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Browse by Department: Horticultural Science

A Gardener's Guide to Fertilizing Trees and Shrubs

By: Ervin Evans

This publication provides basic information on the nutrient needs of trees and shrubs, types of fertilizers to apply and recommended methods and times of application.

How to Prune Specific Plants

By: Barbara Fair, Lucy Bradley, Anthony LeBude Pruning Trees & Shrubs

This final publication in the Pruning Trees & Shrubs series gives tips for pruning specific plants.

Planting Techniques for Trees and Shrubs

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

A properly planted tree or shrub will be more tolerant of adverse conditions and require much less management than one planted incorrectly. Planting technique impacts water quality as it minimizes water, fertilizer and pesticide use. When making decisions on planting techniques, one should consider how the plant was grown in the nursery, the plant's drainage requirements, the soil type and drainage characteristics, and the availability of irrigation water. The plant should be specifically appropriate to the site, or the site should be amended to specifically fit the plant.

Growing Boxwoods in the Landscape

By: Ervin Evans, Richard Bir, Stephen Bambara Horticulture Information Leaflet

Boxwoods have been an important part of North Carolina landscapes since colonial times; the first plants were introduced to American gardeners in 1652. Boxwoods are suitable for formal and informal landscape use as edging, hedge, screen, accent, and specimen plants. While boxwoods are considered an essential component of historical and colonial gardens, they can also be used in traditional and contemporary landscape designs.

Ornamental Sweetpotatoes for the Home Landscape

By: Dennis Carey, Brian Whipker, Lucy Bradley, Wayne Buhler

Ornamental sweetpotatoes are extremely heat-tolerant, tropical, perennial vines grown as annuals in North Carolina. They look great covering annual beds, hanging over walls or trailing from containers. This publication covers cultivars, how to select the plants, care through the growing season and pests and diseases.

Hints for Fall-Planted Spring and Early Summer Flowering Bulbs

By: Kim Powell, A.A. De Hertogh, P.V. Nelson Horticulture Information Leaflet

This publication offers guidelines on planning a garden and buying bulbs, as well as planting planting techniques to ensure healthy flowers.

Peonies for the Home Landscape

By: Ervin Evans Horticulture Information Leaflet

Peonies are long-lived, perennial flowers that produce large flowers in the spring. Colors include black, coral, cream, crimson, pink, purple, rose, scarlet, white, and yellow. By planting early, mid-season, and late flowering cultivars, you can have peonies flowering for 6 to 8 weeks. Two types of peonies are grown in North Carolina: garden peonies (Paeonia valbiflora or Paeonia officinalis) and tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa). This leaflet covers the planting, care and maintenance and potential problems associated with growing peonies in North Carolina.

A Gardener's Guide to Soil Testing

By: Ervin Evans, Deanna Osmond

This publication tells gardeners why they should test their soil, how to obtain a soil test and interpret the results and how to use the soil test to improve their soils.

Shrubs 1-4 Feet High for North Carolina Landscapes

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Landscapers and home gardeners rely upon plants and shrubs in this size category because of their relatively low maintenance demands. Modern trends in landscaping depict this growing concern by utilizing groundcovers, dwarf, or slow-growing shrubs.

Shrubs 4-8 Feet High for North Carolina Landscapes

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Shrubs in this category are useful in landscape situations as hedges, small screens, accent plants, large mass plantings, and large foundation shrubs. These plants can be pruned periodically and maintained at a reasonable size.

Roses for North Carolina

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Sooner or later most home gardeners think about growing roses. Landscape uses are quite varied because of the many different types of roses. They can be mass planted in beds, used as specimen or trained plants, planted as screens or hedges, or located near fences or arbors and allowed to climb. Several miniature cultivars can even be used as a ground cover or as edging material. Roses are available in almost any color imaginable and are suited to a number of sites.

Qualifiers for Quagmires: Landscape Plants for Wet Sites

By: Thomas Ranney, Richard Bir, Kim Powell, Ted Bilderback Horticulture Information Leaflet

Wet, poorly drained soils present one the most difficult challenges for growing plants in the landscape. Excessive moisture displaces oxygen in the soil and plant roots can suffocate as a result. Many plants are intolerant of having their roots submerged for extended periods of time. Even though standing water may not be present, poor drainage is often responsible for reduced growth and survival of plants in our landscapes.

Postemergence, Non-Selective Herbicides for Landscapes and Nurseries

By: Joe Neal Horticulture Information Leaflet

Manual removal of weeds is time consuming, expensive, and often results in damage to landscape plants when intertwined roots of both the weed and the ornamental plant are pulled up. Nonselective herbicides (which must be selectively applied to avoid injury to desirable plants) are typically used for postemergence annual and perennial weed control. This publication covers choosing the right herbicide for this situation.

