Friday, November 30, 2018

'Tis the Season for Ice Melt by Rebecca Anderson

Photo by Beckie Anderson

Winter is here, along with the snow and ice we don’t have to worry about during the warmer months. Although the snow brings moisture that will help our plants flourish next spring, it does make getting around in the winter tricky and even dangerous at times. Ice melting products help clear away the slick surfaces, but with more products available every season it can be difficult to choose which is right for your situation. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Jefferson County Gardeners Calendars for Sale by Bonny Griffith

Photo Mary Kirby

  • Want a calendar that reminds you every month what you should be doing in your garden? Or perhaps you would like a unique and distinctive holiday gift for other gardeners on your shopping list? The Jefferson County Gardeners are selling 2019 calendars with beautiful and interesting photos of plants and flowers taken by Master Gardeners. The calendars are available at the CSU Extension Office at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds for $14 each or by mail for $16 (quantities of five or more to one address will not be charged the shipping fee). The money raised from the sale of the calendars will fund scholarships for horticultural students in Colorado. Each calendar features: 
  • Twelve months of beautiful high-quality photographs taken in Jefferson County. Each month has a “Gardening To Do List” especially written for Jeffco gardeners. 
  •  Six months each have a photo of a Plant Select® specimen. Plant Select® is a non-profit program jointly run by Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and professional horticulturists. Plants selected for the program must be tough and resilient, have low water needs and be non-invasive. They also must be aesthetically pleasing! For more information on the Plant Select® program, go to 
  •  Six months each have a photo of a Native Plant specimen. Native plants are low-maintenance and are beneficial to wildlife and pollinators. For more information on learning about Native Plants, go to Both Plant Select® and Native Plant photos include a brief paragraph with information on how to care for them. Both common and botanical names of all plants are provided. Printed on a matte finish to allow for writing your appointments on the appropriate date. 
  • Calendar size is 9 x 12 inches, so there is plenty of room for writing on each date. Each month also has a special box for writing notes. 
  • 55% of your cost is tax-deductible. 
 To buy this beautiful calendar, please visit the CSU Extension Office, 15200 W. Sixth Ave., Unit #C, Golden, from 8am to 5pm weekdays. The phone is 303-271-6620. Or email Credit cards are accepted.

Prevent Floppy Paperwhites: Give Them a Stiff Drink by Carol King

Cornell University Bulb Experiment

Have you heard that drinking alcohol will stunt your growth?  Well this is certainly true with narcissus and amaryllis bulbs.

We bulb lovers love to force bulbs to bloom during the winter holidays.  They brighten an otherwise dark time in gardening. Narcissus (also known as paper whites) and amaryllis are notorious for getting tall and leggy and flopping over.  To combat this problem look no further than the liquor cabinet.

The Flower Bulb Research Program at Cornell University conducted experiments using various kinds of alcohol and discovered that plant height will be reduced by one third thus stopping the “flop over”. Alcohol interferes with water uptake, thus less cell stretching and shorter stems. Here are their recommendations:

“Start your bulbs in plain water. When roots have formed and the green shoot is 1 to 2 inches long, pour off the water and replace with a solution of 4 to 6 percent alcohol. If you are using 80 proof liquor (40 percent alcohol), that works out to one part gin (or the like) to 7 parts water.

Rubbing alcohol (either 70 or 100 percent isopropyl alcohol) can be substituted; just remember to dilute it more. Keep the beer and wine for yourself; their sugars damage plants.” 

Distilled spirits are watered down at a rate of 1 part to 7 parts water. Rubbing alcohol needs more dilution at a rate of 1 to 11.

So enjoy a glass of wine while you give the bulbs a good stiff drink of the hard stuff! Enjoy your beautiful shorter flowers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Cornucopia: Origins by Carol King

Cornucopia Photo
The cornucopia is the symbol of abundant harvest and is most often associated with Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a horned shaped vessel filled with an abundance of the earth's harvest. 

Cornucopia became an English word in 1508 when it first appeared in the dictionary. Its origins are from two Latin words; Cornu meaning "horn" and Copia meaning "plenty". 

The cornucopia has been a symbol of a great harvest for centuries and was probably first referred to in Greek and Roman myths and dates back to the 5th century B.C. My favorite is the Greek version: “ Almathea was a goat who nursed and raised Zeus. While playing one day, Zeus accidentally broke one of her horns. He was so saddened by this that he used his godly powers to fill the broken horn with whatever Almathea wanted so it became the horn of plenty. Zeus also put the goat's image in the sky and that is our constellation Capricorn.”

The symbol of the cornucopia was also used, along with rolling fields of grain, to lure new settlers to come to the New World. It is now in our national consciousness as a symbol for bountiful garden harvest and the sharing of food that has become our American Thanksgiving.  

Wishing you and yours a harvest of good food and good fortune! Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Word of the Month: Marcescent - Leaves That Hang on in Winter

This Acer grandidentatum, Bigtooth Maple, is slow to drop its leaves in winter,  photo by Donna Duffy
Ever wondered why some deciduous trees hold on to their leaves through the winter and others go bare? Learn about marcescent leaves and why they might just help a tree out. The article below was written by Jim Finley, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Checklist for Preparing Trees for Winter

Photo by Carol King

This article is provided courtesy of Aaron Bergdahl, Forest Health Specialist with the NDSU/North Dakota Forest Service. Minor adaptations have been made for Colorado readers.

With fall fading, it is important to remember to prepare your trees for a potentially tough Colorado winter. The following checklist serves as a reminder of the most important considerations for fall tree care and proper tree winterization.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Houseplants for Low Light by Olivia Tracy

Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) from

As the days shorten in the fall, you might find that your home doesn’t get the same quality of interior light that it gets during the summer months. You may also have a room in your home, or at your workplace, where you’d like to have some greenery, but don’t get a lot of natural sunlight. Not to worry- there are a few houseplant varieties that generally adapt well to low-light conditions and can bring color to those spaces as we head into winter. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Amaryllis: The Joy That Keeps on Giving by Patti O'Neal

Samba Amaryllis, photo courtesy Donna Duffy

Amaryllis is a rare gift to a gardener, providing near instant gratification producing a magnificent spectacle in 4-6 weeks. It’s a gift of growing something and making it bloom right in the middle of snow and freezing temperatures. The trick for many is to get them to do it again the following year. 

Amaryllis is a tender bulb, meaning it does not require a chilling period to bloom.  These beauties originate in the temperate climates of South America where they grow and bloom outdoors.  Here in the chilly Rocky Mountains we enjoy them “forced” during the holidays of December and on into January and even February.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Wrap Trees in Winter to Prevent Sun Scald (video) by Carol King

Sunscald is often called "southwest injury" because it most occurs on the southwest side of young tree trunks. In Colorado, it primarily occurs from December through March on young, thin-barked, deciduous trees.  If you have newly planted trees, protecting them from sun scald should be on your To Do list.  And late October, early November is the best time to wrap them. Colorado Master Gardener Gail shows you how in this video.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Easy to Grow Houseplants by CSU Extension (Video)

With outdoor gardening on the back burner, gardeners can turn their efforts toward indoor gardening. Here are five really easy house plants that will add oxygen to your home, help clean the indoor air, and assuage your green thumb!