Friday, October 13, 2017

Hornworm


Photo Credit: Datlene Boden

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar is a member of the Hornworm Family.  This family is the largest caterpillar family in the United States.  There are more than 120 species that occur on the continent.  Of the 120 only two are the most significant as pests on tobacco and tomatoes.  These caterpillars become moths known as sphinx or hawk moths.  

There remaining number of species of the 120 are attracted to shrubs and shade trees such as oak, elm catalpa, ash, black walnut and more.  They are inconspicuous most of the time.

The Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar prefers to feed on Virginia Creeper and other vines.   In the above picture, this larval stage has no horn, but does have a prominent eye spot on the hind end.  


Friday, October 6, 2017

Snow-On-The-Mountain


Photo Credit: CSU Linda Langelo, Horticulture Program Associate
 
 
Growing by the side of the road in a small grouping of plants was Snow-On-The-Mountain or Variegated Spurge, Euphorbia marginata.  This is a warm-season annual that grows in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Colorado and Texas. 
 
The leaves are one to three inches long and start out medium green in spring.  The upper leaves produce a clean white margin.  The flowers are produced in compound cymes which are inconspicuous green and yellow.   They bloom on the end of stems from mid-summer to early fall.
 
These flowers are great for use in an annual border or cut flower or added to the meadow.  They have no serious pests or diseases with the exception of aphids.  Some people may develop a skin rash from the plant sap.  This plant sap is a milky juice produced by plants in the Euphorbiaceae Family.  The juice is toxic if ingested. 
 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Interesting Bees

                                                      Photo Credit: Meredith Shrader
                                                             Tri-River, Entomologist
                                                      Photo Credit: Meredith Shrader
                                                         Tri-River, Entomologist
                                                                 
                                                             Photo Credit: Bugguide.net


These bees Leaf cutting and Mason Bees belong to a large family of bees: Megachiledae - large jaws.

These are indigenous bees as one of the largest families in the United States.  The Dianthidium in the photos above are solitary nesting bees. This bee uses the resin from trees and small stones to make a waterproof nest.  They lay their eggs in protected, dry tunnels in the ground or wood.  The bees have very distinctive light colored almost white markings according to Bee Friendly.

Become a Master Gardener



Master Gardener Program for 2018

In the Golden Plains Area of Northeast Colorado, we are now accepting interested applicants until November 1, 2017.  Our program is a two-year program.  In the first year you take all the classes and have the option of doing some of the volunteer time.  Initially, there are 50 hours of volunteer time to be complete the program.  The 50 hours of volunteer time keeps the cost of the program down.  You would have until October 31, 2019 to complete.  

What are some of the projects that a Master Gardener can do?  Master Gardeners are trained professionals.  They are the "front door" to Extension.  People who chose the program are interested in increasing their knowledge of horticulture and help others learn the joy of successful gardening.  

Here are some of the projects held by Master Gardeners:

  • Providing education by teaching class -- 
  1. Attracting Butterflies to the Garden to 1st and 2nd graders
  2. Container Gardening to Seniors
  3. Native Plants to 4th and 6th graders
  4. Plant Propagation
  • Providing education to 4H, FFA and other organizations on gardening
  1. Growing Vegetables
  2. Germinating Native Plants
  3. Hydroponics
  • Other projects
  1. Answering office phones for client calls
  2. Assisting with site visits
  3. Overseeing demonstration gardens
  4. Any topic/project of interest that can assist Extension's dissemination of research-based knowledge
For further information go to the following link:  http://cmg.colostate.edu
For contact information for the Golden Plains-Sedgwick, go on the link and click on contact and counties are listed in alphabetical order.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A look at Colorful Pansies



Just like chrysanthemums, pansies come in all colors.  If you are willing to try them, pansies like well-drained soil enriched with bonemeal.  Since pansies do not like the mid-day or afternoon heat, plant them where they can get some shade during this time.

For Colorado, planting pansies in late August or very early September will give their root systems enough time to become established and be prepared for winter, if the soil temperature is below 65 degrees.  The pansies planted with established root systems can withstand lower winter temperatures.  They may freeze up, but they spring back when the temperatures warm up.  Mulching around the pansies with leafmould and sharp sand will help with providing good drainage in the winter and root protection according to the Backyard Gardener. 

