Barberry plant (invasive)
Image by Teresa Golden

Re-join Kris Williams in a discussion about invasive plants and what you can do to help.

Episode 24: Invasive Plants (Part 2)

Re-join Kristopher Williams from the Capital Region PRISM to learn about invasive plants (Part 2), how they are managed, and what you can do to control their spread. Then Linda Levitt (Flower Power) lets us know all about Peonies, a favorite flower in Hudson Valley gardens. Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas (The Cover Up) close out this episode with a description of Green and Gold and the Dutchman’s pipevine. There’s something for everyone. We hope you listen in!

Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas

Guest: Kristopher Williams

Photo by: Teresa Golden

Production Support: Linda Aydlett and Teresa Golden


Invasive Species:Invasive Plants: CAPITAL REGION PRISM - Home; Species of Concern - CAPITAL REGION PRISM ; CRISP ( ; NY's invasive species database and mapping system | NY iMapInvasives ; A Community for Naturalists iNaturalist;

Peonies {Flower Power with Linda Levitt): How to Plant a Peony Garden | Martha Stewart ; Peonies – Cricket Hill Garden ( ; A-2-3 Peonies.pmd (

Green and Gold and Dutchman's pipevine(The Cover Up with Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas): Chrysogonum virginianum (Green and Gold) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox ( ; Dutchman's Pipe Vines: Plant Care & Growing Guide (


Invasive Plants (Part 2) / Flower Power / The Cover Up

Welcome to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Our team's goal is to present science based information about gardening and all things nature in New York's Hudson Valley. Hosts Jean and Tim, along with team members, Teresa: and Linda, are Master Gardener Volunteers for New York's Columbia and Greene counties. So if you're interested in gardening or nature or nuggets of information about what's happening outside your door, settle in, enjoy the conversation. Whatever the season, we have something to say.

Musical segue

Tim: Hi, I'm Tim Kennelty.

Jean: And I'm Jean Thomas.

Tim: And welcome to another episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Hey, we're talking to Kris Williams again, part two of our interview with Kris Williams, from the Capital Area PRISM.

Jean: And we're talking about invasive plants, of which there are many.

Tim: Yeah, he's so knowledgeable and he has so much information, we decided to split this into two interviews, so it's going to be great to hear more about invasive plants.

Jean: Absolutely. And Linda Levitt is here with another episode of Flower Power. She's talking about everyone's favorite, which is peonies.

Tim: Yeah, the old fashioned cottage flower peonies, and there's so many different varieties and shapes and sizes and colors and scents, right?

Jean: Yeah, and they can get really, really, really old and never show their age.

Tim: I'm not even gonna touch that, Jean, not gonna touch it. I know that I dug up peonies, and I should admit this, from a farm house like near us and I, they were at least 50 years old and they're beautiful.

Jean: They call that wrangling, when you rescue plants like that.

Tim: Or stealing but still, you they really do live a long time and they're really easy to grow and they're pretty deer resistant. Right.

Jean: And there's lots of different kinds more than you'd expect.

Tim: Yeah, you have. You're looking at tree peonies right now, aren't you.

Jean: And there's another that's a blend of tree peonies and the regular old fashioned peonies called Ito.

Tim: Ito, yes, there's one that's yellow that's beautiful, right?

Jean: It's my favorite.

Tim: Yeah, yeah. See, there you go. And she's going to talk about the cultural requirements, how to grow them and you know, all the stuff you need to know about peonies.

Tim: It's wonderful.

Jean: And we have an episode of The Cover Up, Jean. This time you're talking about pipevine and I'm talking about something called Green and Gold Chrysogonum. Both are native plants.

Jean: Well, a little correction here, Tim, it's Dutchman's pipe.

Jean: Dutchman's pipe.

Jean: And it's chrysogenum.

Jean: Oh, man, you're really ... it's pipevine, isn't it? Well, I call it pipevine, so there you go.It's chrys-OH-genum?

Jean: Chrys-AH-genum.

Tim: Okay. Anyway, I really like whatever it's called, because it's a really tough ground cover. And it blooms. It comes back year after year. I love for really tough things to come back year after year and it spreads nicely. It's not super aggressive. That's my ground cover for this time. Tell me about why you talking about Dutchman's pipe. Probably some member of your family used it sor something.

