Upland Prairie photo album

Summer Retrospective Part 3

Photos courtesy of Casey Colley, Kathleen Dennis, Devon Johnson and Mallory Mead.

Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture (OCCUH) is a learning laboratory for sustainable horticultural practices in both rural and peri-urban landscapes. The 6.5 acres on the SW corner of the campus house are used for formal and informal OSU research, riparian restoration, a student CSA program, as well as just plain fun. 

This summer, OCCUH invited the OSU Extension Master Gardener (MG) trainees to work on a pilot project renovating and planting beds on the grounds. Kathleen Dennis, the on-site project lead, guided the MG volunteers. Together, the group:

  • Weeded, mulched, and added native wildflowers to an upland prairie area
  • Renovated a high-profile woody hedgerow, and
  • Planted a small hummingbird garden.

The Southern Hedgerow at Oak Creek

Summer Retrospective Part 2

By Sarah Bronstein, Master Gardener

Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture (OCCUH) is a learning laboratory for sustainable horticultural practices in both rural and peri-urban landscapes. The 6.5 acres on the SW corner of the campus house are used for formal and informal OSU research, riparian restoration, a student CSA program, as well as just plain fun. 

Last summer, OCCUH invited the OSU Extension Master Gardener (MG) trainees to work on a pilot project renovating and planting beds on the grounds. Kathleen Dennis, the on-site project lead, guided the MG volunteers. Together, the group:

  • Weeded, mulched, and added native wildflowers to an upland prairie area
  • Renovated a high-profile woody hedgerow, and
  • Planted a small hummingbird garden.  

The Southern Hedgerow is a long high profile bed near the parking area for the Bee Lab at OCCUH. The bed is anchored with native woody perennials such as California Lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus) and Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium), as well as show-stopper ornamentals including columnar apples, cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) and coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis). As is often the case in the Willamette Valley’s verdant summers, when the MG work began in August, weeds had encroached in some areas, and plants had grown into one another. The purpose of the Master Gardener Pilot Project in this bed was to weed, thin, and prune the bed to highlight the existing plantings. Empty spaces were planted with ornamentals, many of which were selected to attract pollinating insects and hummingbirds. 

Renovating the Hedgerow proved to be rewarding work. As the weeds were pulled away and spent stalks of Cardoon and Milkweed were removed, Master Gardener Trainee Sarah Bronstein revealed forgotten plants, and made space for new plantings. In some cases, the bed held both pleasant and unpleasant surprises. A rare Heptacodium miconoides was revealed among a thick stand of Douglas aster,  that had shielded it from summer rays. 

Bronstein had the benefit of utilizing OCCUH’s plant stock, including red and blue ornamental sages (Salvia elegans), variegated butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii), and an olive tree. A wildflower mix and wild strawberries were tucked in between other plants to help cover the ground and prevent future weed invasions.

In the coming year human, insect, and avian visitors to Oak Creek will be welcomed by the silvery hues of Cardoon, Coyote Bush, and Milkweed in the Southern Hedgerow, accented by the bright colors of purple Buddleia flowers and ornamental sage.

OCCUH’s mission is to utilize open expanses in a more coherent urban-based fashion. Urban Meadows, Green Roofs, pollinator space, and urban wildlife habitats are all on the drawing board. The Center is always looking for volunteers to help with projects.

The Hummingbird Garden at Oak Creek

Summer Retrospective Part 1

By Sarah Bronstein, Casey Colley, Kathleen Dennis, and Xia Lu

Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture (OCCUH) is a learning laboratory for sustainable horticultural practices in both rural and peri-urban landscapes. Its 6.5 acres on the SW corner of campus house formal and informal OSU research, riparian restoration, a student CSA program, as well as just plain fun.  

This past summer, OCCUH invited OSU Extension Master Gardener (MG) trainees to work on a pilot project renovating and planting beds on the grounds. Kathleen Dennis, the on-site project lead, guided the MG volunteers.

