- [Narrator] Staghorn ferns are certainly stunning, and until recently, quite rare. Annette Schrader visits with a collector of these epiphytes. Crape myrtle bark scale has made its way to Tennessee. We'll learn which common landscape plants are susceptible, and Troy Martin spotlights the clematis varieties that produce an abundance of beautiful, petite blooms. Join us! They're tropical, long-limbed, and so dramatic. Let's get a closer look at staghorn ferns. - I cannot believe that you're about to see a variety of plants from all over the world, literally. We're in front of staghorn fern, and Tim, I am amazed at what you're collected here, and I want you to set us up as to why you like this fern, how you got them, and just give us everything you know. - Morning, Annette. Well, staghorn ferns were the first tropical plants that I got into back in college, and they're very forgiving, they'll take a little bit of dryness in between waterings, I would say this would be your quintessential staghorn. You can see the way the leaves stand up like antlers, hence the name "staghorn ferns." That particular plant is from Madagascar and Africa. These plants are from all over the world, so that again would be probably a really good example of why they call them staghorn ferns. - Okay, so what about the one to the right of it? Now where's it from? - Those two plants are actually from Australia, New Zealand area, so again, you see these plants growing in a wide variety of places, from Vietnam, southeast Asia, Africa. Chances are, unless you know how they grow, you may not see them. Keep in mind, like orchids, they are epiphytes, so they're gonna be growing on a trunk of a tree anywhere from 20 feet up to 60, 70 feet up in the tropical jungle, so again, they're epiphytes, they attach to the tree so that if the leaves drop, they get the food from the leaves decaying, and they get the moisture from the rain, and again, grow very much like orchids where they don't cause the tree any harm, so they're not a parasite, they're an epiphyte. - That's what I was gonna ask. It's not considered like a mistletoe or Spanish moss. They're not. - Exactly. - All right. How about this one? - Sure. So this would be an example of one of the hybrids. Most of mine are species, but this is a hybrid called "Blue Boy," so there has been quite a bit of cultivation in-between species. The only way that can occur is through spores, whereas reproduction among the staghorns can occur in a number of ways. So that's an example of a plant that you could reproduce from spore, but also, as you see the little tiny plantlets coming out, those are known as pups. You can also cut those off and start a new plant from those, and that's probably the most common way that these things show up in nurseries, and show up in cultivation. - Have you done this? - I have done that. Many of these plants, for example, this plant is a division off of this plant. - Okay. Well now, here we are in our relatively cool 54 degrees morning. These are still outside, and I know that you're gonna take these in, right? - Yes. - And you just, do you have to do anything special after you get them inside? - Not really. The most important thing is to make sure they're insect-free before bringing them in, 'cause you don't want to bring the insects in and have them spread among your whole collection. Usually I'll make sure they're well-watered in, so I don't have to water them indoors right off the bat. - [Annette] And you will treat them for the insects outside before you take them in. - [Tim] Yes. - [Annette] Can I ask what you might use? - [Tim] Probably the best thing would be the Safer Soap that you have talked about using on your orchids. That way you're dealing with a non-toxic. I try to keep up with my plants so I don't have a widespread infestation. If you have mealy bugs or scale on just one plant, you can almost always keep up with that manually, as long as, again, you really keep an eye on it. - Let's go away from variety now and let's talk about the makeup of the staghorn fern. This part that's growing here, this you say is a shield? - Yes, this would be the shield from the infertile frond. All staghorns will have some type of shield frond. This one's gonna be much larger, much crownlike. In fact, this plant will grow eight to 10 to 12 feet across in the jungle. It's the largest of all the staghorns, and as you can see, it's putting its energy into shield fronds right now. You don't see a fertile frond down here. It's inside the bud, but it will also produce a fertile frond. - [Annette] So, just right next door to it, this is the fertile frond right here? - [Tim] That's correct. - [Annette] On this one. - And the massiveness of the shield on this one, I mean, you can't tell if it's a big head of cabbage or if it's a staghorn. Now, let's also talk about the fact that these do have to have something to make them stable once you get them in