Archive | May, 2012

Rose Care 101

31 May


A little advanced preparation goes a long way when it comes to growing healthy roses. Choose a well-drained site in an area of your garden that receives 6 hours or more of sun per day. Roses enjoy soil that contains plenty of composted organic material. One good solution is to use Rose Planting Mix at the time of planting and/or mix Black Forest compost into the planting hole and surrounding area. Prior to planting, make sure your rose is fully hydrated; give it ample water and allow time for the roots to take it up. Should you be planting more than one rose bush, or adding more to your collection, ensure that there is plenty of room between them for proper air circulation. Clean up any debris on the ground prior to planting.


There are many types and varieties of roses–how will you choose? Give thought to some desired characteristics: fragrance, flower color and size, disease resistance, and form— miniature, bush, climbing and old garden roses. Once you have concluded what your criteria are, you are ready to choose a rose that fits your needs.


  • Once you have planted your rose the commitment begins! Carefully examine your rose bushes for any signs of insect, disease or horticultural problems (see below for some common examples).
  • Fertilize your rose(s) once per month during the growing season.
  • Ensure good air circulation between the rose and other plants.
  • Maintain a regular watering schedule; variables such as the season, weather, exposure, plant size and type all affect the amount of water needed by any individual rose plant. To the best of your ability, do not let your plants dry out and wilt. Wilt equals stress which results in pest and disease susceptibility.
  • Remove or “deadhead,” spent blossoms just after the petals begin to fall (or very shortly thereafter). Using sharp pruners, make a cut, at a 45° angle from the stem, approximately ¼” above a leaf set (usually a set of 5 leaflets). Continue this practice during the growing season to signal to the plant to continue to produce more flowers.
  • Discontinue fertilizing and deadheading your plant about 6 weeks before the 1st frost is expected (the end of the growing season)—this will “harden off” the plant before it goes dormant for the winter. As an annual practice, some folks begin hardening off their roses in late August.
  • Continue to water into fall until the rains arrives.
  • Once night temperatures drop into the low 30s, it’s time to winterize your plants. Hybrid tea and floribunda roses benefit from moderately pruning them to approximately waist high. Don’t be concerned about over pruning, as spindly tender young canes that result from light pruning will get beat up by spring rains anyway! In late February/early March you will prune the rose bush to 12”-18” height (see the next section titled ‘Pruning’). Remove any remaining foliage, since what is left on the plant may harbor pest and disease.
  • As a piece of the winterization process, many people sprinkle lime around the base of their plants to maintain soil pH throughout winter. It is also at this time a thick layer of mulch is often applied. BE SURE to pull the mulch away from the rose ‘crown’ in the spring.


Volumes have been written about the pruning of roses, and every gardener seems to have their own thoughts on the subject. One thing we all know is that no matter how you prune your rose plant, short of cutting it off below ground level, it will survive! That being said, mid to late February/early March (many folks keep President’s Day as a reminder) is the time to sharpen & clean those pruners and get to work.

NOTE: Climbers, once blooming tree and old garden roses require different pruning than hybrid teas and floribundas. Climbing roses that are trained to a horizontal position should only have the laterals (short, upright shoots coming out from the main canes) cut back to about 2 eye buds. Old, unproductive canes can also be removed. Generally speaking, no more than 1/3 of a climbing or shrub rose will be removed as a winterization practice. Old garden roses and other one-time bloomers produce flowers on old wood. Pruning should be very light with the focus being maintenance of shape and to remove old, unproductive wood. Pruning, therefore, should be done after the bloom cycle (versus in late winter as with hybrid teas and floribundas).

The following are some general guidelines for pruning hybrid tea, miniature and floribunda roses:

  • Step back to examine the entire plant, paying special attention to the bottom portion of the plant from which the canes originate (the bud union). Notice old and/or weak canes, as well as those that cross through the middle of the plant. It is good to tell yourself now that by the time you are finished, most of the upper-most portion of the plant will be removed—the goal is to remove all of the extraneous plant material, leaving only the strong, healthy canes.
  • Identify the youngest and strongest canes—they usually have a smooth surface and are green in color. Older canes become darker, greyer in color, rough of texture, and are generally not very productive. Those canes will need to be removed at their origin (the bud union), using a sharp pruning saw or loppers. Remove any stumps of old canes at this time, as well.
  • Remove any young canes that cross through the middle of the plant. Either take them back to the bud union, or back to the major cane from which they originate.
  • Remove canes that crowd one another—leave the stronger of the two present. Also remove any remaining twiggy growth.
  • If you haven’t already done it, remove any old leaves and be sure to clean them all up off the ground. Old foliage may harbor fungus, disease and insects just waiting to eat away at your plant!
  • If you applied a layer of mulch to roses during the winterization process, now is the time to move the mulch away from the ‘crown’ (the base) of the rose. Again, this allows for proper air circulation and to minimize an environment conducive to pests and disease. Step back as often as you need to in order to look at the plant. When you are done pruning, the result will be a strong plant with only the strongest canes emerging from the bud union The plant will be a nice, open vase shape.