Together, the group:

  • Weeded, mulched, and added native wildflowers to an upland prairie area
  • Renovated a high-profile woody hedgerow
  • Planted a small hummingbird garden

There is an inviting walkway between the greenhouses and OCCUH’s rock and water feature known as the “vernal pool”. MG trainees Casey Colley and Xia Lu used a mix of veggie and flower starts to transform the space into a low-profile garden to accent this pool. Native clarkia, Oregon sunshine were still going strong midsummer. Colley and Lu chose plants that were great for attracting pollinators, including

  • Ornamental sage  
  • Hot peppers
  • Sunflowers 
  • Tithonia 
  • Lagos spinach (Celosia argentea)
  • Beans
  • Basil
  • And several other herbs

They packed in so many colorful salvias that the garden became a hummingbird flyway. 

When the collaboration began, the little flowerbed was an open slate.

Later, Colley direct-sowed buckwheat between plants as a nitrogen fixer. This amazing mid-season cover crop is lovely in its own right, and can reach maturity in 45 days!  It lends itself to successive sowing from April to late September. When Lu and Colley thinned the mature buckwheat in September, the soil beneath each plant was the consistency of wet coffee grounds!

The season was a success! The hummingbird garden created a variety of textures, colors, and scents. It sustained lots of pollinating insects and kept Oak Creek’s resident hummingbirds happy. 

OCCUH’s mission is to utilize open expanses in a more coherent urban-based fashion. Urban Meadows, Green Roofs, pollinator space and urban wildlife habitats are all on the drawing board. The Center is always looking for volunteers to help with projects.

We hope gardeners are inspired by these summer memories as they plan gardens for the new growing season.

Master Gardeners interested in helping out on garden projects are encouraged to reach out to Elizabeth Records at [elizabeth.records@oregonstate.edu.

Planning an “Eat the Rainbow Garden”

By Karen A. Mills, Master Gardener

Nutritional resources reviewed by Tina Dodge, OSU Extension

Photo: nadine-primeau-unsplash

It’s time to plan your garden and even start a few early varieties. Perhaps, like most gardeners, you are taking stock of your garden successes and challenges and considering different paths for this year. Have you ever considered planting an “Eat the Rainbow Garden”? An Eat the Rainbow Garden is a garden that produces delicious fruit and vegetables in every color. Clearly, this type of garden would be vibrant, but did you know that creating this type of garden can also support your health?

Growing your own fruit and vegetables increases your access to healthy food, which in times of inflation is more important than ever. Gardening also increases the likelihood that you and your family will eat more fruit and vegetables than families who do not garden. And, when kids are involved in the planning, planting, growing, and harvesting of produce, they are much more likely to have a diet high in fruit and vegetables.

Growing a Rainbow Garden can certainly capture the imagination of kids, but they are just as important for adults. Rainbow Gardens support health exactly because they include all colors of the rainbow. Each color that we see in fruit and vegetables is created by phytochemicals (sometimes called phytonutrients), which are bioactive compounds found in plants that provide color, taste, and smell. Phytonutrients help out plants by protecting them from different diseases and too much sun. Phytonutrients may help people out by supporting our immune system and offering protection against different types of chronic diseases. Every phytonutrient color represents a different compound, each of which comes with different possible health benefits. See the table below for some delicious and colorful options!