Jean: Well my Auntie Ruth grew one on her cottage .

Tim: Is there really an Auntie Ruth, is the question.

Jean: Well, you’ll never know. But that was a big wonderful bold vine.

Tim: Yeah, it's kind of old fashioned.

Jean: Very, if you have a little dainty ranch house, don't do it.

Tim: Yeah, yeah. I mean, they're pretty they're awfully pretty. And they're also the host plant for a butterfly. Right

Jean: A specific butterfly...

Tim: Flying swallowtail. So that's why I planted it. Yeah, so that should be good.

Jean: That sounds like it.

Musical segue

Jean: Hello, and welcome back to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. I'm Jean Thomas.

Tim: And I'm Tim Kennelty.

Jean: This is the second half of a two part interview with Kristopher Williams, Coordinator for the Capital Region PRISM combating invasive plants in New York State. We discuss more invasive plants and the system set in place to combat these threats to our ecology and horticultural industries.

Tim: So I have to go back to the tiers for one minute that you have four tiers, right. And the tier one plants are the ones that are just recognizing and you brought a plant with you today. We can't show people but it's something we've never seen. It's going to be a tier one plant right and why is that?

Kristopher: Alright, so let me break the tier system down. So we talked about tier four common widespread everywhere.

Tim: An example for each, it might be bush honeysuckle, right?

Kristopher: Yep. So I'll start with the common reed was tier four. It's found everywhere. It's really aggressive, hard to control. We just suppress it, we choose to manage it. It's not cost effective on large scale. Then you go tier three, the populations aren't as widespread. So on a regional perspective, you know, we cover 11 counties around the Capital Region, we might have tier three populations in Columbia, Greene County, maybe southern Rensselaer and southern Albany County. But then we don't find the plant up north in Saratoga, Schenectady, or Washington or Warren County. So those would be tier three, they're not as widespread. But they're at the point where they're common enough that people recognize them.

Tim: And give us an example of one.

Kristopher: I'm going to go with European frog bit, it's a cute little plant, it's about the size of a half dollar has a lovely little yellow flower, people put it in their water gardens,


They buy them in nurseries.

Kristopher: But four years ago, you wouldn't find that anywhere in in our region. And then somebody identified some populations in Weaver Lake over in Montgomery county, and there's some in Saratoga County in Fish Creek. And so they're found in two populations. So that would be considered a tier two species where we could go out and handpick it and eradicate it. But now it's bloomed. It's transferred by you know, boats or waterfall and water movement. Now, it's found in over a dozen locations. So now we classify it as a tier three species, still manageable, but it's starting to get to the point where it might be out of hand.

Tim: And probably moving right moving northward or moving in other directions.

Kristopher: Yeah, it can. It is found in Canada, it's one of their top five most destructive aquatic plants, shallow waters, lake geomorphology. And it really showed just coats it. If there's still water, and you get all these issues with the oxygens not in the water column, the fish kills, you know, and then it just the diversity decreased.

Tim: It's bad.

Kristopher: It is. That's an aquatic example. So that was a tier one plant that we're aware of, you know, like 10 years ago, that wasn't in New York. And then some populations got here. And anything that's under like 10 populations we'll consider it basically a tier two, where it's still in small enough populations that we can go out and eradicate it. And that's where it's at. So if I may talk a little bit about an example I brought in today. So I have this plant that we observed last fall. Invasives don't always look like the native plants. And so anytime I see something that's outside of it, like which one of these things don't look like the rest of them.

Tim: Or leafing out early or something, right. I mean, that's another it's not a sign of like what you see all that greenery, it's not a good thing.

