Clippings, The Newsletter of Mt. San Antonio College's Horticulture Program


We're happy to announce that after a long hiatus, we have finally gotten our newsletter back up and running in a new format.  Thanks to our two student editors, Benjamin Brown and Steviann Newton, we have a collection of articles and updates for you again.  We hope that you enjoy our newsletter.   

Ramblings of an Old Man:
By Dave Lannom

Dave Lannom

  • A new mandarin has hit the market place.  Introduced by University of California at Riverside as “Tango,” it is marketed as “Cutie”, “Halo” and some other names.  It is very sweet, peels easily, is seedless, and does not need nets to provide pollination.
  • An old concept has been revitalized by Moon Valley Nurseries, which is wholesale to the public.  It relies on perceived value to the customer.  They started in Arizona, then Texas, Nevada and now have set up several locations in California.  They purchased Gro-West Nurseries, a leading producer of specimen, wholesale trees.  They offer planting of large specimen trees as well as landscape plants.  Prices are between wholesale and retail.  They have a very aggressive sales force, large locations, and a big selection of plants.  Stop by and evaluate the experience.

  • Are we out of the depression?!?  A nursery management magazine stated the retail garden sales were up 16%.  Remarkable growth considering the past few years.  Last year was -3%.  We are back to pre-recession times.  There is excitement within the industry about the future.

  • There is some controversy over the use of Neonicotinoids as pesticides.  Imidacloprid, Merit, Medallion, Flagship, were thought to be in the nectar of flowers and harm honey bees, but research conducted at UCR shows no harm to honey bees.  The study showed that many of the alternative pesticides did cause harm to honey bees.  This class of compounds has been very effective in controlling chewing and sucking insects.

Ten Things You Can Do to Save Water in the Landscape
by Cortnee Brenner

Watering Cans

In Pennsylvania, where I grew up, it precipitates over 100 days per year, making water plentiful, so much so that I used to curse it when parts of my property flooded after 3 days of continuous rain.  I cursed it again when I had to strap metal coils onto the bottom of my boots so that I could walk on the ice, and yet again while shoveling at 3:30am, so that I could drive to work.  My favorite winter activity was to look at seed catalogs and plan my garden for the spring. If you did not plan, the short growing season from May 17 until the first frost in October, would be missed. After moving to California, I learned how the very same water that I took for granted is a precious and scarce resource. Here are a few things that I have learned along the way to help conserve water:

Evapotranspiration and the Irrigation System. Monitor water loss from the plants and soil, and then adjust the irrigation controller throughout the year for an efficient water schedule.   Do not forget to perform irrigation maintenance! These practices will conserve water and reduce consumption costs.

Water audit test. Performing a water audit test will provide you with information on how water is being distributed into your landscape and you will get clues as to any problems with sprinkler heads.

Hydrozones. Group plants with similar water needs and sun exposure together to save water, time, and money.

Compost and organic matter. They aid in water retention, add nutrients to the soil, and they are home to many organisms that contribute to the soil health and structure.

Pick the right plant. There are many plants with similar water needs and sun exposure that vary in texture, leaf, and flower color.  These are available to suit every landscape.  Pick the right plant for the right spot. If you are not sure about selection, ask a teacher, fellow classmate, or professional at your local plant nursery.

Pruning. Proper pruning practices will help to maintain the tree/shrub/plant's health and reduce water usage.

Weed Control Practices. Weeds compete for water and nutrients and removing them will increase the quality of life by directly affecting flower/crop/seed production.

Mulch. Mulch will block water from evaporating from the soil quickly.

Additional practices that will also help:

            Coasters under plants, don't forget to empty excess water from the coasters.

            Water container plants early in the morning, ideally between 3 and 6am.

            Use moisture censors in the landscape

Educate your neighbor, friend, and the public. Be knowledgeable in your field and don't be afraid to voice your opinion!