your possession, so the boards and things, do they come that way, or are you attaching them? - Yes, I re-mounted these all onto boards. It tends to work best for me, because it most closely emulates them growing around a tree in their natural habitat. It also makes them easier to display than it would be in a pot, and easier to water as well. - [Annette] In your growing and cultivating these, have you really ever had any real issues with it? Are they relatively simple once you get them? - They are, I mean, there are issues that can come up that are out of your control you may not be able to do anything about. For example, if we had two or three weeks of steady rain, especially this time of year, they would be more prone to fungus or so forth. In Florida, they run into that probably a lot more than we do, because the humidity is traditionally so much higher. But in general, I would rate them among the most sturdy houseplants. A lot of people are intimidated by them, but they are absolutely hardy. Not only, like you said, it was 40-some degrees this morning. I will have them out here until it reaches about 38, 39 degrees, and as long as it doesn't do that for two, three nights in a row, I probably won't have any kind of cold damage. I can leave them out for a night or two, even in the high 30s. - So you're planning for that transition now, aren't you? - Yeah, little bit early this year, but yes, I am. - [Annette] This one, where did you say this one would grow, mostly in what area? - [Tim] This one would grow mostly in southeast Asia and the Pacific islands. - [Annette] I think this is quite ingenious here, how you have these displayed and the way you can hang them. Do you ever have any issues with animals, or squirrels or anything, coming in here and bothering them? - [Tim] No, the groundhogs and deer seem to like everything in my yard except my staghorns, so fortunately, they are not real prone to it, and the chewing bugs, like grasshoppers and that, don't seem to care for them, either. - [Annette] We have moved on to the Congo. All right, Tim, tell us about this one. - [Tim] This is one of my favorite plants. It's called the elephant ear staghorn, and you can see the leaf doesn't have any divisions, isn't antler-like like the other species. Very, very different plant. Again, only grows in one part of central Africa in the Congo. A good example to see the spores being formed on that. So all of them are gonna develop spores a little bit differently for reproduction, but that's a very, very unusual variety. - It's kind of like our Japanese painted ferns in our gardens. Those actually are going all over because of spores, is that correct, in our garden? - That's correct. - But these don't do that. - Right. Even in the jungle, as these drop multiple spores, only a very small percentage of those spores would survive and become adult plants. - I'm kind of with you. That's sort of cool, but I like all these big buck things looking out behind you there. All right, let's go to this one. - Okay. This plant is kind of special to me, because I traded Dick Page, who used to be over at Cheekwood Gardens, I traded him actually one of these elephant ear staghorns for this plant, which is "Longwood Gardens" from Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. It's a cultivar of Willinckii that we'll be talking about in a second here, and I just think it has just a majestic form of growth, kind of those nice arching leaves, real pretty coppery shield fronds when they turn brown. - [Annette] Yeah, this is just really pretty on them. Okay, how about this one? - That is one of the rare plants, that is Platycerium Willinckii. I wish a lot of these had common names, but they don't. That plant is from Australia, New Zealand, in that area, Java, Sumatra, and it is slighted as one of the most difficult to grow of the staghorns. I have not particularly struggled with it, but it does not like overwatering, and it does not like ultra-cold temperatures, so sometimes I'll sneak that in a little bit early. That plant is, I have had it probably close to 40-some years. - Is this the college plant? - It is the, yes it is. It is probably the slowest-growing of the staghorns, and it took it that long to grow into a specimen plant like that. - We are about to finish our journey around the globe, literally. Tim, fill us in on our last three fern. - Last three ferns are platycerium andinum. Kinda named after the Andes, these are the only staghorns that grow in the western hemisphere, and they grow in a little, tiny corner of the jungle near Iquitos, Peru. So these plants are not only rare, they're fairly challenging to grow, so to be able to have them represented in a collection, I'm very, very proud of them. These are all divisions from an original plant, so you can see, they seem to divide quite freely. This would be a good plant to show the example of how the spores develop. If I turn this frond