Further pruning questions specific to your plant? Call or come in to your local Dennis’ 7 Dees Garden Center! Click here to view our 2012 Dennis 7 Dees 2012 Rose List.


Value of a Landscape Design

31 May

By Spencer Anderson – Landscape Designer at Dennis’ 7 Dees

Why should you have a professional design your landscape?  I think a better question would be why not?  Would you have a contractor build you a new house or remodel your existing home without first working with them on creating a design and making a plan?  Of course not!  There is too much risk and uncertainty of the end result!  You may end up with a Colonial style of home when what you really wanted was a Victorian style or you may find yourself settling for a two car garage when you wish you had room for three cars.  If there is no vision or design in the beginning then unnecessary stress will likely occur sometime during the project and expectations will be left unmet once the project is finished.  Keep reading to find out how working with a professional landscape designer on creating and implementing a design for your landscaping project will greatly reduce risk and eliminate stress and uncertainty from the landscaping process.

Perhaps the most important aspect of working with anyone on any project is to make sure that communication is superb to where you are both on the same page from the time that you first say, “Hello nice to meet you!” to the final project walk-through where you say, “It was a pleasure doing business with you…and I look forward to working with you on future projects!”  Good communication on one successful project will enviably lead to more successful projects together in the future.  A design is an essential tool in building that communication and aligning your thoughts and ideas with those of your landscaper.  Sometimes what sounds like a good idea for your landscape doesn’t always work out with your space.  Maybe the area is too small to comfortably fit the patio, fire pit, gazebo and water feature or perhaps there is not enough sunlight to have a successful back lawn or maybe two steps will be required to transition from the house to the patio instead of the anticipated one.  These initial ideas that may or may not work for your landscape are best tested out first in a preliminary design where the cost of a mistake is the rub of an eraser or a new sheet of paper before the construction begins compared to a patio tear out or lawn replacement after the project is completed.

Project Plan View

Some are not interested in a design because they don’t want to pay for it or think it should be free along with the bid so they opt out of the design or they choose another company who will give them a so called ‘free’ design.  While this may sound like a money saver in the beginning it could end up costing a whole lot more if the install doesn’t run smoothly and work needs to be redone or a last minute design needs to be pieced together on site.  A design will help to determine the budget and allow the contractor to stay within that budget throughout the installation process.  This will bring you peace of mind that you are getting the landscape that you want and staying within your budget.

For those who have a hard time visualizing how their landscape will look even after a design there is good news…the design can be used to create sectional views, perspective drawings or even virtual walk-throughs.  These design services allow you to take your new landscape for a test drive before you make the investment.

Perspective Drawing

Be assured that a landscape design from Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping has been accurately measured and drawn precisely to scale to represent your property and new landscape plans.  This precision in design allows me to plan your space based on your wants and needs…and use my creative license when needed.  I usually come across two types of clients…those who have a general idea of what they want for their landscape, but aren’t quite sure how it will work with their space and those who aren’t quite sure what they want and are looking for good ideas and practical solutions.  A design will service both types of clients very well and help get them both to the gratifying results that they are looking for.  So how do we provide the gratifying results that our clients are looking for by simply creating an accurate design?  The answer is simple…we install the landscape designs that we create!  This allows us to take responsibility for our design and assures that it is implemented with accuracy and precision.  No one is going to know the design better than the designer, so it makes sense to us to have the designer as your project manager.

Edible Landscaping

30 May

By Nicole Forbes of Dennis’ 7 Dees

So you want to grow some of your own food but don’t want to plant a vegetable garden every spring?  Edible landscaping is your solution!  A wide variety of edible trees, shrubs, vines, groundcovers, herbs and vegetables are available for you to plant once for continued enjoyment for years.