Now that we know what an Eat the Rainbow Garden is, how do we build it? Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Location, location, location! It is important to understand your garden site. Get to know your site’s climate, soil, weather exposure, and sun. If you are just starting your garden, this is the opportunity to consider these topics when you select a garden site. Good garden site preparation sets the foundation for a successful gardening experience. For site preparation and selection tips check out: https://extension.unh.edu/resource/preparing-vegetable-garden-site
  • Choose your colors. The colors of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (a darker purplish blue), and violet (purple). Blue, indigo, and violet phytochemicals are often grouped together, but you can separate them in your garden for a beautiful effect. You can also add to the rainbow by including white, like a cloud! It can be a lot of fun to pick produce based on color. You can choose many different varieties of plants to cover the colors, or you can pick just a few types of vegetables that come in many colors, such as carrots, peppers, tomatoes, or even potatoes! Some examples can be found here: https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/fruit-and-veggie-color-list/
  • Plan plant placement. Now that you know your garden site and what fruits and vegetables you would like to try, it is time to consider plant placement. It might be tempting to group plants by color in a rainbow garden, however, each plant has its own garden needs. For example, cabbage prefers cool, moist conditions, and cucumbers prefer warm, dry conditions. Even though they are both green, it could be difficult to care for these plants if they are planted next to each other. Check out a resource like https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/ec871.pdf  for what plants do well in what kind of conditions.
  • Consider containers. If you garden on a patio or deck, or if your garden site is limited, consider container gardening. Containers can also be a great add on to an established garden, giving you the opportunity to add a plant that might not quite fit into your garden plan or rotation. Look for varieties that are specifically adapted for containers. Blueberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, leafy greens, peppers, potatoes, strawberries and many other plants have container options. OSU’s Growing Your Own – A Practical Guide to Gardening in Oregon (found here: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/em9027.pdf ) contains many basic tips to help you get your garden started including a section on varietals that grow well in containers in Oregon.  Check out this link (https://milwaukee.extension.wisc.edu/2019/06/10/best-container-gardening-vegetable-varieties/ ) for more suggestions on specific vegetable varieties that do well in containers.
  • Want more information? If you are interested in exploring a particular phytonutrient and the foods and health benefits associated with that particular phytonutrient, this is a good resource: https://integrativemedicine.arizona.edu/file/11275/phytoPrevention.pdf . And if you are science savvy, check out this good, very technical resource on phytochemicals: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals

Eat the Rainbow Gardens are not only beautiful to see but they can promote healthy eating. With so many colorful fruits and vegetables to choose from, experiment and have fun!

ColorMain PhytonutrientsGarden Options
RedAnthocyanins (including lycopene), antioxidantsApples, beets, cherries, radishes, red onions, red pears, red peppers (bell and hot), red plums, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon
OrangeCarotenoids (including beta-carotene)Apricots, carrots, nectarines, orange bell peppers, peaches, sweet potatoes,
YellowBio-flavonoids, luteinApples, Asian pears, corn, potatoes (Yukon golds), summer squash, winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.), yellow beets, yellow bell pepper
GreenCatechins, chlorophyll, flavonoidsAsparagus, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, broccolini, cabbage, cucumbers, green peas, leafy greens (chard, collards, dandelion, kale, lettuce, mustard, spinach, etc.), okra, peppers (bell, jalapeno, poblano, serrano), tomatillos, zucchini
Blue, Indigo & Violet*Anthocyanidins, flavonoids, phenolic acids, resveratrolBlackberries, blueberries, eggplant (Italian or Japanese), figs, huckleberries, plums, purple bell peppers, purple cabbage, purple carrots, purple cauliflower, purple grapes, purple kale, purple potatoes
WhiteAllicin, flavonoids, indolsCauliflower, daikon radish, garlic, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, turnips,

*Blue, indigo and violet phytonutrients are often grouped together.

Algert, S. et al. (4/1/2016) Community and home gardens increase vegetable intake and food security of residents in San Jose, California. California Agriculture. 70(2):77-82. https://doi.org/10.3733/ca.v070n02p77  Accessed on October 17, 2022.

McManus, KD. (4/25/2019). Phytonutrients: Paint your plate with the colors of the rainbow. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/phytonutrients-paint-your-plate-with-the-colors-of-the-rainbow-2019042516501   Accessed on October 17, 2022.

Minich, DM. (2019) A review of the science of colorful, plant-based food and practical strategies for “Eating the Rainbow”. J Nutr Metab. 2019:2125070. doi: 10.1155/2019/2125070  Accessed on October 17, 2022.

Seed Library Coming to Corvallis 

A person holds a selection of seed packets. Credit: urbancow, Getty Images

The Public Seed Library is a new collaborative project of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, with the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library serving as the host partner and the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program providing educational resources. The free, volunteer-run Public Seed Library is expected to open at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library downtown by March ’23. 

“This is a natural opportunity to collaborate to benefit so many, so easily!” said Jill Farrow, who is a member of both organizations. “The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s Food Action Team puts on the free Edible Garden Tour each year to increase local food consumption and support home gardening. The Benton County Master Gardeners provide many educational resources for gardening. The new Public Seed Library leverages the strengths of these two community volunteer organizations.”  

