Amanda McNulty

Host, Producer

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.

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The Ancient Cyads

Feb 18, 2019
Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Sago palms are the most readily available cold hardy cycads that we can grow in most of South Carolina. Well-established cycads will usually survive temperatures down to 15 degrees, but their beautiful, stiff, pinnately-compound leaves which normally stay green and live through winter are killed when we have unusually low temperatures. It’s best to let those dead leaves most of our sagos now have remain on the plants as they can give some protection to the growth points.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The common name dandelion is derived from the French phrase dent de lion – lion’s tooth, referring to the deeply serrated leaves of some species, including the one we most commonly see – Taraxacum officinale. For thousands of years, different cultures have used this plant as a nutritional food source or for medicinal purposes. It’s a strong diuretic which gives rise to the name wet-a-bed.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Dandelions bloom every month of the year in South Carolina.   A perennial weed with a tap root, individual plants can live for five years or more and established plants are hard to eradicate. Each flower makes between 100 to 500 seeds that have attached structures to catch the wind and for widespread dispersal. Although perfect lawn aficionados despise them, this is one non-native plant with importance for wildlife in parts of the country.

Dandelions

Jan 31, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. On my walks with friend Ann Nolte we’ve been examining dandelions, not much else is in flower right now. On warm days, we bend over and stare at those yellow blooms to see if there are any insect visitors. So far, we’ve seen small dipterans – that sounds more exciting than the common name of flies, doesn’t it? Our ubiquitous dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, is a Eurasian species that has spread almost all over the globe.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Last year, South Carolina received 102 inches of rain, way more than normal. Although it was a nuisance to carry umbrellas every other day, for some farmers it was devastating.  In the Darlington area and others, some farmers couldn’t get their crops out of the field; peanuts and cotton revenues were lost. Even under normal circumstances, many fields require drains to be profitable.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. It’s cold and the ground has been wet. Not anyone’s favorite time for gardening. But the warm, sunny days of spring are around the corner and we will all be planting new perennials, shrubs and trees. Even though you know that you don’t dig a hole any deeper than the root ball, that is deep enough for you to call 811 before digging.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Clumps of paperwhite narcissus are up in my yard and any day I expect to see a flower stalk.  Although these fragrant bulbs aren’t attractive to European honey bees, other late winter, early bulbs are. Hyacinth and scilla blossoms, especially blue ones, a favorite color for bees, are relatively inexpensive, easy to grow and not only make your garden beautiful but their tubular flowers provide food for pollinators.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. I was outside cutting magnolia to make a Christmas wreath and stopped to admire the flowers on one of my loquat trees. Loquat has a melodious scientific name, Eriobotrya japonica, and is sometimes called Japanese plum. Right now, this small, evergreen tree with handsome, gray green leaves with pubescent backs is in flower. Each branch ends with a large creamy white inflorescence.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Few plants have as long as blooming period as some of our camellias. Although they are classed as early, mid-season, or late, each individual plant sets flower buds that open over a period of months. An open bud or flower will be ruined by frost, but buds that are still tightly closed are unharmed and will open at a later time. That’s one reason that I think we should all have some of single or semi-double flowering camellias in our yards.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. There is a huge push to grow native plants in an effort to help pollinators. But don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater – some of our most beloved non-natives are important food sources, too. Right now, camellias are coming into their glory. The cultivars that have single or semi-double flowers, that means they have functioning stamens and pistils, are used by European honeybees as a source of winter food – both nectar and pollen.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. My friend Ann Nolte lives in a family house near St. Matthews with a yard full of old camellias. She sent me a photograph she took in mid-December after cold weather had damaged the beauty of the flowers that were opened when the night time temperatures dropped below freezing. Although the blossom wasn’t lovely to the human eye, it was dramatically attractive to a foraging honey bee.

Poikilohydry?

Dec 29, 2018

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Fellow Extension agent Chase Smoak and I like to learn new botanical words (he already knows a lot more than me). But I had a good one for him the other day. Poikilohydry is the process that occurs in lichens, mosses and liverworts which absorb moisture from their surroundings. When they dry out, they stop photosynthesizing, but when they rehydrate, start using sunlight to make carbohydrates again.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you have lichens growing on in your yard, be delighted. They’re considered indicators of healthy air. They lack roots and get their carbon dioxide, water and all nutrients, except the carbohydrates the algal partner manufactures, from the surrounding atmosphere. As a result, air-borne pollutants become concentrated in them.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you have lichens growing on in your yard, be delighted. They’re considered indicators of healthy air. They lack roots and get their carbon dioxide, water and all nutrients, except the carbohydrates the algal partner manufactures, from the surrounding atmosphere. As a result, air-borne pollutants become concentrated in them.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. A northern relative of our southern reindeer mosses, which as far as I can tell no creatures eat routinely, is an important food in the arctic regions. Lichens can survive in that harsh part of the world as they stop physiological processes in winter, when there’s no liquid water. When snows and ice thaw in spring, this organism, a combination of a fungus and an alga, hydrates and photosynthesis and growth start again.

