Trying new container culture technique

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Hi everyone,

This summer, I am trying something new for growing MGs in containers. I sowed some Alyssum seeds in a circle around where I would transplant the MG seedlings. The Alyssum flowers are small and numerous, providing nectar sites for parasite and predator insects. By doing so, I will try to provide some harborage for the beneficials as well as an alternative food source when mite populations are not high. It's worth a try, to keep the mite numbers down in an ecological way.

The second thing I am doing differently this year is I dipped the seed root of my transplant MG seedlings into soil mycorrhizal granules before planting the seedlings into the container soil. The soil fungi called mycorrhizae grow in a symbiotic relationship with the plant at the root level; I have read the fungi make nutrients in the soil more available to the plant, so I thought I'd give it a try to see if my vines are more robust this year than last.

It keeps me off the street LOL. What are you doing that is different from last year?

Joseph

JMG in picture is 'Yaguruma', grown 3 years ago, one of my faves.

Thumbnail by Gerris2
Jacksonville, AR(Zone 7b)

Joseph, We'll be waiting to see the result of your experiments. The only thing I'm
doing different this yr is to set my mg's out off the porch so they can get some rain water. Hoping the rain will wash off some of the spider mites.
Nice Yaguruma. I like those too.

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

I have to get used to seeing the containers looking all "weedy" with growth rather than only having the vines in the containers.

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Great idea, Joseph!

I am growing mine in the ground in a garden bed surrounding a new picket fence I added around my outdoor patio. I am using ... of all things ... sprinkler donuts to protect the bottom trunk/stems of my MGs from chewing bugs and rodents. So far, so good!

Thumbnail by beckygardener
Aschaffenburg, Germany

Joseph, I have a severe red spiter mite problem, too. This year I have it somewhat under control using a strong mix of 100% medical alcohol (200 ml), which I dilute in 1.5 liters of water with some dish washing liquid added to it. My various previous homemade concoctions with garlic or chilly seems to harm the MGs more than it helped against the mite. I also have tried various approaches like planting other flowers or herbs next to the morning glories to distract them. It certainly makes it more difficult for them to move around and inbetween the plants, monocultures are always really easy to attack for parasites.

One approach that seems to work for me is to sow early batches of uninteresting MGs and pull these out with the mites once they are infested. This puts the mites in a bit of a predicament. Sure, some will drop to the ground and climb on your new seedlings, but I think like this you get the egg-laying females...so you are litterally eradicating one or two generations, so goes my theory...

I have also noticed that MGs with hair or a hard surface structure such a miniature versions of MGs are not so much liked by the mites because there is more effort involved climbing up and down the plant, and sucking on leathery leaves is harder, of course...The air-taxi theory that they spread using aphid still needs to be proven, but they may also move downward by simply dropping from one leaf to the next lower leaf...

Spider mite is a real thread to cotton growers. The mites survive on bindweeds (morning glory) and move to the cotton once they are established in the fields, so switching hosts is not a big deal for them, they can even go on cacti, I had them on my opuntia, too.

So don't fool yourself by thinking the other plants will deter the enemy. Spray regularly and do the finger-squish test. Because mites are so small one can hardly see them with the naked eye, dead mites don't live a trace when you squish them with your fingers if they are still alive they will leave a trace...

Hope this helped.


Martin




Jacksonville, AR(Zone 7b)

I am going to try the corn meal/corn meal mix poured out in a circle around the base of the mg vines. It is said that it does the same thing as diatomaceous earth.
What I didn't know is how the little buggers get around until Martin told us in his
above post. .
I read about the corn meal mix in Jerry Bakers series of booklets. The
rough texture of the corn meal or mix is supposed to cut their bodies up when
they crawl across it.

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

I like the idea of sprinkler donuts, Becky. What an easy way to keep the plants watered!

Martin, I like the idea of the trap crop of MGs to attract the mites. I am planting the alternate plants (Alyssum) to provide a nectar source for the beneficial insects so they are more likely to stay in my garden instead of dispersing to other areas to find those nutrients. Last year I had some Minute Pirate Bugs (Orius insidiosus) move in and take up shop in the vines. I hope the lacewings do the same, because they are big time predators of mites.

