The cold temperatures have finally arrived and are low enough to place northern Ohio into the former climate zone 5 instead of the official zone 6. Unfortunately, temperatures of -10º F and lower will result in the buds of evergreen azaleas being killed that are not protected under a layer of snow. One good piece of news is that the cold “decided” to arrive now instead as it did in February 2015 as the plant world was just waking up and cold damage was severe.

More rooted transplants of greenhouse flowers have arrived to be planted into hanging baskets and do present a risk of an infestation of insects which are currently at very low levels. The Koppert Company of Michigan has been helping us for a little over a year with beneficial insects and now has set up a new program for their use to combat aphids in addition to white flies, spider mites and the dreaded thrip insects. A combination of parasitic wasps, nematodes and predatory mites will do the job as they are released at regular intervals and sachets full of eggs of these critters are attached to hanging baskets. The eggs will hatch over a 30 day period and attack primarily thrips and the European two-spotted spider mite that are difficult to kill with sprays.

Tomorrow will be the second of our seven of winter instructional seminars with Robin Christensen of OSU extension in Portage County. Robin will speak on the use of native plants that will fit your landscape and provide food and habitat for the surrounding wildlife. Join us this Saturday at 11 a.m. for Robin’s enlightening presentation. Don’t worry about the cold as the Owl Barn is quite warm and the refreshments during the program break are well received by all.

Enjoy the winter as February will move along fast!