This will be a seed-sharing library to share sustenance: Give what you can, and receive seeds and garden knowledge on how to plan a garden, grow vegetables, and companion herbs and flowers too for pollinators and other beneficial insects. 

The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition is looking for volunteers to collect donated seeds, then help organize and inventory seed packets to stock the new Public Seed Library. If you’re an individual interested in volunteering, or a company interested in making a tax-deductible donation of commercial seed packets, reach out to connect with the Food Action Team now here

As the educational partner, Benton County Master Gardeners will offer vegetable garden planning and growing lectures, as well as staff pop-up Plant Clinic help desks at the Corvallis Public Library next spring and summer. The Public Seed Library will be available to everyone who visits the Corvallis Public Library, for their personal use, regardless of whether they have a library card. It’s intended to support new and experienced home gardeners too.  

These local organizations already partner with others to provide the free Corvallis Garden Resource Guide and gardening educational outreach through the Neighborhood Planters Kiosks project. Corvallis has an active gardening community and three family-owned retail nurseries that support local school gardens, community gardening, and natural area conservation groups. There’s a lot of programming support for people who are looking to start gardening or grow more of their own food. “The Public Seed Library will benefit all: current gardeners who will have free access to a broader variety of seeds, new gardeners, and the environment too,” Farrow says. 

The Public Seed Library will be stocked exclusively with donated vegetable, herb, and flower commercial seed packets “Packed for 2022.” Please consider donating new or open and partially used seed packets if you’re a home gardener who has left over commercial seed packets “Packed for 2022”. Donations from the general public will be collected from mid-December through January ’23 at two drop-off donation sites: 

  • Benton County Master Gardener’s OSU Extension Office at 4077 SW Research Way 
  • Corvallis Public Library downtown at 645 NW Monroe Ave inside at the Librarian’s Desk 

Look for future updates on the Public Seed Library project on the Benton County Master Gardener and Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s Food Action Team websites, also a new Instagram account, coming soon. For questions about the project, contact the Food Action Team here. 

Trap Crops: what are they and how can they help control pests?

By Carrie Falotico, Master Gardener Trainee

Crucifer flea beetles (Phyllotreta cruciferae) and Brassica juncea, a trap crop that attracts these pests.

Plant pests can certainly be one of the most frustrating parts of growing your own food garden. Trap crops are part of an Integrated Pest Management plan. Here’s how they work. 

A TRAP CROP can be defined as a sacrificial plant that draws away damaging insects from the desirable crop.

Essentially, a trap crop works as an alternative host that draws away invading insects, giving the main vegetable crop an added layer of protection. In some cases, insects have a preference for these alternative hosts, and when given the choice, will go to the trap crop first.  After trap crops are infested with target insects, they can be controlled with timely insecticidal applications or mechanical removal. While trap cropping can be extremely beneficial, it is often not a complete solution. Trap crops will not control all insects and the use of integrated pest management (IPM) is necessary. IPM practices include rotating crops, attracting beneficial insects, and prudently using organic and synthetic chemicals.

This article gives a great explanation of trap cropping for small commercial growers. Many of these practices are also very useful in the home garden and can be done on a smaller scale.

Another great resource that details trap crops as well as intercropping and companion planting, that, when combined with trap crops, can make an even bigger impact when controlling pests.

Identification is key

You will definitely want to make sure you have correctly identified the pests causing damage to your plants. Different pests may prefer different trap crops and may require different integrative pest management (IPM) techniques. This resource is a helpful guide to identifying common pests as well as insects that are beneficial and helpful to gardeners.

Example: Flea beetles 

Flea beetles (including Epitrix spp. and Phyllotreta cruciferae) are a well-known garden pest on crops like kale and broccoli. For flea beetle control, Chinese southern giant mustard (Brassica juncea var. crispifolia) is an example of a trap crop that has been used effectively in the United States to protect crucifer crops from flea beetle damage. In studies conducted at Washington State University (WSU), a diverse trap crop containing Pacific Gold mustard (B. juncea), Dwarf Essex rape (B. napus), and pac choi (B. campestris L. var. chinensis) successfully protected broccoli from the flea beetle. Diverse trap crop plantings combine plants that have different phenologies (life cycles which can be influenced by the environment, weather conditions, and nutrition), chemical profiles, and physical structures that make them more attractive to flea beetles. 

