and less fading or scorching of blooms.

Planting positions are indicated in the catalogue pages listed in the menu on the left.


Deep planting will set back the surface-rooting Azalea and must be avoided. This is a major cause of unhealthy plants and promotes root rot.

Dig the planting hole twice as large as the root ball and to the depth of the pot.

Improve soil with organic matter or special camellia mix or aged cow manure.
Soak plant before removing it from the container.
Firm down soil at base of planting hole before placing plant on top. This ensures the plant does not sink after planting.
Ease out roots around the root ball with fingertips.
Ensure top of the potted plant's soil is level with existing soil, if not the plant is too deeply planted and will need to be lifted out and more soil added to the base of the hole.
Water well.
You may wish to construct a small collar around the root ball so water is able to be held and allowed to soak in slowly during the plant's settling in period.
Extra care, especially with watering, is required if planting during the hotter months.

Azaleas suffer badly if left to dry out, particularly during the summer periods when temperatures are more extreme. Watering systems are a good investment as the microsprays apply the water directly to the root area.


Azaleas are light feeders and care should be taken not to over feed. For best results a liquid fertiliser such as Aquasol® should be used every four weeks between September and March at the recommended rates on the pack. In addition, Osmocote Plus® may be appied in early Spring and Autumn.

Always water well before applying fertiliser.
Always read the instructions before using.
Never apply more than the recommended rates given by the manufacturer.

Pruning of Azaleas is best done in October-November. Vigorous growers can be cut back quite heavuily. Slow growing Azaleas should only require a light trimming or pruning back. Stray growth which pushes up through the main plant should be pruned back to 10cm below the plant's canopy to promote shorter bushier shoots.


Before spraying:

Do not mix different sprays.
Only use the spray if recommended for the purpose.
Be sure you have a problem. Do not spray unnecesarily.
Read and follow the directions on the pack.
Wear protective clothing.
Spraying is best carried out in the cool of the day (late afternoon).
Lace Bug

A small winged insect that is found on the underside of leaves during Spring and Summer. Damaged leaves appear silver on top and usually have a dark spotty underside. Control is necessary to ensure healthy plants. Confidor® is effective and four single sprays in early October, December, February and April will keep the lace bug under control.


Almost invisible to the naked eye, these small translucent insects of spider-like appearance cause a tan discolouration to the leaf surface and malformation of new growth. Check with your local nursery if you feel you have this insect as only specific Miticides are effective. Kelthane is currently being used to control this pest.

Leaf Miner

Invisible as the small insect tunnels through the leaf leaving a silvery trail before exiting. Take some foliage to a nursery to confirm. 'Pest Oil' is an effective control during the active time only.

Petal Blight

Seen only during the flowering season. Flowers tend to become brown and mushy and hang on the bush. Spraying must commence before the flowers open out for the best control. Bayleton is the most effective fungicide at present and as it is a powder it must be mixed and used for each spraying.

azalea classification

The continual introduction of excellent new intermediate hybrids has made the old classification of evergreen Azaleas under the headings of Indicas or Kurumes appear obsolete.

The small flowered Kurumes are being replaced largely by hybrids of sounder constitution and with somewhat larger flowers which are so much easier to remove when spent.

We are therefore grouping for growth habit:

LARGE GROWING SINGLES which are basically back row or specimen plants of height or ample dimensions.
  browse Large Growing Singles catalogue  

MEDIUM GROWING SINGLES or SEMI-DOUBLES which are second or front-row plants of intermediate or spreading growth habit. Some varietal variation of flower size will be noted in this group and the semi-doubles are mainly of the "hose-in-hose" (flower within a flower) type.
  browse Medium Growing Singles or Semi-doubles catalogue  

These cultural notes are intended as a guide only.


Pest Oil Insect Control Spray is based on petroleum oil, it works by smothering insects. It can be used on all stages of scale insects but has the greatest impact at the 'crawler' stage. The 'crawlers' emerge at a different time depending on the type of scale but most emerge in the December to February period.

Correct scale identification and timing of the spray will improve the impact of any oil spray. Oils generally have a low impact on beneficial insects. A big advantage of this new generation Pest Oil is the low application rate at 5ml to a litre, so the product goes a long way.

Advances in oil technology mean that this oil can be used all year round without damage to plants, up to a temperature of 35°C. Pest Oil will control: red, white wax, pink wax, black, soft brown, grapevine, San Jose and oyster shell scale; two-spotted spider mite, aphids, white fly and mealy bugs.

Pest Oil is the first registered non-toxic control for citrus leafminer; it works by forming a protective film on immature leaves, which the adult leafminer moths avoid.

A Landline program on the ABC reported a trial mixing 1% oil with Bt to give excellent results against Heliothis.