over and you see the reddish-brown there, that is very demonstrative of how the staghorns produce the ferns, and when they turn this reddish, as in your cinnamon ferns or garden ferns, means they're almost ripe and will then drop. - [Annette] It looks like suede back there, doesn't it? Okay. - [Tim] And you can also see that these have a very different habit of growth, the more long, straight-down pendulant growth versus the upright, antler-type growth. - [Annette] Oh, yes. - So they're completely different forms of growth, but again, the same configuration. You've got your fertile frond, and then you've got your infertile fronds, or shield fronds. - Yeah. Well, as I look down this fence, it's very evident the difference. Where those down there, I consider the big buck of the backyard down there, all their fronds going up and then these falling downward, so I'm amazed that I didn't know that you had these. I know you're a true plantsman, but your knowledge, your time, and all the effort that you shared with us today. I think this is just wonderful to visit with you and see this type of a plant that we really don't realize is here, and that we could actually grow one and you give us a source to where we can find them, and I just can't thank you enough. - You're very welcome, and thank you for letting me share. - [David] Crape myrtles. What a beautiful woody plant. Some people might call it a shrub, some people might call it a small tree, but they're well-established in many landscapes, and many people, probably this is on their top ten or top five list of woody plants to establish in their landscape. Can't go wrong with a crape myrtle. But never say never when it comes to a plant. There is a new insect that is becoming established in the Nashville area, but not just in Nashville area, southeastern United States. So, it is called the crape myrtle bark scale. Now, it is a brand-new species that was discovered that was first reported in, of all places, Texas, a northern Dallas neighborhood. So, this is around 2004, then it was documented. As scale insects go, they're not very mobile. They're mobile on a plant, 'cause they can crawl around. But they don't fly, even though the male insect turns into a minute, tiny flying insect smaller than a gnat, and that's just so he can move around and mate with females. Then he dies shortly. So, how is this crape myrtle spreading from Dallas, Texas, area in 2004 to when it was found in Germantown, Tennessee, outside Memphis in 2013 and then it became widespread. Every crape myrtle was turning black in Germantown. Now why'd that happen? Well, this little insect, called a scale insect, it's not truly defined as a hard scale, or armored scale, or a soft scale. So it's kind of in-between. It looks a little white-grayish off-white, and it looks felty. Now, the term felting, I have some friends that do felting and make dolls. So, they excrete this waxy filament and it mats together. So, sometimes they're referred to as a felt scale. Now the trouble is, they will go unnoticed for several years, until something like this happens, escalates into an explosive population. Now this is a sample I took many years ago out of Germantown, Tennessee. I was doing a workshop there. And if someone had never seen a crape myrtle, and they drove into Germantown and someone pointed out a crape myrtle, they would assume that all crape myrtles are black. The trunks, the stems, the leaves, everything was black with white spots on them. And you would think, well, "Why is that a desirable landscape plant? It's not very pretty at all." Well, that was the issue. This scale insect started moving about. Now, how did it spread if it can't fly? Well, it's a hitchhiker. So we theorize that probably birds landing or nesting in a crape myrtle, even an insect, when the small nymphs, the crawlers, are active and crawling around on the stems and the leaves, they're crawling onto an animal, take a free flight, come to another area, come to another neighborhood. Then around 2010,2012 they started finding reports in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, then the population of these scale insects exploded. But when it came into Germantown, all the crape myrtles in a few years started turning jet black. I mean, jet black. And they were so unsightly. But then it was identified as a specific Asian exotic introduced scale insect, and it had never been seen before in North America. So now we got a really major problem with this crape myrtle bark scale. Because they do cover up the bark. In this sample I have here, you can't even see the bark. The bark is covered up with a high population of white female scales, and there would be little baby scales called crawlers, and then once they hatch in the spring around the month of May, they crawl out and they settle on part of the plant, the males turn into a little flying insect and mate, and so this cycle goes on. We