Kristopher: So this would be the bush honeysuckles right now. So right now, you can go 90 miles an hour on the thruway and see it in the woods. So yeah, it leaves out early. So we found this Japanese butterburr in Rensselaer County. I wasn't too familiar with the plant, took me a little bit to identify it. And then I couldn't get my phone to work. So I like to use IMAP invasives for reporting, I was just in a weird, weird spot. But I was able to take a picture and put it in I naturalist, and it came up on our tier list after I want to start to like kind of get an idea. Like, I think this is butterbur after doing some research, and it really wasn't on any of our lists. So just an unknown. So that would be like a tier five. It's just a research plant that we know can be problematic. And it's found in Vermont, I guess it's a really big problem in Vermont. So it's close to New York. So we kind of would put that as a tier one. Right? Now we have a population of it, just one that we know of. So that's a tier one tier two plant, it's less than 10. We've designated as a tier two, we'll take it down to the New York State DEC today and we'll have one in the botanists is just kind of confirm it. I went to go, as a spring ephemeral, look at this plant to see it flowering, to confirm that it was the species we're looking for. Because there's a couple of lookalikes, which are ornamentals, they're not native. And the white flowers indicated that it is Japanese butterburr. And so now that will get elevated as a tier two plant, and we will prioritize our work.

Jean: Okay, I got a question. If it's tier one to you, it's a different tier in Vermont?

Kristopher: So New York State has the tier system. It's a method for us to guide our work efforts. So if we know a species invasive, and it's only found a small populations that are like a tier two, that tells us immediately, alright, we have a small staff, we have limited capacity, we have a partnership, there's still an opportunity in the small populations to actually remove them and eradicate it from the region.

Jean: Well, that's my question from the CRISP region, or the PRISM region or the Buffalo or the city, or is it all of them?

Kristopher: This is a really good question. So regionally, each PRISM has a tier list. All right, and so there are plants found in like the lower Hudson PRISM and the Catskill regional PRISM that you won't find in the capital region up north or even in the Adirondacks. So yes. in terms of the other eight PRISMs, each one of the PRISM has their own tier list. And we prioritize those species for work in those regions because climatically the different latitudes. New York City is a huge vector, the transportation, we see the proliferation of these plants basically traveling from south to north and those major vectors, so we have different tier list. So something that is common and widespread in the lower Hudson may not be found at all in the Capital Region PRISM. So, regionally, we're doing more of that grassroots effort and regional segments, if you can consider that.

Tim: So that makes sense for you and your staff. But I guess my question for you is, so I'm a homeowner, and I go on your website, and you have the plants in tiers. And I see something like Japanese maples, and that's in one of the tiers and I have Japanese maples on my property. So what does that mean to me? What should I do about that? I mean, can you..

Kristopher: Yeah, this is a really good question. So to not get lost in what private landowners can do. For an expert, there's, there's over 170 regulated plants by New York State

Tim: And tell us they're history in regulated and prohibited while you're at it.

Kristopher: Okay. And so there's a list of the New York State DEC has regulated and prohibited species. And there was an initial assessment done about eight years ago, and the high threat species that I've been talking about have made the list. They're species that may have been sold commercially, or they've been distributed over time, that have been deemed to be of high threat and there's just they're going to be prohibited means you can't sell, you can't transport, share, propagate or release into a free living state. However, there are some that are regulated. And I'll pick on the burning bush, it's still sold in nurseries, because there's a huge stock of this, by secondary growers and in you don't want to just necessarily, like, ban all these plants, and then put people at an economic disadvantage. So there are some that are regulated.

Tim: Which means that you have to put a tag that says this could be invasive, or...

Kristopher: Yeah. And when you're at a nursery or you're purchasing these plants, you should see a tag on them that have a warning label. And if they don't, you can report that to the Department of Ag and Markets and they send a horticultural inspector out and he kind of give them a warning.

Tim: I actually did that once when I saw privet at a at a Lowe's, like all over the place, and they had no warnings on it. And on privets, I thought privet was prohibited, actually, because it's so invasive. Yeah. And I have a lot of spare time, obviously, right?

Jean: It's not everywhere, though.

Jean: No, it's no it's not. It's, it's, it's not.

Kristopher: Yeah. And the other part of that was labeling. And we do get people that go to our outreach events, and they pick up on the tags, and I get calls and like, what should I do? And I'm like, Well, here's the number the department of Ag and Markets.

Jean: Disguise your voice.