Two-spotted mite

Two-spotted mite

Two-spotted mites are tiny creatures (about the size of a full stop) that damage plants by feeding on the chlorophyll in the leaves. They are yellowish-green with 2 large dark spots on their back. In autumn they turn reddish-orange, hence their other common name, red spider. The first symptom that your plants are under attack is usually a white spotting on the surface of the leaves. In heavy infestations the mites remove nearly all the chlorophyll and the leaves turn yellow and drop off.  Mites secrete a very fine, silk-like webbing which protects the mites from enemies and contact with chemical sprays. Two-spotted mite feeds on a wide range of plants, particularly cucumbers, tomatoes, capsicums, beans, roses, orchids, strawberries, berry fruits and apple and peach trees.

Suggested Organic Strategies:

  • Common organic practices such as making compost, mulching the soil and avoiding chemical insecticides help to encourage predatory mites, a major predator of two-spotted mite.  A healthy garden will have a resident population of predatory mites to keep pest mites under control.

  • Try a high pressure hosing in the early morning, 3 days in a row.

  • An unlikely pest control device is a hand held vacuum cleaner! After vacuuming, tip the contents immediately into a plastic bag and place in the freezer for a few hours.

  • Keep your plants healthy by feeding, mulching and watering.

Stamen_ Detail of flowers

Stamen one of the four basic parts of a flower . The stamen (microsporophyll), is often called the flower's male reproductive organ. It is typically located between the central pistil and the surrounding petals. 

A stamen consists of a slender stalk (the filament) tipped by a usually bilobed sac (the anther) in which microspores develop as pollen grains. The number of stamens is a factor in classifying plant families, e.g., there are 5 (or multiples of 5) in the rose family and 10 in the pulse family. In most flowers the stamens are constructed so as to promote cross-pollination and to avoid self-pollination; 

e.g., they may be longer than the pistil or may be so placed in relation to the pistil (as in the mountain laurel and the lady's-slipper) as to prevent the pollinating insect from transferring the pollen of a flower to its own pistil. 

There may be differing maturation times for the stigma of the pistil and for the anther. In some plants there are some flowers (staminate) that bear stamens and no pistil and others (pistillate) that have a pistil and no stamens; these flowers may be borne on the same or on separate plants of the same species. In some highly developed flowers, especially double ones, and in some horticultural varieties (e.g., the geranium) the stamen may be modified into a sterile petallike organ.


Pythium root rot is a common crop disease caused by a genus of organisms called Pythium. These are commonly called water moulds.Pythium damping off is a very common problem in fields and greenhouses, where the organism kills newly emerged seedlings.
This disease complex usually involves other pathogens such as Phytophthora and Rhizoctonia. Pythium wilt is caused by zoospore infection of older plants leading to biotrophic infections that become necrotrophic in response to colonization/reinfection pressures or environmental stress, leading to minor or severe wilting caused by impeded root functioning.
Pythium in turfgrass
Many Pythium species, along with their close relatives, Phytophthora species are plant pathogens of economic importance in agriculture.Pythium spp. tend to be very generalistic and unspecific in their host range. They infect a large range of hosts, while Phytophthora spp. are generally more host-specific.
For this reason, Pythium spp. are more devastating in the root rot they cause in crops, because crop rotation alone will often not eradicate the pathogen (nor will fallowing the field, as Pythium spp. are also good saprotrophs, and will survive for a long time on decaying plant matter).
It has been noted that in field crops, damage by Pythium spp. is often limited to the area affected, as the motile zoospores require ample surface water to travel long distances.
Additionally, the capillaries formed by soil particles act as a natural filter and effectively trap many zoospores. However, in hydroponic systems inside greenhouses, where extensive monocultures of plants are maintained in plant nutrient solution (containing nitrogen, potassium, phosphate, and micronutrients) that is continuously recirculated to the crop, Pythium spp. cause extensive and devastating root rot and is often difficult to prevent or control.

 The root rot affects entire operations (tens of thousands of plants, in many instances) within two to four days due to the inherent nature of hydroponic systems where roots are nakedly exposed to the water medium, in which the zoospores can move freely

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cliveas just separated and potted up.

It’s marvellous to have plants in your garden that just flower year after year with almost no maintenance - one such plant is the Clivea.

Cliveas are beautiful plants with lush green straplike leaves all year round. But when they come into flower, they show off stunning displays of burnt orange to cream flowers that look absolutely magnificent.

In the garden, Cliveas are extremely easy plants to grow. They just need the right conditions.

Cliveas love shaded areas and do very well below trees and under large shrubs. They love a well drained soil, so when planting, dig in Searles® Real Compost.

One great aspect of Cliveas is that they don’t need much watering. Cliveas will actually grow very well in dry conditions, but some watering will produce their best growth and flowers. A good deep soak once a week will be sufficient for brilliant colour & growth.

To keep them a lovely deep green & really bring on spectacular flowering, fertilise regularly with Searles Flourish® Soluble Plant Food.