think there's about two generations a year in our area. So a few years after it was found in Germantown, Tennessee, it started showing up in Davidson County, we found some sites in neighborhoods in Wilson County, I have found it in Old Hickory, Tennessee, in Antioch, Tennessee, there are gonna be other areas where it hasn't been reported. So, I'd like people to keep their eyes out. There's not enough extension agents to do this work. If you look at this sample, which also came from Germantown, you can see the white spots and those are crape myrtle bark scale. Now, they're dried and dead on this sample, but notice that the leaves are not green anymore. They're turning black. The black comes from sooty mold. It's a fungal organism, but it's not a disease. We don't call it a pathogen. So where does the sooty mold come from? Well, scale insects are insects that feed on the plant sap from the plant. They have a unique mouth part that punctures a leaf and gets inside the twigs, and they suck out all the liquid diet. So they excrete a liquid diet, and what comes out, entomologists, we call this a cute name, we call that honeydew. And if you tasted it, not that I encourage people to do that, you'd go, "That's kind of sweet." Well, sure it is. It's plant sap. Full of sugars. So, what happens when that sticky plant sap falls on the leaves, on the stems, on the ground around the plant? Black spores of sooty mold find it and go, "Wow, this is a food source." So they start growing, and they proliferate, and then the plant is no longer green. It doesn't have beautiful, exfoliating bark. Everything turns black 'cause sooty mold grows everywhere. It got to the point to control these, there was a lot of chemical sprays, horticultural oils, systemic insecticides, to the point some trees were so badly damaged, it was so hard to control them, they cut them to the ground. Well, that was a good thing because you know what? You got a whole new plant that grew out. Then you had to watch it again, because the scale in`sects are now coming back. And in Memphis area, in Germantown, it took about five years for them to get this under control. So we want people to look out and scout and look in their landscapes for little white specks, little tiny white spots, little tiny spots, would be evidence of crape myrtle bark scale. If you find this, we'd like you to call a local extension agent for the University of Tennessee, and that could be me. So, we want to isolate these problematic areas and try to get a good management controlling this, prevent it from spreading. So, we want crape myrtles to be a beautiful landscape plant once again and not turn black and ugly because of crape myrtle bark scale. - [Troy] One of my favorite plants in my own garden are clematis. I've loved them since I was a little boy when I bought one in a box at a dime store, and it was an old purple Jackmanii, and my friend Sally Reynolds shares my passion for clematis, and I don't think that we have ever done a segment on Volunteer Gardener, just about clematis, or CLEMatis, depending on how you choose to say it. - [Sally] How you wanna pronounce it. I am passionate about clematis. - [Troy] And you have some that you are particularly enamored of, and I would love for you to tell us what they are and why. - Well, you know, Troy, in the clematis family there are definitely several branches of the clematis family. - Correct. - My favorite would not be the big-flowered ones. - [Troy] Yeah, those big hybrids with the six and eight inch blooms. - [Sally] Which Jackmanii, I believe, is one of those, but it is quite prolific. - [Troy] Right. - [Sally] Many of the others are not. They have big, showy blooms, but you know. My favorite branch of the clematis family is Viticella. They are smaller-leaf, the bloom is in abundance. - [Troy] Right. Small flowers. - [Sally] Very, very small. - [Troy] Often just two or three inches in diameter. - [Sally] Exactly, exactly. - [Troy] Hundreds of them. - [Troy] Rooguchi is one of my favorites, my very favorites, because it just performs and performs and performs. - [Sally] Yes. - [Troy] I mean, we are right now at the first of June, I would guess it's probably already been going for two or three weeks at least. - [Sally] It has, it has. - [Troy] And it will bloom all the way through September, - [Sally] Yeah, exactly. - [Troy] pretty easily, sometimes even into October. - [Troy] Small flowered, - [Sally] Yes. - [Troy] but just a flowering powerhouse. - [Sally] And this beautiful bell shape, so a very unique shape and, so in terms of placement of that, you really need to give it something nice to climb on, something that would also draw your attention, because these are not big flowers, that you would go, "Oh." - [Troy] Right. I mean, I have H. F. Young in bloom in my garden right now, and H. F. Young is sky blue, and the flowers are eight inches in diameter. You can't help but notice it when you