Clemson University

Moths and Yucca

Jun 1, 2019
Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Some hummingbird moths, so named because of their size, visit yucca flowers at night to enjoy their nectar. But the important pollinators are yucca moths. Relatively small white insects, the female moth enters yucca flowers and uses special mouthparts called tentacles to collect pollen, which she rolls into a ball to transport. She lays her eggs in the ovary of a yucca flower, and then places some of the fresh pollen onto the female stigma.

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Some yuccas deservedly have the name Spanish Bayonet or dagger because of the sharp points at the ends of their leaves. But we have two native yuccas that are much less threatening and still have beautiful blossoms. Both Yucca filamentosa and Yucca flaccida are smaller and have somewhat softer foliage than their big relatives, and flowering stalks that top out at five feet. The leaves have threads, filaments, along the leaf margins, like fabric unraveling.

Spanish Bayonet

May 30, 2019
Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Like Yucca aloifolia, Spanish Bayonet, the plant called Spanish Dagger, Yucca gloriosa, also is native only to the lower southeastern states. Although it has a similar size and flower display, its leaves aren't quite so stiff and have a less lethal point at the end. John Nelson tells me the margins of Yucca gloriosa leaves are smooth and won't cut your fingers.

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Many people who have cut grass with push lawnmowers think that there should be a special place in the hell for yucca plants, as they have backed into them and suffered a painful stab wound. As a matter of fact, an Australian hospital reports it has treated dozens of persons with serious ear injuries incurred while working around yucca plants. The most dangerous yucca we have in South Carolina is Yucca aloifolia, or Spanish Bayonet.

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Right now, striking plants that are grown in many yards, and in cemeteries, and along roadsides are capturing our attention. Yuccas are tough, hardy plants that can persist for years and years without care and right now are blooming their hearts out. With flowering panicles that can be three feet by two feet and supported on stalks that can reach twelve feet in height, their masses of showy white blossoms top the charts for the WOW factor.

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The small ground nesting bees fall into several categories – mining bees, orchard bees, or digger bees are among them,  and all are important pollinators. They are absolutely no threat to humans or pets – even though several hundred may construct their burrows in the same area, that’s because the ground conditions are perfect.

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Cycads have been used as emergency food in many cultures. In Florida, however, Seminole Indians relied on starch made from the native cycad, Zamia floridana, as a primary source of calories. This plant, which covered portions of Florida, became the backbone of the arrowroot flour industry which flourished from 1850 to the 1920’s.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Cycads have been used for food in many cultures around the world.  A cycad native to Florida, Zamia floridana, or coontie, was almost eliminated by the production of cycad flour; mills churned out 15 tons of arrowroot flour a day.  Since cycads contain extremely dangerous neuro-toxins that cause horrific symptoms in humans decades after consumption, the plant material must be processed with great care to render it safe. 

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Sago palms are actually cycads, which are grouped with gymnosperms like pine trees. They are among the oldest seed plants to evolve on our planet.   Cycad fossils date back to almost 300 million years ago and once flourished worldwide.  They were the dominant plant group during the Mesozoic; the period sometimes called both the age of the dinosaur and the age of the cycads.

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.

Courtesy of the artist

The expressive capabilities of a lone guitar are not lost on Jason Vieaux. In 2015, the guitarist’s recordings for the album Play (Azica Records) won him that year’s Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo. But for this versatile artist, it’s not all about solo performance; Jason finds rich rewards in the collaborative atmosphere of chamber music as well.

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Blueberries, figs,  and muscadines are plants good for  backyard orchard s–   you don’t have to do much as far as insect or disease control goes. Elderberry is another plant you might add to your backyard if you have some room. In other parts of the country, there are lots of both commercial and home orchards of elderberry but for some reason we haven’t used them much in the south. But Dr.

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. In the New World, the first kaolin clay mined for shipment back to England to be used in fine china came from the colony of South Carolina, and today we are second only to Georgia for kaolin extraction. We spoke about how kaolin clay sprayed on vegetables and fruits helps prevent insect feeding, but it also can prevent sunburn. Just like zinc oxide protects my nose from the sun, a coating of this white clay film protects tomato fruits from sunscald and tissue necrosis.

Why No Fruit?

Aug 16, 2018
Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Lots of calls are coming to   Extension offices about vegetable plants that have lush and plentiful foliage    but are not setting fruits, especially beans and tomatoes. There are several factors at play. One is high night time temperatures. Tony Melton explains that plants cool themselves by a process called transpiration – basically sweating.

Using Kaolin Clay

Aug 15, 2018
Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Kaolin clay is a nuisance in garden soil; unlike red clay, it’s basically inert, low in electrical charges that hold nutrients and water, and is even more gluey and sticky if you can image that. However, it has a several uses for commercial growers and home gardeners. When kaolin clay is sprayed on plants, it forms a barrier, coating the leaves and fruits with a white film which protects them from damage by certain insects, including thrips and other leaf and fruit eating pests.

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