Commercial Boxwood Production

By: Ted Bilderback, James Baker, Richard Jones, R.E. Bir Horticulture Information Leaflet

Boxwood, thought to have been introduced to the United States in 1652, has long been associated with colonial architecture across North Carolina. It's suitability for formal and informal landscape use as edging, hedge, screen, accent and specimen plants makes boxwood a favorite of homeowners, landscape contractors and nurserymen.

19. Landscape Design

By: Anne Spafford, Michelle Wallace Extension Gardener Handbook

This Landscape Design Chapter from the Extension Gardener Handbook discusses the principles design as well as guiding readers through the steps to create an environmentally friendly landscape design.

Fertilizing Deciduous Shade Trees in the Landscape

By: Kim Powell

This publication offers general recommendations for the timing, methods and rates of applying fertilizer to shade trees.

Weed Management for Wildflowers

By: Lena Gallitano, W. Skroch, Douglas Bailey Horticulture Information Leaflet

The use of wildflowers in the landscape has increased since Lady Bird Johnson first promoted them in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Wildflowers were further popularized by the "Meadow in a Can" seed collections that were marketed in the early 1980s. A number of books have been written that describe methods for planning and planting wildflowers, however, few recommendations are available regarding maintenance and long-term weed management. In wildflower plantings, weed management is a complex system that requires knowledge of the specific wildflowers and weeds, environmental conditions, and control methods. Therefore, the objective of this leaflet is to discuss weed management strategies that can be applied to the planning, establishment, maintenance and renovation stages of a naturalized wildflower planting.

Small and Intermediate Trees for North Carolina

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Small and intermediate size trees play an important role in the landscape. They can be quite functional and offer seasonal beauty. These trees are generally very easy to maintain and require a minimum of pruning.

Field Production of Nursery Stock: Field Preparation, Planting and Planting Density

By: Anthony LeBude, Ted Bilderback

Field preparation using low-till practices, cover crops and soil amendments improves quality of both soils and ornamentals plants during production. Correct planting techniques and useful planting density scenarios are suggested. Guidelines for pruning during production are given so growers can create a niche by improving plant quality during field production of nursery stock.

Bearded Iris for the Home Landscape

By: Ervin Evans Horticulture Information Leaflet

Bearded iris is a hardy, long-lived perennial that requires a minimum of maintenance. The flowers have six petals; three upright petals (called standards) and three hanging petals (called falls). A fuzzy line or beard runs down the middle of each fall. Flowers come in many colors including blue, pink, purple, reddish, white, yellow, and bi-colors. This leaflet offers some information on growing irises for the home garden.

Weed Management in Annual Color Beds

By: Joe Neal Horticulture Information Leaflet

Establishing and maintaining quality annual color beds requires a plan to prevent and control weeds. Weeds compete with ornamental plants for water, light, and nutrients, reducing aesthetic quality and plant growth. To minimize these problems, this publication presents a weed management program that should be developed and implemented prior to planting.

Composting: A Guide to Managing Organic Yard Wastes

By: Ted Bilderback, Larry Bass, Kim Powell

This eight-page publication explains how you can build and maintain a compost pile to manage organic yard waste at home.

General Pruning Techniques

By: Barbara Fair, Lucy Bradley, Anthony LeBude Pruning Trees & Shrubs

This third in a series on pruning offers general tips on pruning most landscape plants.

Pruning Trees and Shrubs

By: Kim Powell

This publication for property owners and landscapers describes how to prune trees and shrubs properly, which results in attractive, healthy trees and shrubs.

Recommended Trees for Urban Landscapes: Proven Performers for Difficult Sites

By: Thomas Ranney, Richard Bir, Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

This leaflet includes a list of recommended trees that have demonstrated particular resistance to harsh growing conditions, diseases, and insects in North Carolina. It should be emphasized, however, that even these trees have their limits. No single species is suited for all sites and consideration should be given to soil conditions, local occurrence of diseases and insects, microclimate, hardiness zone, and mature tree size when selecting any plant.

Summer and Fall Flowering Bulbs for the Landscape

By: August De Hertogh, Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Summer and fall flowering bulbs provide another dimension to gardening. They add beauty and interest to the landscape and, since most of them are tender, they offer a unique challenge to the gardener. There are a large number of different types of bulbs, offering variations in forms, fragrances, colors, and lasting brilliance which many summer annuals cannot achieve.

