Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Poinsettias


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Peterstar Marble Poinsettia with tightly budded flowers framed by the colorful bracts of foliage.

Millions of poinsettias are purchased each year during the Christmas season by people who enjoy the color and warmth they provide to their home.  Healthy plants will last throughout the holiday season.  How do you choose the perfect poinsettia?  Poinsettia plants should be stocky with dark green foliage, well-formed richly colored bracts (modified leaves) and very few open flowers (golden-yellow clusters located at the center of the bracts.) Proper selection will help to insure a long lasting plant that you will enjoy throughout the holiday season.


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Sturdy branches filled with deep green leaves indicate a healthy plant.


Healthy poinsettias have lush leaves and bright colors.


There are few tricks to get your poinsettia home safely.  If temperatures are below 50° F, the plant must be sleeved to protect the plant as it leaves the warmth of the garden center.  Avoid exposing poinsettias to cold temperatures.   A chilled plant will begin to drop leaves very quickly.   Once inside,   remove the protective wrapping.  It is often easier to carefully slit the side of the sleeve to remove it.  Because poinsettia bracts are a little sticky and can adhere to plant sleeves, pulling them down will result in branches breaking.   Don’t leave them wrapped for more than the time it takes to get your plant home.   Leaving them covered can result in blackening, curling and overall plant distress.  If you plan to give the plant as a gift at a later time, ask for a second plant sleeve to use when you transport it to its final destination.

Contrary to popular belief, the Poinsettia is not likely to harm your pets or your children.  Research at Ohio State University, working with The Society of American Florists, has proven that no toxicity was evident at experimental levels that would well exceed the amounts likely to be ingested in the home environment.   Were a person to consume a great many leaves, the result would likely be mild stomach upset.  The white sap can cause skin irritation which can be remedied by washing with soap and water.

How to care for your Poinsettia

• TEMPERATURE: A cool room (65-70F during the day and 60-65F at night) is ideal. Avoid hot or cold drafts or excess heat from appliances, fireplaces, radiators or ventilating ducts.

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Glace, the brightest of the white poinsettias

• LIGHT: Very bright, indirect light is essential for proper growth and color retention.

• WATER: Plants should be checked daily and watered thoroughly whenever the soil feels dry to touch or the pot becomes light. If the plant is wrapped in foil, slit the bottom to avoid water accumulating at the bottom of the pot.  If it is in a basket, be sure to discard any drainage that collects.  Poinsettias hate to have their pots standing in water and they aren’t very forgiving about it.

• FERTILIZER: Plants should be fertilized with a well-balanced all purpose fertilizer like Peter’s 20-20-20 until the poinsettia is in full color. Once in full color, reduce fertilizing to ½ strength once every 3-4 times that you water.


Reflowering Your Poinsettia

If you have a gardener’s green thumb, you may want to try your hand at reflowering your poinsettia next year. If you follow these directions very carefully, it is possible to have your poinsettia in flower by Christmas.  The following describes the cycle of poinsettia color.

• December: Full bloom. Water as needed.

• Late March to Early April: Color fades. Keep near a sunny window. Cut stems back to about 8”. Water as needed and fertilize with a well-balanced, all purpose fertilizer like Peter’s All-Purpose Plant Food. Around May you should see new growth.

• June 1st:  Re-pot if necessary in a well-drained potting mix.  You can put your plant outside if you would like as long as the night temperatures are consistently above 55 F and it is protected from the hot sun.

• July-August:  Pruning may be required to keep your plant compact and bushy.  Do not prune after September 1st.

• Starting October 1st:  Provide complete and continuous darkness for 12-14 hours night combined with 6-8 hours of bright light a day. During the night, stray light of any kind, streetlights or household lamps, may delay or halt the re-flowering process.

• Remember: The key to success is to follow the strict light-dark requirements very carefully.

• Once your poinsettia is in full color, stop fertilizing until it loses its color and the cycle starts again in March.

Poinsettia Facts

The assigned botanical name is Euphorbia pulcherrima, meaning “the most beautiful Euphorbia”. The United States’ first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Robert Poinsett, sent several plants back to his home in Greenville, South Carolina in 1825. The common name, poinsettia, comes from his last name.


Water Wise Lawn Watering

About 3%  of residential water use goes to outdoor watering, including lawns. By effectively using water and reducing wasteful practices such as improper watering you will create deep, vigorous root systems and help the lawn be more resistant to drought conditions. The following techniques are beneficial for healthy turf.

