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Perry County - Agriculture & Natural Resources

Department: MSU Extension- Perry County

Horticulture Tips

Smart Shopping Tips for Plants

With garden centers and nurseries full of plants right now and the weather, hopefully, settling down a bit after the recent storms it is time to get out and purchase some new plants for your yard and garden. With that in mind, here are some plant shopping tips to assist with your selections.

Smart Shopping for Annuals - these are purchased for fast growing, long lasting flowers or foliage. It is important to select healthy plants that have bushy growth that fills the pot. Foliage should be an even green color without obvious disease spots or insect damage.  Even though it is tempting to purchase a plant in flower, in many cases, this should be avoided. A plant in flower, in some cases, has been fed a high nitrogen fertilizer to spur rapid growth and development—this can result in a plant that is a heavy feeder. When these plants are transplanted into the garden and their high-maintenance diet is not maintained they can quickly lose vigor.  Look for plants that are just beginning to flower or are in bud. Sometimes plants are flowering because they have been in the pot too long and are too mature and leggy.  These should be avoided, or, if purchased, should be cut back to encourage densely branched new growth. Examples of these are verbena, marigold, salvia, and celosia.  Continue pinching these plants to get that bushy plant with many flowering stems. Annuals like petunia and impatiens rarely have to be pinched to get bushy growth.

Smart Shopping for Perennials - these are purchased for their longevity in the garden and their season of attractiveness, whether that is foliage color or blooms. Since these plants will be residing in your garden for years to come, selection of well-rooted plants with a good rosette of healthy foliage is important. Most perennials will not be flowering in the pot so you should be familiar with the mature height, width, bloom color and other characteristics of the plant before you make your selection. Sometimes, this is all on the label, but it is a good idea to talk to the nurseryman or garden center help if you have questions about the performance or hardiness of these plants.    You may ask their permission to pop the plant out of the pot to examine the roots, or ask them to do it for you.  The roots should be a light tan or off-white color and be plentiful, but not circling the root ball in a tight mat—this indicates the plant has been held to long in the pot and is pot bound. If you purchase a pot bound plant, before you plant, cut away the circling roots and tease the root ball apart to encourage growth of the new roots outward. 


Basic Avian Influenza Information

Avian influenza (AI), also known as “bird flu,” is a viral disease affecting birds. The virus infects domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, quail, and geese, and wild birds, such as shorebirds and waterfowl. AI viruses are divided into two groups—highly pathogenic (HPAI) and low pathogenic (LPAI)—based on the ability of the virus to produce disease and the severity of illness it can cause. HPAI spreads rapidly and has a high death rate in birds. LPAI causes only minor illness and occurs naturally in migratory waterfowl. The concern is that some LPAI virus strains are capable of mutating into HPAI viruses.

Most of the current outbreaks are from LPAI, which means the birds may only be sick for a few days, and may not show symptoms of illness. The virus is just as dangerous, however, because it can mutate from low pathogenic to highly pathogenic when it is spread from chicken to chicken. Therefore, it is important to keep both LPAI and HPAI versions of the disease from spreading.

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