Large Trees for North Carolina

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Large trees are dominant features in the landscape. Many plans rely on trees for several design functions: to provide background, enclosure, define spaces, help reduce noise and unsightly views. Trees also provide needed shade, channel breezes, and break forceful winds. They also help the environment by filtering pollutants and exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide.

Azaleas for North Carolina

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

As one travels across North Carolina it is quite evident that azaleas are favorite ornamental plants for home gardeners and professional landscapers. Azaleas offer a wide range of size, form and color, and can be used as specimen plant accents or as a mass planting. Flowering dates are from late March to late June with both ever-green and deciduous types available. Azaleas can be grown all across the state (Zones 6, 7, 8, 9), but in order for these shrubs to grow, mature, flower profusely, and generally contribute to the total landscape, an understanding of the different kinds of azaleas, the culture, and environmental factors is necessary.

Azalea Culture for North Carolina Gardeners

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

To insure a successful azalea planting, cultural requirements, planting techniques, and maintenance should be understood.

Conserving Energy with Plants

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Never before has the demand for energy been as high -- and never before have homeowners become so increasingly aware of the energy savings possible with landscaping. Although it is not possible to control temperature, wind, and other natural elements, certain landscape practices can help modify the climate in and around the home.

Bed Preparation and Fertilization Recommendations for Bedding Plants in the Landscape

By: Bill Fonteno, Douglas Bailey, Stuart Warren Horticulture Information Leaflet

For healthy, aesthetic plants, the soil must serve as a reservoir for water, oxygen, and nutrients. While this sounds very straightforward, providing these three essentials can be quite challenging. This leaflet describes the steps to take to ensure these essentials are met in the proper amounts.

Superior Crabapple Trees for the Landscape

By: Thomas Ranney, Mike Benson, Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Flowering crabapples have tremendous potential as small/medium sized flowering trees that can be grown all across North Carolina. These deciduous, spring flowering trees are adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions and have a variety of ornamental characteristics to choose from, including an assortment of flower color and fragrance, fruit size and color, and tree form.

Crapemyrtles for North Carolina

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Lagerstroemia, crapemyrtle as it is commonly known, is a favorite small tree or large shrub for many southern gardeners. The common name crapemyrtle was derived from the crinkled petals on the end of a long, narrow stem and the similarity of the leaves to a myrtle. Crapemyrtle, also known as "Flower of the South," performs beautifully in all areas of North Carolina except in the highest elevations of hardiness zone 6.

Smooth and Oakleaf Hydrangeas

By: Ervin Evans, Richard Bir Horticulture Information Leaflet

Two hydrangea species are native to the southeastern United States -- Hydrangea arborescens and Hydrangea quercifolia. Both are bold-textured, deciduous shrubs which produce small, fertile flowers. Many selections are considered more garden-worthy than the native species because they display large, sterile florets.

Dahlias for the Home Landscape

By: Ervin Evans Horticulture Information Leaflet

Dahlias, are a popular addition to the landscape because they have a wide height range (1 to 6 feet) and a variety of flower shapes and sizes (2 to 12 inches). Color range includes orange, pink, purple, red, scarlet, yellow, and white. Some flowers are striped or tipped with a different color. Dahlias begin blooming in early summer and continue to frost. Flower production may slow with high summer temperatures and moisture stress.

Urban Trees for Use under Utility Lines

By: Thomas Ranney, Richard Bir, Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Selecting trees for use under utility lines presents a unique challenge. It is often desirable to have trees that are large enough to provide shade, architectural effects, and ornamental features, all without interfering with overhead utility lines. In this publication, we have listed trees that have a typical mature height of less than 30 feet.

Vines for North Carolina Landscapes

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

There are several vines which should interest North Carolina gardeners and landscapers. Vines, when used correctly, can be quite an aesthetic and functional addition to the landscape. Basically, there are three types of vines: those that climb by attaching tendrils to a means of support, those that climb by attaching rootlike arms to a wall, and those that climb by twining. The type of vine which is planted will determine the necessity for a supporting fence, arbor, or wall.

Hollies in the Landscape

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

The Holly (Ilex) genus is very popular among landscape architects, nurserymen and home gardeners. Horticulturalists recognize approximately 20 American Holly species, 120 Oriental species, and nearly 200 varieties of the English Holly.

Under-Utilized Bedding Plants for the North Carolina Landscape

By: Douglas Bailey Horticulture Information Leaflet

There are a number of popular bedding plants used in the landscape today; some deserving the attention they get, others not-so-deserving. This publication offers a chart with some under-utilized bedding plants in North Carolina, including characteristics such as temperature and light preferences.