Aeration – Creating holes or slits so that air and water can penetrate beneath the surface will improve drainage and stimulate new roots that provide the lawn more resistance to drought for the summer ahead. Aeration can be done in the spring or fall, but it is best done when soil conditions are moist. This ensures that the aerator will pull deeper plugs. The plugs should be 3 to 4 inches deep for best results.

Mowing – It is best to mow often, but not too close. Cutting the lawn to the recommended height is healthier during drought conditions. Bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass should be mowed at a height of 3 inches. Longer grass has more leaf surface to absorb greater amounts of sunlight, encouraging thicker turf with a deeper root system.

Watering – Many questions arise concerning watering. What time of day is best?  How often should you water? How much water is needed? Here are some guidelines for watering your lawn. It is best to water when the temperature is cooler, so that less water is lost to evaporation. Evening and morning hours are the best time. Allowing the lawn to dry down between watering cycles allows air to enter the soil and stimulates deeper root development. Watering too frequently or flooding the turf is not healthy for the lawn and is a waste of water. The soil should be soaked to a depth of 4 inches at each watering cycle. The best way to achieve this is to put down about a ½ inch of water, move the sprinkler to another area and then move it back and apply another ½ inch of water. This technique gives the water a chance to soak in without wasting water to run off. It is simple to measure the amount of water by placing shallow containers or a rain gauge in the spray area

Lawn grasses are rarely killed by droughts. Proper watering practices will help conserve water and save money, while maintaining an attractive and healthy lawn.

Hail Recovery

Severe hail damage is devastating and discouraging. First of all – take a deep breath and don’t despair. Many times plants will recover from some hail damage, other times there will be no recovery and replanting will be necessary. Here are steps to consider:
• Do a general clean-up of the area and remove the damaged parts of plants – trim off any hanging stems and remove the debris in the area.
• If all that remains are stems, trim them back by half and they will possibly releaf.
• Lightly cultivate the soil around the damaged plants. The force of hail and heavy rain compacts the soil and leaves a hard crusty layer at the surface – gently cultivate to break up the crusty layer.
• Avoid the urge to immediately fertilize the damaged plants. Give them a chance to develop new growth. After a week to 2 weeks fertilize with fish emulsion or seaweed extract. After they have resumed active growth, regular fertilization can resume.

In many instances, hail damage is a Mother Nature “pruning” of the plant. Remember that pruning stimulates growth, and many plants can recover. There will be those that are beyond repair and will have to be replaced.

There are many ways to protect plants from hail to come.  Invert cardboard boxes, buckets or pots, over your plants.  Hail netting is a great way to protect plants.  Use stakes to hold it above the foliage of your plants.  It’s durable and lasts for years.  Because it allows water and sunlight to pass through the netting, it can be left over plant for a time, safely.

The Grass Can Be Just as Green on Your Side of the Fence

Having a healthy, lush lawn isn’t as difficult as you might think. Follow these easy steps and your lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood.

Core Aeration – Core aeration is recommended in the spring and again in the fall. It is best to have some moisture in the soil at the time of aeration.  Core aeration is simple, cost-effective and very beneficial to your lawn. It helps to reduce soil compaction, promote root growth and reduce a buildup of thatch. Lawn aeration will greatly improve a lawn if scheduled on a yearly basis.  Aeration allows water and fertilizer to get down to the root zone. It will help to reduce the thatch layer which blocks water, oxygen and fertilizer from penetrating to the root of the plant.

Fertilize – 4 times a year

Early Spring – late March to mid-April. This is the ideal time to include a pre-emergent application on your lawn.  Pre-emergents create a gaseous barrier that prevents annual weed seeds from germinating.  If you plan to overseed or reseed areas of your lawn, avoid using a fertilizer that contains a pre-emergent.  Otherwise, your lawn seed will not germinate.   If you plan to aerate the lawn, do so before applying pre-emergents.  Aeration after application will reduce the effectiveness of the pre-emergent, significantly.

Late Spring – late May to mid-June.  Choosing a fertilizer that contains a broadleaf weed herbicide can be helpful, at this time.  It will take care of those pesky dandelions and thistles.

Mid-Summer – mid-July to mid-August.  Like the previous application, a fertilizer with a broadleaf weed herbicide will continue to protect your lawn from dandelions.

