Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bidens as Groundcover

Photo by Linda Langelo


The plant pictured above called Bidens ferulifolia is a short-lived perennial often times grown as an annual.  It is usually gone after the first frosts.  Those frosts have come and gone. Surprisingly at 11 degrees Fahrenheit and with some snow on the ground it is still blooming.  It does have a southern exposure which would help a bit with the overnight temperatures.  This plant does not want to quit. It almost seems like spring with these in bloom.

This plant is from the Asteraceae Family.  There are 51 species of Bidens.  There are other species such as Bidens pilosa which is an annual flowering all summer into fall. 

Bidens has many common names such as beggarticks, black jack, burr marigolds, cobbler's pegs, Spanish needles, stickseeds and tickseeds.  WOW!  No wonder it is confused.  Comparing Bidens to Ratibida columnifera or Prairie Coneflower which is a hardy perennial in eastern Colorado, the Ratibida has stopped blooming.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Eastern Plains Cemetery Landscapes

Vona Cemetery photo by Linda Langelo

Cemetery head stones need protection from the high winds on the plains.  As cemeteries go the Vona Cemetery is kept neat and clean with a few smaller trees along the rows of head stones.  Along the outside are cedars slowing the onslaught of high winds and snow. 
As the cedars are aging, cemetery board is looking to replace the cedars.  Here are a couple of selections they are interested in as follows:

  • Woodward columnar juniper

    Juniperus scopulorum 'Woodward'—4 feet wide by 20 feet tall- very columnar and very well adapted to our environment.

  • Pinyon pine - Pinus edulis -- 20 feet wide by 30 feet tall; needing very little regular water; very drought tolerant.

  • Hot Wings Tatarian Maple-- Acer tataricum 'GarAnn' PP 15,023 – is deciduous and grows to 18 feet tall and 18 wide.  It is not pH sensitive like most maples and deals well with drought once established.   Take a look at the photos below.
Photo by Plant Select

Photo by Plant Select
 Hot Wings has leaves that do turn red in the fall.  The samara which are the seeds in the picture above can stay on the tree through September during some seasons. 

Beyond these selections there are many other possibilities to our cemeteries looking nice.  Listed below are a couple of other selections for the eastern plains of Colorado:
  1. Little Leaf Mahogany or Cerocarpus intricatus would make a nice addition to any windbreak.  It has flowers that turn into attractive feathery seed pods.  This is a smaller shrub growing to 5 feet by 4 feet wide.
  2. Russian Hawthorn or Crataegus ambigua would have very showy white flowers in spring.  It is a hardy plant and tolerates the extreme weather conditions of the plains.  It grows to 16 feet wide and 20 feet tall.
  3. Seven-Son Flower or Heptacodium miconioides would have many attractive features including an exfoliating bark.  This is a late season flowering shrub with white flowers.  The sepals which cover the flower petals are also an attractive red color before the petals open.   
  4. Smith's Buckthorn or Rhamnus smithii is a shrub which can be placed to line the windbreak with a sold green deciduous plant material.  After it flowers there will be black berries.  The flowers are insignificant.  It is very drought tolerant and can withstand the extreme weather conditions on the plains.
If you wish to take a look at any of these plants go to the following link:  http://plantselect.org





Thursday, October 22, 2015

Visiting Monarchs


Photos by Bev Hollingsworth, CSU Support Staff

Photos by Bev Hollingsworth, CSU Support Staff

These photos are one of those moments in life when you are left in awe of these creatures.  They stopped by for a visit before journeying onto Mexico.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The forgotten back alleys

Picture by Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

We always think to carefully landscape the front of our house where people get their first impression.  But what about a first impression from the alley?  Landscaping the alley can complete the design of your yard.  Without a well tended alley which ties into the rest of your landscape, it detracts from feel of the overall design. 

When you decide to redecorate a room with new features and then put only half of the new room together this is comparable to an unfinished landscape such as not landscaping the back alley.

Remember not everyone might first view your home from the front yard.  You can make the same statement in the alley as you do in the front and throughout the yard.  People will feel welcomed from the alley and in the front. 