Natural Areas in the Landscape

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

One of the most important considerations in developing a landscape plan is maintenance. Currently, many homeowners desire a low-maintenance landscape. A popular project for home gardeners is the reduction of lawn areas and problem spots by the incorporation of the "natural area." This is most easily accomplished with a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch such as pine needles, compost or pine straw. Although the area is to appear natural, it should not detract from the overall landscape appearance.

Junipers in the Landscape

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Junipers are grown all across North Carolina, in just about every landscape situation: around ski villages at Beech Mountain or around ocean-front cottages on Bald Head Island. There are more than 170 species and varieties being grown by American nurserymen. North Carolinians typically choose certain junipers found in the species J. chinensis, J. horizontalis, J. sabina, J. communis, J. procumbens, J. conferta, and of course, J. virginiana - commonly known as Red Cedar.

Pruning Field Grown Shade and Flowering Trees

By: Ted Bilderback, Kim Powell, R.E. Bir Horticulture Information Leaflet

Every nurseryman should know how to prune trees and the reason for the various pruning practices. Many landscape problems can be avoided if correct pruning is performed, while the tree is growing in the nursery. Incorrect pruning practices or lack of pruning diminish the quality of the plant material.

Before the Cut

By: Barbara Fair, Lucy Bradley, Anthony LeBude Pruning Trees & Shrubs

This first of four publications in the Pruning Trees & Shrubs series introduces basic pruning concepts and key terms. Subsequent publications in the series provide more information on woody plant biology, necessary tools and pruning guidelines for general purposes and specific species.


By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

An espaliered plant is one that has been trained to grow in one plane. In the 17th century, 'espalier' originally referred to the frame or trellis on which the plant was trained. Today, espalier refers to both the two-dimensional tree or shrub or the horticultural technique of actually training the plant.

Using Pines in the Landscape

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

There are several selected pines species which are used in North Carolina landscapes, most being large tree forms. Pines are important to North Carolina not only for the ornamental value but also for lumber, watershed management, resin, turpentine and Christmas trees. There are more than 100 species of the genus Pinus recognized worldwide, of which 36 are native to the United States.

Protecting Plants From Cold Damage

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

During the winter months it is necessary to offer protection to certain North Carolina landscape plants. Winter protection does not mean to keep plants warm, as this is virtually impossible but to provide protection from damaging wind, heavy snow and ice, the alternate freezing and thawing of the soil beneath the plants and heat from the sun on very cold days.

Deer Problems in the Landscape

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Deer are among the most beautiful and graceful but troublesome wildlife in North Carolina. Over the past 10 to 15 years, damage to ornamental plants in landscapes and nurseries, by white-tailed deer has increased dramatically in all 100 counties. This situation has become a problem due to the increase in the size of the deer population in North Carolina and to the urbanization of rural areas. Conflicts between deer and landscaped spaces are expected to increase, as more rural areas will be developed.

Ornamental Grasses for North Carolina

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Ornamental grasses are becoming quite popular for North Carolina landscapes. Designers and gardeners realize the fine accent and architectural effect this group of plants contributes to a garden. As one applies the principles of good design — repetition, variety, balance, emphasis, sequence, and scale — along with the design qualities of color, texture, line and form, one appreciates the many uses and functions of ornamental grasses. (The term "ornamental grass" is really a catchall term used to describe all grasslike plants. These would include sedges, reeds, rushes, and a wide host of others.)

Installation and Maintenance of Landscape Bedding Plants

By: Douglas Bailey, Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Use of bedding plant color beds continues to increase. A recent indicates that over 15% of the flowering bedding plants produced in this country are utilized by commercial landscapers. However, success with color beds requires planning, proper bed preparation, and an intensive maintenance program--all of which are outlined in this publication.

The Flowering Dogwood

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Among the early spring-flowering trees, the dogwood is regarded by most North Carolinians as unrivaled in attractiveness either in its natural woodland habitat or in cultivated landscape gardens. This small, ornamental tree offers landscape interest for all seasons, beginning with its floral display in spring and followed by pleasant green foliage (casting a light shade) in summer. Fall in North Carolina is enhanced by the brilliant show of red, orange, and scarlet foliage along with the bright-red fruit borne in small clusters. In winter, button-shaped buds are prominent on the tips of the twigs. The interesting bark texture and branches help create an excellent winter silhouette.