Fall – late September to mid-October.  A winterizer is ideal at this time.  Lawn Winterizers are designed to release nutrients slowly, prepare your lawn for the harsh weather to come and build sturdy, healthy turf.  This is the most important fertilizer application to protect your lawn and shouldn’t be missed.


Under normal circumstances , 1 inch of water per week is sufficient to maintain your lawn.  Apply 1/2 ” of water at each watering.  During consistent extreme heat, 1 ½ inches of water per week is ideal.   Apply 3/4″ of water, twice weekly during these times.

Check your watering system by running a zone for your allotted time and measure your output by putting out some shallow containers.  Adjust your time to allow for adequate water output.

Early morning watering is preferred, before 10 a.m. if possible.  Watering in the mid-day heat means much of the moisture will be lost to evaporation.  Evening watering can contribute to the risk of fungal disease in the lawn and garden.


Adjust your mower height 2 to 3 inches  and keep blades sharp.  A well maintained mower can make all the difference.  Dull blades shred the grass tips, creating stress.  Stressed lawns are easy targets for disease and insects.

The most common fungal disease in lawn is Ascochyta Leaf Blight. It is caused by drought stress or inefficiencies in irrigation systems.  Ascochyta is a fungus that lives on the leaf blade.  It enters the leaf blade through the cut end (when you mow).  It causes the blade to turn a straw color and wither to a point.  It seems to coincide with periods of cool weather followed by hot, dry conditions. 

Fungicides are ineffective on Ascochyta – focus on irrigation system.  Look for broken or tilted heads, adjust the spray/arc of your sprinkler stream to get more uniform coverage and water appropriately.

If you are trying to control and suppress any kind of fungal disease in your lawn it is recommended that you use an organically based fertilizer that is lower in slow release nitrogen.


The Scourge of the Landscape – Japanese Beetle

There are some insects no one ever wants to see in their yard. Japanese beetle is probably at the top of the list. Japanese Beetles devour established landscape plants in a day. There are few things more devastating to your landscape.

There is a way to protect your landscape for the next 10 years that is organic and easy to use. It’s called Milky Spore. It’s a spore that affects Japanese beetle grubs, and nothing else. You read that right…….nothing else. That means it can be used in the lawn, in the vegetable garden, and throughout your landscape. Just one teaspoon of powder, every 4 square feet apart is all it takes for 10 years of control.  

It is uncommon for us to suggest applying something before you’ve identified an insect problem, but this is one of those times. Applying Milky Spore is like giving your landscape a vaccine that will protect it from Japanese beetle damage for a decade to come.
Japanese beetle grubs can sometimes be spotted in the lawn, the fall before you might see the adults on your plants.

When Can I Plant?

Here comes the sun! With it and the warm day temperatures of spring comes one of the most frequent questions we hear. “Can I plant this now?” The answer depends on the plant and particularly, on the nighttime temperatures. Our early spring days are often beautiful and daytime temperatures may reach well into the 70’s. It’s the night temperatures that really tell us when it’s safe to plant. Our last frost date is generally considered to occur around May 20th. While some years the date arrives earlier, there are occasional years when it occurs as late as June 1. We’re eager gardeners and antsy to get plants in the ground, but if we aren’t mindful of the night temperatures, we can do more harm than good.Image result for gardening in snow

Before I get carried away talking about plants, I should mention the value of hardening off your plants before you plant. What is hardening off? It’s a process that acclimates plants prior to transplanting in order to reduce the risk of transplant shock. The process takes a few days, but it’s worth the investment of time, particularly in early spring or late summer heat. Day one, place the plants in a shaded area outside and move them indoors or into a garage that night. Day two, place the plants in partial sun for the day and move into the garage or indoors at night. Day three, place the plant in a sunny spot for the day and move to a protected outdoor location, like against the house or under a porch, for the night. Day four, move into the sun for the day and leave them in the exposed location for the night. Day five, plant. In late summer, when the temperatures are well over 80°F, I often use the same process, but shortened to 3 days. This helps prevent sun and wind burn to the young plants. Hardening off plants increases successful transplanting.Using a Cloche to protect plants
Hardening Off Plants

Now back to what we can plant and when we can plant it.
Hands down, the most common plants asked about are tomatoes and peppers. Tomatoes and peppers, two of the longest season garden vegetables, prefer night temperatures to be above 50°F for about a week before they are planted. The ground needs to be consistently warm for them to do well. If we plant too early, and the night temperatures are still cold, plants set less fruit and are often more susceptible to problems like blossom end rot later in the season.