Most back alleys are filled with trash and weeds.  Whatever you chose to do visually makes a statement about who you are. Improving your back alley improves the neighborhood.  Maybe it will inspire others to do the same. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Aspens on the Plains

Pictures by Linda Langelo, CSU Extension Horticulture Program Associate

Populus tremuloides, Aspen have their own beauty.  The only tree close to this striking white bark is Paper Birch, Betula papyrifera.  Paper birch does not tolerate drought.  Aspen trees live in altitudes well above the normal range on the plains which is 3,500 to 4,500 feet.  But once Aspens are well established on the plains of eastern Colorado as those in the above pictures, they tend to do well.  The trees pictured above were placed by a swimming pool for many years.  The pool is now gone and they are still doing well.  They survived the last three years of extreme drought.   These are not trees recommended for eastern Colorado, but people fall in love with their beauty.  The danger is planting trees outside their normal range whereby they succumb to diseases and insects and keeping them in good health is challenging because the environment they need is not available to them.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Water, Water, Water

Picture by Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

As summer comes to a close and fall begins, remember to water the grass during extended dry periods in both fall and winter.  This will help to prevent root damage.  Healthy roots makes for a healthy turf. 

Speaking of roots, now is a great time to fertilize your turf.  Fertilizing your turf now can help your turf in the following ways:  better color through the winter and earlier spring green-up.  The turf will have an increase of carbohydrate reserves along with improved fall, winter, and spring root growth. Lastly, the turf will have increased shoot density.  Two of the possible side effects of doing fall fertilization is the increased chance of snow mold injury and decreased cold tolerance of your turf.  It can happen.  I prefer better root development over spring fertilization causing an increase in top growth with a root system that might not be able to support the top growth.

During the growing season the best time to irrigate your turf would be between 10 pm and 6 am.   The next best time is from 9 am to 11 am.  If you are forced to irrigate between 9 am and 4 pm just remember that the sun and wind can cause additional water loss. 

The following cool season grasses need regular applications of water:

  • Bluegrass
  • Fescue
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • Bentgrass
Kentucky bluegrass will need 2.5 or more inches of water per weekly application of water during the hot summer months.

Help the Monarch Migrate

Picture by Linda Langelo. CSU Horticulture Program Associate

Here in Sedgwick County, Colorado in our community garden the monarch has stopped along the way to refuel on an okra flower before continuing the migration south to Mexico. 

Monarchs are disappearing because of the destruction of Milkweed.  Milkweed is the critical plant where the adults which fly north in February and March lay their eggs on milkweed.  The young caterpillars feed only on the milkweed.  This is what we call host specific.  The host is milkweed food for the monarch caterpillars.  There is no second choice or other preference.  They depend on each other.

The monarchs which fly south to Mexico for the winter are not the same as those that return.  Those that return are the fourth generation.  All the other generations are first through third which live only 2-6 weeks.  The fourth generation lives 180 to 240 days which is about six to 8 months.  They can also hibernate in California as well as Mexico. 

Fill Your Landscape with Natives


Pictures by Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate
The first and second picture from the top is Ratibida pinnata, Prairie Coneflower.  The bottom picture is Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot. These plants need very little to no care and both are perennial.  They do not need fertilization.  They do not need deadheading to keep producing. 
Ratibida starts blooming in June and lasts through October.  Monarda starts blooming in July through October.  These plants are great additions for fall color in your landscapes. 

Eight Spotted Forester

Picture by Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

What is eating my grape vines??  This is the eight spotted forester, Alypia octomaculata which turns into to a striking adult black moth with yellow and black spots.  It is not a serious pest.  They also feed on Virginia creeper and grape vines east of the Rockies.   They chew the leaves from early June through August.  They have two generations a season.  One generation occurs in May and one occurs in August.  They winter in the pupa stage in a cocoon in the soil.  These insects are as colorful in the caterpillar stage as an adult.  The caterpillar is a pale blue, well patterned with rows of black spotting, orange banding along the side, and a rounded hump on the hind end. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Trees that succumb to freeze damage

Ornamental Pear picture by Ken Gierhart

Sometimes trees show very visible signs of freeze damage and sometimes we do not get to see any visible damage.  Two tips which can help avoid some of this damage:
  1. Do not do any late summer pruning
  2. Do not do any late summer fertilization
Both of these activities list above stimulate tender new growth which may not have enough time to harden off properly before a freeze.  We have to watch for early freezes in the fall and even late freezes in the spring.  Anytime the weather warms up enough to stimulate new growth, it can be damaged.