Espaliered Apple Tree

Many fruit tree varieties have been developed for our smaller yards and are available on semi-dwarf rootstock (10-15 ft. tall).  We also offer specialized ‘columnar’ apple trees and espaliered apples and pears.  A few lesser-known edible trees available are Cornelian cherry, a variety of figs and elderberries too.Edible shrubs can be used as specimen plants as well as hedges or accents.  A mixed hedgerow of blueberries, Oregon grape, currants, evergreen huckleberry and tea would provide evergreen presence plus flowers, fruits and fall color seasonally.  Grapes, kiwi and hops are all fast growing vines that can quickly cover any space or block an unsightly view.  Groundcovers such as oregano, thyme, salal and strawberry can choke-out weeds and prevent erosion. 


Chives – Great border plant!

Several culinary herbs and a few vegetables are evergreen and/or perennial.  Spice it up with some thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, lavender and chives for a kitchen garden that will last for years.  Artichokes and rhubarb are wonderful low-maintenance perennials that add drama to your landscape as they increase in size each year.



Stop in to any of our garden centers for a great selection of edible landscape plants or ask how to have your edible landscape designed for free with our Planscaper program.

Evergreen Huckleberry

Cotinus coggygria/Smoke bush

30 May

By Stacie Palmer – Landscape Designer at Dennis’ 7 Dees

This month finds smoke bush in bloom. The puffs of ‘smoke,’ which is the shrub’s flower, is unmistakable! No matter purple, reddish, yellow, or green, smoke bush is sure to win your heart.

‘Dark Star’

Smoke bush enjoys a spot in the sun, where the leaves can capture the setting sun, and glow as we say goodnight to another day. They can easily be paired with ornamental grasses, evergreen shrubs, long- blooming perennial flowers, and even other smoke bushes. One combination sure to please is ‘Golden Spirit’ Cotinus and one of many purple varieties—stunning! Looking for an evergreen component to anchor the spot while smoke bush is dormant? Try ‘Dark Star’ or ‘Victoria’ Ceanothus/California or wild lilac. Another spectacular combination is ‘Golden Spirit’ Cotinus and ‘Eldorado’ Ceanothus. . .the possibilities are literally endless.

In general, smoke bush tends to reach a mature height of 8’ to 15’ tall and wide. This is definitely one shrub that is easily maintained at a smaller size by hard pruning early each spring. They can also be allowed to reach mature size, yet shaped to be a small tree by limbing them up (removing lower branches). No matter the size you prefer, smoke bush deserves a special spot in the heart of any size garden.

‘Golden Spirit’

Once established, Cotinus cultivars are quite drought tolerant. Have less than full sun in your garden? No problem! Smoke bush will be happy as long as it receives a generous dose of daily morning sunshine. Additionally, this is another plant that appreciates well-draining soil, so remember to mix in plenty of organic material (i.e. Black Forest compost) with the native soil prior to planting. Another idea is to create an artistic mound in your garden bed, and plant your smoke bush on top of it. Low-growing mondo grass and Irish moss make wonderful companions.

The Matriarch of the Pacific Northwest

22 May

by Linda Kay Harrison

When you mention the Pacific Northwest, one of the first things that come to mind is the magnificent rhododendrons that seem to be everywhere.  Their spring display can be seen in front of homes, along shopping centers, and around commercial buildings.  rhodys, like us, love the Pacific Northwest; and we in return, love rhodys.   Why is that?

Red Rhody – photo by Kelley Snodgrass

For starters, rhododendrons love shade from the hot afternoon sun and they like moist acidic soil.  We have plenty of both here, and because of that, rhodys are very easy to care for.

When newly planted, rhododendrons do need watering on a regular basis, but once established, they are usually happy with getting their moisture from the rain.  They do need good drainage, so we suggest planting them with our Black Forest compost to break up the clay soil. If planted in dry area, you can also top dress with Black Forest to help hold moisture.

Photo by Kelley Snodgrass

Rhododendrons typically bloom without much effort, but an organic fertilizer, like Dr. Earth’s Rhododendron and Azalea Fertilizer can boost blooming to amazing levels. Fertilize once a year, either in the fall or early spring.

In addition to being easy to care for, we also love our rhodys because they are so versatile. They are evergreen, come in sizes from 1.5 feet to 12 feet, and bloom in almost every color, white, pink, red, purple, yellow and orange.

