Saturday, February 24, 2018

Care for African Violets by Vicky Spelman

Photo Elaine Lockey
African violets can be a great indoor plant for Colorado. Their care is fairly simple and they will bless you with beautiful blooms. Here are tips for their care:
  • Light: Moderate to bright, indirect, indoor light.
  • Water: In general, African Violets need just enough water to keep the soil moist, but never soggy and should be room temperature. They have self-watering pots - a smaller pot with the violet sits in a larger pot that has a water fill line and when nearly empty refill.
  • Fertilizer: Your fertilization practices can also impact how well African violets bloom. Unlike plants that grow outdoors, houseplants are totally dependent on the grower to apply sufficient nutrients without overdoing it. The small pots these plants are typically grown in do not maintain a large reserve of nutrients. If you do not fertilize them on a regular basis, they may not have the necessary nutrients to spend on flowers. On the other hand, too much fertilizer with high nitrogen content can lead to lush foliage at the expense of flowers.
  • Other tips: Pinch off spent blossoms and blossom stems to encourage development of new blooms. Place plants away from floor vents, fans, or entrance doors to avoid air drafts and bursts of cold air.
For additional information: 


Why Isn’t my African Violet Blooming. https://extension.psu.edu/why-isn-t-my-african-violet-flowering.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

George Washington and Planting Cherry Trees by Carol King

Photo mountvernon.org
It’s George Washington’s birthday, (February 22, 1732) and it’s hard to think of our first president without the phrase “I cannot tell a lie” popping up.  The cherry tree myth is the most well-known and longest enduring legend about our first president. It was invented by one of Washington’s very first biographers, Mason Locke Weems. In the original story, when Washington was six years old he received a hatchet as a gift and damaged his father’s cherry tree. When his father discovered what he had done, he became angry and confronted him. Young George bravely said, “I cannot tell a lie…I did cut it with my hatchet.” Washington’s father embraced him and rejoiced that his son’s honesty was worth more than a thousand trees.1

Weems wanted to present Washington as the perfect role model, especially for young Americans. The cherry tree myth and other stories showed readers that Washington’s public greatness was due to his private virtues. William Holmes McGuffey, author of the McGuffey’s Readers, created a version of the cherry tree myth that appeared in his Eclectic Second Reader. This helped entrench the cherry tree myth in American culture. The myth has endured for more than two hundred years and has become an important part of Americans' cultural heritage.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Low Humidity in House Plants by Carol King

Plants on Pebble Tray. Photo the-news.co
This time of year, Colorado gardeners turn to indoor plants to soothe our gardening souls.  However the indoor environment in our homes can be very harsh for many plants. Many house plants are native to humid, tropical rain forests and require special consideration when they reside in Colorado homes. While lighting and temperatures need to be monitored for successful indoor gardening, humidity is the big issue during colder months.  Heating systems common in Colorado circulate dry, warm air throughout the house. Our indoor environment often has less than 10 percent humidity. This is a drastic reduction from the 70 to 90 percent relative humidity levels found in the native climates of most tropical plants.

Why does this matter? Humidity is the level of moisture in the air and can affect a plant's need for water.  Plants grown indoors with low humidity lose more water through transpiration, so their root systems require more water. In addition, plants located near heating or cooling vents may develop leaf spots or brown tips.
Here are a few tips to help alleviate low humidity problems:
  • Misting plants may help alleviate this condition, however, it must be done frequently to be effective, and it may promote some foliar diseases. 
  • Place several plants together on a tray filled with gravel. Filling the tray with water provides the humidity many plants need. Make sure the bottom of the container does not stand in water; the soil will become water-logged and cause root damage. 
  • Use a humidifier around your plants. 
  • For house plants with moderate humidity needs, group them together during the heating season. Each plant gives off humidity through transpiration. Clusters of plants will create very good humidity in the surrounding air.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Keeping Roses Healthy During Winter

Rose canes greening up in Lakewood - January 22, 2018

Have you taken a look at your roses lately? This warm winter has created conditions for the canes to green up very early. It’s way too early to prune them! Instead, check to make sure your mulch layer is still intact, and add more if you’ve lost some to wind or critters.

The following information from the Denver Rose Society gives tips on rose care during these late winter months.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

February Words of the Month: Monoecious and Dioecious by Carol King


Image media1.britannica.com
In honor of St. Valentine’s Day and an homage to love in the garden, the February horticulture word of the month is actually two words: ”dioecious” and “monoecious"; terms that refer to plant reproduction. The pronunciation for the two words is “dahy-EE-shuhs” and “muh-Nee-shuhs”.

A monoecious plant is one that can reproduce (that is, bloom and set seed) all on its own. Monoecious is translated as “single house,” meaning that male and female flowers are found on a single individual plant. It does not need a partner: a single plant bears both male and female flowers. Examples of monoecious plants are birch, hazelnut, oak, pine, spruce, corn, and squashes.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

St. Valentine and the Gift of Fresh Flowers by Carol King

Photo fellowshipofminds
Legends and lore abound on why we celebrate Valentine’s day by giving flowers to our loved ones.  Here’s one of my favorites. This one involves the lore of forbidden love and has been favored over other stories by hopeless romantics.

Emperor Claudius II issued an edict forbidding marriage because he felt that married men did not make good, loyal soldiers to fight in his army. They were weak because of the attachment to their wives and family. St. Valentine was a priest who defied Claudius and married couples secretly because he believed so deeply in love. Valentine was found out, put in prison, and later executed.

The law of irony then came into play, as St. Valentine fell in love with the daughter of the Emperor. Prior to his beheading, St. Valentine handed the lady a written note and a single red rose - the very first valentine and the very first fresh flower.  From this, the gifting of flowers for Valentine's day began.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The 2018 Great Backyard Bird Count By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino

During the fall and winter when most of us are not outside working in a garden, birdwatching is often an enjoyable pastime. If you love watching the native birds come to your yard and feeder, then you might want to participate in this important and fun project from the Audubon Society.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Squirrel Damage in the Landscape

Photo courtesy Plantalk Colorado
Today I counted 6 squirrels frolicking and playing in my elm trees, and spotted another three in my neighbor's yard. Squirrels can cause a lot of damage in the garden, especially in years when untimely spring frosts (like we had in 2017) cause poor crops of crab apples and other fruits. Plantalk Colorado offers the following information about squirrel damage to trees and landscape plants.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Crocus already? Too early?

Crocus leaves in Lakewood, 1/17/18
It’s early February and some crocus are already emerging. In fact, crocus leaves appeared in my yard in mid-January. What’s going on?

An early bloom certainly isn’t unprecedented in Denver and Jefferson County. The National Phenology Network (NPN) collects reports on the status of plants around the country and combines them with weather data to create models of where spring has sprung. Just last year, data from the NPN indicated that Denver’s plants were blooming up to three weeks ahead of the average for 1981-2010.