Tim: Well, it's it's I guess that's where my question comes from. It's like, it's, it's you look on the website, you see something like that, like, I'm picking on Japanese maple now. And they're beautiful. And there's, there's beautiful cultivars of it, but it's on the regulated list. And so I probably shouldn't be planting that if I'm the home homeowner, right? If I should probably look at those lists and say, when I go to the store, I shouldn't be planting these plants.

Kristopher: Yeah, I totally agree. So it's hard again, once you realize, okay, what are these common invasives. And to just have a general knowledge if you're like a Master Gardener, you're into gardening, or you're you are a Master Gardener, and you have a network in a garden community, or garden club, share that information with the common plants are that are invasive, and encourage people to remove them. So picking on the burning bush, there are a lot of alternative natives that give what I call it the Holy Trinity. They're native plants that have beautiful flowers, and benefits to the pollinators. They have fantastic fruits for the birds in the off season. And then the one that I really like is the color of the foliage fall foliage. And if people would just kind of look back and say, Alright, I know the insects, I know the birds, the pollinators. They're not using these invasive plants, but I just like it because they're pretty, or they're beautiful, or they have really showy colors and flowers. Did you step back and say, Okay, how much work would that really take for me to remove this and plant native plants.

Tim: And what's a what's an alternative to burning bush since you keep picking on it?

Kristopher: Of course there's highbush blueberry, which are tricky to grow and that's one of the tradeoffs. They have the red foliage the fruit. Then there's like the choke berries.

Tim: I was gonna say Eronias, right?

Kristopher: Yeah, yeah. And they grow quick and they flower very quickly and they have lots of fruit.


Nice fall color.

Kristopher: A really nice fall color. So you can tend to mix those plants in so you look at the characteristics of the invasive you have on your property and do a little research. What what's a native that I can replace that might be in the same shrub form, the same height and have the same flowers. A lot of literature is out there for the you know, for native replacements. I encourage people to take a look at our website.

Tim: So I should cut down my Japanese maples and golden rain trees. Is that what you're telling me?

Kristopher: I would definitely cut down the golden rain tree because I know that's a high threat species.

Tim: I was so excited to buy that in Lowe's at Lowe's, like I don't know, 20 years ago. But it's you can tell. I mean, you can almost tell when something's gonna go on the list because I find seedlings everywhere else, just like it's crazy seedling producer.

Jean: So you can't just get rid of the seedlings and pick all the seeds off the mother plant?

Tim: It's a, it's a, there's a million of them. Or you're gonna guess you could but you're saying that's a high threat plan. Right?

Kristopher: Yeah. So what you're seeing is you're observing the invasive properties. And it's another topic, but there is another list of invasive plants that have been assessed by the New York State DEC in the Natural Heritage Program. They will be coming out in the future with a new set of regulated and prohibited species.

Tim: Give us, so can you give us a hint? Could you give us a preview?

Kristopher: I will pick on golden rain tree.

Tim: There you go. Okay.

Kristopher: Now if I could go back to that between the Japanese maple. Japanese Maple is a low threat it has it's not high threat. It's not very high threat. It's moderate. So it has a non-native plant assessment in the in the 50s. So it's not a prolific spreader. And it doesn't cause as much problem as say, like this rain tree we're talking about, which is a prolific cedar and spread everywhere. And if you do see that, and like Massachusetts, or Connecticut, the people that have that on their property, just cry, because it takes over their entire yard. You might have a grassy yard. It will eventually grow over if you don't maintain it.

Tim: And it grows in shade. Of course, in all kinds of horrible conditions. Okay, I'm going home to chop it down. You've convinced me.

Jean: What about what about my barberry collection?

Tim: Oh, Jean. Jean, Jean, Jean.

Jean: I've only had four different tick borne diseases.

Kristopher: You know, the Japanese Barbary, at one point that was commercially sold to all the big box retail stores, and they put it in every parking lot, as a nice planting.

Tim: Yeah, all the gas stations.

Kristopher: You don't see that as much anymore. I have a couple of comments first, it does have a thick foilage. And it harbors the white footed deer mouse that carries the tick that carries the Lyme disease. And I have read that people that have that barberrry plant tend to have higher rates of Lyme disease. So a human health threat right there alone is enough to say hey, this is not a good plant. You should remove it. It's easy to kill too. You take a shovel on a hot day, it does dissects and dies.