Reindeer "Moss"

Dec 26, 2018

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. When going to the landfill in Calhoun County, I pass through an area with extremely sandy soils. The roadsides are practically covered with a particular lichen we’ve always called reindeer moss. However, lichens are not mosses, which are in the plant kingdom, but are placed in the Kingdom Fungi. A lichen is an example of a mutualistic relationship between a fungus and an alga or cyanobacteria. The fungus makes up the body of the lichen.

Lichens

Dec 24, 2018

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Often people call the office and tell us that lichens are killing their plants. Lichens however, live independently of the surface, or substrate, they’re growing on-- they don’t have any root-like structures to extract nutrients. When growing on woody plants, they’re simply using them as a way to be in the sunlight. Lichens can be just as healthy growing on tombstones, walls, or rocks.

Malignant Mistletoe?

Dec 22, 2018

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although our eastern American mistletoe does do harm to our urban trees and our timber industry, the fact that it can only grow on hardwoods spares our pine plantations, and its seeds must be spread by animals. Out west, however, dwarf mistletoe species, in the genus Arceuthobium, grow and parasitize certain conifers including pines.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Our Eastern American mistletoe has the scientific name Phoradendron leucarpum. The first name comes from Greek words – phor meaning thief and dendron meaning tree – and it is parasitic -- taking nutrients from the host tree.

More on Mistletoe

Dec 20, 2018

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Our Christmas custom of hanging mistletoe in our houses dates back to Norse traditions and more recently to Victorian times. It’s amusing when you learn that the name has Anglo Saxon origins meaning dung on a stick. All mistletoes, which are found nearly worldwide, are dioecious, with male and female flowers occurring on separate plants. The female plants with their transparent white fruits are preferred for decorations.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Parasitic plants with the common name mistletoe occur almost worldwide and in many cultures were associated with myths and pagan religious rites. The Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer wrote a comparative study of mythology and religion. In his book The Golden Bough which is one of the common names for mistletoe, he wrote extensively about the European mistletoe, Viscum album.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. While filming at Historic Columbia recently, I learned that it wasn’t until the 1850’s that British and American Christians began seriously decorating their homes for Christmas. Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, brought his Germanic holiday traditions to England. Along with decorating a tree came the custom of hanging mistletoe over a doorway.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. As our native dogwoods, Cornus florida, became susceptible to numerous diseases, horticulturists looked for alternatives. One Asian species does have some resistance to certain diseases and has become a popular substitute for our native small understory tree. Cornus kousa is a lovely tree with some differences. It blooms after the leaves have emerged, so you don’t get that airy aspect of our Cornus florida.

Dogwood Cultivars

Nov 30, 2018

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. A cultivar is a named variety of a particular plant that was selected or breed and vegetatively propagated to have special characteristics, so all the plants with that name are exactly the same. It used to be that people often planted seedling dogwoods in their yards.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. This is the best time of year to add new plants to your yard, make it a family affair to give a gift to nature over the holidays. Our native dogwoods, Cornus florida, have suffered from years of higher temperatures and lower rainfall as well as disease pressure.

Dogwood Anthracnose

Nov 28, 2018

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Dogwood anthracnose, with the frightening name Discula distructiva, was first identified in north eastern forests in 1978. This disease has now has caused the death of over fifty percent of those trees growing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a huge hit for wildlife as dogwood fruits were a major part of the mast supply. Mast is the fruits and seeds of woody trees and shrubs that birds and mammals use for food.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. You deserve kudos if you consistently keep you backyard feeders filled with a variety of foods, and make sure that birds have a constant source of fresh water, especially during freezing weather. But our native wildlife existed here long before we did, taking advantage of natural sources of sustenance and drink. Mast is the word for the seeds, nuts, berries, buds, acorns and other forest produce that birds and animals rely upon for food.

Native Dogwood Trees

Nov 26, 2018

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Riding up to Clemson recently, the sides of the highways were showing good fall color from the large hickories, tulip poplars, and maples. A smaller tree that was adding to the beauty was our native dogwood, Cornus florida with reddish burgundy leaves. Dogwoods are happiest at the edges of woodlands. In those settings, they have their shallow roots established in soils rich in leaf mold; soils that can hold water but offer good drainage.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Baccharis halimifolia, groundsel bush or salt myrtle, is native to the coastal areas of all states bordering the Atlantic and was apparently once found only near the coast. With impressive salt resistance, ability to thrive in dry or moist soils, and massive seed production it has since expanded its range dramatically.

Beautiful Baccharis

Nov 23, 2018

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although there are still acres and acres of cotton still in the fields I pass by on my commute from Saint Matthews to Sumter, another plant is taking the stage for its white, silvery appearance. Sea myrtle, groundsel, or salt bush are some of the common names for this plant which has the scientific name of Baccharis halimifolia; most people I know just call it baccharis.

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