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Lawn and Garden Impact Story: Ornamentals Hotline

Issue: Landscape management during the growing season for landscape maintenance professionals, public garden professionals, nursery personnel and garden center employees is a complicated topic.  These landscapes contain hundreds of different plants, each with their own disease, insect or cultural problem.  The industry is encouraged to practice an integrated pest management (IPM) approach, which means looking for pests at the appropriate life stage on the appropriate host plant, knowing what environmental conditions are likely to trigger disease and which cultural problems occur in response to drought, wet conditions or high temperatures.  By practicing IPM, control measures are used only when needed, for the proper life stage of the pest, and by choosing the least toxic option.

Response: The technical information necessary to manage landscapes this way is provided on a weekly basis to Ornamentals Hotline subscribers depending on current pest and environmental conditions.  A survey of Ornamentals Hotline was conducted at the end of the 2012 growing season.

Survey response rate of 18.5%

Greatest number of respondents were landscape contractors (44%)

Practices most often changed were:

  • “Correctly identify insects and diseases before deciding on control strategy” (61%),
  • “Replace problem plants with better adapted species” (53%)
  • “Scout for pests before deciding on control needed” (47%)
  • “Select least toxic pesticide available” (44%).

Respondents said Ornamentals Hotline helped them implement these practices by

  • reminding them which insects and diseases to look for (most common response)
  • providing information on why a practice should be implemented
  • providing staff training
  • providing information on which pesticides to use

Program Impact:

When asked whether they have reduced the total volume of pesticides applied, most responded with some form of “yes” (59%).  The amount of reduction ranged from 10% to over 90%, with one respondent explaining they are now totally pesticide free. Only 15% of respondents have not reduced pesticide use at all.

Most respondents (72%) think images of pests and diseases are extremely helpful with diagnosis and would like to see more images on the blog.  Many respondents included positive comments about Ornamentals Hotline similar to this comment:

“A great resource and a great and quick way to see what is going on in the landscape. Thanks for putting this together every week.”

As a result of this evaluation, the Ornamentals Task Force has decided to provide a link to a growing degree explanation at the bottom of the growing degree day box included in each issue.  We will also provide a link to a blog that is updated weekly with pictures and additional resources.  One of the additional resources will be a list of trade names of common pesticides.


Visit the Lawn and Garden, and Commercial Horticulture portions of the UD Cooperative Extension website for more information and additional resources.

Submitted by Susan Barton, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Plant and Soil Sciences/Horticulture