Beetle-fungus combination Invades Southern California
by Irma Arvizu

Trees in Southern California are dying from a new invasive beetle-fungus combination.  The vector is a beetle commonly referred to as the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer, Euwallacea fornicatus and Fusarium sp. is a serious fungal disease.    The fungus destroys the vascular system of the tree causing stress, die-back and possibly tree death. Polyphagous Bettle

The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (Polyphagous) is a member of the ambrosia beetle family know for making tiny entry holes in trees and creating galleries (circular tunnels)  in the xylem (vascular system) of tree hosts.  The Fusarium sp. is carried by the female Polyphagous in special organs in her mouth parts and deposited in the galleries she creates.  The fungus grows on the gallery walls and spreads throughout the tree.   The Polyphagous and its offspring eat the fungus and its spores and spend their lifecycle within the tree host and forming a symbiotic relationship.   According to Brian P. Scott, Chairman Agricultural Sciences at Mt. San Antonio College, “The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer is very difficult to identify because it is not readily seen outside of the tree host, it does not ingest the tree cambium, nor uses sex pheromones for mating, making insecticides and traps ineffective.” 

A mated female Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer lays her eggs in the galleries.  The eggs hatch into larvae, and pupate before emerging as adults.  It takes about 30 days for the Polyphagous to complete its metamorphosis from egg to adult.  The majority of the beetle’s offspring are females who in turn mate with their siblings without leaving the galleries.  Single mated females create additional galleries in new sections of the host tree and some fly away to establish new populations elsewhere. 

The Polyphagous attacks hundreds of trees in Southern California.  Some of the known tree hosts are:   box elder, Acer negundo; coast live oak, Quercus agrifolia; avocado, Persea americana, sycamore, Platanus racemosa; castor bean, Ricinus communis; English oak, Quercus robur; valley oak, Quercus lobata; big leaf maple, Acer macrophyllum; Japanese maple, Acer palmatum; red willow, Salix laevigata; goldenrain tree, Koelruteria paniculata; olive, Olea europaea; silk tree, Albizia julibrissin; American sweet gum, Liquidambar styraciflua; coral tree, Erythrina caffra; weeping willow, Salix x sepulcralis; palo verde, Parkinsonia aculeata; and white alder, Alnus rhombifolia

Trees infested with Polyphagous show the following symptoms:  tiny pin holes in tree bark, weeping spots, discolored bark, powder deposits around the holes also known as frass, gumming on bark, and branch die-back.  These symptoms can start out as mild branch die-back, but may result in tree death if heavily infested and left untreated.   The bark layer around the infected areas can be scraped off to help identify the beetles and reveal the galleries.

Ann Hope of Mauget added, “There are no known current methods to control the Polyphagous or Fusarium sp. once it is in the tree.  Ms. Hope recommends using a bark spray as a preventative measure until current research is complete and an effective treatment method is confirmed.   In addition, she stressed the importance of disposing of diseased wood and not moving potentially infected wood from one region to the other and sterilizing tools to prevent spread of the disease.   Many pests including the Polyphagous can easily hitch rides to new territory on chopped wood and/or firewood.”

Notify authorities if you suspect Polyphagous in your region.  Providing information can help researchers determine the best approach to stop pest infestation.  You can contact your local agriculture commission or Scientist and Polyphagous expert Akif Eskalen at UC Riverside.

Success Tips From Your Professors
by Jennifer Hinostroza

Jennifer Hinostroza

We want all of our students to be successful, so we’ve compiled a few tips to help you get started and stay on track. 

  • Talk to your professors!  We can help you create an Education Plan to plan out when to take which classes.  Counselors are good for transfer information, but they are not familiar with our classes, the order in which they should be taken, or when the courses are offered. 
  • Mountie Academic Plan (MAP) on your portal can be somewhat helpful, but it has some limitations.
    • You must insure that your goal (certificate or degree) is correctly listed.  If not, this can be changed on your Portal.
    • MAP only allows one goal, so you can’t list a certificate and a degree, or two degrees.  (With an Ed Plan we can plan for both.)
    • MAP doesn’t give you any recommendations for the order of the courses.