As cliveas grow, the slowly multiply into numerous plants. They can be easily dug up and divided and then replanted into similar areas within the garden. Cliveas truly are easy plants to grow and look magnificent when in flower.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What is Diatomaceous earth and How is it Used?

Diatomaceous earth is not really an "earth". It is a product made from the fossilized remains of microscopic shells created by one celled plants called Diatoms. These plants inhabit all the waters of the earth. Some of these deposits shifted to dry land. There are different grades of Diatomaceous earth that are used for different purposes. Only use fresh water, FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous earth for humans or animals. Food Grade Diatomaceous earth is also called Fossil shell flour.

Diatomaceous earth is used as an insecticide. Its fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects' exoskeletons, which causes them to dehydrate. It's often used instead of boric acid to control and eliminate a cockroach infestation. It's used to control insects in grain storage, and also to get rid of ticks, fleas, aphids, silverfish, bed bugs, red spider mites, and other insects in the home. Use it as a barrier against slugs and snails. Diatomaceous Earth is pure organic so it won't harm the soil, earthworms, or any animals that eat the insects that came in contact with it.
Use Diatomaceous earth outdoors in the garden, on the lawn, and around the foundation of your home. Use it in storage sheds, in your attic, basement, and under your house, To prevent termites, sprinkle in wood chips, mulch, and in dark damp areas.  Put it in the walls around insulation when building or renovating a home.
It's beneficial as a soil additive, adding nitrogen to the soil. Diatomaceous earth can retain over 6 times its weight in moisture and will release it as the plants need it.

Diatomaceous earth will also kill beneficial insects, so avoid using it where beneficial insects may stay.


Diatomaceous earth can be used as a filter medium, especially for swimming pools. It is used in chemistry under the brand name Celatom or Celite to filter very fine particles that would pass through or clog filter paper. It is also used to filter water in fish tanks, in making beer and wine, and to filter syrups and sugar.


Because of its absorbency, it's a great product to use for cleaning up spills, and it's even recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to clean up toxic liquid spills.


Diatomaceous earth is approved by the US Department of Agriculture as a feed supplement. It's used on organic vegetables and in grain storage.  That white powder wash you see on organic vegetables and fruits is probably Diatomaceous earth and it is safe to eat.  Diatomaceous Earth is used in grains, rice, oats, beans and other grains for protection from insects.  
It keeps fly larvae from developing in manure. Mix it with feed for chickens and turkeys. It makes their shells harder, dries droppings quickly and reduces odors.


Diatomaceous earth is often used in hydroponic gardens, which is a way of growing plants with mineral nutrient solutions in water rather than using soil.
It is also used in potted plants People who grow bonsai trees use it as a soil additive or even pot a tree solely in Diatomaceous earth. It retains water and nutrients while draining fast, similar to vermiculite and perlite.


Only use FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous earth (Fossil shell flour). Other grades are harmful.Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth Fresh Water (Fossil Shell Flour) is totally natural and organic and listed with OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute).
The Food and Drug Administration considers Food Grade Diatomaceous earth - generally recognized as safe (GRAS).http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fcn/gras_notices/306203A.PDF

Human Uses for Fossil Shell Flour

As far as I can determine, there are no studies or research to prove Fossil Shell Flour is beneficial to humans, but there are many testimonials. It is suggested to mix 1 heaping tsp. with a glass of water or juice on a daily basis.
FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous earth (Fossil shell flour) is believed to eliminate parasites, stop arthritis, clean your colon, reduce cholesterol levels, regulate bowl movements, stop diarrhea, pull heavy metals form the bloodstream, and much more. In Europe, it's used to strengthen hair, bones, teeth, skin and nails.


Do not put Diatomaceous earth in a microwave.
Because of its absorbent qualities, your hands can become dry if you don't wear gloves.
If you have asthma or some other lung ailment, wear a mask or make sure you're not around any moving air.
Diatomaceous earth is drying to the eyes, so don't handle it when you or your pets are down wind of it. If you use it on your pets, put a towel over your pet's head to protect its eyes.
Don't give Diatomaceous earth to very small pregnant animals such as cats and guinea pigs.
Don't continually feed it to babies or small animals. Diatomaceous Earth can be fed on a continuous basis to larger animals and livestock.
The flux-calcined form of diatomaceous earth contains a highly crystalline form of silica. The sharpness of this version makes it dangerous to breathe and you should use a dust mask when working with it.
If you sprinkle Diatomaceous earth in your carpet to control fleas or other insects, don't use very much. Because of its powdery substance, too much may clog your vacuum cleaner.
Don't use pool filter grade diatomaceous earth around animals. It can poison or kill them. Only use food grade (fossil shell flour).
Diatomaceous earth is an interesting and beneficial product. You can do a search on the internet for places to buy it. Make sure you buy FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous earth (Fossil shell flour) for human and animal use.