“Dog Vomit” Slime Mold

Have you noticed any slimy mold in your mulch this summer?  We have had a bumper crop of  Fuligo Septica, the “Dog-vomit” slime mold in the mulches this summer. Despite the unpleasant name, it is completely harmless to humans, animals and plants.

According to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, slime molds consists of amoeboid cells or inconspicuous plasmodia that will slowly invade mulch areas or leaf litter. It eats bacteria, spores and organic matter, eventually moving to the top layer of  mulch, leaf litter, or pinestraw.  Sometimes it can even be found on a low growing plant or the foundation of a building. Once it has settled in a more exposed area, it will stop moving and become a fruiting (spore-producing) body.  The bright yellow, frothy mass of Fuligo septica is first noticed at this point. The size can be just a few inches to up to a foot in diameter. The color will change to a dull orange quickly, then to a light tan as it dries out. In just a few days, it will break apart and the spores ,which are dark-colored, will be released and blow away to start new life cycles. After a week, all that will be left will be bits of a grayish/yellowish crust and a dusting of leftover spores.

There isn’t any point in trying to control Fuligo septica.  It will not harm your plants, but if the sight is intolerable to you, you can remove it by hand or rinse it off with a hose.  Most likely it will reappear this year, but probably not next year unless you apply new mulch.

Planting to Grow,


Angelonia Angustifolia – Angelface

What is that flower?

Have you notice the awesome color beds Denise Hill and her Landscape Services team have planted at the Ole Miss campus entry gates this summer?  I have gotten more calls on this one plant than any other in recent years.  What is it?  Angelonia Angustifolia, common name Angelface and also known as the summer snapdragon.

After a couple years of experimenting with this tough hardy season color, the decision was made to “Wow” the entrance gates with Angelonia Angustifolia’s beautiful grace and appearance.  No dead heading required, flowers most of the summer, it does take a slight break from flowering during the high heat, but not much.  Normal watering and fertilizing is needed.  It comes in white, pink and blue tones.  Denise has found it to be very low maintenance which gives it a top rating in our Ole Miss book.

After talking with our team I asked them if they ever sheared them during the summer.  They said they did because they can get a little tall and spindly, but they quickly recover and come back thicker and with more flowers in just a few weeks.  Consider this one for the summer seasonal color bed and pots.  I think you’ll enjoy the results.

 Planting to Grow,


P.S. I heard some of the big box stores are carrying Angelonia, but always check the local garden stores first, they may can order for you.

Tree Bark Damage

Recently I had my driveway paved and the asphalt crew did a wonderful job.  In the process they bumped two trees with their equipment leaving exposed areas.  Will I lose these trees or will they be okay?

The short answer is, the trees should be okay.  The bark provides protection for vesicular system that gives the tree the ability to survive and thrive.  It is a big deal when the bark is damaged, especially if it’s damaged around the entire trunk of the tree.  Most likely if the bark is removed around the entire tree, the tree will die.  In my case, there is a chance a fungus could set in the damaged area and some experts recommend treating it with a fungicide.  I did not treat the tree damage and fully expect the trees to recover.  It is thought that taping any loose bark back on the tree with duct tape in the exact location it was prior to the damage will allow the bark a chance to heal over the wound.  I have never done this, but it sounds like it would work.  Some even recommend spraying the wound with pruning paint to help the healing process, but I don’t do this.  I find the wound paint is more for the person who owns the tree and does not help in the recovery process.  I like to clean the damaged wound with a brush and trim off any loose pieces of the bark.  This allows for the tree to do what it does naturally, heal itself.  Over the next couple of years I fully expect the wounds to be healed over with new bark.

Planting to Grow,


The Biltmore

Recently I was able to spend a few days with some of the nations top gardeners at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.  It was amazing to see lay out, the attention to detail and passion for the gardens.  I spent two days with the horticulture team learning their secrets and how they go about preserving and maintaining this historical private garden that is open 365 days a year.   Here are a few of my lesson I learned.

1. Never be afraid to ask for help –  At the Biltmore Historical Garden, each person is responsible for monitoring, working, and planning for the success of the garden.  If a plant goes into stress they want to know why, so they research and are never afraid to ask outside people to help figure out the problem.  Never be afraid to ask.

2. Beautiful Gardens don’t just happen – As you might image, the Biltmore Garden plans to be successful by ordering bulbs for next spring now in the summer.  Each person who plants the bulbs is trained and shown how to plant bulbs correctly.  This instruction builds confidence and high standards of expectations.  They continue to remind each other of the “Biltmore” way of doing things.  This creates a high level of results.  A beautiful yard needs a plan.

3.  Never stop learning – The staff at the Biltmore had asked me to speak on leadership, “Developing Weeders to Leaders.”  It was a great two days, but I think I learned more from them about gardening and personal growth.  They live and breathe gardening, planting and making each other successful in the garden. With 4 college interns on site, they are investing in the future as well.   After seeing this passion for learning, it validated and inspired me to continue to listen, learn, teach and help others grow.


Planting to Grow is more than planting a tree, shrub or flowers.  It is about planting in your own life.  We should never stop learning, listening and personally growing.

Planting to Grow,


Happy 4th of July!

