Master Gardener Bookshelf: Gardening Under Lights

Gardening Under Lights—The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers, by Leslie F. Halleck
By Susan Wilhelm, Extension Master Gardener

Understanding light (how much, how little, or what kind) is critical to growing plants indoors successfully, whether seedlings, house plants, vegetables, herbs, or succulents. You can learn about light and how to build simple do-it-yourself (DIY) grow lights for seed starting by attending the MGNV class “How to Build Inexpensive and Efficient Grow Lights” on February 3 at Westover Library (Arlington) or February 13 at Burke Library (Alexandria). For additional information, you might also consult Gardening Under Lights – The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers by Leslie F. Halleck. Continue reading

Posted in Master Gardeners' Bookshelf, Public Education | Tagged ,

Invasive Plants in Northern Virginia: Ground Ivy

By Elaine Mills, Extension Master Gardener

Leaves and flowers of ground ivy.
Photo © Bill Johnson, National Park Service.

Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy), also known as creeping Charlie and gill-over-the-ground, is listed as invasive in both Arlington County and the City of Alexandria and has been reported in national parks in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D. C., West Virginia, and Tennessee. A European native plant, this herbaceous perennial was brought to North America by early settlers as a medicinal plant for skin and internal ailments.

Ground ivy is member of the mint family with square stems, two-lipped bluish-purple flowers, and pairs of leaves at each node. Its leaves are rounded to kidney-shaped with scalloped margins and have a distinct minty odor when crushed. The plant creeps over the soil surface by means of stolons, forming a thick mat and crowding out native plants when it invades roadsides, pastures, orchards, and open woods. It is considered especially troublesome as a weed in lawns. Continue reading

Posted in Invasive Plants, Public Education | Tagged , , , ,

TREE: Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae, Northern White Cedar)

2020 Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

MGNV - Native Plants LogoThis native tree of northeastern and north central North America can be very long-lived; along the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment in Canada, specimens could be over 1,000 years old. The common name, which means “tree of life,” refers to the medicinal properties of the bark and foliage, which cured scurvy.

More . . .

Posted in Tree, Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic | Tagged , , , ,

Watering New Plantings in Winter

Written by Master Gardener Joyce Hylton and edited by Extension Agent Kirsten Conrad

Garden Hose

Photo © Junior Libby

As we go into the colder temperatures of the year, a very important concern continues to be soil moisture content. Our recent rains notwithstanding, this area has received very little rain in the last 6 months. This fall, all of our plants are a bit ‘thirsty’ as they enter their dormant season.

Young or newly planted trees that have not spread their feeder roots into the surrounding soils will require more attention and regular irrigation because of limited abilities in obtaining water in their growing environment. All newly planted trees should have 1 inches of water per week- even in the winter- for two years. Continue reading

Posted in MG in the Garden, Public Education | Tagged , ,

February 2020 Public Education Events

MGNV LogoThese public education events for are open to all, but space may be limited. To reserve a spot, please register online

Monday, February 3,
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Westover Branch Library
1644 N. McKinley Road, Arlington 22205
OR Thursday, February 13,
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Burke Branch Library

4701 Seminary Rd., Alexandria 22304

How to Build Inexpensive and Effective Grow Lights

Give your plants a healthy start with grow lights to ensure your seedlings get great light indoors, even when it’s freezing outside. Grow unusual and hard-to-find varieties of vegetables not offered at local garden centers, or farm nutritious microgreens indoors. Learn the pros and cons of light systems and options for creating your own. Instructions and material lists provided are to help you jumpstart your garden. This class is offered by Extension Master Gardeners.

Free. Advance registration requested at
Questions? Telephone 703-228-6414 or email
Continue reading

Posted in Public Education Events | Tagged , , , , , , , ,