Blossom End Rot

There are helpful tools like Season Starters that can be used to warm the ground earlier than traditional planting would allow. They should be set up for 7-10 days to warm the soil, before they are planted with your seedlings. Once planted, the plant protectors act as insulators against cold temperatures, much like a mini greenhouse. Generally, Season Starters can give you a jump start by several weeks. Set them up about April 15 and you can plant inside them a week later.

Season Starter

We hope this Frost Hardiness list will help gardeners know when it is safe to set out their plants. The actual dates vary, of course, with each area, but the principle is the same. Perennials that are not hardy in Colorado are listed as annuals. The hardiness of perennials is based on coming out of a protected climate.

To obtain maximum frost hardiness, HARDEN PLANTS OFF gradually by exposing them to sun, wind, and cold, but above freezing temperatures for a few days.

These dates are approximate for the Denver area. Safe dates vary from year to year, suburb to suburb, and even from one location in the garden to another. Covering plants on unusually cold nights will help protect them. On extremely cold nights it may be necessary to dig plants up and bring them inside.

Very Hardy Plants–Plant Out up to 7 weeks before last frost.
(April 1 in Denver, April 10 in Golden & Parker)
Alyssum, Anchusa, Centaurea, Dracaena, Dusty Miller, Larkspur, Nigella, Pansy, Snapdragon, Sweet Pea
Perennial Starts
Achillea, Aegopodium, Ajuga, Aurinia, Arabis, Armeria, Aubretia, Basket of Gold, Bishop’s Weed, Carnation, Creeping Phlox, Gayfeather, Hardy Hibiscus, Lavender Cotton, Liatris, Lobelia, Primrose, Primula, Rock Cress, Purple Rock Cress, Red Hot Poker, Santolina, Sedum, Thyme, Torch Lily, Tritoma, Viola, Yarrow
Vegetable Plants
Asparagus, Chives, Fennel, Garlic, Onions, Peas, Potato, Radish, Strawberry


Hardy Plants–Plant up to 5 weeks before last frost.
(April 20 in Denver, April 30 in Golden & Parker)
African Daisy, Arctotis, Baby Blue Eyes, Calendula, Carnation, Dianthus, Diascia, Flowering Kale, Lobelia, Osteospermum, Phlox, Twinspur, Vinca Vine
Perennial Starts
Alstromeria, Anemone,Baby’ Breath, Bachelor Buttons, Bellis, Campanula, Candytuft, Centaurea, Cerastium, Columbine, Coral Bells, Coreopsis, Daylily, Dianthus, Digitalis, Doronicum, English Daisy, Erysimum, Festuca, Feverfew, Flax, Forget-Me-Not, Foxglove, Galium, Garden Mums, Gloriosa Daisy, Gypsophila, Helianthemum, Hemerocallis, Heuchera, Hollyhocks, Hosta, Iberis, Lavender, Lenten Rose, Lupine, Lunaria, Lysimachia, Maltese Cross, Matricaria, Mexican Feather Grass, Missouri Primrose, Money Plant, Myosotis, Oenothera, Painted Daisy, Penstemon, Tall Phlox, Pincushion Flower, Poppy, Pyrethrum, Roses, Rudbeckia, Scabiosa, Shasta Daisy, Snow-in Summer, Statice, Sweet William, Sweet Woodruff, Veronica, Violet
Vegetable Plants
Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Pak Choi, Perennial Herbs, Radicchio, Rhubarb, Spinach

Half-Hardy Plants–Plant out up to 3 weeks before last
frost date.
(May 1 in Denver, May 10 in Golden & Parker)
Anagallis, Angelonia, Angel’s Trumpets, Bacopa, Bells of Ireland, Blue Lace Flower, Calibrachoa, California Poppy, Campanula, Clover, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Creeping Zinnia, Datura, Dichondra, Didiscus, Fountain Grass, Gaillardia, Gazania, Gerbera, Gloriosa Daisy, Gomphrena, Lotus Vine, Ornamental Grasses, Petunia, Pennisetum, Phlox, Purple Bell Vine, Regal Geranium, Ruby Grass, Rudbeckia, Sanvitalia, Scarlet Pimpernel, Stocks, Strawflowers, Steirodiscus, Sutera, Sweet Peas, Sweet Sultan, Transvaal Daisy, Trifolium, Verbena, Xerianthemum