drive up. - [Sally] Exactly. - But these are more delicate. - They're more delicate. - And you need to have a little bit of a focal point, or you need to be able to walk past them. A lot of them are really good for scrambling through shrubs and things next to a walkway. - [Sally] Oh yes. Oh yes. So my original 'goochi was on that butterfly sculpture out front, whereas this one is on the lily sculpture now. - Mhm. In the back, yeah. - But it's just killer this year. - And you have a really nice specimen on the arbor as you come up the back steps. - Yeah. This would be Julia Correvon, and it is absolutely at peak right now, so I hope that you take advantage of it. - [Troy] And it's a very deep purple, purply red color. - [Sally] It is. It is. - [Troy] And a lot of them in the Viticella branch are in that range of color. There are some other colors outside of that, also, but a lot of them are in that pink to lavender, sort of deep purple range, and what other varieties of the Viticellas do you have? - [Sally] Well, let's see. Out front, I've got the Etoile Violette, which started well earlier than Julia here. It was originally, it's been there for many, many years. It was originally climbing over some shrub roses that are now gone, so I put just a metal cart up there for it to climb over, and it's under, it's over a bed of the gold Creeping Jenny. And it's very purple, the Etoile Violette, so it makes quite a stunning, with the backdrop of a big weeping Jap maple. - [Troy] Mhm. And then over here by the Jackmanii, you have another variety. - [Sally] There is another Viticella called Polish Spirit. Colorwise, it is very similar to Jackmanii. The flower is just smaller and the leaves are much smaller. - [Troy] Yeah, and the vine itself, even though they can grow to pretty great heights, I mean, eight, 10, 12 feet some of them. - [Sally] Oh yes. - [Troy] Pretty easily. - [Troy] It's kind of a more delicate vine, so if you do have - [Sally] Very much so. - I mean, I would think of it running through maybe those limelight hydrangeas that you have, or big forsythia bushes, or you know, something like that. If you don't have a trellis to plant it on, or a wall where it can climb, they're good scramblers, because they'll use those shrubs as support but not smother them. - [Sally] They will. - [Troy] A lot of times, you'll see reference to the fact that they want their feet in the shade but their tops in the sun. [Sally] - Yes, yes. - And how do we achieve that? - Well, - 'Cause they like to have cool roots. - They do. - Cool and moist, but they wanna have their tops in the sun, where they can flower. - I know. So to me as a gardener, you would just have to kind of study your site a little bit and, over years, that can change. It can change. - Right, right. - It can change. - But it's also an opportunity, maybe, to if you have a trellis or a wall it can climb, you plant that right at the base of the trellis, and then you plant something else around the base of the clematis to help shade those roots. A perennial of some kind, or a small shrub. - And to be very honest with you, this Julia Correvon, she gets morning sun, she does get some midday, she does get some afternoon, and she is just flourishing. Now, do I have variegation? Yes, I do. But she's quite a specimen. - Well, I could say my original clematis when I was a little boy, and I mean a little boy, grew on the east side of the house, where morning sun, a little bit of shade in the afternoon, perfect location. But they'll also grow in the full sun if their roots are protected a little bit. - I agree, I agree. - Shaded just a little bit from just the hot, beating-down sun in the afternoon. - I agree. Depending upon what type of clematis you've got, there are three different types of pruning recommended depending upon what you've got. - Correct. Because like in the hydrangea world, some of them flower on their old growth, some of them flower on their new growth. Some of them will flower on both. - [Sally] Exactly. So you need to know what you have and just search it and it will give you that information. - [Troy] Yeah. Great. Thank you so much for imparting a little bit of knowledge to us today about clematis, and your specimens are certainly beautiful. - [Sally] Thank you, thank you. It's been a pleasure. - [Narrator] For inspiring garden tours, growing tips, and garden projects, visit our website at volunteergardener.org, or at YouTube at the VolunteerGardener channel, and like us on Facebook.
April 29, 2021
Season 29 | Episode 14
On this episode of Nashville Public Television's Volunteer Gardener, Annette Shrader visits a plantsman with an impressive collection of staghorn ferns, both the 'antler' frond and shield frond varieties. David Cook reviews the signs of crape myrtle bark scale and recommends remediation tactics. Troy Marden showcases the clematis varieties that have a very prolific blooms that are petite in size.