Tim: Is that right? Rarely because I have them in my woods. I never planted them. Then I had my neighbors did I find them everywhere in my woods.

Kristopher: This is also a plant that the birds like to eat the seeds and they have to berries, right? Yeah. And they do disperse them. So up north, in my Washington, Saratoga County, I see winged euonymous and barberry as one of our greater threats to our forest, because they are all over those riparian corridors. And I have seen firsthand barberry patches we call monocultures of 10 to 12 acres in size, you can't even walk through them. I don't need the deer, the rabbits, nobody's using not in terms of the need of animals, their barriers to the water's edge. And it's rather sad.

Jean: Is there a point where when something is like tier for and obviously a problem, like the like the phragmites, you've got to the point where you're just trying to control them now. But these are something that really needs to be rouged out massively. At what point do you give up and say, Okay, we have to just control. Is there a tipping point?

Kristopher: Yeah, so a couple of comments to that. First, I want to encourage homeowners, landowners property owners, that the majority of New York State is in private holdings. And if everybody did their part, and was an ecological steward of their own yard, even if it's an acre, or if it's 10 acres, and you remove these non-native plants, it would greatly help our environment. Now, are there some plants that have proliferated and escaped and are in great numbers? Yes, but there still are vast areas of our state that are invasives free and protecting them is worth it and so your action on your property of removing that that Japanese Barberry, yeah, okay. It might be found down the road or in the woods, but you're still doing your part. And if we all did that as a collective whole, that's a win. Even if one person is removing these non-native plants on their property, that's a win, and then replacing them with natives because it's restoration too. I always tell people, if you pull a plant, grow a plant. You can't just pick your weed, you got to put something in that same hole. Otherwise the seed bank is still there. You want to have those cultural controls, you want to have the other competition from the natives come back. So plant something, and it's fun to do. And it works.

Jean: Well, Tim, you asked the new coming attractions for the bad guy list. What's in the future that's going to become invasive and problematic.

Tim: Yeah, give us a preview.

Kristopher: Alright, so what may happen and I don't have all the information for this is they will select out of a couple 100 species the most aggressive, and they'll probably add them to the list. And that's a legislative action. And that takes time to come to fruition. And it just goes back to if you look at a plant that's not native, what are you planning? What do you really know about that plant? And so at this moment in time, what I'd recommend to people if they're thinking about purchasing an ornamental, and I do, they have lovely properties, but I also look them up. Are they invasive in nearby states? Do you see anything in accredited institutions, search certain colleges or economics that are listing these plants outside of our state that are invasive, and I tend to stay away from them. So I encourage people to be wise in their purchases. I recommend purchasing natives first or consider them first. But ornamentals do have their place, and that they just need to do their homework and talk to people and see, okay, what am I really doing? What am I bringing onto my property, just because it has beautiful flowers, is this the best thing for my yard. So I encourage people to do their homework. And in time, these things will be published.

Jean: Okay, on that note, catalogs are a really good way to find that out, they will list the states they don't ship to. So if you find a plant that you really like, and it won't ship to a whole bunch of states, you might not really want it.

Tim: And sometimes they say may be invasive, I'd noticed something that really aren't getting beautiful foliage and and that I looked it up and it was on the list. I had never knew that it was on the list. So it's it's about being an educated consumer, right?

Kristopher: I would totally agree. And I feel that most people in their home plantings, they are doing that research already. They're looking up all the cool properties, the colors, the flower, the bloom times. Go the extra stop, do a little history, do a little search on a plant that may not be that you don't know about to start there. So that would be my recommendation.

Jean: And one last question, yes or no? Is climate change accelerating all of this?

Kristopher: Yes.

Tim: It can't just be yes though Jean.

Jean: Sure it can..

