Making It Grow

Mon-Sat, throughout the day

Amanda McNulty of Clemson University’s Extension Service and host of ETV’s six-time Emmy Award-winning show, Making It Grow, offers gardening tips and techniques.

Archive: Making It Grow Podcasts, January 2011 - September 2014

Ways to Connect

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Phlox are considered the backbone of many cutting gardens. Right now in my St. Matthews flower beds, the phlox are making a tremendous show – three feet tall and masses of purples, pinks, and whites. A vase filled with them not only brings charm to a living or bedroom but also a delicate fragrance. While other flowers often have gaps from insect feeding, my phlox are so pretty I could put them in a flower show. But phlox in zone 8 b gardens are a relatively new phenomenon – the original phlox paniculatas were so susceptible to powdery mildew that most South Carolinians couldn’t grow them. With the remarkably mildew resistant cultivars now on the market, the only reason you couldn’t have a bed of gorgeous phlox is that they are irresistible to deer and I don’t think “deer resistance” is part of any on-going research studies.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. In 1975 Walter Jablonski registered the first ever “re-blooming” day lily – Stella de Oro. Although many day lily cultivars bloom for four to six weeks, a re-blooming daylily may flower from spring until frost. Stella de Oro, more commonly called Stella d’Oro, is a small orange day lily blooming from May through the summer. Happy Returns, a yellow re-bloomer, followed Stella, and now re-bloomers come in many colors.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Day lilies are native to Japan, China and other Asian countries but have naturalized here and you see the old orange ditch lilies on many back country roads. Yellows and oranges were the dominant colors until Dr. Arlow Stout of the New York Botanical Gardens began hybridizing work and now flowers come in all colors except blue! By increasing the number of chromosomes in the plant, creating tetraploids, new cultivars have thicker and more substantial flower petals and dramatic differences exists in shape and color patterns. Day lilies are very easy to hybridize and thousands of named cultivars exist. The American Hemerocallis Society has a registration process where new hybrids are entered into the system. You can even reserve a name for a day lily you hope to create – maybe someone will breed a Making It Grow day lily – I’m guessing it will be in the category “unusual form” - just like my hats!!!

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Hemerocallis is the genus for day lilies and that name combines two Greek words – hemera meaning “day” since an individual flower lives for only one day and kallos which means beauty. Although the flowers do open in the morning and die in the evening, the flowering stalk, called the scape, can have many buds and a healthy plant can have numerous scapes – giving you fresh flowers each and every morning for weeks and weeks. Day lilies comes in early, mid-season, and late flowering varieties so you can have areas of calm pastel or riotous color in your garden from early spring through October. The main flowering season is June and many people like to shop for day lilies right now so they can see what they are getting. Day lilies are among the most popular pass-along plants as they need to be divided every couple of years for healthy foliage and the optimum number of blossoms.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Secluded Gardens on Serenity Lane in Lexington, is an official display garden or the American Hemerocallis Society. Team Making It Grow visited homeowner Gail Buff there recently and boy, oh, boy – it was hard to stay serene in the midst of such beauty and vivid color. Hundreds and hundreds of day lilies in a vast array of flower forms and colors were in full bloom. Gail told us the history of the property, once part of her grandparent’s farm, and she has incorporated all sorts of found treasures that relate to her Wingard family past. Shovel heads have become faces, tree stumps serve as focal points and elevate containers filled with other blooming plants, and old equipment link this modern garden to its agricultural roots. When Gail divides her daylilies she takes the extras to her sister Delores Wingard Steinhauser at Wingard’s Nursery and also shares them with Columbia Green.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Recently Team Making It Grow filmed a Day Lily Display Garden in Lexington, Secluded Gardens. The major day lily organization in this country, the American Hermerocallis Society, awards this distinction to gardens that meet certain requirements including numerous types of day lilies grown – there are all sorts of different flower styles, color patterns, and sizes. South Carolina has nine gardens scattered throughout the state that have been chosen as official display sites. All except for Clemson Extension’s SC Botanical Garden are private gardens or growers. Right now day lilies are at their peak and there’s probably a display garden near you. The protocol is to call and arrange a time that suits both the homeowner and you. At the American Hemerocallis Society website,, you’ll find the lists of not only the display gardens arranged by states but also day lily clubs which welcome and share information with new members.

  Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making it Grow. Most of us remember to keep fresh water for our dogs and cats, but other creatures also benefit from a handy place to get a sip. Traditional concrete pedestal bird baths are attractive to birds as they are up in the air and a good view of any danger. But these garden features can be hazardous for children. Toddlers are curious about everything and of course want to look into this tantalizing basin. There have been tragic cases when the basin and pedestal have fallen over as a child climbs or pulls on it. If you have a pedestal basin, consider placing it on the ground or on a slightly raised tree stump or such. These are best placed in full sun away from any overhanging branches. Make sure you choose a place close enough to a hose that you can scoot it out and replace the water daily.

A Simple Water Feature Attracts Birds to Your Yard

Jun 5, 2015

  Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. At a bird banding site with DNR's Lex Glover, there was a clever get up to attract those featured friends. The crew placed a portable water carrier on a mounted pole and let it drip into a shallow basin sitting on the ground below. Ten drops a minute is enough to catch the attention of nearby birds and they respond quickly to that sound that clues them into a fresh supply of water.

  Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension. I have at times used a small plastic child's pool as a place for birds and insects to get water in my back yard vegetable and cut flower garden. It is not elegant but the dog didn't like it and I wanted to find a purpose for it. I added a large dead branch extending over the side as a bird perch and ladder for bees if they fell in the water. The nice thing was that when I went out of town for a couple of days, it held enough water to last until we returned. The downside was when I saw mosquito larvae, wiggle tails, dancing about. But that wonderful organic naturally occurring compound BT is formulated in donut shaped dunks that last all summer in a small pool and are completely safe for beneficial insects and other wildlife. You can find BT mosquito dunks in most garden centers.

  Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Have you ever been swimming and noticed bees skimming across the surface of the pond or pool? Just like all other animals, and of course, plants, water is critical to their health and survival. You can help keep beneficial pollinators and predators in your garden by making certain they have a fresh source of water at all times. You can use a Pyrex container, a ceramic bowl, or even a plastic garbage can lid placed in full sun on the ground or on a slightly elevated surface. Birds prefer a container with a light colored bottom which reflects light and doesn't give the appearance of deep water. For the safety of birds and insects, it's best to place a stone or brick in the water to serve as a bird perch or a path for safety for insects that fall into the water. And change that water often!!

  Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. In my backyard garden, I've made a bog garden and bird bath combination using the discarded lid of a plastic garbage can. The lid is tilted by having a brick placed under it so it leaks out onto the surrounding soil, making the bog where I have white-top sedge and calla lilies. There is a clay pot in it so insects that slip into the water can climb to safety. It is placed at the front of a bed with only low growing plants behind it and is directly under a spigot. The spigot drips just a bit - about ten drips a minute - which makes a very attractive sound to thirsty birds - and is enough water movement to prevent mosquito larvae from developing. The day after I "installed" this low-tech water feature, I was treated to the site of two robins having a conversation by the water fountain!

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension. I have several beautiful varieties of canna lilies (remember they aren’t really lilies) in my garden. Bengal tiger for Clemson graduates is a must have – it has green and yellow striped variegated leaves and a brilliant orange flower. Others have leaves with large swathes of deep purple on the green – all of them have showy flowers that provide nectar for butterflies and pollinators. Half way through the summer, many of my cannas look kind of sad.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Canna indica is perhaps the most complex as far as naturally occurring hybrids of the ten species of canna. It has tremendous uses across the globe as a food and in the visual and musical arts. The rhizomes are very starchy and are an alternative source of arrowroot starch (most of which comes from a member of the prayer plant family). The rhizomes can be eaten raw, boiled or sometimes baked and contain 6-14 percent sugar in addition to 70-80 percent starch and a tiny bit of protein. The very hard seeds are used in to make rattles for musical purposes and also are widely used as black pearls or beds in Asian Indian jewelry. At one time, these seeds were purportedly a substitute for metal shot when regular ammunition couldn’t be had. Who knew the lowly canna could have such an incredibly number of uses!

