Thursday, January 26, 2023

Are Gnats in Your Home Making You Nuts? By Amy Norwood

Adult fungus gnat showing the distinctive, curved “Y” fork in the wings. 
Photo Credit: B. Schoenmakers, via Wikipedia.

Do you have tiny flying insects in your home?  These insects don’t pose a health risk to people or animals, but they are very annoying.  They can be controlled if you know which tiny flying insect you have.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

My New Favorite Houseplant! by Pam Hill

Photo: CMG Pam Hill

This is my new favorite houseplant because it grew so quickly and is already blooming!  

Oxalis triangularis or false shamrock is a delightful houseplant in Denver.  A native of South America, it is a rhizomatous ornamental garden or houseplant, hardy only to zone 8.  Plants can be green, variegated, or deep maroon with small white or pink flowers.  The leaves close at night or when disturbed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

First Ever Vaccine for Honeybees by Nancy Shepard

Photo: Kevin/Adobe Stock

Don’t roll your eyes because I know you want to know how they put a needle into every bee arm! The United States Department of Agriculture just approved a vaccine that aims to curb foulbrood, a serious disease caused by the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae that can weaken and kill hives. There is currently no cure for the disease, which in parts of the US has been found in a quarter of hives, requiring beekeepers to destroy and burn any infected colonies and administer antibiotics to prevent further spread.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Where To Recycle Your Christmas Trees & Holiday Lights This Year by Vicky Spelman

Many municipalities across Colorado have free tree recycling or composting programs for holiday pines that have served their festive purpose.

What happens to the trees? In most cases, the trees are chipped and made into a mulch which is usually made available, free to city or county residents. 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Norfolk Island Pine by Nancy Shepard

Norfolk Island Pine, Getty Images

Norfolk Island pines are popular during the holiday season and while sometimes used as a substitute for a Christmas tree, they are not really true pines. While my childhood home in San Diego, CA has a huge 20-foot one in the backyard, here in Colorado and other colder zones they are treated like a houseplant. 

Native to an island off the coast of Australia and New Zealand, Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla) are actually not pines at all. They're a tropical plant that loves the balmy weather of the South Pacific. The Norfolk Island Pine thrives when it has conditions similar to what it would find on its home island, which means lots of bright indirect light, high humidity, and routine watering. In warm climates, the outdoor plant can reach more than 100 feet tall! Of course, when you keep them in your home, they top out around 6-feet-tall, making them a reasonably-sized tabletop or floor plant for any bright room in your house. 

When it comes to decorating your Norfolk pine for the holidays, stick with lightweight Christmas decorations that won’t weigh down their slender branches. Lights are fine, too, but use LEDs, which don’t generate as much heat as traditional incandescent bulbs. After the holidays, remove the decorations and enjoy this handsome houseplant throughout the year!

High humidity is a must for the Norfolk Pine to thrive. When the humidity is not up to the  Araucaria heterophylla's standards, the tips of the branches may become brown and dry. This is a houseplant that will definitely benefit from a pebble tray or placement near a humidifier.

Norfolk Island pines need at least two hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily to maintain their bright green foliage color. To ensure symmetrical, upright growth, rotate the plant weekly to keep it from permanently bending toward the light source. Temperatures of 60-72°F during the day and slightly cooler at night are optimum.

Brown branches at the bottom of the tree are normal, especially as the tree grows taller, and can be removed. Any brown branches throughout the rest of the tree are an indication that the humidity is low, or the plant needs more consistent watering.

It is possible to propagate Norfolk Island Pines from cuttings, but only cuttings taken from a terminal lead will grow in the symmetrical form that these trees are known for. Also note, that new growth will not emerge from an area that is trimmed.


Thursday, December 8, 2022

Do’s and Don’ts of Having a Live Christmas Tree

Luan Aikin and certified arborist Mike Landers share the do's and don'ts of having a live Christmas tree including how to bring it into the house for a brief time during the holidays and then successfully planting it.   See video link below. (Originally recorded in 2012.) 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Amaryllis Bulbs for the Holidays by Vicky Spelman

Courtesy Home Depot

Amaryllis - another fun bulb to have blooming during the Holidays.  