If you would rather plant pansies in the spring, just be sure that the soil temperature is 45 degrees.   Rhubarb starts growing and sending up shoots at 45 degrees.  If you do not have a soil thermometer, use rhubarb as an temperature indicator.  Plants begin to grow when the temperature is ideal for growth. 

The origin of pansies started in Iver, Buckinghamshire, England in the early 1800's with Lord Gambier and his gardener William Thompson started crossing Viola species.  Today's garden pansies  Viola x wittrockiana have huge blocks of color on the lower petals called the "face".  Starting in 1839 when it was discovered and named "Medora," became popular in Europe.  As for today, the pansy is breed in the United States, Japan and Germany.  With this breeding there has been an expansion of new colors and bicolor designs.  A more complete history can be found at this link: http://www.americanvioletsociety.org/Species_N_Cultivars/Pansy.htm  and for further distinction from violas go to this link:
http://www.americanvioletsociety.org/Species_N_Cultivars/Viola.htm


Here is a list of the categories from large to multiflora:

  • Large         - 3 to 4 inches
  • Medium     - 2 to 3 inches
  • Multiflora   -1 to 2 inches
Within each category are different series of pansies:

Within the large category:
  • Majestic Giant series is one series bred by Sakata where Majestic Giant White Face became a 1996 All-America Selections Winner. 



                                           Photo credit:  Virginia Beach Garden Club
                                             Majestic Giant White Face with blotch


                                        Photo credit: Ball Seed, Majestic Giant II Clear White

Also within the large category are the following series:
Accord, Lyric, Medallion, and Swiss Giants all by different breeders.

In the medium category are Crown series, Imperial, Joker, Roc and Springtime.


                                           Photo credit: Thompson and Morgan, Jolly Joker

In the multiflora category are Crystal Bowl, Maxim, Padparadja and Universal series.

                                        
                                       Photo credit: All American Selection Maxima Marina


For anyone there is a large selection of colors and sizes for the landscape.  For this year 2017, it is the year of the pansy.  Now matter what year, they can be mixed in our landscapes as fillers and accents and bring our landscape to life.    

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Garden Mums

This is one type of perennial flower that you can have in just about any color!  A perennial that would work in almost any landscape.  The cultural requirements are well-drained, fertile sandy soil in a full-sun location.  They do need a lot of fertilization.  But the well-drained soil needs to be a key in their cultural care.  If a plant gets too much moisture around their root systems, we call this wet-feet.  Mums do not like wet-feet. 

Here are some newer varieties of garden mums to enjoy:


                                                   
                                     Photo credit: Lucas Greenhouses, Electra Amber Improved

 
Photo credit: Lucas Greenhouses, Chelsey Coral
 
 
Photo credit: Lucas Greenhouses, Pumpkin Pie
 
 
Photo credit:  Lucas Greenhouses, Eternal Red
 
 
 
There are more colors of garden mums.  There are enough colors to please anyone's color palette.  In different areas, garden mums can bloom into early November.  So if you don't have mums in your landscape, give them a try. But wait until spring to purchase them. This way their root systems get a full season to grow deeply into the ground.  You can deadhead them in early spring and leave the stems on through the winter. The new growth will come up from the crowns.  A recent Iowa State University study learned that by keeping the stems on during the winter, mums planted in areas that can get single digit winter temperatures, they survive much better.  Also, it will not hurt to put 4 to 6 inches of mulch on top of the crowns.   These can be such easy care plants.  

Do you have Deer Resistant Perennials?

 
 
 
First of all, there are no plants which are deer resistant.  The deer may just have a preference for something else in the garden.  The second point is that deer in a different location will have different preferences for taste.  If deer in Western Kansas do not prefer lavender, will the deer in Eastern Colorado?   Maybe not.  Deer have adapted their food preferences to their location to survive. 
 
According to observation, there are different lists compiled based on frequency of the deer's taste preference.  Here is a brief list of some perennials that deer seem to ignore:
  • Catmint
  • Hyssop
  • Hummingbird Mint
  • Lavender
  • Mint
  • Monkshood
  • Peony
  • Santolina
  • Daffodils
  • Russian Sage
  • Wild Four O'clock
  • Jupiter's Beard or Red Valerian
 
Just from my observation, this list has a lot of plants that will self-sow or are aggressive.  Mint and catmint can be very invasive.  Jupiter's Beard and Russian Sage will seed themselves making them a weed in another flower bed or portion of the landscape. 
 
