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In our continued efforts to provide educational outreach, the Baltimore County Master Gardeners (BCMG), volunteers who are part of the University of Maryland Extension, offer this newest installment in our monthly newsletters designed to provide timely, informative articles to assist you in your gardening activities.

Be on the lookout for the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive species. What can you do to become a Bay-Wise gardener? House Plant Care. Get ready for spring, this winter.
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Spotted Lanternfly Alert

by Sara Yosua, Baltimore County Master Gardner
The spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive sap-feeding insect native to eastern Asia that was first introduced to the U. S. in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014.  It has been found in Baltimore County as well as several other Maryland counties and Baltimore City.  The public is requested to be on the lookout for this pest and report any sightings to the Maryland Department of Agriculture at .  Harford and Cecil counties have established quarantines.

The spotted lanternfly is a type of planthopper insect that feeds in large groups on a wide range of plants including grapes, fruits, walnuts, oaks, and pines.  They feed by sucking sap from plant stems, trunks, and leaves as both adults and immature nymphs.  As they feed, they produce honeydew, a sugary waste substance, which sticks to the plant where it attracts other pests and triggers the growth of sooty mold. 
A preferred host plant for the spotted lanternfly is the tree-of-heaven, Ailanthus altissima. Insects feeding on the tree-of-heaven obtain toxic chemicals from the tree making them poisonous to potential predators.

Spotted lanternflies have a one-year life cycle and have one generation each year. The following pictures show the different life stages of this highly invasive pest: egg masses, nymphs, and adults.

1st-3rd instar, April-July          4th instar, July-September       Adult, July to early November

Eggs are laid in masses of 30-50 individual eggs.  Fresh egg masses, found from October through December, have a grey mud-like covering that cracks as it dries out. This covering flakes off revealing the brown eggs in 4-7 rows underneath.

New egg mass, Oct-Dec                                                                      Egg mass, Jan-March
Prevent spotted lanternflies by inspecting vehicles and outdoor equipment that travels in and out of locations where they have been reported.  Remove their preferred host plant the tree-of-heaven, Ailanthus altissim.
If you find a spotted lanternfly, report the location to the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Kill spotted lanternflies by crushing them or drowning them in soapy water or rubbing alcohol.  Scrape egg masses off of plants and hard surfaces using a plastic card or flat edge tool.  Eggs can then be crushed or dropped into rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.

Natural enemies include spiders, mantids, assassin bugs, and predatory stink bugs. 
For more information, visit the Maryland Department of Agriculture Spotted Lanternfly Information page, or watch this video from Penn State University on the Spotted Lanternfly Identification and Life Cycle.

Photos and content are from the University of Maryland Extension website page Spotted Lanternfly Management for Residents.
Landscaping for a Healthier Community
by Deborah Bacharach, Baltimore County Master Gardner

One of the programs developed by the University of Maryland Extension Service and taught by Baltimore County Master Gardeners is the Bay-Wise Residential Landscape Program.  The Master Gardeners educate homeowners on how they can have a healthier yard, a healthier community, and, thereby, a healthier Chesapeake Bay.  And the Master Gardeners also certify yards as “Bay-Wise.”

How can your yard be certified as “Bay-Wise?”  The University of Maryland developed a teaching and action tool, the “Bay-Wise Maryland Yardstick,” to help you work towards having an environmentally friendly yard.  It’s called a “yardstick” because you need to meet “36 inches” of credit on the Yardstick to have your yard certified as “bay-wise.”  It’s not very difficult and there are almost 70 inches of credit to choose from.  By changing a few simple landscape practices, you and your family can help keep Maryland communities healthy.  A copy of the Yardstick, which can be obtained online, will show you how to make your yard environmentally friendly. 
So, what do you need to do?  There are 8 general action areas pertaining to your landscape that are addressed by the Yardstick - not all of them may be appropriate for your yard.  They are:
  1. Control stormwater runoff
  2. Encourage wildlife such as butterflies and frogs
  3. Protect the waterfront
  4. Mow properly, water efficiently, and reduce lawn
  5. Manage yard pests with limited use of pesticides
  6. Recycle yard waste
  7. Fertilize wisely
  8. Use native plants
Stormwater Runoff – Because of the expanding amount of development over the past several decades, stormwater runoff from our properties is one of the fastest growing sources of pollution.  The runoff is not treated in any way.  It flows directly from our roofs, driveways, and yards into the closest storm drains, creeks, and streams, often causing erosion and flooding and eventually going into the Chesapeake Bay. 
To control runoff, we want to slow down the water, spread out the water, and allow it to soak into our property.  We can do that by directing downspouts and rain gutters to drain onto our lawns and gardens and using rain barrels to collect and store water.  We can also decrease the amount of lawn and substitute large or small mulched beds using native trees, shrubs, grasses, and groundcovers.  These plants have deeper roots than shallow lawn grasses and, therefore, hold more water, decrease runoff, and stabilize your yard.  Rain gardens can even collect stormwater runoff.