Perennial Starts
Artemesia, Hardy Asters, Astilbe, Balloon Flower, Bee Balm, Bleeding Heart, Delphinium, Echinacea, Euphorbia, Felicia Daisy, Geum, Gladiolus, Hibiscus, Hypericum, Monarda, Peony, Platycodon, Purple Coneflower, Roses, Salvia, Sagina, Saxifraga, Verbena
Vegetable Plants
Artichoke, Celery, Leek

Tender Plants–Plant outside after almost all danger of
frost has passed.
(May 20 in Denver, May 30 in Golden & Parker)
Abutilon, Achimenes, African Daisy, Ageratum, Argyranthemum, Alternanthera, Alternaria,amaranthus, Asparagus Fern, Asters, Axilflower, Balsam, Banana, Begonia, Bidens, Black Eyed Susan, Bloodleaf, Blue Throatwort, Bougainvillea, Bower Vine, Brachycome, Browallia, Brunfelsia, Caladium, Calla Lily, Calliopsis, Canna, Cardinal Flower, Catharanthus, Celosia, Chrysanthemum, Chrysocephalum, Cigar Plant, Cleome, Coleus, Copperleaf, Crassula, Crossandra, Cuphea, Dahlberg Daisy, Dahlia, Dallas Fern, Dipladenia, Elephant Ears, Evolvulus, Fanflower, Fiber Optic Grass, Flowering Maple, Flowering Tobacco, Fountain Grass, Four O’ Clock, Fuchsia, Geranium, Gloriosa Lily, Firebush, Guara, Hamelia, Heliotrope, Hibiscus, Impatiens, Iresene, Jasmine, Lantana, Livingstone Daisy, Lisianthus, Lithospermum, Marguerite Daisy, Marigold, Mecardonia, Melampodium, Millet, Mimulus, Monkey Flower, Moon Vine, Morning Glory, Napa Valley Fern, Nasturtium, Nemesia, Nicotiana, Nierembergia, Nolana, Oleander, Oxalis, Painted Tongue, Pampas Grass, Pentas, Perilla, Periwinkle, Plectranthus, Polka Dot Plant, Polygonum, Portulaca, Salpiglossis, Salvia, Sanvitalia, Scarlet Runner Bean, Scaevola, Scutellaria, Schizanthus, Skullcap, Statice, Stoneseed, Streptocarpella, Sunflower, Swan River Daisy, Sweet Potato Vine, Thunbergia, Tithonia, Torenia, Trachelium, Trailing Portulaca, Tropical Hibiscus, Tropical Water Plants, Zinnia

Vegetable Plants
Annual Herbs, Cantaloupe, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Okra, Peanut, Bell & Chile Peppers, Pumpkin, Squash, Sweet Potato, Tomato, Watermelon


Winter is for the Birds

During cold winter months, birds provide color and entertainment outside. It’s easy to lure feathered beauties to a feeder, whether it’s on a balcony or in the yard. With a tiny amount of effort, you can draw birds year round. In order to flourish, our bird friends need 3 things; food, water and housing. Houses offer protection from winter’s cold. Different foods draw different birds. As you might imagine, some of them have preferences. We have bird food to satisfy most any of our feathered friends.goldfinch

Black oil sunflower seed is one of the most popular among birds and birders. This one seed draws dozens of species to your feeder. If you’ve never set up a feeder before, start with sunflower seed and tube feeder. It will give you and the birds great satisfaction, while providing a good balance of fiber, protein and fats that keep birds healthy.black-capped-chickadee

Most bird food is comprised of a mixed ingredients that provide an optimal nutrient value to the birds. Look for food that provides an identifiable list of ingredients. A good food will also provide a nutritional analysis, so you will know that you’re providing them with what they need, not just filler.

Colorado has an abundance of Finches, Jays, Woodpeckers, Starlings, Grosbeaks, Hermit Thrush, and many more. They love fruit and berry seed blends. There’s also a Deck, Porch and Patio blend that leaves little refuse behind. Birds aren’t known to be neat eaters, so it helps to have “clean” food in the feeder for them.  downy-woodpecker

Suet is a great way to feed birds in winter.  Suet is ideal for high energy birds, with full-tilt metabolisms.  It provides adequate nutritional value and added fat to see them through winter.  Suet cakes usually last a week or so, making it easy to maintain the feeder.