 The following link is a Colorado State University Extension Fact Sheet on Preventing Deer Damage which has a listing on rarely browsed perennials, vines, trees and shrubs: 
 


Monday, September 25, 2017

Fall Perennial Seasonal Color

 
 
Fall Perennial Seasonal Color
 
 
 
Most people probably think about adding mums and asters to the garden.  There is a much larger selection for every location, even in Colorado.   Here are a few to think about. 
 
Crocus have more than one season.  Crocus are spectacular not just in spring, but also  in fall.
Autumn crocus -- Colchicum speciosum - would make a lovely addition to the fall garden. 
 
 
                                                    Photo credit: West Island Blooms Wordpress.com
 
Black Eyed Susan's are long blooming and prolific.  What a durable plant.  It blooms from June through October and does well as a cut flower, pollinator plant providing nectar and a native.  A down-side is Black Eyed Susan's are aggressive. 
 
 
                                                   Photo credit:  Gardenerdirect.com
 
Russian Sage can be aggressive and seed itself.  But it is also prolific and very drought tolerant.  Once established this plant needs little to no water.  Pruning in the spring is required.  Prune to right above the new growth.
 
                                               
                                               Photo credit: bees and blooms.blogspot.com
 
False Aster - Boltonia asteroids is a taller white, pink or lilac flowering plant with a yellow center which is a good fall pollinator.  A plant that overtime will naturalize.  It is a decent cut flower as well.
 
                                                          
                                          Photo credit: Missouri Botanic Garden Plant Finder
 
 


Painted Lady Butterfly



Painted Lady Butterfly 

Have you been seeing these orange-brown butterflies by the dozens fluttering around some of your flowers?   Do you recognize the picture below:

                                          Photo credit: William Ciesla, Forest Health Management International

Vanessa cardui, Painted Lady Butterfly has a global range.   If you are seeing this butterfly in high numbers, it is because they are gathering nectar before migrating to the deserts of Northern Mexico and southwest deserts of the United States.  Their migrations are dependent upon the rainy periods in the deserts.  After a rainy period, expect a migration.  Naturally, those of us in Colorado might only see Painted Lady Butterfly during spring and/or fall since it overwinters in warmer climates.

In fact,  they can have one to three flights.  In the east this occurs from May to October.  Further south in South Texas there are three to four flights from October to April.   

Painted Lady Butterflies feed on the following nectar plants, usually from Composite Family:
  • Thistles
  • Aster
  • Ironweed
  • Cosmos 
According to Butterflies and Moths of North America that are over 100 hosts for these butterflies.
Three major Families play that role:
  • Asteraceae
  • Malvaceae
  • Fabaceae
So enjoy them while they last.   Keep a watch next spring.  Plant some of the plants in these families and you attract them.  I have Heliopsis helianthoides, False Sunflower in the Asteraceae Family.  They get 3-6 feet tall as a herbaceous perennial.  They are covered with Painted Lady Butterflies.  Since the Heliopsis is right under my living room window, the flowers and butterflies are at eye level to enjoy inside as well as outside.

 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Trivia about Flowers



Did you know.........?

That Saffron, a spice, comes from Crocus sativus, aptly named Saffron crocus.

That juice from bluebell flowers was used to make glue.

That the powder named arrowroot comes from Maranta arundinacea, Maranta or Arrowroot.

That the rose was adopted as England’s flower emblem during the Civil War (1455-1485).  Hence, the War of Roses with Lancaster represented by Red roses and York by White roses.

That Daisies acquired their name because of the yellow center, thought to represent the sun.

That there are between 1,000 and 2,000 Begonia hybrids.

That Iris means "rainbow" in Greek, and Iris was goddess of the rainbow in Greek mythology.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rudbeckia 'Denver Daisy'






Photo credit: Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate


As quoted from Plant Select: The Denver Daisy was "created for the commemoration of the City of Denver sesquicentennial. DENVER DAISY has parentage from Rudbeckia hirta, a daisy native to Colorado when the pioneers founded Denver 150 years ago. It was hybridized with Rudbeckia ‘Prairie Sun’ by Benary Seed."