Kristopher: Climate change, you can have range expansion of native and non native plants and animals. I did read a study regarding aquatic invasive species, that there are the non native ones are spreading faster in their range versus the natives. So they still have that property based on where they're from that they have that they can tolerate different settings. So we are seeing that occur. And it is an issue. How do you combat that? Climate resiliency and increasing the biodiversity of your meadows, your gardens, your forest. When you have a lot of diversity of plants, trees, shrubs, if there's a pestilence, and one of those tree shot, one species goes down, it's not your whole forest. It's not your whole yard, you know, so having a diversity is really good. I guess a good example is Dutch elm disease and the street trees or the ash trees that were planted as monocultures. There was a pestilence that came in wiped them out. And then you get these bare streets that just look awful. So on those streets instead of planting the same tree over and over, diversify, diversify, diversify.

Tim: And climate change, I assume would have an effect on something like kudzu coming here, right? This we have warmer and warmer weather and winters, we're going to see more of the Southern invasives, right?

Kristopher: That is correct. So the range expansion of the invasives is just a little bit faster than the natives.

Jean: They're opportunists.

Tim: So before we leave this, can you give us a little bit of hope? What's your kind of note of hope for all of us?

Kristopher: Well, first thing I'm going to say is there are a lot of other invasive plants and animals out there that are not in New York. So doing so they're doing doing our diligence...

Tim: People who have it worse than us, like showing them fraud, all right?

Kristopher: To actually step back and say, Okay, what can I do in my local climate, my local environment. For a landowner, it's simply being a steward of your property. Other people could actually look at their favorite parks or preserves and I sometimes encourage them like there's a lot of friends groups. Adopt a park it's kind of like adopting a highway, adopt a park and be an ecological steward or an ecological warrior and those preserves or parks and join those groups and, and help manage them. Sustainability is the word here.

Tim: And we have a lot of that in our two counties to both land conservancies have volunteers and you can go in and remove invasives and things like that. So there are opportunities definitely.

Jean: I'll take that note of hope.

You're listening to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley.

Stay tuned for Flower Power.

Linda: Welcome to Flower Power, a regular feature of this podcast that will focus on all things flowers. I am Linda Levitt, a Master Gardener Volunteer with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene counties in New York's Hudson Valley. Approximately once a month, we will cover different types of flowers, how to best select, plant and care for each of the flowers discussed.

Linda: Today we are going to talk about peonies. A beautifully elegant perennial. In the late spring not only do some varieties offer an amazing fragrance but a stunning flower that can grow as large as 10 inches. They have an amazing staying power in your sunny flower garden with some varieties living to as long as 100 years. They make excellent cut flowers and can last more than a week in a vase. Peonies are native to Asia, Europe and western North America. The current consensus among scientists says that there are 33 known species of peonies. Most are herbaceous, meaning that they will die back before the winter perennial plants but some are very large woody shrubs. They have compound deeply lobed leaves and large fragrant flowers ranging in color from purple and pink and pink to red, white and yellow. The Peony is among the longest used flower in eastern culture. Along with the plum blossom It is a traditional floral symbol of China. In 1957, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law to make the peony the state flower of Indiana, a title which it holds to to this day. It replaced the Zinnia which has been the state flower since 1931. The Peony plant is hardy to zones two to eight but that will depend on the variety. There are three different types of peonies. Tree peonies can reach as much as four to seven feet tall and four to five feet wide. They are hardy to zones four to nine and they bloom from April to May. They are woody shrubs, native to China with enormous flowers up to seven to 10 inches. They do not like to be moved. Herbaceous Peonies are hardy to zones two to eight with a bloom time of May to June. They can flourish in the same spot for almost 50 years. Stems will die back each year. They are low maintenance requiring little water but do require good drainage. They tend to be deer resistant. Intersectional peonies are hardy to zones four to nine with a bloom time of June. This is a blend of the her herbaceous and tree peonies with the color range of tree peonies, and the sturdiness and giant flowers of the herbaceous peonies. They will die back to the ground each year. They have attractive foliage all through the summer and do well at the front of a border since they are shorter than the other two types of peonies. They are very showy and don't need staking.