It is important to note, however, that trap crops may not provide complete protection, especially during heavy pest infestations. You also have to manage the pests on the trap crop by removing them by hand and killing them, or using insecticide. Trap crops will be even more effective if several integrated pest management strategies are used together, like 

  • Control weeds in and around planting sites to limit food sources for flea beetles.
  • Remove old crop debris so that beetles will not be able to get protection in the winter.
  • Plant crops as late as possible. Plants grow faster in warmer temperatures and are more stable to resist damage from flea beetles.
  • Use row covers or other screening to keep beetles out when the seedlings are growing.
  • Remove row covers before the flowers come up so pollinating insects can reach the plants.

These articles give excellent detail on managing flea beetles:

Explore more

If you are interested in reading more about Integrated Pest Management and how it can help your garden thrive, this is a great resource

I hope you find this information helpful and that these methods help you have a more enjoyable gardening experience!

Linn Master Gardeners win award for pollinator newsletter

 Congratulations to Linn County Master Gardener Association for winning the Marje Luce Search for Excellence from Oregon Master Gardener Association, for their publication Bee Notes.

Bee Notes raises awareness about stewarding native pollinators, including timely tips for care of blue orchard mason bees. Bee Notes is a key component of the outstanding pollinator education initiatives of Linn Master Gardeners, including the BEEvent Pollinator Conference which won this same award in 2019.

Search for Excellence is the recognition program of Master Gardener volunteer work, both throughout the United States and Canada (at the International level), and across the State of Oregon within the OMGA.

7 Steps to Maximize Your Harvest’s Nutrients

Written by: Karen Mills, Master Gardener Trainee

Credit: cottonbro

Eat more fruit and vegetables! We have all heard this command from many sources. And for good reason! Produce is the main source of many vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other nutrients in our diet. Did you know that if your garden includes fruit and vegetables, you may eat more produce than people who do not garden? This warms the hearts of your parents, dietitians, and doctors.

Any produce you eat is a good thing and includes all of those nutrients your doctor is hoping you will eat. But it does beg the question, is one tomato the same as another? Does a tomato have the same amount of nutrients in it regardless of where that tomato comes from, how it was grown, and how it is processed? Not necessarily. The condition of your soil, how you manage your garden, and how you harvest, store, and process your bounty can all impact the nutrient content of your produce. Whether you grow cucumbers in a container on your patio or have a large garden in your yard, how can you make sure that the produce you grow has the most nutrition possible? Follow these 7 steps to get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck

Test Your Soil pH

  • The nutrient content of produce begins with healthy soil. If your garden soil pH is off, nutrients that might be in the soil may not be available to your plants. For example, if your soil is too acidic, your plants may not get enough calcium leading to blossom end rot in your zucchini and tomatoes. Adjust your soil pH in accordance with test results.
  • More information on soil pH

Test Your Soil Nutrients

  •  If your soil lacks nutrients, your produce will also lack nutrients. A soil test can tell you the amount of phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and micronutrients you have to work with. Fertilize and amend your soil in accordance with the soil test, plant needs, and package instructions. Proper use of fertilizer and soil amendments can optimize produce flavor, texture, color, size, nutrient composition, and shelf life. Be careful – too much fertilizer can be just as bad as too little!
  • More information on fertilizing your garden.

Manage Your Garden Watering

Time Your Harvest

  • Know when your vegetables are at their peak and harvest as close to that time as you can. Every fruit and vegetable has its unique indicators of when to harvest. While many vegetables are at their highest deliciousness when allowed to fully ripen on the plant, allowing some vegetables to remain unharvested past the peak ripeness can result in inedible produce. For example, okra becomes woody and inedible when left to grow after peak maturity is achieved. Some produce can continue to ripen after harvest. While harvesting prior to maturity may prevent the neighborhood deer and squirrels from snacking on your tomatoes, early harvest means tomatoes lower in vitamin C than tomatoes left to ripen on the plant.
  • More information on harvesting, handling, and storing popular home garden crops.