Photo credit: Linda Langelo


This arid loving often short-lived perennial makes a bold statement in the landscape for those living in a semi-arid desert in Colorado.  Not surprising from a parentage of Rudbeckia hirta.  As with most Rudbeckia, once you have one, they spring up in other places in the garden.  Give them a try!




Friday, June 30, 2017

Benefits of Hydroponics




Here is a brief list of the advantages of Hyrdoponics:




1)   Space requirements and growing times lessened
2)   No tilling -- so less heavy work
3)   Conserve water
4)   Pests and diseases are better controlled
5)  Weeds lessened
6)   Nutrients recyclable
7)   Better Control of environment
8)   Crop Rotation
9)   Higher Yields
10) Transplant Shock is reduced
11)  pH and salt toxicity is easier to control in the root zone
12)  Electro conductivity - molar conductivity-concentration of nutrients in water


Start looking into it today!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tree Planting Tip

Photo Credit: Linda Langelo


This Maple tree has a root flare.  Be sure you see a root flare.  That is the best tip for properly planting a tree.  The root flare is the structural roots at the base of the tree.  If you go in the forest and see how Mother Nature plants her trees, you will always see a root flare. 


Most tree problems occur because a tree is planted too deep or too shallow.  So keep this tip in mind and you will have a healthy tree. 


If you have a tree that comes in a container, make sure you spread the roots apart.  Containerized trees can have roots circulating around the bottom of the container.  They will remain that way when you plant.  This can create girdling roots and years later choke your 30 foot tree which falls over in a high wind.  All that time and all your resources gone because of a simple fix early in the planting process. 


If you have a tree in burlap with twine and a wire cage, then remove or rip the burlap and remove the twine.  Remove the top third of the wire cage.  If you leave the burlap it will not disintegrate quickly and it will wick water away from the root system.  If you leave the wire cage, it will constrict roots.

Happy tree planting! 




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mini Veggie Container Gardening

Don't have much garden space?  Or little time to devote to gardening this year?  Or are you getting older and a large garden is more difficult to maintain?  Well here is an opportunity to try your favorite vegetables in miniature size.

You have a wide selection of possibilities.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, squash and more are all available for growing in a small container.  In containers which are no larger than 24 inches high you can grow a number of tomatoes:

  • Tiny Tim is 45 days to maturity with red round fruits 3/4 inch.
  • Window Box Roma is 70 days to maturity with 2 inch red fruits and has a longer shelf life than regular tomato varieties.
  •  Elfin is 60 days to maturity with red fruits about one and a half inches which are crisp.

Next, you may want some cucumbers to go with your tomatoes:

  • Baby Cucumber with 52 days to maturity that makes a bushy vine.
  • Baby Whooper with 55 days to maturity that has no runners.
  • Midget with 50 days to maturity that has 2 foot vines.
For some of the bigger fruits such as cantaloupe:

  • Early Super Midget with 60 days maturity has a medium vine.
  • Minnesota Midget with 63 days maturity has 4 inch melons.
There are watermelons if you like those better:

  • Sugar Lumps with 78 days to maturity with melons that are 8 to 9 inches in diameter.
  • Lollipop with 70 days to maturity with melons that are 3-5 pounds.

Butterfly Gardening

Butterfly gardening is a different style of gardening. It is not as neat and manicured as some gardeners would like their garden. Gardeners need to know that to accommodate butterflies the plants that are offered must meet the requirements of their complete lifecycle. Food must be provided for the caterpillar stage and the adult stage.

To further understand how to design your butterfly garden, you need to know what butterflies will possibly visit your garden. Colorado State University has a fact sheet on Attracting Butterflies to the Garden (5.504). Here is a brief list of butterflies that come to northeast Colorado from Opler and Cranshaw's CSU fact sheet:

  • Western Tiger Swallowtail
  • Mourning Cloak
  • Clouded Sulfur
  • Checkered Skipper
  • Black Swallowtail

Here are some plant suggestions as sources for caterpillar food:

  • Hackberry
  • Milkweed
  • Wild licorice
  • Locust
  • Cottonwood
  • Chokeberry

Here are some plant suggestions as sources for nectar for adult butterflies:
  • Bush cinquefolia
  • Lilac
  • Sweet pea
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Zinnias
  • Cosmos

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

FireWise Landscaping


By Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

 

Fire can happen on any landscape, at any time.  Incorporating preparation and prevention can assist with lessening the threat of fire.  