Newer varieties flower longer and at different times, from late winter to late spring.  If the right cultivars are planted together, you can have rhododendrons blooming in your yard for about 3 months.

Rhodys are at their best in a natural, woodsy type setting, but can also pull off a very formal look. Under-plant your rhododendrons with other acid loving plants like ferns, calluna, hardy gardenias and rock rose.

Visit any Dennis 7 Dees for a great assortment of rhodys and all the professional assistance needed to choose the right ones for your garden.

Shade Gardening

21 May

In an area with an abundance of trees, one of the biggest challenges for gardeners is that with them comes shade. Generally, a partially shaded area is one that receives 3-6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Wet, dry and deep shades are the most common planting situations in our area.

We usually encounter wet shade in areas with poor drainage and edges of bogs, ponds or streams. Under conifers (i.e. Douglas Fir) and deciduous trees (i.e. maples) is where we most often encounter dry shade. In a dry shade situation, new plants must compete for water with the established trees. Deep (or full) shade is an area that receives less than 3 hours (and perhaps only dappled) direct or indirect sunlight daily. A garden bed on the north side of a house is considered deep shade.

Because the above-mentioned shade situations present particular challenges, choosing plants best suited to the situation results in smart gardening. Along with tips for success, below are lists of some plants that thrive in various shade situations.

To assist with heavy soil plagued by poor drainage, always mix compost with the existing soil prior to planting. Products such as Turface also aid in improved aeration. The following are some plants suitable for wet shade:



    • Muscari/Grape Hyacinth—grass-like green foliage, fragrant flowers of varying colors in spring, will naturalize if undisturbed
    • Crocus/Crocus—fine green foliage, varying colors patterns of flowers, bloom in spring or fall
    • Galanthus nivalis/Snowdrop—nodding white w/green accents flowers held above grass-like foliage in spring, will naturalize if left undisturbed
    • Narcissus ssp./Daffodil—narrow bright green foliage, flowers are usually shades of yellow, bloom in spring, can be used in borders or to naturalize


    • Soleirolia soleirolii/Baby’s Tears—tiny foliage, spreads by creeping stems, vigorous
    • Pachysandra terminalis/Japanese Spurge—evergreen, spreads by shallow underground roots, clean-looking foliage
    • Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’/Chameleon Plant—splashes of cream, pink, yellow and red on heart-shaped foliage, tiny white flowers that resemble those of a dogwood, monitor growth—can be aggressive in very wet areas (spreads by underground stems), dormant in winter
    • Lamium/Dead Nettle—evergreen in mild climates, heart shaped foliage, vigorous growth
    • Vinca minor/Dwarf Periwinkle—evergreen, trailing, roots where arching stems touch the ground, star-like flowers in blue, white, mauve or deep purple


    • Acorus/Sweet Flag– evergreen grass-like
    • Astilbe/False Spirea—summer blooms of varying color with file-textured foliage, dormant in winter
    • Carex/Sedge—many are evergreen, foliage is soft looking and feeling
    • Filipendula/Meadowsweet—summer blooms held above coarsely divided foliage, dormant in winter
    • Juncus/Rush—tolerates standing water, grass-like appearance
    • Myosotis/Forget-Me-Not—spring blooms of blue, white or pink held above dark green foliage, can be used as groundcover, dormant in winter
    • Zantedeschia/Calla lily—shiny arrow-shaped foliage, white flowers, dormant in winter

Shrubs and Trees:

    • Clethera alnifolia/Summersweet—deciduous, fragrant spikes of white flowers late summer/early fall
    • Vine Maple

      Gaultheria shallon/Salal—evergreen, glossy, nearly round green foliage, white or pinkish bellshaped flowers followed by edible berries, NATIVE

    • Cornus stolonifera/Redtwig Dogwood—deciduous, fast-growing, green or variegated foliage, brilliant red stems in winter, NATIVE
    • Acer circinatum/Vine Maple—deciduous, many-stemmed, mulit-trunked large shrub/small tree, nearly round light green foliage that turns orange, yellow or scarlet in fall, NATIVE
    • Sequoia sempervirens/Coast Redwood—evergreen, fast-growing, feathery foliage, reddishbrown bark, pyramidal mature shape, NATIVE