Amaryllis, freesia, and paperwhite narcissus are three bulbs that don’t need to go through a chilling process to bloom.  When growing amaryllis from bulbs, select large and healthy bulbs – the larger bulbs will produce more stalks and larger blooms.  The bulbs should be firm and dry with no signs of mold, decay or injury.

Bulbs in soil:
Plant the amaryllis bulbs in containers that have a hole for drainage and are deep enough to allow for good root development.  Select a container that has a diameter  about 1-2 inches larger than that of the bulb. This may seem small, but amaryllis bulbs prefer a smaller container. Select a potting medium that has a high organic matter and drains well. The bulb should be planted so that one half of the bulb is above the surface of the potting medium. 

Courtesy Cornell Cooperative Extension

Bulbs that are Waxed:
Waxed amaryllis bulbs are a newer trend.  When the bulbs are waxed, the roots are removed a wire is inserted in the bottom to add stability.  Then it is sealed in wax - and since it is sealed in wax, it doesn’t need to be watered or placed in soil.  Just enjoy the blooms.  
Courtesy Holland Bulb Farms

Bulbs in Water:
You can also grow the amaryllis bulbs in just water.  Choose a vase – not too big around, and around 6 (+/-) inches tall, or you can get a vase especially designed for bulbs.  Add pebbles (or glass marbles, etc.) not only for decoration, but to help stabilize the bulb.  Trim off any dead roots, place in vase and slowly add your decorative rock. You don’t want your bulb actually touching/sitting in the water.  Water as needed.  

See also:

Fun Fact... To keep the stems 1/3 shorter: 
1.  start bulbs in plain water 
2.  when roots have formed and the stems are 1-2 inches tall
3.  drain the water and replace it with a solution of 1-part hard liquor (gin, vodka, etc.) to 7 parts water.  
Nothing will be affected except the stem heights.  
Using Liquor:

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Sweet Potatoes, Yams, and other Thanksgiving plants by Vicky Spelman

Courtesy Iowa State University

Are sweet potatoes and yams the same thing?  No, sweet potatoes and yams are different plants.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Soldiers Gardening During Wartime by Nancy Shepard


Ukrainian soldier planting potatoes in a trench in the 2022 war zone. Photo: Pravda Gerashenko 

This Friday, November 11th, is Veteran’s Day for honoring military veterans of the United States Armed Forces. I found a Jeffco CMG blog written in 2010 by Elaine Lockey that featured a book, “Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime” by Kenneth Helphand. In the book, gardens prove to be an invaluable inspiration for people in war time. Besides the highlights of the ghetto gardens and the barbed-wire gardens of the prisoners of war and internment camps in the World Wars, soldiers themselves planted gardens in conflict war zones: the trench gardens built during WWI, Gulf War gardens built in Saudi Arabia, a base camp garden in Baghdad, Iraq, and now in in the trenches of Ukraine.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Leave Ornamental Grasses Alone Until Spring by Nancy Shepard


Ruby Muhly Photo: Plant Select

As we see plants in our garden die off, some of us might have the urge to tidy everything up. One of the plant categories that can benefit most from a hands-off approach are the ornamental grasses.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Dying, off-color pine needles normal in autumn by Colorado State Forest Service

Courtesy of Colorado State Forest Service

Although thousands of evergreen trees in Colorado’s high country, foothills and communities are beginning to display dying yellow or brown needles, most are simply going through a natural shedding process – they are not being damaged by bark beetles or any specific tree insect or disease. (Courtesy of Colorado State Forest Service) 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Protecting your Pumpkin Masterpieces by Vicky Spelman


Getting ready to carve your pumpkins?  Here are some tips to help your pumpkin masterpieces last for Halloween or your special event.