A fire on the plains can be effected by three things:

·        Surface fuels

·        Fine, fast-burning fuels

·        Usually driven by high wind

 
Photo Credit: Colorado Forest Service, Boyd Lebeda
 
 
What can you do when faced with a grass fire that travels quickly?  What preparations do you need to put in place around your home, long before a wild- fire? 
Aside from all of the above information, before fire season, stand back and look at your landscape differently can help prevent disaster to your family’s home.
First, according to the Colorado Forest Service when renovating your landscape around your home, this requires a defensible space.  This space serves as a buffer between your home and the trees, shrubs, perennials, grass and any wildland area that surround your home.  Do you have an evergreen planted up against your home? Does the ground slope away from your home?  What types of are established vegetation on your property?  All are factors to your ability to mitigate fire damage to your home.  CSU Forest Service recommends keeping your defensible space clean of trash and debris.
Second, everyone’s home has weak spots and hardening your home means using construction materials that can help your home withstand flying embers and shore up those weak spots.  Do you have a wood deck that attaches to your home? Are there garden tools with wooden handles or brooms or other highly flammable materials under the deck such as pine needles or leaves?  How often do you clean your gutters of debris? 
Third, have a Family Disaster Plan that has evacuation routes in place in case your family is asked to evacuate, a meeting area outside the fire hazard area and a Disaster Supply Kit.  This kit needs to last for at least 3 days and contain your family’s and pets’ necessary items.  Some of these items might be prescription medicines, cash, water, clothing, food and first aid.
Preparation goes a long way towards the success in a fire disaster or any disaster.  Disasters can put people in a panic mode.  If you have a plan, having a disaster supply kit insures that you may not forget medicine or something equally critical and the plan helps save lives. 
Now that you have an idea of what fuels a fire and what you need to do, you can add fire-resistant plants to your property and still have a beautiful landscape. There is a factsheet listed below which I have referenced in this article.  There are some wonderful native plants such as some of the perennial native forbs(wildflowers):
·        Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower
·        Ratibida columnifera, Prairie Coneflower
·        many different species of Penstemon. 
 
Beyond these there is a wide list of non-native perennial choices from the FireWise Plant List on the FireWise Plant Materials Factsheet:
·        Ajuga reptans          Bugleweed
·        Lamium spp.            Dead nettle
·        Armeria maritima   Sea thrift
There are a number of shrubs and trees from which to choose from the same factsheet:
·        Prunus cerasifera               Flowering plum
·        Amelanchier alnifolia        Saskatoon alder-leaf serviceberry
·        Shepherdia argentea         Silver buffaloberry
·        Crataegus spp.                    Hawthorn
 
Here are some CSU links for Fire-Resistant Landscaping and FireWise Plant Materials that you can access for guides also used as references for this article:
CSU Quick Guide Series – Protecting Your Home from Wildfire: Creating Wildfire-Defensible Zones formerly CSU Extension Factsheet 6.302 –link:
 
CSU Forest Home Fire Safety Factsheet 6.304
CSU Fire-Resistant Landscaping 6.303
CSU Fire Wise Plant Materials 6.305
 


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fairy Gardens




 
Photo Credit: From Pinterest
 
 
 
Feel creative?  Try your hand at a fairy garden.  The sky is the limit!  Some folks use all natural materials and make things from scratch while others purchase miniature doors, windows and furniture. 
 
 
There are no rules about creating a fairy garden.  If you want the natural look, search in your back yard for bark and moss.  If you want stones and live nearby a river, lake or beach collect them for the look you want. 
 
Wooden popsicle sticks and toothpicks come in handy to use for fences, bridges or window frames.  Use your imagination.  Take a look at the picture below:
 
 
 
Photo Credit: etsy.com  Nature Fairy House
 
 
 
 
Art in any form helps everyone from little children to adults mentally, socially and emotionally.  So start the New Year spending time reenergizing yourself and take time to create.  Express yourself. 
There is no right or wrong when expressing yourself.  Go for it!