Winter and early spring are optimal time frames to establish new plantings in dry shade, as it is at this time when such areas receive periods of moisture. New plants are thereby allowed to settle and develop a good root structure prior to entering into their growth stage. Likewise, if planting in the heat of summer, you will have the greatest success by providing regular water to newly planted areas. Products such as Turface worked into the soil at planting time can assist with water retention. The following are some plants suitable to dry shade:


    • Crocus/Crocus—fine green foliage, varying colors patterns of flowers, bloom in spring or fall
    • Fritellaria imperialis/Crown Imperial—broad, glossy green foliage supports talk, sturdy stalk topped with red, orange or yellow bell-shaped flowers tufted with green leaves
    • Galanthus nivalis/Snowdrop—nodding white w/green accents flowers held above grass-like foliage in spring, will naturalize if left undisturbed
    • Narcissus./Daffodil—narrow bright green foliage, flowers are usually shades of yellow, bloom in spring, can be used in borders or to naturalize


    • Cyclamen hderifolium/Baby or Hardy Cyclamen—triangular to heart-shaped deep green marbled with silver, star-shaped fragrant flowers of white or pink in late summer/early autumn
    • Epimedium/Bishop’s Hat—semi-evergreen to evergreen heart-shaped foliage, stalks of little flowers of white, pink, red or yellow in spring
    • Gaultheria shallon/Salal—evergreen, glossy, nearly round green foliage, white or pinkish bellshaped flowers followed by edible berries, NATIVE
    • Mahonia repens/Creeping Oregon Grape—evergreen, blue-green foliage turns spectacular purply-bronze with cold weather, clusters of small flowers in mid to late spring followed by dark blue berries, NATIVE
    • Sarcoccoca/Sweet Box—evergreen, small, fragrant winter/early spring flowers


    • Hellebore

      Alchamilla/Lady’s Mantle—roundish lobed foliage of pale green, clusters of yellow flowers in summer

    • Bergenia/Pigsqueak—evergreen, rosette of bold, glossy foliage, pink or white flowers in spring
    • Helleborus/Hellebore—evergreen, long, leathery, leaflets, cup-shaped flowers of white, green, pinks, purples in winter through spring (note: they do NOT like being transplanted!)
    • Heuchera ‘Creme Brulee’

      Heuchera/Coral Bells—evergreen, roundish foliage with scalloped edges, available in a variety of colors (yellows & limes in particular appreciate and brighten a shady spot in the garden!), spikes of delicate flowers in spring or summer

    • Lirope/Lily Turf—evergreen, grass-like straps of green foliage, spikes of white or purple flowers in summer

Shrubs and Trees:

Evergreen Huckleberry

    • Acer circinatum/Vine Maple—deciduous, many-stemmed, mulit-trunked large shrub/small tree, nearly round light green foliage that turns orange, yellow or scarlet in fall, NATIVE
    • Calocedrus deccurens/Incense Cedar—evergreen, large, pyramidal, flat sprays of rich green foliage, reddish-brown bark, lovely fragrance, NATIVE
    • Hydrangea queciifolia/Oakleaf Hydrangea—deciduous, large, deeply-lobed foliage that resembles (in shape) oak leaves, exquisite bronze to red autumn color, long clusters of white flowers in late spring/early summer,
    • Kalmia latifolia/Mountain Laurel—evergreen, leathery, oval, glossy green foliage, pink, white or red flowers in spring, slow-growing
    • Vaccinium ovatum/Evergreen Huckleberry—evergreen, shiny, toothed, dark green foliage tinged w/red when new, white or pink flowers followed by edible black berries in summer, NATIVE
    • Mahonia aquifolium/Oregon Grape—evergreen, glossy green leaflets that resemble (in shape) holly leaves, new growth tinged red and take on purplish color with cold, yellow flowers in spring followed by edible blue-black fruit in summer, NATIVE


In areas that receive little to no direct sun, or only minimal dappled sun soil also needs special consideration. As with soil in wet shade, the goal is to improve drainage to allow greater planting success. Adding compost to existing soil is a must in these areas. The following are some plants suitable to deep shade:


    • Arum/Jack-in-the-Pulpit—foliage emerges in fall or winter and is green with white veins and arrow-shaped, calla-like “flowers” emerge after foliage and are followed by clusters of red berries that persist after foliage dies (actually a tuber)
    • Colchicum/Meadow Saffron or Autumn Crocus—broad green foliage in spring that die down in late summer/early autumn when flaring white, rosey-purple or lavender-pink flowers bloom (actually a corm)