Linda: Peonies, do they like sun or shade? Well, that depends. They like full sun except the tree peonies like light shade in the midday heat. The bloom time varies by type of peonies as we just talked about, but typically all will bloom between the month of April and June. The tree Peony will bloom first around Mother's Day then the herbaceous peonies followed by the intersectional. If you plant all three types, you can actually enjoy their blooms for up to seven weeks. The colors will vary from white to pink to red to maroon with some yellow varieties. In fact, I have a gorgeous beautiful white variety that is absolutely terrific. Some varieties may have flowers that change color as they open. The fragrance of the peony flower is unbelievable. It ranges from sweet to citrus to even spicy Japanese beetles can be a problem. The plants are also susceptible to botritus blight and powdery mildew and that can be avoided with good circulation. So you want to make sure that you've got a lot of good air circulating the plants. Some gardeners have success growing peonies in their native soil. I know I do. I have never done any amendments to the soil and it's been probably at least 20 plus years that I've had some of these peonies. But experts do recommend amending the soil with organic matter. The soil has to be well draining because they do not like soggy roots. The Peony is not an overly thirsty plant. In fact, they do not like to be over watered. You can begin watering in the spring if you go more than two weeks without rain. Certainly not the case this year. But continue to water after blooming to ensure vigorous growth for the next year. Do not water after the plant goes dormant. Unlike roses Peony bushes do not require precise pruning to thrive. Only prune when diseased or there is some damage. You can actually cut back to about six inches at the end of the season. At the end of the season before the winter what I'll do is I will actually cut back the stems to about six inches above the ground. Peonies often house multiple blooms on each stem. If some of you have seen that. If you want large flowers, you can remove the side buds that develop near the base of each terminal bud. However, to prolong the blooming season, leave the side buds alone since they will bloom later on. Herbaceous varieties may require the use of a peony ring. You've seen them, they're come in different variations of a support system that is used for herbaceous peonies. Tree peonies can be supported by bamboo sticks and natural twine. So that's a little bit different than your herbaceous peony. There are also some varieties that are more compact and shorter and actually don't need any support at all. People wonder all the time, why are there ants on my peonies? Well, peony buds secrete a sweet nectar that attracts ants. The ants do not hurt the plant and they are not really required for the blooms to open although some people think that's the case. If you are cutting the flowers for use indoors or in a bouquet, gently rinse the blossoms in a bucket of water to get rid of the ants. For your landscape, you may want to plant the peony and I mixed border for added substance and color. They can be used as a low informal border along a sidewalk. Good companion plants for the peonies are Shasta daisies, flax and Bearded Iris. Peonies are one of the most popular cut flowers used in bridal bouquets and centerpieces. They look great combined with roses, wildflowers, ferns, Protea, eucalyptus and so much more. I hope you have enjoyed this episode of Flower Power. Thank you for listening. You will find additional information on our website. Until the next time, I am Linda Levitt and please remember to stop and smell the flowers.

You're listening to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley.

Stay tuned for The Cover Up.

Jean: Hi, I'm Jean Thomas.

Tim: And I'm Tim Kennelty.

Jean: Welcome to another edition of The Cover Up where we talk about our favorite groundcovers and vines.

Tim: Hey, Jim, this time you're talking about a favorite vine and I'm doing the ground cover

Jean: That's right Tim? Have at it. What's your idea of a great ground cover?

Tim: I'm glad you asked me that question. You know, I like really hearty plants that can take some of us thrive in a bunch of different conditions and come back year after a year. Those characteristics are especially important in a ground cover. I also like to discover plants that aren't necessarily in the mainstream. So today I have one that covers all those bases. The common name is green and gold or golden star. And the Latin name is Chrysogonum virginianum. Its genus name is from the Greek Kairos, meaning gold, and gonu, meaning joint in reference to the location of the flower stems at the leaf axils. Green and Gold is a low growing clump forming perennial herb with opposite oval hairy leaves and bright yellow star shaped flowers. It can thrive in a variety of soils and will do well in full sun to part shade. I even have some in pretty shady areas. It spreads fairly slowly through rhizomes to form a thick mat. Some of the things I really like about this plant is that it can take a good deal of neglect. In fact, my favorite description of it is that it does much better if neglected than pampered, kind of like you Jean. Now that's my idea of a good ground cover. I can also take brief periods of drought or flooding. So I would call that climate resilient. I have some underplanted in a native shrub border and it does just fine. And for a ground cover, it has a long Blooming Period with a big flush of pretty yellow flowers in May and then sporadic blooms throughout the summer. Its flowers provide early nectar for pollinators, but it's seldom bothered by deer, rabbits or other herbivores. There are quite a few cultivars to choose from if you can find them. Pierre is a vigorous and long blooming one. Ellen Bush is more compact and floriferous than the straight species and, get this, echo lacquered spider, probably my favorite cultivar name of all time, is much faster spreading than the other cultivars. So Jean if you want a really tough native ground cover that's long blooming and deer resistant, you really have to check this one out.