Eat or Process as Quickly as You Can

  • Reduce the time between harvest and eating or processing as much as you can. As soon as you harvest fruit and vegetables, they start to lose nutrients. After all, you have removed the produce from the plant that provides nutrients and water. 

Store Your Harvest Appropriately

  •  If you do need to store your harvest, make sure that you are doing so correctly. Each type of produce prefers a specific type of storage environment. Storing your harvest correctly not only keeps it fresh longer but also helps retain nutrients. Some produce, such as snap beans, prefers cold, moist storage. Some produce, such as winter squash, prefers warm, dry storage.
  • More information on the particulars of storage

Pick a Preservation Method That Retains Nutrients

Nothing beats the taste of freshly picked, home-grown produce. Using these tips will help you get the most nutrition you can from all of your hard work, patience, and perseverance. Happy gardening!


Pests In July

Written By: Chad Kuwana, Master Gardener Volunteer Trainee

Black vine weevil
Credit: University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources

Check back in with your azaleas and rhododendrons this summer!

At this point of the year, summer is in full swing and daily high temperatures are consistently in the upper eighties and nineties. The beautiful spring weather that brought about stunning blooms in your garden is just a memory as you try to beat the heat with some freshly picked berries.

While some spring blooms may be holding on, most azalea and rhododendron bushes have lost their flowers and your attention has likely shifted to other parts of your garden like your fruits and vegetables. However, as you water your plants, you might notice notched edges on the leaves or fuzzy white spots on the branches of your azaleas or rhododendrons. These are signs that black vine weevils or scale might be present on your plants.

Black Vine Weevils – Otiorhynchus sulcatus


Black vine weevils are a type of beetle (Curculionidae) about ½ inch (12.7 mm) long. They cannot fly and are mostly black with small patches of white. The larvae are also about ½ inch (1.27 cm) long but are white with a brown head. Adult black vine weevils eat foliage and are most active at night. You will notice notches in leaves from where they were feeding. Larvae, however, feed on the roots of your azalea or rhododendron, so they can cause more severe damage to your plant as it can lead to diseases like Phytophthora root rot.

Damage from the black vine weevil.
Credit: University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources

Life Cycle

The reason you might be noticing evidence of their presence in July and early August is because of their life cycle. Black vine weevils usually emerge between May and June after overwintering in their larvae stage. Upon emerging they need anywhere between 21 and 28 days of feeding before they are ready to lay eggs and begin a new generation. Thus, peak adult populations are seen in the summer. Once they are ready to lay their eggs, black vine weevils can lay as many as 500 eggs over a two to three-week period.


Assuming you don’t have cultivars that are less susceptible to weevils in your garden, there are a few things you can do. 

If you’ve caught it early and the weevil population isn’t overwhelming, you can get rid of the weevils by hand. Once it’s dark (remember they are active at night), you can shake and beat the leaves over a sheet that will collect the fallen weevils and then dispose of them.

Another option is to use corrugated cardboard as a wrap around the trunk (also overnight). This wrap will serve as a trap so that when they seek shelter during the day, you can collect and dispose of them. Instead of a cardboard wrap, you can use a sticky material that will trap the weevils as they crawl up and down the trunk.

Lastly, you can also use parasitic nematodes to help control the infestation at the larval stage.

Azalea (rhododendron) Bark Scale – Eriococcus azaleae

Credit: Michigan State University Extension


Azalea bark scale are small insects about .13 inches (3.3 mm) long. They are red in color but are most recognizable by the fuzzy white sacs on twigs and branches. These egg sacs or ovisacs are important to remove during the summer so they do not hatch. When they hatch in September, the young scale will start to feed on the azalea or rhododendron by penetrating the bark and sucking out sap and will excrete a substance called honeydew. This honeydew will invite sooty mold and fungi to grow and cause your plant to look darkened, yellow, and/or sickly.

Credit: Michigan State University Extension

Life Cycle

The azalea bark scale lay their eggs in early April to hatch in May. During the summer, the young scale will feed and mature to produce the fuzzy white sacs in June and July. This is when you might notice the sticky substance on branches called honeydew and sooty mold covering the leaves. You might also start to see more fuzzy white sacs on the twigs and branches.


