May 19, 2019

LADY GARDENER: Garden pests have arrived with the heat

Along with summer heat, garden pests arrive on the scene. In the last month, readers have been reporting damage from squirrels and rabbits as well as deer. Other pests that affect all gardeners are weeds and insects.

It’s frustrating to see weeds and poison ivy growing in the garden. After hours of work, they seem to reappear overnight. Carefully caged vegetables invite numerous animals to dinner.

Poison ivy has been especially tiresome this summer. Growing among pachysandra, it’s difficult to see until it towers over the surrounding foliage. I found one large cluster in a grouping of astilbe.

I won’t touch the poison ivy even with gloves. Occasionally my husband will come to the rescue but he’s usually busy with other garden chores. Our 13-year-old grandson earns spending money by helping but he, like me, is allergic to the plant.

One remedy I have used in the past is to mix a gallon of poison ivy herbicide, according to label directions, and paint it on the leaves with a paintbrush. This keeps the chemical in check and protects surround plants.

I also have a few techniques to control insects. A few insects on a stem can be removed by hand or by simply snipping the branch. Keep chemical use to a minimum. Spray only the targeted area and do not spray surrounding healthy plants and shrubs.

We are fortunate to have a significant frog population that keeps our garden almost free of insects. They hop underfoot and scurry to avoid the lawn mower. Outside the backdoor, I’ve placed a shallow bowl of water that attracts the frogs; however, we have to open the screen door slowly as not to harm the one that sleeps on the step.

Nut Sedge reappears every summer. This is the third summer I have treated the lawn with a chemical product specifically for nut sedge. As with any chemical, read the printed material especially the Do Not Spray list that includes vegetables, ornamentals, and garden flowers. If you feel you must spray, use it only on the lawn, not in the flower beds. When in doubt, call a professional service.

When applying any chemical, wear long pants, sleeves, gloves, and mask. If any chemical spills on your clothing, wash the item separately.

The Master Garden Display Garden, on the former State Hospital grounds, is absolutely beautiful. Visit any day. The garden is free and open to the public. Each garden has an identification box containing information sheets.

Take your camera, pen and notepaper to jot down the name of any perennial, annual, or shrub on your must-have list. In the gazebo garden, look for the limelight hydrangea covered in lime-yellow flowers. Nearby deep red hibiscus plants are truly magnificent. The all-American Selections garden features reliable plants available in area garden centers.

The new summer bulb garden, in its infancy, will be a highlight next year; however, it’s a good example how bulbs should be spaced for future growth.

My new email address has not been working, and I apologize to readers who have not receive a reply. I will answer your questions as soon as possible.

Garden dos the next two weeks:

n Check for fungi especially mildew.

n Thin thick clumps of flowers by pinching a few back to allow air circulation.

n Check out plant sales at local garden centers.

Originally from: 

LADY GARDENER: Garden pests have arrived with the heat

Doc Talk: What to do when poison plants cause allergic skin reactions

It’s that time of year when vegetation is growing quickly, including poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak. These notorious plants cause more allergic skin reactions (contact dermatitis) than all other plants combined. The substance that leads to the allergic reaction is called urushiol, a colorless oil in the leaves, fruit, stem, root and sap of the plant. When exposed to air it turns brown and will sometimes leave brown spots on the leaves.

Contact dermatitis can affect all skin types. A person can be exposed to the oil in multiple ways, including direct contact with the parts of the plant described above, breathing in smoke of burning plants, touching clothing that has been exposed, or touching an animal that has been exposed.

The symptoms of contact dermatitis include intense itching, swelling, redness and blister formation. Symptoms typically occur several hours to a few days after exposure to the plant oil. Symptoms can last a few days or up to three weeks. Blister formation can occur over many days and does not mean that the rash is spreading. Fluid that leaks from the blisters is not contagious. The rash itself is not contagious either. The rash can be transferred to another person only if the oil is still on the body. This is why it is very important to clean all clothing, bedding and objects that the person has come in contact with.

To diagnose contact dermatitis, your doctor will examine the rash; no specific testing is needed. There are various treatment options. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) don’t provide much relief from itching, but can cause sleepiness. Better sleep may provide respite from the itchiness. Calamine lotion can help alleviate itching. Medications such as Domeboro and Burow’s solution can help reduce weeping of blisters and relieve the itching. Topical steroids are often used to reduce inflammation and itching. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone usually isn’t as helpful as stronger topical steroids that can be prescribed by your doctor. Occasionally, steroid pills such as Prednisone are prescribed if the rash is widespread. Topical antibiotic creams, antihistamines and anesthetics should not be used as they have the potential to make the rash worse.

The best way to prevent contact dermatitis is to simply avoid the plants that cause it. Follow the adage: “Leaves of three, leave them be.” If you know you will be in an area with a lot of vegetation, wear long- sleeved clothing, pants and gloves to protect your skin. If you do come into contact with poison ivy, you should wash your skin immediately, within less than 15 minutes. Be sure to wash gently and don’t rub or scrub the skin.

Doc Talk is a column about health issues by Wichita-area physicians. This column was written by Michael Palomino, physician at WesleyCare Family Medicine Center West, 8710 W. 13th St., Suite 105, 316-962-9760.

Excerpt from: 

Doc Talk: What to do when poison plants cause allergic skin reactions

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