Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Florida Betony, Soil Testing Process, Hawk Visit and Aster Yellows

Green weed with roots.

Florida betony is a regular winter weed. Photo: Susan Ham, Father's Hope Nursery.

Florida Betony

Kevin M. is dealing with cool season weeds and sent this question, “I am trying to rid an ornamental garden of [Florida] betony. I read that atrazine would be good for this. Will it harm the ornamentals?” AHA responded that atrazine would damage both broad-leaf weeds and ornamental plant. The best selective method to control Florida betony (FB) among bedding plants and other ornamental plants would be to use a paint brush and glyphosate. Kevin M. followed up by sharing this note, “My mom let a bad infestation develop in her gardens. The stuff is about a 2-foot-high carpet in some places.” AHA then advised, “In that case, get a long-handled paint roller and a paint pan and paint the FB with herbicide.”

Sample soil kit display.

Soil sample kits are available at AgCenter offices and garden centers. Photo: LSU AgCenter.

Soil Testing Process

Billy asked AHA to look at his very brown yard which suffered from a late freeze in 2023 and then the drought. AHA brought a soil sample kit to Billy to help him start the recovery of his lawn. Later Billy sent this question, What happens with the soil sample I sent out? How long for results?” AHA addressed Billy’s questions, “Your sample will go to LSU’s soil lab where it will be processed, dried, and analyzed. You can expect results and recommendations in about a week. Last year, there were lengthy delays due to supply chains issues for a part of the machine that does the analysis. However, the turnaround time is back to normal.”

A hawk.

A hawk in a backyard. Photo: Jerry Shirley, DeRidder, LA.

Hawk Visit

Jerry of DeRidder sent this image and wanted to know, “[Do you have] any suggestions on how to keep hawks from coming into our yard, possibly harming our dog?” Jerry also added that his dog is about eleven pounds. This hawk seems to be a Cooper’s hawk or a broad-winged hawk. The weight of these birds is around one pound so it would be difficult for a hawk of this size to attack Jerry’s small dog. In this image, the hawk probably preyed on a small rodent. Some people with backyard poultry will use netting to prevent hawks from predating on their chickens. Netting for an entire yard would likely be expensive and difficult to install.

Yellow flowers with green stems.

Two daffodils with symptoms of a disease called aster yellow. Photo: Christy Frederic, Master Gardener, Pineville, LA

Aster Yellows

Christy of Pineville shared an email about a plant disease that we saw last year, “Two of my daffodils sent up flowers that resemble the aster yellows I was plagued with two years ago on coneflowers and gallardia. Do you suspect these two bulbs (of many normal) need to be yanked out and trashed at once??? Thank you!"Dr. Lina Rodriguez-Salamanca with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach wrote this brief narrative about managing aster yellow, “No treatment is available to save a plant infected with aster yellows. Aster yellows are best managed by removing infected plants from the garden to minimize spread. Management of the insect vector is not usually feasible in a home garden. Always inspect new plants for symptoms before you purchase them or plant them in the garden.”

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits, and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337.284.5188 or .

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

2/27/2024 1:59:22 PM
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