    • Cornus canadensis/Bunchberry
    • Epimedium/Bishop’s Hat—semi-evergreen to evergreen heart-shaped foliage, stalks of little flowers of white, pink, red or yellow in spring

      epimedium flower

    • Gaultheria procumbens/Winterberry—evergreen, small dark green foliage that clusters at the end of a stalk, strong wintergreen fragrance when bruised, pinkish flowers in spring followed by red berries that persist through winter
    • Pachysandra terminalis/Japanese Spurge—evergreen, spreads by shallow underground roots, clean-looking foliage
    • Sarcoccoca/Sweet Box—evergreen, small, fragrant winter/early spring flowers
    • Vinca minor/Dwarf Periwinkle—evergreen, trailing, roots where arching stems touch the ground, star-like flowers in blue, white, mauve or deep purple


    • Anemone/Wind Flower—clumped foliage gives rise to tall, graceful stems that are topped with single or semi-double white or pink flowers in early autumn
    • Fern

      Brunnera macrophylla/False Forget-Me-Not, Brunnera—large, heart-shaped foliage of green or silver veined with green, dainty blue flowers rise above foliage spring into summer

    • Ferns—LARGE family of plants, deciduous, semi-evergreen or evergreen, vary greatly in size and look of foliage
    • Hosta/Plantain Lily—clumps of lance-shaped to nearly round foliage of many different colors and patterns, mature size varies greatly in this group, spikes of trumpet-like blue or white flowers in summer (some are fragrant)
    • Hosta

      Corydalis/Corydalis—clumps of finely lobed, fern-like foliage, clusters of spurred yellow, blue (many variations of blue) flowers spring into summer

    • Ophiopogon/Mondo Grass—evergreen, small, grass-like foliage of green or black, stems of small, clustered purple flowers in summer followed by black berries
    • Trillium/Wake Robin—multi-stemmed, low-growing woodland plant, each stem holds a whorl of 3 leaves topped by a 3-petaled flower in early spring, goes dormant in mid to late summer

Shrubs and Trees:

    • Tsuga – mountain hemlock

      Acer circinatum/Vine Maple—deciduous, many-stemmed, mulit-trunked large shrub/small tree, nearly round light green foliage that turns orange, yellow or scarlet in fall, NATIVE

    • Aucuba japonica/Japanese Aucuba—evergreen, smooth green or green splashed w/yellow foliage, sparkles in deep shade!
    • Fatsia japonica/Japanese Aralia—evergreen, large fan-like glossy dark green foliage, tropical looking
    • Kerria japonica/Kerria—deciduous, toothed and crinkled looking, triangular, bright green foliage, single or double rose-like small yellow flowers in spring
    • Tsuga/Hemlock—evergreen, horizontal needle-like sprays of foliage, graceful, large group of conifers that range in size and habit, NATIVE (Mountain and Western Hemlocks)

Beneficial Insects – Pollinators, Predators & Parasites

18 May


In any well-balanced ecosystem there are pests and natural enemies. For this reason, some pests do need to be present in the environment for natural enemies (i.e. insects we consider ‘beneficial’) to continue to survive. In a garden, a pest is an insect that feeds on and/or transmits disease to desired garden plants, whereas beneficial insects work to maintain the ecosystem balance by consuming their natural enemies. There are three types of beneficial insects:
Pollinators—not only do many bee and fly species pollinate plants, they also eat and/or destroy many ‘bad bugs’ in the landscape.
Predators—some insects are predaceous in their larval stage, others as adults, yet others as both larvae and adult. Additionally, some have a diverse diet, and others such as ladybugs, eat only a certain type of food source (aphids in the case of the ladybug).
Parasitoides—these are insects that live on or in a host insect so they can feed on it, usually killing it in the process. Many are parasitic fly or wasp species that inject their eggs into the host. The eggs hatch then transform into larvae, and because they’re within the host insect, they have a natural food source immediately available.


How do you attract beneficial insects to your garden? Create a diverse environment in your landscape. It’s that simple. What does that mean exactly? A diverse garden is one planted with a mixture of plants, having varied bloom time, flower shape, and size all inter-planted with one another. An example would be planting vegetables and companion flowers such as marigolds, cosmos and nasturtium. Did you know that planting garlic with peas, lettuce and celery will help keep aphids away from your crop?
All beneficial insects require a reliable food source, and for some of them it is specific. When creating your palette remember our beautiful native plants—many wonderful bugs depend on them! The following is a sample list of insectary plants that specifically attract and keep beneficial insects in the garden.