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Canna flaccida or golden canna is native to the gulf states from Texas to Florida and also to Georgia and South Carolina. It has a great common name, -- Bandana of the Everglades! In nature, it grows in wet soils but can be happy in a well-irrigated garden with organically rich soil. Depending on how much water and light it gets, it grows from three to six feet, with green leaves and yellow flowers. Another canna that has naturalized in this same geographic area plus NC and Virginia is the Indian shot canna, Canna indica, This species is actually native to wet areas in tropical and subtropical Central and South America. Canna indica sometimes has bronze areas in its leaves and the flowers come in reds and orange accents. Most cannas will overwinter just fine in zone 8, especially if well mulched over the winter.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Canna lilies are useful for adding color and mass to sunny parts of southern gardens. They come in a variety of heights – the Canna musaefolia or banana canna can grow fifteen feet while the more refined Pfitzer series tops out at about two feet but has remarkably colorful flowers. All cannas respond to water, and they originally grew on shorelines or boggy areas. They prefer full sun and love an organically-rich soil with a low pH. The showy parts of their flowers are highly-modified stamen structures called stamenoids. Although butterflies visit day flowering cannas and hawkmoths collect nectar from the cannas that flower at night, they are self-pollinating and produce a hard, dark seed that is why one common name for canna is India shot. Cannas are most closely related to the lovely and fairly easy to grow indoors Prayer Plant of the family – Marantaceae.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow! If you want a tropical look to your garden, look no further than the humble canna lily. Canna lilies are among the toughest imaginable herbaceous plants you can grow in southern gardens. They multiply like made and make huge masses that require a pick ax to break apart. Cannas the only genus in the family Cannaceae and are native to what is called neotropic ecozone, which includes Florida, the Caribbean, Central America and much of South America. The earth’s land areas are divided into eight ecozones which are configured based on the distribution of plants and animals. Cannas were quickly identified as interesting and worthy plants by early explorers to the new world with records of their being traded for over 400 years. In parts of Asia and Africa, cannas have naturalized and become part of indigenous people’s lifestyles as a food source and for artistic purposes.

By Greg Hume (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. We recently had a “relaxed format” Making It Grow show in Lake City as part of that city’s major cultural event, ArtFields. The logo for this annual exhibit of Southeastern art   is a dandelion. Here’s part of what the ArtFields brochure says about this lovely plant.

Shademaster Honey Locust
USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Since we southerners are so interested in family names, let’s examine the history of the name for SHADEMASTER honey LOCUST Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Shademaster' . The genus name, Gleditsia, honors the German botanist of the 18th century named Gottlieb Gleditsch. Now the fun begins – triacanthos means “three spines” referring to the spines that grow out of the trunks of most honeylocust trees.

'Sunburst' Honeylocust in Elko Nevada" by
Famartin - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Honey Locust pods
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. My favorite professor at Clemson, Dr. David Bradshaw, told wonderful stories about his grandfather who was a true naturalist just from living a life so connected to the land and knowing so many uses for the plants and animals found near his home. When we studied honeylocust, gleditsia triacanthos, David told us that the sweet substance found lining the pods that gives rise to the honey part of the common name had such a high sugar content that his grandfather used it to make beer.

Thorns of the Honey Locust tree
Rei at the English language Wikipedia

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you’re in one of the great swampy areas in South Carolina and the water starts to rise or a feral hog is chasing you, for the love of Pete do not climb a Gleditsia aquatica, or swamp locust. Dr. John Nelson recently brought photographs of this tree, found in wet places in the SE as well as his back yard, to the show for a mystery plant. It has clusters of fierce, sharp, long spines growing out of the trunk and would be impossible to safely climb.

