Articles on Plants

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Entomologist Brian Lovett examines flea beetle-infested potatoes in Morgantown, West Virginia. Matt Kasson

How to manage plant pests and diseases in your victory garden

The COVID-19 pandemic has boosted interest in home gardening. Three scientists who garden explain some basic methods for controlling common insects and microbes that can spoil your crop.
During coronavirus lockdowns, gardens have served as an escape from feelings of alienation. Richard Bord/Getty Images

The impulse to garden in hard times has deep roots

What drives people to garden isn't the fear of hunger so much as hunger for physical contact – and a longing to engage in work that is real.
In the heat, tomato plants can’t fight off the hungry tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. From www.shutterstock.com

Crops could face double trouble from insects and a warming climate

Plants have evolved techniques for protecting themselves from heat and insect attacks – but when both these stresses happen at once, one defense may neutralize the other.
Need a handkerchief? Num LP Photo/Shutterstock

Why do onions make you cry?

Like many plants, onions have defenses to ward off creatures that may want to eat them. Their secret weapon is a kind of natural tear gas.
A mast year can be a squirrel’s dream come true. Editor77/Shutterstock.com

Tons of acorns? It must be a mast year

Masting is what biologists call the pattern of trees for miles around synchronizing to all produce lots of seeds – or very few. Why and how do they get on schedule?
The talamanca hummingbird, or admirable hummingbird, is found in Costa Rica and Panama. Milan Zygmunt/Shutterstock.com

Not all genes are necessary for survival – these species dropped extra genetic baggage

How many genes do you really need? Are there any that we can lose? Researchers are now identifying species that have streamlined their genome to adapt to a particular lifestyle.

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