Sweet alyssum/Lobularia maritima
Lipine/Lupinus spp.
Sunflower/Helianthus annuus
Yarrow/Achillea spp.
Coreopsios/Coreopsis spp.
Cosmos/Cosmos bipinnatus
Candytuft/Iberis umbellate
Goldenrod/Solidago altissima
Marigold/Tagetes spp.
White lace flower or bishop’s weed/Ammi majus
Dianthus/Dianthus spp.
Lilyturf/Lirope spicata
Phlox/Phlox spp.
Blazing star or gayfeather/Liatris spp.
Zinnia/Zinnia spp.
Daisy/Belllis perennis and Leucanthemum spp.
Angelica/Angelica supp.

Buttertfly weed/Ascelpias tuberosa
Bugleweed/Ajuga reptans
Wallflower/Erysimum linifolium
Pincushion flower/Scabiosa columbaria
Joe Pye weed/Eupatorium purpureum


“Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a strategy to prevent and suppress pests with minimum impact on human health, the environment and nontarget organisms.” –Steve Dreistadt, University of California
The focus of this systematic approach to pest management is prevention. Rather than waiting for a problem to arise in the garden, we can look at our garden ecology holistically. By monitoring pest populations and identifying pests if and when they do occur, we can then choose a combination of methods to keep things in check; acceptable levels are what we’re after, since complete obliteration is, in most cases, just not feasible. Keep in mind that 90% of the insects found in an average home garden are either benign or beneficial, leaving only the remaining 10% to be called “bad bugs.” Do your research; even bad bugs may have a function you may not necessarily want to attempt to eliminate. The primary premise stressed by IPM is to use the least toxic methods first! Some approaches may include cultural (i.e. keeping the garden clean), biological (i.e. use of beneficial insects— see table below), mechanical (i.e. physically block, trap or remove pests), and chemical (i.e. insecticidal soaps). Tactics vary from garden to garden. Share your approaches, successful and not, with fellow gardeners—all stand to benefit for healthier, more productive gardens.


Because most insecticides are “broad spectrum,” meaning they kill a wide variety of insects, beneficial insects are extremely vulnerable. Should you decide to use insecticides in your home landscape, great precaution must be taken to protect beneficial insect populations.

  •  Whether natural or chemical-based, choose the least toxic product available for the situation.
  • Spray only the area(s) on the plant that are affected
  • Spray when many insects are less active: early in the day (dawn or very early morning)
  •  Do not spray plants that are in bloom!

In sum, once you choose to use beneficial insects in your garden, protect their survival by not using insecticides unless absolutely necessary. Call or come in to your local Dennis’ Seven Dees Garden Center—knowledgeable staff may have alternative suggestions for you!


Decollate Snails – These pointed-shell snails eat brown garden snails

Earthworms – Soil aeration, speeds decomposition process, improves root growth & water retention; waste is considered one of the best organic fertilizers. Most active when temperatures are around 70°F, otherwise any time soil not frozen. Many types of worms will work in the garden—red wigglers, night crawlers, garden worms are all great!

Ladybugs – Eat many garden pests, are attractive, fun for children. Release ladybugs in the evening—they don’t fly at night.

Mason Bees – Increase pollination rates, specifically for early spring fruit trees.  Bees are usually sold in larval stage.

Nematodes – Effective against soilborne & wood-boring pests, pests that life part of their life cycle in the soil. Apply anytime when the soil is not frozen. Application lasts 2 years. Do not expose them to sunlight; suspend them in water to help them transport themselves.

Praying Mantis – Voracious eater in the garden. They’ll eat any insect they can catch— even other mandtids and beneficial insects! Very effective against aphids, beetles, caterpillars, grubs and grasshoppers late spring through summer. Usually sold in egg cases to be suspended in the garden; hundreds of insects hatch from each casing.

Lacewings – Eat many garden pests (up to 100 aphids per day!).  Sold as eggs, pupae, or larvae. If eggs are purchased, once they’ve hatched they must immediately be released AND there must be available food. With no food source(s) the larvae turn aggressive & eat one another.

Good Bug, Bad Bug (2008) by Jessica Walliser
Oregon State Extension Services: (this is a wonderful
resource—many articles available regarding this subject, as well as many others)
WSU Clark County Extension:
(another wonderful resource)
Xerces Society:

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