As we take this time to pause and celebrate our freedom I am reminded of the many brave men and women who had the courage to serve and preserve our freedom.  To all who have and are serving, thank you for your service.  Of course our first President, George Washington, was known for his perseverance in leading a rag tag group of soldiers to overcome the British.  President Washington also had a deep passion for landscaping his home, Mt. Vernon,  and constantly was adding and evaluating his trees and shrubs. Washington created a locust grove and he filled his lawn with evergreens, flowering dogwoods, and redbuds that added accents of color to his landscape design.

Here is one tree I am sure, if it would have been available, our first President would have used. Vitex agnus-castus, also called Vitex or Chaste Tree.  The Vitex tree explodes with flowers this time of year.  A great ornamental tree or large shrub, the Vitex needs full sun to bloom as well as good drained soil.   It gets wide, about 10-20’ and about 10-20’ tall.  The cool-colored, lavender-blue spikes provide a nice contrast in the landscape.  It makes a great treat for butterflies and they find it right away.

If you find it growing in a pot it can be planted now, but keep in mind it will need to be watered every day or two.  Once established it will not need to be watered.  Easy to maintain, this small tree does not need to be pruned unless you want to keep it in check on the size.

George Washington was constantly making changes to his landscape over years and I am sure he would have loved the Vitex tree, especially this time of year.

Planting to Grow,


Peeling Bark

Garden tip:  Peeling bark is normal for several trees you may have in the yard.  Crape myrtles, river birch and sycamore trees all have peeling bark.  As the tree grows, the trunk expands and the dry bark pops and peels naturally off the trunk.

You don’t have to do anything to the bark peeling off the tree, but you can remove the loose bark if you like.  I like to see the bark removed, especially on the focal trees I have up-lighting on.  This really gives a special feel, showcasing the unique bark.  I really like how this adds value to the yard by highlighting another interest of the tree to admire.


I hope you are enjoying your yard this summer!

Planting to grow,


Oakleaf Hydrangea

Enjoy the beautiful Hydrangea quercifolia, commonly known as the Oakleaf Hydrangea, this time of year. Named for the leaf it sports, it resembles the leaf on an Oak tree. These flowers gracefully welcome you to the outdoors and are a great plant for semi shade areas. They do their best in morning sun and afternoon shade. Oakleaf hydrangea are native to our area and provide us with a stunning display of white flowers. The use of freshly cut or dried hydrangea floral displays are stunning inside the house.

Deer will eat this large shrub so be aware of where you plant it. They like an acid soil and can tolerate drought, but it may cause it not to flower. Expect this plant to get up to 6-7’ if left unpruned. Pruning is minimal for this plant, I rarely prune Oakleaf. In the fall you won’t be disappointed in the great foliage color.

The stunning Oakleaf plant pictured above is located at the Student Union on the Ole Miss campus.

Planting to grow,


P.S. My book, Pruning like a Pro, is now available to buy here!  Regularly $19.97, I am offering it to you for a short time for $14.97.

Pruning Like a Pro

Purchase Pruning like a Pro by Jeff McManus

book-imageAre you frustrated with the way your yard looks? Do your azaleas never bloom? Do you know how and when to prune your shrubs? Pruning often seems overwhelming, but once you know how to prune correctly, it truly is simple! It is also a way to enhance the beauty of your landscape without blowing your budget. And… it doesn’t have to be complicated!

You can now Prune Like a Pro with a little help from Jeff’s book which is now available in print!

Order Pruning Like a Pro now at Amazon.com.


Are You Pruning Like a Pro?

They all left pruning like pros on Saturday.  With the skies dark and cloudy, our “Pruning Like a Pro” class did not miss a beat.  We learned to create magic with our azaleas, camellias, loropetalum, roses, and crape myrtles by pruning them the correct way and hiding our cuts.  We learned the proper shapes, angles, and what a great looking plant is suppose to look like.

Most of all, we watched, learned and then participated in the pruning.  Everyone pruned and perfected their pruning, push on!

I overheard someone say,  “I finally feel confident I am not going to mess up my plants now.”  Knowing where, when, and how to prune will give you the confidence to make your yard glow with successful pruning.

When pruning, remember that it’s all about knowing what look you want, neat and natural or prim and proper.  Most homes have neat and natural with a little prim and proper.  In my book, Pruning Like a Pro, I share how to hide your cuts inside the plant so when you finish pruning the shrubs it looks full, natural, and not sheared like meatballs.  I also share with you how pruning like a pro will help you reduce your time pruning. You will be able to buy the book on this website soon… stay tuned.

I hope everyone enjoyed last Saturday as much as I did and that they are pruning like pros in their own yards.

Planting to Grow,


Want to Learn to Prune Like a Pro?

Join me tomorrow morning, May 18th, to learn how to prune like a pro!

I am looking forward to seeing you at the Ole Miss campus in the Quad at 9:30am to review pruning techniques that will make your yard the talk of the neighborhood.  Bring a pair of hand snipes, gloves, and a great attitude as we “Prune Like a Pro.”

We will review azaleas, nandina, and crape myrtle pruning to get us started.  See you Saturday.

Remember, we are always planting to grow.


P.S. Wear the funniest hat tomorrow morning and win a prize.