By: Mark Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

Homeowners and professional landscapers depend on mulch in the ornamental plantings for several reasons. Functionally, mulches discourage weeds from growing, conserve moisture during drought periods, allow better use of water by controlling runoff and increasing water-holding capacity of light, sandy soils. Mulches help maintain a uniform soil temperature. A 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch can add to the aesthetic value of a garden while protecting the base of plants from being injured by mechanical equipment.

Plants for Seashore Conditions

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

A careful selection of plants is very important for coastal landscapes as plants must be tolerant of extreme adverse conditions in the natural environment. The most influencing force is salt spray. Sand, temperature and wind are also influencing factors in plant choice.

Tools to Make the Cut

By: Barbara Fair, Lucy Bradley, Anthony LeBude Pruning Trees & Shrubs

This second in a series on pruning offers tips on selecting the right tool for the job and for evaluating a tool’s quality.

Selection and Use of Stress-Tolerant Bedding Plants for the Landscape

By: Douglas Bailey Horticulture Information Leaflet

Each of us are subjected to stresses and pressures every day in our home, work, and living environment; plants are no different. Unfortunately, there is no "stressless" environment, and there is no totally stress-resistant bedding plant. Each site has its stress level and each plant has its tolerance level. There are steps that can be taken to reduce or avoid stress in the landscape. However, no program can prevent all problems, and the key to successful landscape color using bedding plants is to match the particular site with specific plant species.

The Use of Small and Intermediate Size Trees in the Landscape

By: Kim Powell Horticulture Information Leaflet

We depend on plants to solve our functional and aesthetic needs in various landscape situations. A popular group of plants being recommended and used in modern landscapes is intermediate and small-sized trees. The trees in this category mature to a particular size and are quite "well-behaved" in the landscape. Generally, the trees, both evergreen and deciduous, mature to a height of 35 feet or less.

Residential Landscaping

By: Kim Powell

This publication provides information on six basic steps in the landscape design process.

  • Landscaping

Controlling Sedges in Landscape Plantings

By: Joe Neal Horticulture Information Leaflet

More than 40 sedge species may be found in North Carolina landscapes. Although grass-like in many ways, and the nutsedges are often referred to as “nutgrass”, they are not grasses and require different control measures than grasses. Sedges are easily distinguished from grasses by their leafy shoots that produce leaves in “3s” resulting in stems that are triangular in cross section. In contrast, shoots of grasses are flat or round in cross section.

Gallery (isoxaben)

By: Joe Neal Pesticide Fact Sheets

This pesticide factsheet covers the use and characteristics of Gallery (isoxaben).

Casoron (dichlobenil)

By: Joe Neal Pesticide Fact Sheets

This pesticide factsheet covers the use and characteristics of Casoron (dichlobenil).

Barricade, Prodiamine, Regalkade G (prodiamine)

By: Joe Neal Pesticide Fact Sheets

This pesticide factsheet covers the use and characteristics of the preemergence herbicide: Barricade, Prodiamine or Regalkade G (prodiamine).

Appendix 19-C. History of Landscape Design

By: Michelle Wallace Extension Gardener Handbook

This Appendix from the Extension Gardener Handbook will explain a brief history of land development and its influence on landscape design.

Dimension (dithiopyr)

By: Joe Neal Pesticide Fact Sheets

This pesticide factsheet covers the use and characteristics of Dimension (dithiopyr).

Japanese Stiltgrass Identification and Management

By: Joe Neal, Caren A. Judge Horticulture Information Leaflet

Japanese stiltgrass (also known as annual jewgrass, bamboograss, flexible sesagrass, Japanese grass, Mary's grass, microstegium, Nepal microstegium, or Vietnamese grass) is a summer annual commonly found in shady, moist areas and is spreading rapidly in woodlands as well as shaded landscapes and low-maintenance turf throughout the southeastern United States and mid-Atlantic states. Japanese stiltgrass germinates in early spring, several weeks before crabgrass, yet flowers and seeds much later, from mid-September through October. It has broader, shorter leaves than many other annual grasses; somewhat resembling broadleaf signalgrass or spreading dayflower. After frost, the foliage and wiry stems turn a distinctive light tan in color and persist through the winter. Vegetative identification characteristics include: rolled vernation, a very short membranous ligule, and leaf blades that are shorter and broader than most other grasses.

Pendulum, Aquacap, Corral (pendimethalin)

By: Joe Neal Pesticide Fact Sheets

This pesticide factsheet covers the use and characteristics of Pendulum, Aquacap, Corral (pendimethalin).

HGH 75 (oxyfluorfen + trifluralin)

By: Joe Neal Pesticide Fact Sheets

This pesticide factsheet covers the use and characteristics of HGH 75 (oxyfluorfen + trifluralin).