Starting with the fuzzy white sacs, you can brush them off with your fingernail or toothbrush. If an area is heavily infested, pruning is the best method for removal. Keep in mind also that fertilizing with too much nitrogen will support the population growth of scale.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, this post can help you get familiar with these two pests that might be hurting your azaleas and/or rhododendrons. Please reference the resources below for more detailed and extensive information on monitoring and controlling these pests in your garden. It’s easy to forget all the details that go into keeping up your garden so make sure to check in with the OSU Extension Monthly Garden Calendar to help you stay on top of key garden chores throughout the year.


Tools Make Hand Weeding Easy

By: Chris Smith, Master Gardener Trainee

Are you trying to manage your garden weeds without chemicals? While I’m not endorsing any company, I’ve found a few hand-weeding tools that might help. And, possibly with tools for the task, you’ll see hand weeding as an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and not merely a chore.

Credit: Chris Smith
Radius, 2-pronged, fork-tipped tools, and Hori-Hori Knife
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). These include long sleeves, long pants, closed-toed shoes, gloves, eye protection, and ear protection.
  • Avoid wearing loosely draped clothing or things that can be caught by tools when you work.
  • Be aware of your environment for safety risks.

Short Handled Tools:

Japanese Weeding Sickle

  • The weight of the tool is biased toward the front for easy handling
  • Typically, the edges are very sharp and come to a point
  • This tool works well on thick-stemmed roots

Half-moon Hand Garden Hoe

  • Works beneath the surface to pull the roots of the weed
  • Typically, the edges are very sharp
  • The crooked neck attached to the blade helps to correctly position the blade

CobraHead Weeder & Cultivator 

  • Available in a short or long-handle design
  • Blade is cobra-shaped and narrow for accurate digging
  • Blade is steel and is meant to break up and plow through soil

Radius Ergonomic Hand Weeder 

  • The curved handle enables manipulation without bending your wrist to reduce hand and wrist stress
  • Serrated, reinforced aluminum blade
  • The hand weeder is designed to slide deeply, alongside the root to pop out the root

Two Prong Weeding Fork (AKA Jekyll Weeder)

  • The two prongs are used to loosen the soil around the weed so that the root can be pried out
  • Useful for removing deep tap roots

Hori-Hori Soil Knife

  • Blade is 6-8 inches long
  • The edge of one side of the blade is smooth and the other is serrated
  • Useful for digging up and prying out weeds
  • Useful for cutting roots and splitting iris tubers

Long Handled Tools:

Grandpa’s Weeder Tool 

  • Allows you to grab weeds without bending over
  • Center the tool over the weed, then press the forked end into the ground
  • Next, tilt the handle, which closes the claw and grabs the root so that you can lift it out

Hula, Scuffle, or Stirrup Hoe

  • Works beneath the soil
  • Push or pull the blade toward you at a shallow depth
  • The movable blade uses a hula-motion to cut weeds with shallow roots that are close to the surface

Dandelion weeder, fishtail weeder

  • Forked-tip allows you to reach under and in-between places
  • Tends to make a small hole to access weed roots without disturbing close-by plants
  • Good for weeds with taproots 

Garden Seats, Kneelers, and Carts – can make your weeding project easier.

  • There are many different seat varieties, including some with wheels
  • Consider the height of the seat and the weight that you will carry as you move around your yard or garden
  • Again, there are many different kneeler varieties. Some have handles, and some can be turned upside down to make a seat
  • The design of the knee pads varies. Consider any physical needs you have that could influence your decision about the design and thickness of a knee pad
  • Wheeled carts are useful for carrying both your tools and the weeds you dig up
  • Carts come in a variety of sizes and weights you’ll want to consider before making a choice
  • An example of a clean-up cart made specifically for gardening is the Garden Clean-up Cart. It is sized to hold an 11-gallon plastic tub, with widely spaced wheels and a design to keep the tub level
Credit: Chris Smith
Tub Cart, Knee and Seat Pad, along with Grandpa’s Weeding Tool