Encourage Wildlife – A healthy community depends on the health of our birds, insects, and amphibians.  Without pollinators such as bees and butterflies, we could grow no food.  Provide food, water, shelter, and space on your property for pollinators and birds.  Do this by planting milkweed for the monarch butterflies, bee balm, and Joe Pye Weed.  Include host plants for butterfly larvae food such as fennel, dill, parsley, and rue.  And don’t forget trees and shrubs that provide berries for the birds, such as Serviceberry trees, Winterberry holly bushes, and Chokeberry bushes.  You will be rewarded by seeing birds and butterflies in your yard regularly!
Protect the Waterfront – If you live by a creek or stream, be sure to have a buffer area between your yard and the water, using native grasses with deep roots.  Keep fertilizers and yard and animal waste at least 15 feet away from the water’s edge.

Mow Properly, Water Efficiently, and Reduce Lawn – Be sure to maintain your lawnmower as mowers can be a major source of air pollution.  And mow high, leaving at least 3-4” of grass to keep it healthy.  Water beds early in the morning with a direct spray at the base of the plant.  Water deeply and less often.  If possible, use a soaker hose or drip-irrigation.  No sprinklers.  And, if you reduce your lawn, you will have less to mow and a healthier yard!

Avoid Herbicides, Fungicides, and Insecticides – There are many good bugs and spiders that are beneficial for our yards.  By spraying a plant, you can cause a lot of ecological damage.  Instead, if possible, handpick insects that are causing problems, and hand pull weeds instead of spraying.  Learn to identify and attract beneficial insects.  They will help keep the bad insects under control!

Recycle Yard Waste – Leave the leaves (or at least some of them)!  Leave a natural mulch of leaves under your trees and shrubs.  Use fallen pine needles as a natural mulch around acid-loving plants such as azaleas.  Leaf litter on the ground provides a habitat for many beneficial insects and other wildlife.

Fertilize Wisely – No need to fertilize established lawns, but, if you do so, be sure to follow Maryland’s lawn fertilizer laws.  Only fertilize if a soil test shows that you are in need of a specific nutrient.  Use organic fertilizers.  Leave grass clippings on the lawn to break down and replenish the soil.
Use Native Plants – Native plants naturally grow in the area in which they evolved.  Because they are adapted to local soil and climate conditions, they generally require less watering and fertilizing, and they are often more resistant to pests and diseases.  There are many native trees, shrubs, and perennials that are both ornamental and have wildlife value
such as providing food and shelter.

If you are interested in having your yard certified as Bay Wise, download and complete the BayWise Maryland Yardstick and Application from the Bay-Wise Certification website, and email the forms to the Baltimore County Master Gardeners at

Seasonal Houseplant Care
By Marie Brannon, Baltimore County Master Gardener
If you’ve hosted an event since the middle of November, you may have been given a seasonal houseplant as a “thank you” gift.  In last month’s newsletter, we provided information about one of the most popular, poinsettia.  This month we’ll spotlight a few others.
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) 
It’s tough to beat amaryllis for adding a dramatic pop of color to your indoor landscape.  A single, softball-sized bulb will produce a tall stalk with large, trumpet-like blossoms.  Red is a popular color for the holidays, but there are also pink, white, and yellow varieties. 
Bulbs are usually sold already potted.  If you have a bulb that needs to be planted, select a pot that’s about an inch larger than the diameter of the bulb as these plants like to be somewhat pot-bound.  Use a potting mixture intended for houseplants and plant the bulb pointy side up leaving approximately 1/3 of the bulb showing.
Amaryllis need bright light to ensure growth so the best place for it is a sunny window.  Initially, water enough so that the potting mixture is barely moist; once you see around 3 inches of growth allow the top ½ inch of soil to dry out between waterings.  Rotate the plant each time you water so that the stalk grows straight.  Once the plant is blooming, increase watering to keep the potting mixture moist; decrease watering once the flowers fade.  There’s no need to fertilize.