Although it’s not a replacement for an Ed. Plan, here are some suggestions from the experts:

  • Good classes to start out with:
    • AGOR 1 – Horticultural Science – This is designed to be the entry level class and has an overview of information you will study in other classes.  Take this one first!!!
    • AGOR 2 – Plant Propagation – OK to take concurrently with AGOR 1 or afterwards.
    • AGOR 29 & 30 – Plant ID courses – In spite of the fact that your friends have told you to fear these classes, the knowledge of plant identification will help you in most of your other classes and is one of the first things that employers are looking for.  Don’t put these courses off until the end!
    • AGOR 50 – Soil Science – Soils are a topic that will come up over and over in your courses, so taking this class early will be very helpful to you.
    • AGOR 51 – Tractor and Landscape Equipment operations.
    • AGOR 71 - Landscape Construction Fundamentals – This one should probably be taken after the above courses, but definitely before you take the Landscape Hardscape Applications Course.
    • AGOR 62 – Irrigation Design and Installation – Take soil science first, but this should be the first irrigation course you take.
  • Courses to End With:  (These are courses that require background material that you will learn in the other courses, and while most do not have pre-requisites, and it is possible that you can pass them without taking the classes above first, your life will be much easier if you take them toward the end instead!)
    • AGOR 13 – Landscape Design – This course will be much easier after you have had at least the ID courses, soil science, and irrigation design.  This course is designed to pull all of your knowledge together and apply it.
    • AGOR 24 – Integrated Pest Management – This course also depends on knowledge from other courses – ID courses, soil science, irrigation, etc.  It will be easier and more useful to you if you build that foundation of knowledge first.
    • AGOR 40 – Sports Turf Management – This one has a pre-requisite of AGOR 39 – Turfgrass Management, so you must complete AGOR 39 first.
    • AGOR 72 – Landscape Hardscape Applications – Take AGOR 71 first – this course is designed to apply the concepts that you learn in AGOR 71.
    • AGOR 75 – Urban Arboriculture – Take at least AGOR 1 – Horticultural Science and AGOR 30 – Tree ID before you take this course.  It is designed to prepare you for the Arborist exam, and both ID and basic plant structures and functions are important background information.
    • AGOR 52 – Hydraulics – This is a more advanced equipment course, designed to be taken after you have some background understanding of equipment.
  • Don’t forget about those General Education Courses!  We know you love your horticulture courses, but don’t put off those pesky Math and English courses until the end.  You will often have to complete several of these in order to get to the degree applicable course, and these courses are heavily impacted and hard to get, especially if you have a high number of units, and therefore low enrollment priority.  Work in one or two GE courses every semester (or even during the intersessions!) until they are all done.  Students who finish all of their horticulture courses and leave the GE until the end often get frustrated and never finish their degrees.  Don’t let that happen to you!
  • Get Involved! – Studies show that students who are involved in activities on their college campus tend to be more successful in their courses as well.  There are lots of opportunities to get involved.  Look into some of the following!
      • Horticulture Club
      • Turf Team
      • Volunteer at Plant Sales or other Ag Department activities like Farm Day.
      • Spring Garden Show
      • Become an Ag Ambassador
      • Volunteer or work at the Horticulture Unit
      • Write articles for the “Clippings” Newsletter
      • Attend Department Events like the Ag Banquet

Where Are They Now?
by Dave Lannom

  • Erick Valle:  Production Manager at Tree Source Nursery in Visalia, a leading producer of Citrus trees for orchards.
  • Michele Domsain:  Sales Associate of the year for Armstrong Garden Centers.  Currently at the Del Mar location.  If you are in the area stop by and say “Hi”.
  • Jonathan Brown:  Sales associate for Armstrong Nurseries in Monrovia.
  • Robin Sease: Assistant to the director at L.A. County Arboretum, Arcadia.
  • Raquel Zepeda: Parks supervisor, City of Glendora.
  • Anne Watson:  Grounds Supervisor at the Getty Garden in Malibu.


Return to Mt. SAC Horticulture Department Home Page.