Jackie, that's an interesting idea of using the corn meal as a mechanical barrier to keep mites off the vines. Wouldn't the corn meal get mushy and mold once it got wet?

Jacksonville, AR(Zone 7b)

Joseph, I don't know since I've never tried this. I'll try this on one vine and see
what happens.

Aschaffenburg, Germany

I would doubt that corn meal works...particularly when it rains it would turn into mush...

I tried something similar to diatomaceous earth and used finely ground egg shells, at least those won't dissolve in rain. I poured this directly on the infested leaves, I am not sure this works fantastically...it does have some effect at least. I would never use again flour pulp sprayed on the leaves, this is the method used by some African tribes. Unfortunately, the flour looks so ugly on the leaves and will stick forever.

I think the predator idea is good, too, Joseph. I have had great problems with scariad fly last year that tried to eat up or lay eggs onto my amaryllis seedlings/chips. The problem has been solved ever since I am having these little Moroccan earth spiders that are so keen on these flies...

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Ah, spiders rule! What do they look like, Martin? Can you get a photo of them?

Aschaffenburg, Germany

Will post a photo shortly, Joseph.

Jacksonville, AR(Zone 7b)

Thanks Martin. Guess I won't try it as I don't want to create more problems.
When I first read this tip re the corn meal, it was to keep cutworms off the tomato's
or cabbage plants. Maybe I'll try the Cayenne pepper spray and see how it works.

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Here are some images I took this morning to illustrate the technique with Alyssum as an alternate food source for the parasites and predators of mites. I saw some Syrphid flies imbibing from the white flowers this morning, so hopefully they will stick around and lay eggs so their larvae will take out the nasty mites.

Joseph

Thumbnail by Gerris2
Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Here's another image. I think the Alyssum may make a good ground cover to keep the roots cool of the vines.

Thumbnail by Gerris2
Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

I am going to have to transplant some of the Alyssum from this container. There are 3 JMG vines in this container, believe it or not!

Thumbnail by Gerris2
Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Well, I don't know how that happened...I clicked on the wrong image when uploading. Here is the correct one.

Thumbnail by Gerris2
Franklin, WI(Zone 5a)

What I'm doing different this year is to resolve myself to the fact that I will not see many of my MG's bloom. With the cool spring and all the rain we've had here in the midwest, most of the MG's I planted either rotted before full germination, got torn off at the lower stem, or their leaves are purple and they're producing miniature blooms when the plants are only 6" tall. Normally my MG's shouldn't be blooming until August/September. Then I tore the muscle in my lower leg and am in an immobilizer for the next 3 to 5 weeks...so most, if not all of my gardening this summer will mainly be done from the armchair or computer. Wah Wah :(

Sandy

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

What rotten luck with the weather, Sandy, compounded by your leg injury! I hope you have a full recovery soon. Maybe you can grow a vine indoors?

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Joseph - I love your idea and had tons of the Alyssum growing in my garden beds. I thought about growing a companion plant in the same pot as my MG vines, but was afraid that they would be battling for root space. Also a great idea to keep the roots shaded with another low growing plant. Keep us posted on this experiment. I am really interested to see how it progresses!

Now if I could just find a plant that attracts "rust"! LOL! Living in Florida ... one of the MOST humid states in the USA, has it's challenges. We might have the warm weather year round, but we also have everything else too! (sigh)

Sandy - {{{hugs}}} I am soooo sorry about your MGs this season. Do you have a sunny window or area you could grow some indoors? That might be the answer until your leg heals up.

Clatskanie, OR(Zone 9b)

I did something different this year. I foliage fed the cotyledons of some of the exotic seedlings. The cotyledons of the Stictocardia maculosoi, got nearly as big as my hand. Foliage feeding the first vine popping up out of my air potatoe vine gave me very large leaves. The first leaf was like 5 to 6 inches wide. This is big to me. Frank

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Great idea, Frank! What type of fertilizer did you use?

Clatskanie, OR(Zone 9b)

I used the complimentary stuff, very generic, I got with a large Parks order. It is nothing fancy, but the response I got was great. Some of them even started vining sooner than expected. I am especially proud of my stictocardias, after the disaster of last year. They still need help getting the helmet off. That seed coat is so thick and hard.

