Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Fiddle Leaf Fig, Many Millipedes & Squash Pollination

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An image of a leaf of a fiddle leaf fig. Photo: Sara Fuhrer.

Fiddle leaf fig

Sara of Lecompte asked about a beloved houseplant, “My big beautiful fiddle leaf fig was so happy in my old house. But it has lived there alone with nothing but a weekly watering g and the radio for company. I moved it yesterday and…now notice it is not looking so good. Several leaves have grown this creeping brown bruise—from the ride over? Or [ is it] something more insidious?

At first, AHA thought this discolored leaf may be showing a nutrient deficiency. However, Dr. Raj Singh, the AgCenter’s “Plant Doctor”, thought, “It looks like heat or sunburn damage.” Apparently, the transition to a new home may have caused slight damage from the sun. Normally, a plant recovers when it is in a good growing condition.

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A millipede, mostly beneficial, but it can be a nuisance. Photo: Debbie McCarty.

Many millipedes

Debbie in DeRidder emailed a complaint on behalf of a relative, “Is this a centipede? My sister finds them in droves at entrances to her house and eventually in her house. She has dusted with Sevin at thresholds and it does kill them but next day there are more. What attracts them?”

Debbie is close. Her image shows a millipede. A retired extension wrote, “millipedes are beneficial to helping with decomposition of plant materials such as grass clippings. But also, like earthworms, millipedes can be a nuisance when they move out of their burrows and into the home.

But when they become an annoyance control may then be necessary. Granular products that contain bi-fenthrin, such as Talstar or Bug Blaster or any granular lawn insect product that contains pyrethrin will provide an effective control. Control would involve treating the outside perimeter of the home, at least 15 feet from the base of the house. Also treated should be the ground area adjacent to the foundation, edges of walkways, landscape beds and other areas which are heavily mulched and remain damp. Treatment inside the house is usually not practical.”

521_fig_3jpgSquash plant with blooms but no yield. Photo: Iris Bachman.


521_fig_4_squash_flowerspngFemale (left) and male (right) flowers of squash plant. Photo: Dr. Kiki Fontenot, LSU AgCenter.


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A demonstration showing hand pollination with an art brush. Photo: Planetnatural.com

Squash pollination

Iris conveyed her frustration about her squash have been performing, “These plants look healthy and are blooming their hearts out. There just is not the slightest hint of a yellow squash or a cucumber. Does this mean I will have to act as the pollinator? Instructions would help.”

AHA consulting with an AgCenter publication, “Vegetable Gardening Tips: Squash and Pumpkins”, and there is a passage about pollination, “Pollen must be transferred from the male to the female flower to obtain fruit set and development. Pollen is transferred by bees, primarily honeybees. This is of concern to the home gardener for several reasons. Plantings made in late spring and summer produce male flowers first, but female flowers soon follow and set fruit. Since bees are necessary for pollination, it is best to apply pesticides early in the evening when bee activity is very low. Also try and plant flowers and herbs (allowed to go to seed) around the garden to attract pollinators.”

The image above looks like there are some male flowers. The other flowers are more difficult to see. A female flower has a swollen stem under the flower, and this part of the flower is the ovary when the pollen will begin the process of becoming a squash.

A gardening article from the Extension Service at Oregon State University discusses manual pollination, “Gardeners can pollinate the flowers themselves with a small watercolor paintbrush to lightly transfer pollen from male flowers to female flowers.” Another image about hand pollination shows the use of a cotton swab to gather pollen of the male flower and then swabbing the pollen receptor of the female flower.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu. Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

5/22/2020 7:30:05 PM
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