Jean: Tim has chosen the ground cover portion of our dichotomy so I get to choose a vine. One of my favorites is one that grew on the porch of my Auntie Ruth's Cottage. This porch was a trellised entryway to her house that had what I call a Dutch bench and either side flanking the doorway. This porch was a cool shelter in the hot summers where I could curl up with a book and be invisible. That's how big the Dutchman's pipevine got by midsummer. This is not a plant for the faint of heart. Aristolochia durior is an old fashioned monster of a plant that can grow 15 to 30 feet in length and width. It belongs with big old Victorian houses or draped over massive arbors. It can be a great screen for unsightly areas if given a nice strong support. The genus name Aristolochia refers to its one time use as a birthing herb. The species name is depending on the source, either macrophylla for the large leaves, or durior, which is a little less clear in interpretation something to do with hardness or maybe hardiness. It is in fact a powerful poison and any part can cause kidney damage if ingested, so don't plant it if there will be young children playing around it. Dutchman's pipe is a native plant related to wild ginger and the flowers of both are pretty bashful. The common name comes from the shape of the flowers. They arrive in May and June hiding among the big heart shaped leaves and look like tiny brownish yellow Meerschaum pipes. And the flowers lead a fascinating life. They look a bit like carnivorous flowers. They're wide open mouth petals lead the insect down a hairy tube. The insect, usually a fly or bee attracted by the funky aroma, is then held prisoner until the flower collapses the stigma and relaxes the hairs. The insect is then free to go on its way. Besides this unusual behavior the flower also peacefully attracts hummingbirds and is the main host for the pipevine swallowtail butterfly's larva. The caterpillar is black and the butterfly is gorgeous blue. Apparently the butterfly is immune to the poison acid the plant carries. The caterpillar and butterfly are both very toxic similar to the way the monarch butterfly picks up a protective toxin from the milkweed plant. As far as controlling this gorgeous beast of a plant it's pretty easy to keep in line it may take a few seasons to get established initially but then it's reliable for years. Pruning and late winter right to the ground if needed so that you can paint the porch does the plant no harm. It can grow up to eight feet in one season. The leaves grow in a shingled pattern and provide excellent screening. There's a similar pipevine Aristolochia tomentosa or wooly pipevine. It's also native but to the southeast and Midwest. Both types are hardy to zone five. You can grow both from plant cuttings or even seed depending on your skill and patience levels. There are no real insect or disease problems maybe because of the toxic acid. It's a big solution to big problems but can be managed for smaller privacy issues. They're also one of the few things that thrive under black walnuts. Oh, bonus. So do hollyhocks and iris. So if you have the space and the need for a big statement, get yourself a Dutchman's pipevine. Some lucky little girl may get to curl up in its shade one summer day.

Tim: You know Jean, I actually agree with you on this one again. I planted one just for those pipelines swallowtails and I'm hoping that they come.

Tim: They will.

Tim: I hope so. So that's it for another edition of The Cover Up. Until next time.

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That concludes another episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. We'd like to thank Sandra Linnell and Devin Connolly from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene counties for production support. And a special thank you to our listeners for joining us on this episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. You can find links to any of the topics mentioned in this episode at our website at Comments and suggestions for future topics may be directed to us at or on the CCE Master Gardener Volunteers of Columbia and Greene County's Facebook page. For more information about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene counties, visit our website at CCE Columbia or visit us in Hudson or in Acra. Cornell Cooperative Extension provides equal programming and employment opportunities.

Last updated July 6, 2022