I am going to dig in my lapidary stuff for some dop wax, and mount those huge seeds, belly button up, and grind away with my dremel. It seems like the hylum end of the seed has the tenacity of a bear trap. I really need to dissect one to see how many color layers there actually are in a seed coat. As soon as I think I see white, I let up, but they still wont shed the seed coats. All of my Operculina brownii, were trapped in the seed coat and finally rotted from the top down. I am going to experiment some more, since I have enough seeds to do it with. Frank

Clatskanie, OR(Zone 9b)

I did another novel thing. I stopped by the crafts store and got a block of oasis foam. You float it in water, holes down, and it sucks up many times its weight in water. I sliced off a chunk and soaked it. Then I got out my last three Operculina brownii seeds, and my dremel with the diamond disk. I cut a deep groove all the way around the seed, and then pressed them down into the soaked oasis foam. A few hours later I looked in on them and it looks like the circumscribing the seed with a hefty groove, so far is helping them soak up water fast Frank

Clatskanie, OR(Zone 9b)

Gerris2, in the beginning of this thread you posted a pink flower, and in the background, some outstanding leaves. What variety do the leaves belong to? Frank

Netcong, NJ(Zone 5b)

Hi Frank - The strategically placed groove is also likely help the seed to shed the 'tough coat' alot easier...I think I've heard that 'someplace' before...

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Hey Frank, the pink/reddish JMG in that picture is 'Yaguruma', which I grew about 3 years ago. I did groove out on those leaves before the fabulous flowers opened up...the thing about Yaguruma I recall was that every flower opened perfectly. There was not one instance of a mangled up flower caused by excessive dew or even rain.

Whitsett, NC(Zone 8a)

Joseph, one thing I've done different this year is plant some mg seedlings in one size of pot, then put that pot inside a larger pot. I forget who made that post originally - someone in this forum. The theory behind it being that more water will get to the roots of the vines when watering as opposed to being in a larger pot. Seems to be working for me, anyway!

Thumbnail by Syrumani
(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

I believe it was Antoinette that did that. I think another reason the vines grow better is because the outer pot insulates the roots (in the inner pot) from overheating from the sun. I don't always have other plants shading my pots, so they really heat up in the afternoon sun.

Whitsett, NC(Zone 8a)

Believe me, my plants get more than enough sun, so can use all the insulation they can get!

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Great ideas, everyone! Do you bore holes through the sides of the inner pot to let the roots expand to the outer soil?

Whitsett, NC(Zone 8a)

The inner pots I used already had their own drainage holes. I didn't think to add any more to the sides. But, I can't really complain on how they're turning out . . . actually doing better than vines in bigger pots on their own.

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Here's the end result of using the Alyssum in the container. The JMGs do not seem affected by having the Alyssum in the container. I find the white flowers make for a nice effect when photographing the MG flowers.

Joseph

Thumbnail by Gerris2
(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Joseph - Your Alyssum is a lovely idea. I was also thinking of "Diamond Frost". It doesn't die out like Alyssum does. I have a clump of it in my yard and was thinking how pretty it would look in a pot with MGs! I think the Alyssum is a bit thicker than the Diamond Frost might be for shading the roots. http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/104966/

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

I think any annual that has small flowers will work. Do you see bee-like flies near the Diamond Frost? That is what common Syrphid flies look like, yellow and black stripes on the abdomen and they sorta hover around instead of flying fast like bees do.

Here is a picture of a fly in the family Syrphidae:

http://www.cirrusimage.com/Flies_syrphidae.htm

Joseph

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Joseph - Yes, I have seen hover flies around my garden beds. I hadn't noticed any by the Diamond Frost, but I have a LOT of blooming plants throughout my garden beds, so they have a wide variety of blooms to nectar from. I also get Ladybugs. Lots of different bees and wasps, too. I know some are predators to MG pests.

So you are saying that the Alyssum attracts Hover Flies? I have never had aphids on any of my MG vines. Small beetle larvae, yes! but not aphids. And I do get aphids in my yard on my Milkweed and water plants. But never seen any on my MGs.

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