Most varieties of the so-called Christmas cactus are really examples of the Thanksgiving cactus.
While there is a type of cactus named the Christmas cactus, the Thanksgiving species has by far the most hybrids and is more prominent during the Yuletide season.
The kind you see most often at Christmas has three to four pairs of saw-toothed projections resembling crab claws on the leaves, and that’s the Thanksgiving or crab cactus. The leaves of the true Christmas cactus, in contrast, are rounded with no saw-toothed edges.
The days are growing shorter and the beautiful autumn leaves are beginning to pile up on your lawn. What can you do with all those fallen leaves?
Think of them as a valuable horticultural resource that can help condition your lawn and garden soil, while reducing the volume of your yard waste by 75 percent.
The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) has the potential to destroy high-value crops, including grapes, tree fruits and hardwood lumber. Early detection is vital for the protection of Pennsylvania agriculture and businesses.
In an effort to keep the spotted lanternfly from spreading, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has quarantined municipalities in the Lehigh Valley and Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Right now pollinators need our help. Most people know that the European honeybee suffers from colony collapse disorder, but fewer are aware that many native pollinators are declining, including bumblebees, one of our best pollinators.
The reason for the decline is complex. As more and more land is developed for housing and commerce, we lose plants that are vital sources of nectar and pollen. We also lose places for bees to nest. Disease and parasites have entered the picture. And lastly, we apply pesticides to our landscapes that are harmful to pollinators.
Native plants create beautiful landscapes that provide native wildlife with the diverse habitat and food they need to survive.
Plants are the foundation of local ecosystems. As such, they maintain the natural heritage of a region.
Native plants form the basis of the food chains that support bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds inhabiting our backyards. Because Pennsylvania’s native plants are adapted to grow here, they thrive with less maintenance, thereby reducing the labor and expense of watering and fertilizing.
Ground-overs are living plants or inert materials that serve to cover and protect the soil.
Plants used for groundcovers include many varieties. Grasses, vines and low-growing shrubs, flowers and herbs add color, fragrance and beauty to the garden. Some are self-seeding annuals. Others are perennials.
They can be deciduous or evergreen, broad-leafed or needle. They can range in size from a few inches to shrubs that reach three feet. Generally, the smaller the plant, the more versatile it is as a groundcover.
Container gardening means just that: Gardening in a container, any kind of container.
Old wash tubs, buckets, laundry baskets, enamel pots, ceramic pots, plastic pots ... virtually any kind of container can be used.
Container gardening is a way for everyone to have plants anywhere. The container can be on your porch, on a windowsill, in your yard, beside your front steps on a deck or patio, any place you can fit a container.
The mosquito (Aedes aegypti) that carries the Zika Virus is not a threat in the Lehigh Valley. It is a tropical species and not adapted to the region’s cooler climate.
We do have the Asian Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which is considered a potential vector for the Zika Virus. We also have plenty of Culex mosquitoes, the species that transmits West Nile virus.
Special to The Press
If you are tired of a plain winter landscape, now is the time to check out plants that have a great deal of interesting characteristics that stand out at this time of the year.
Paperbark maple is an ideal specimen tree and is well-suited for use in small yards. It can be grown at the edge of the woods, or possibly planted in small groves.
The paperbark maple, Acer griseum, is native to central China. This lovely small tree has become a favorite ornamental of temperate climate gardeners around the world.
Put out a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) alert for the spotted lanternfly.
No, this is not a TV police drama, but continued vigilance is needed for the invasive spotted lanternfly. It has not been found outside of the six Berks County townships under quarantine (District, Pike, Earl, Hereford, Washington and Rockland) yet. But if it exists outside of that area, everyone wants to know.
The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), an invasive plant-hopper, was discovered in Berks County in 2014. This pest is native to China, India, Japan, Vietnam, and was introduced to Korea.