When the flowers fade, cut back the stalk but leave the foliage as the leaves provide the energy to allow the bulb to rebloom.  Now is the time to fertilize using a standard houseplant fertilizer.  Once the danger of frost is passed you can move the plant outside, bringing it back in before the first fall frost.  My plant spends the summer in an inconspicuous corner of my vegetable garden.
Like most bulbs, amaryllis needs a dormancy period to rebloom.  If you’re hoping for blooms around the holidays, you need to start the process in late summer or early fall.   Light isn’t important for this process so move the plant to a cool (between 40-50°F), dry place like a basement.  Don’t water the plant and allow the leaves to wither.  After about 6-8 weeks you should see some new growth, and the flowering process can start again.
If you’re successful in getting multiple seasons from an amaryllis bulb, you will need to repot it after 3-4 years (remember, they like to be pot-bound).  When repotting you might see some smaller bulbs at the base where the roots originate.  If you’re looking for a real challenge, detach and plant these smaller bulbs.  It could take a few years for them to reach the minimum flowering size of 3-4 inches.
References: and caring for amaryllis | UMN Extension
Cacti (Schlumgera)
There are two cactus varieties that are popular this time of year; not surprisingly they are the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumgera truncata) and the Christmas cactus (Schlumgera bridgesti).  Their names are an indication of when they typically bloom.  You can tell which one you have by looking at the shape of the leaves:  Thanksgiving cacti have pointed, claw-shaped projections on the edges of the leaf; Christmas cacti leaf projections are more scalloped, or teardrop-shaped. 
Regardless of which type you have, care of these cacti is the same.  Place the plant in a sunny location, ideally with a north or east exposure.  If you only have a south or west exposure, shade the plant with sheer curtains.  These cacti are succulent plants and store some amount of water, but they are not necessarily drought tolerant.  Water thoroughly when the top half of the growing medium feels dry to the touch. How often you water will depend on air temperature, light exposure, and humidity.  To help maintain humidity, place the container on a tray of pebbles and keep water in the tray to increase humidity around the plant. Continue caring for the plant this way until the plant finishes blooming.

Once blooming is done, let the plant rest by withholding water for six weeks.  At that point resume watering to keep the soil fairly moist but let the surface dry out. 
Cacti can be moved outdoors during the warmer months, as long as there’s some shade as direct sunlight can fade or burn the leaves.  (My plant spends the summer on my east-facing covered porch).  Water whenever the soil feels dry. 
Before moving the plant indoors in early fall, hose it off to make sure no insects make it into the house, too.  Find that sunny location again and water the plant only when the leaves start to droop -- over-watering may cause the branches to droop more and break.  Water when the surface of the growing mix dries out.
To encourage blooms again the plant needs three things:  bright light, long nights (12-14 hours of darkness), and temperatures between 60-68°F for approximately 6 weeks.  A spare bedroom, closet, or room with blackout shades are good options.  Resume regular plant care once buds form. 
Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum)
The genus Cyclamen has about 20 species native to the Mediterranean region. Hardy cyclamen species are small perennials for shade or part shade.  Florist’s cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) was introduced in Western Europe in the early 17th century and eventually become a popular houseplant in the United States.  In recent years it has gained popularity as a holiday houseplant because it blooms in winter.
Cyclamen prefers cool temperatures and bright indirect light, with an ideal daytime temperature between 60 - 65°F and night temperatures around 50°F. Buds will fail to develop if temperatures go above 70°F, so be sure to keep them away from heat vents. Cyclamen likes to be kept moist but not soggy, another good reason for avoiding heat vents. Water when the potting medium feels dry to the touch, and water along the edge of the pot or from below to avoid causing the tuber to rot.
With proper care, your cyclamen should bloom for up to 4 weeks. Deadheading helps encourage more flowers to develop.  When deadheading, grab the spent flower stem securely and pull it off completely from the crown of the plant.
After flowering, the plant will go dormant – the leaves yellow and fall off so that energy can be channeled to the tuberous root.  This is the point that most people take their cyclamen to the compost pile.  However, with perseverance (and a little luck) it’s possible to force cyclamen to bloom again, although the plants may not be as vibrant. 
After the foliage dies off, don’t water the plant for 6-8 weeks and move the plant to a cool indoor location.  If the winter is mild enough, it can be moved to a cool, shaded spot outdoors.  When new leaves appear water infrequently until the leaves are fully developed; then resume the regular watering schedule.  Apply a diluted (half-strength) houseplant fertilizer every two weeks.  Remember: cyclamen prefers cool temperatures – daytime temperatures between 60 - 65°F and night temperatures around 50°F. With proper light, adequate moisture, and cool temperatures, cyclamen will rebloom by mid-winter.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary topiaries are another popular host gift because they look like small Christmas trees, are very aromatic, and bring some holiday cheer to the kitchen.  Keeping them healthy until you can move them outdoors takes a little bit of work, but it’s worth it.
Remove any decorative wrap from the pot to ensure that the plant has proper drainage.  As a native of Mediterranean climates, rosemary requires lots of sun and humidity.  Place the plant in full sun and rotate the pot weekly to ensure that all sides get some sun.  To support humidity, place the container on a tray of pebbles and keep water in the tray to increase humidity around the plant.
Although rosemary requires humidity, its roots and soil should be relatively dry.  Water when the soil dries out a bit but not to the point that the plant is wilting.  To avoid overwatering, place the pot in a larger container and then add water to the larger container. Allow the plant to absorb water through the pot drainage hole(s) for about an hour. Remove the pot and let it drain before returning it to sit on the pebbles.
Trimming your plant will help keep it healthy.  Any dead or browning stems should be pruned; don’t forget to look towards the middle of the plant, too.  If you notice white specks on the leaves or webbing on the plant, it’s likely a sign of spider mites. Dense foliage and poor air circulation contribute to this problem, so there’s another good reason to prune.  Putting your plant in the bathtub or taking it outside on a warm day to shower it off could help keep the spider mite population under control.
Rosemary is also prone to powdery mildew fungus, a white coating on the leaves when grown indoors and growth is crowded (yet another good reason to prune). No treatment is needed as this usually clears up once the plant is moved outside.   Speaking of which…
Rosemary should be planted in a sunny location, in very well-drained soil.  If you have clay or another heavy soil you could try planting it in a raised bed.  After removing the plant from the pot, break up the root ball and cut away any dead or circling roots.  Rosemary does best in poor soil, so no fertilizer or organic matter is necessary.   
Photo Credit: Rita Malloy- HGIC
No Need to Go Dormant This Winter:
Stay Active This Gardening Off-Season