Tomato Hornworm
Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Some caterpillars that look incredibly frightening are actually harmless! The tomato hornworm which is not only huge  up to four inches long (after he eats half a tomato plant in one night) but also has a big horn on its rear end. Fortunately, they are  all show and can’t do you any harm if you hand pick them   (the best control method). Nature helps control these caterpillars, too by providing braconid wasps who lay their eggs on this juicy piece of meat.

Saddleback caterpillar
Gerald J. Lenhard, Louiana State Univ / ©, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Most caterpillars are pretty recognizable as just that – the larva of a butterfly or moth. They have a head and thorax and usually some feet-like protrusions called prolegs. But one group, the slug moths, are among the most famous of the stinging caterpillars and the weirdest looking. Their head is not distinctly separate from the rest of their body and they have suckers-like structures for feet.

Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar
Terri Sumpter

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow.  A few years ago, my neighbor across the street brought over a shoe box with a fearful looking creature in it. It was the most beautiful and exotic looking caterpillar I’d ever seen. We identified him as a hickory horn devil who eats pecan, hickory and even baldcypress and pine needles! My fellow Extension Agent Terri Sumpter took a photograph of this magnificent fellow walking on my hand and if you go to Making It Grow’s facebook page you can see him in all his glory!

Setae on Oak Processional Caterpillars
By Kleuske via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow! If you haven’t put your wool sweaters and jackets up in moth balls,  you better get with the program! Making It Grow’s go to gal for insect questions, Vicky Bertagnolli, recently reminded us that moths are out doing there thing-laying eggs that develop into caterpillars. For most of us, this is only a problem if we forget to protect our wool clothes, but some caterpillars are actually dangerous. Fortunately, they warn us to keep away by their striking hairy bodies.

Tussock moth caterpillar
Wikipeida: Ryan Hodnett

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Oh, the mysterious things that come to our office in pill bottles! Last week, we had a hairy caterpillar to ID, it was found munching on a rose leaf so our first thought was “the stinging rose caterpillar.” Caterpillars are juicy treats for birds and an extremely important food source for feeding young birds who need lots of protein and fat to grow. Some Lepidopteran larva have developed hairs called setae to defend themselves. These hollow hairs connect to glands that produce a poison, when an animal touches these hairs they break and release a toxin that causes a reaction. I sent a picture of our caterpillar to Making It Grow’s insect specialist Vicky Bertagnolli who said it was not a rose caterpillar but a Tussock moth, in the genus Orgyia, but, it too, is indeed a stinger.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Terasa Lott is by day a water quality, natural resources Extension Agent in Florence. But on Tuesday nights, she transforms into a media specialist keeping watch over the Making It Grow chat room and keeping  our facebook page up to date and interesting.  A handful -- but she also give us a water quality tip each week. Lately, she reminded those turf grass enthusiasts that although spring is here, it is far too early to fertilize your lawn. Warm season turf grass, centipede, St.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The Clemson Student Organic Farm has small lagoons in front of their winter greenhouses to provide extra warmth for those structures but what positive spinoffs in summer.    dragonflies perch on cattails devouring captured insects. And toads and  live and breed in these simple water features. Guess what frogs and toads eat – insects! These amphibians hop all through the garden looking for food and with their long tongues can zap a plant eating beetle or stink bug in the blink of an eye.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Team Making It visited the Clemson Student Organic Farm in Calhoun Downs recently. We talked with The farm manager,  Shawn Jadrnicek, and filmed his  innovative  designs for passive heating systems that   keep the   greenhouses warm in the winter with a minimum of fuel use.   One concept is small lagoons located directly in front of the greenhouses which reflect heat back into the plastic structures during the winter when the sun is low.

Support Your Local Growers!

Apr 8, 2015

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson extension and Making It Grow. This is a terrific time to show your support for Certified South Carolina foods and the farmers who grow those local,  crops. If you search SC Department of Agriculture Certified grown, you can find by county all the members of that organization and what items they grow. Some growers even offer a way to support their farm through a CSA or community supported agriculture program.