The one thing we all wrestle with is the pesky squirrel. Those agile little thieves love to raid the feeder. They’re enough of a problem that most manufacturers make special feeders, that have a cage around the feeding tube, eliminating the squirrel’s ability to access the food. Now, if you’re a fan squirrels, a squirrel feeder might be a good decoy.horned-lark

Keep fresh water in shallow saucers outside for birds to access, toohouse-finch.

Place your feeders where you can see them from the house or patio. That way you get to enjoy the show these beautiful creatures provide during the winter months.

Fall and Winter Control of Pests and Disease in the Landscape

The fall and winter season provides an opportunity to control pests and disease in the garden. Fire Blight is a bacterial disease that affects certain species in the rose family, especially apples, crabapples and pears.  Applying Bonide Copper Fungicide while the trees are dormant is one method of control.  Copper sprays are toxic to many species of bacteria and should be applied prior to bud break while trees are still in dormancy because they may damage leaves and young fruit.fireblightf1 bonide-copper-fungicide
Control the overwintering stages of many insects on trees and shrubs with All Season’s Spray Oil. Be sure that the air temperature is above 35 degrees F and do not apply if plant tissues are wet or rain is likely. The oil will smother overwintering aphids, spider mites, eriophyde mites, scale and their eggs and larvae.

eriophyid_mites all-seasons
If you had problems with powdery mildew or other fungal leaf spotting on lilacs, aspen and maples, be sure to clean up any leaf debris and dispose of it. Clean up of affected leaves is one of the most effective controls of powdery mildew. It is best to avoid overhead watering of the affected plants during the growing season if possible.
Most pests and disease problems result from stress to plants. In Colorado our greatest stress factor for plants is drought. Remember to continue watering plants in your landscape through the winter when temperatures are above normal and precipitation is below normal. Water mid-day when temperatures are in the 40 to 50 degree F range. During prolonged dry periods, water at 3 to 4 week intervals.

Make it Merry and Bright

92b6e661f7fd05e2a0faf2f2face96f3 Festive decorations set the mood for holiday celebrations. The fresh scent of pine and cedar boughs brings forth memories of evenings spent with friends and family, and excitement for the gatherings to come. Wreaths and garlands made up of fresh cut evergreens have a long-standing tradition of welcoming visitors to our homes. A wreath can also serve as a centerpiece. Simply lay it flat on the table and place pillar candles in the center. Add ornaments and ribbon to suit your style. Similarly, boughs strewn down the center of table, accented with pine cones and berries, will add charm to your holiday table. There are few tricks to keeping fresh cut wreaths and greens looking nice, in our dry climate. Before decorating your wreath, spray it with Wilt Stop. Wilt Stop reduces moisture loss from the needles, keeping your wreaths and garlands looking fresh for a longer period of time. Display wreaths and garlands in shaded areas. Direct sunlight will dehydrate them quickly. If you are using them indoors, keep in mind that heat from the fireplace will dehydrate fresh greens and can pose a fire hazard. Limit use of the fireplace, or choose permanent wreaths and garlands to adorn the mantel. It will help to mist them lightly on a regular basis, too.wilt-stopchristmas-wreath

A favorite way to welcome guests is to create a holiday porch pot. Leave the potting mix in your summer planters, and wet it thoroughly. Fill the pot with fresh cut boughs and colorful branches. Add a festive garnish of ribbon, pine cones and holiday trim. Keep the soil moist and your bough filled planters will decorate your home into the New Year. This a great alternative to attempting to keep a living evergreen in your patio pots, a feat which is exceedingly difficult in our climate.christmas-tree

We can’t forget about the centerpiece to our holiday décor, the Christmas tree. Fresh cut Christmas trees bring out the holiday spirit in everyone. There’s nothing quite like the feeling generated by admiring a beautifully lit tree, filled with decorations that often span generations in a family. If you can, select your tree from a store where they are kept indoors. Your tree will have experienced less exposure to the elements, resulting in greater moisture retention in the needles. Your tree should receive a fresh cut and be placed in water within 20 minutes. Otherwise, the cut will seal and the tree won’t be able to draw up the water. It’s a good idea to wait 24 hours before decorating the tree, just to be sure it is drawing water. Be sure to use a tree stand with a large water reservoir and check to see that it is filled regularly. If the basin dries out just once, the tree will dry out quickly. Crispy Christmas trees are not only unattractive, they pose a fire hazard in your home. A few other tips include; display the tree out of direct sunlight and away from heat vents. Don’t leave the lights on when the tree is unattended. Disposal will be made easier if a tree bag is placed under the stand before the tree is set up. Then, when it’s time to take down the tree, just slide the bag up to prevent dropping needles through the house as it is removed. That’s what I call “merry.”