by Elizabeth Heubeck, Baltimore County Master Gardner

With the first frost of the season officially behind us, many see that as a sign to hunker down and wait until next spring before doing any more gardening-related activities. But if that notion doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry. There’s plenty you can do between now and next March to get your “gardening fix” and prepare for a bountiful garden next season. 

Take stock of your infrastructure and repair or create as necessary. Collapsed raised bed? Broken fence? Now is the time to fix them. Weather permitting, you might also consider adding to your existing infrastructure; say, that paved pathway you’ve been thinking about, or a trellis for some climbing vines.

Replenish gardening supplies. Need new containers, tools or other gardening supplies? Purchase them now, so you won’t face the frustration of looking in your shed next spring and realizing that you are missing key items. Plus, you may be able to find some great deals during the off-season.  

Compost. While certainly not as sexy an aspect of gardening as seeing your flowers in full bloom, composting can go a long way toward beautifying your landscape. And, according to the experts, it’s a practice that needn’t stop in the winter. Best of all? The hardest part—turning the compost materials—can and should come to a halt during the winter, say the pros. For more on that plus other tips on getting started or keeping your compost going this winter, read this article from the University of New Hampshire’s Extension program.

Map out next season’s garden. If you’re completely content with the plant choices, pairings, and growth habits of what’s in your garden, then maybe this tip isn’t for you. But few gardeners are wholly satisfied with the form or function of what’s growing in their beds. And while even the most precisely designed plans on paper will not go exactly as expected, the exercise of visualizing how you want your garden to look will help guide you in the right direction. Several resources online can get you started mapping out your future garden, from a step-by-step “how-to” on Pinterest to region-specific instructions from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Take an inspirational trip. Drawing your dream garden on paper is one thing, but nothing can replace real-world inspiration from live gardens. We are fortunate to live in an area with some awe-inspiring public ones. Here are some with spectacular displays, open year-round: Baltimore’s largest public garden, Cylburn Arboretum; Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens in Baltimore; and Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.
Photo Credit: Longwood Gardens
University of New Hampshire’s Extension
Garden Map: How To Draw An Effective Annual Vegetable Garden Layout
The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Planner 
Copyright © 2021 University of Maryland Extension - Baltimore County Master Gardeners, All rights reserved.

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