Good news and bad news in flowers

The Best in Show this year for the Denton County Fruit, Flower, Vegetable and Herb Show was the cardoon. I could make up anything at this point and you’d believe me as to what a cardoon is, since not many people are familiar with it.

Even after looking at the specimen, the officials weren’t sure if it belonged with vegetables or flowers at the show. The cardoon is kind of an ornamental artichoke, which can be eaten when it is young. Since it is typically cultivated as an ornamental for its thistle-like flower, it was ultimately placed in the flower category in which it won Grand Champion in the youth division (grown by Emma and Lauren Martin).

The cardoon in my backyard has been one of my favorite plants for a few years now. It is a perennial with large, silver foliage that grows most of the winter. It is a bit of a weird and wild plant, maybe even dangerous looking. I enjoy the drama of watching it grow larger all winter while nothing else is making much movement. It begins to spike in height late spring, often, it’s the tallest thing in my yard, just peeking over my six foot fence.  And in June, I’m rewarded with flowers that are a gorgeous blue/purple (but very macho and tough!)   After the blooms, the plant usually turns brown quickly and gets invaded by all kinds of insects. Chop it back and try not to dwell on it: people still have children and nobody’s a huge fan of changing diapers, right? The cardoon will come back from the roots later in the summer or fall and the performance begins anew.

Now for some bad news, we have a deadly pest of roses showing up in our area. Rose rosette has been reported in the Dallas Fort Worth area as early as the mid 1990s, but in the last three years we have seen a rise in the number of cases. The symptoms of rose rosette vary but can include malformed flowers and leaves, excessive leaf growth and thorniness, red discoloration, lateral shoot elongation, flattened stems, and enlarged stems.  One of the most noticeable symptoms is the “witches broom” which refers to the bunchy growth of leaves at the end of a stem. The shrub will have a pom-pom look of stunted growth.

Hearing about a disease affecting the quintessential flower is bad enough, but I really hate to say that there is not an effective control yet and we aren’t 100% sure about how the disease is spreading.   We know that rose rosette is a virus and that it can be spread by a mite. If you think you have an infected rose, our recommendation is to remove it immediately and put it in the garbage. If you have adjacent roses, treatment with a miticide might help reduce the likelihood of the disease moving into the plant (if it is not already infected.) Monitor your roses closely to ensure they are not developing symptoms. If you have questions or concerns about this disease, call our Master Gardener Help Desk at 940.349.2892 or email [email protected]

On Tuesday, July 2, 6:30 to 8:30 pm, the city of Lewisville presents a free class on “Using Stone and Hardscapes in Your Yard.” Conserving water is much easier when you use elements that look great without needing water such as stone and other hardscapes. To register or for more information contact [email protected] or call 972.219.3504.


Janet Laminack, Denton County Extension Agent –Horticulture/Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, 940-349-2883, [email protected]

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