Sunny Summer Blooms


Spring flowers may have faded, but that doesn’t mean you garden has to lack color! There are many perennials that bide their time growing strong root systems throughout spring so they can put on their own show in the heat of summer. Here are several varieties that provide a beautiful summer display:

Coreopsis, also known as tickseed, starts blooming in June and is easy to grow. With some deadheading, it will continue to bloom with its bright, daisy-like flowers until fall. We have many varieties available ranging from cream colored to bright yellow and even red! Most range in size from 12” to 32” tall. ‘Full Moon’ has gorgeous, buttery yellow flowers held on wiry stems above bright green foliage and reaches up to 30” tall and 24” wide. ‘Moonbeam’ is a thread leaf variety with feathery foliage and creamy yellow flowers. It reaches to 18” tall and wide. Coreopsis pairs well with blue and purple flowering plants with a more spikey texture such as salvia, catmint, and lavender.


Hardy Hibiscus, with its large, tropical looking flowers and foliage is a showstopper in the late summer garden! While it’s a late starter, once it pops out of the ground it grows incredibly fast. Its sturdy stems and large leaves support enormous hibiscus flowers in shades of red, pink, or white in July and August. The stems will die back to the ground in late fall at which time it should be cut back. ‘Mars Madness’ is a variety with red-tinged leaves that emerge lime green and has bright red flowers. ‘Tie Dye’ has bright green leaves and has pink and white bicolor flowers with a ruby throat. With extra water, time, and care this plant can reach 5 feet tall and wide, but usually they will be 30” to 48” tall and wide in our area. Plant Hardy Hibiscus at the back of the perennial border or among perennials that have finished blooming such as peonies or tall bearded iris.hardy hibiscus

Rudbeckia, also known as Gloriosa Daisy or Black-Eyed Susan, produce large yellow to gold daisy-like flowers. ‘Prairie Sun’ grows to 36” tall and 18” wide with large blooms of lemon-yellow tipped gold petals and a green eye. ‘Indian Summer’ has large, bright yellow flowers with a dark eye and also grows to 36” tall and 18” wide. Rudbeckia looks wonderful planted in mass. Use it in borders, cottage gardens, meadows, or for naturalizing. Butterflies love it!


Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila paniculata) has airy plumes of white flowers at the ends of the stems in July and August and provides a delicate texture to the garden. It grows to approximately 32” tall and wide with a dense mounded form. The silvery-blue narrow leaves look good all season and the flowers are excellent for cutting. It is drought tolerant. Deadhead to encourage fall bloom. Plant with iris, tulips, Oriental poppies, yarrow, and of course, roses. Choose location carefully as this one doesn’t like to be transplanted.

Hopflower Oregano (origanum rotundifolium) variety ‘Kent Beauty’ is a low, mounding form of ornamental oregano with long blooming cream and pink bracts containing tiny lavender flowers. The lush silvery-green foliage looks attractive all summer. Hopflower Oregano looks wonderful trailing over rocks or walls, in containers or in the front of the flowerbed. Bees love it!


Cupid’s Dart (Catananche caerulea), also known as Love Plant, has 1” to 2” vivid blue flowers atop tall wiry stems that sway of its green rosette of leaves at the base. It blooms from summer until fall and is drought tolerant once established. Excellent as a cut flower or dried for arrangements, these blue daisies provide contrast in both the flower bed and in containers.cupids dart

Tall Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) comes in many colors from blue, pink, white, purple to bicolored flowers. This knee high, old-fashioned favorite blooms for six weeks or more beginning in late June. ‘Laura’ has beautiful lavender flowers offset with a white eye and reaches 30”-35” tall and 24” wide. At 18” tall and 24” wide, ‘Flame Red’ and it’s siblings in the Flame series provide a long blooming alternative to the taller varieties. Most varieties grow to 2’ to 3’ tall and provide a colorful transition between large background plants and smaller, front of the garden show-offs.Garden Phlox