When it turns cold at the end of the gardening season, many of us who want to continue working with plants dream of having a greenhouse in which to work in warmth.
Looking like strange, not-of-this-world beings, Tillandsia air plants can be quite spectacular and a focal point of a houseplant array.
If your indoor plants have been neglected while tending to the outdoor garden, fall recreation and other autumn activities, you might have missed the growth spurts that have taken place inside. If your indoor plants have used up all the nutrients in their soil or have outgrown the pot and become root bound, it’s time to move them into a new pot.
Plants that are native to our region typically survive our winters because they evolved in response to the climate and weather patterns of our mountains.
Aspens are fast-growing but relatively short-lived (20 years) trees attaining heights of up to 50 feet. Cold hardy but with poor drought resistance, aspens grow best in sunny locations at elevations of 7,000 feet or higher. They prefer moist, well-drained soil and good air circulation.
Nearly every year hiking in the forests around Steamboat Springs, my attention is captured by a plant that is unusual for its strange coloring and composition. It is shaped like a stalk of asparagus but looks like a weird form of mushroom.
Spaghetti sauce, Caesar salad, shrimp scampi and many other favorite foods have a common ingredient that can be easily grown here in the mountains: garlic. To obtain the largest bulbs next summer, plant your garlic cloves now.
Demonstration garden at Yampa River Botanic Park
Each year, a few plants are chosen as the best of the best for gardens in the high mountains of Colorado through a cooperative program of the Denver Botanic Park and Colorado State University in conjunction with greenhouses and nurseries throughout the Rocky Mountain region and beyond.
As with all the berries you see in the wild, unless you’re absolutely sure what they are and that they are safe to consume, don’t ingest them.
Vegetable and fruit gardeners have learned how to preserve their garden bounty beyond the short harvest season through canning, freezing and other methods. Flower gardeners can do the same thing, too, for their colorful flowers, grasses, seed heads and foliage.
Whether or not it’s doctored up with a little additional flavor or aroma like the lavender honey I enjoy, all honey will take on the aroma and flavor of the plant on which the bees feed.
Now that some shrubs and perennials are done blooming, many plants will soon be producing gorgeous berries in hues of white, orange, red, purple, blue and black. The beautiful berries on the shrubs we see on hiking trails and in gardens and parks around the Steamboat area are some of the most delicious you’ll ever taste, but beware: some are also the most deadly.
We all tend to have an area in the yard or garden where nothing seems to grow. It’s too steep, has poor soil, doesn’t get rainfall or is baked by the relentless sun or windblown dry. For me, it is a south-facing slope that only seems to attract weeds and sparse grasses — until I planted sedums.
Mixture can help keep aroma of summer last all year
Because our gardening season is so short in the Steamboat area, consider using scents from your garden in the form of potpourri to make the aroma of summer last all year.
When I lived in Michigan, my garden along the front walkway was filled with lavender plants that reached chest-high and provided wonderful aroma every time I walked by … especially when I ran my fingers through the branches and released some of the oils in the flower and foliage. But here in the mountains of Colorado, my lavender plants seem to just eke through the season, never getting any bigger or taller than perhaps 12 inches high.
You might not need as much fertilizer as you think
Should we fertilize our garden plants, and if so, when and how? If your soil has been well-tended by the addition of compost and mulches, there may be no need for supplemental fertilizer. A soil test is the best way to determine the fertility of your garden soil.
A member of the lily family, edible asparagus takes two to three years to become established, but then can be harvested for as many as 15 years. It’s a relatively pest-free plant and is easy to maintain in our mountain community.
There are an abundance of local varieties that grow well in Steamboat
With an abundance of water this spring, and cool weather making the growing season a little later than usual, we can expect a profusion of wildflowers all coming out at the same time this year.
Annual plants last for only one growing season. During this time, they grow, flower and produce seed, which completes their life cycle. Many local gardeners find that annuals add a wonderful splash of constant color, while the perennials come and go throughout summer.
Late in summer 2010, just as local home gardeners were bringing in cherry harvests, we discovered a problem with some cherry produce in Routt County. In certain areas, ripe cherries were found to be infested with white, maggot-like larvae from the western cherry fruit fly. This has been particularly noticeable in cherries from home gardens in Old Town Steamboat Springs but could spread to a wider area. Once a cherry has been infected, the fruit is no good.
June 11 is the magic date to begin preparing plots for spring
The magic date is June 11. That’s when this area experiences the average date of the last killing frost. Of course, this is a 30-year average and will vary from year to year. Also, you might have protected areas near your home that allow for early planting.
In order to break up the seemingly extra-long winter this year, I took a break last week and visited St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Most of the island is a national park, which allowed us to get our hiking legs back exploring the interior mountains and vegetation along the shoreline. One of the plants that I saw in abundance, and one we can successfully maintain in our homes in Routt County, is an air plant, also known as tillandsia.
Some flowers can add flavor and aroma to salad dressings and more
The aromas, colors and textures of some flowers and plants are so tantalizing, they seem good enough to eat. Luckily for us, many flowers are edible. They not only make a beautiful garnish, but many flowers enhance food with flavor and fragrance, too.
For high and tight spaces, use trailers and climbers
For high and tight places in your home, though, climbing vines and pretty foliage trailing from a hanging basket enliven a humdrum space. Tall windows, high ledges and narrow nooks often are problem spaces that trailers and climbers can turn into a refreshing point of interest.
Adding aroma and color to your home through the use of houseplants is a wonderful way to freshen your interior spaces, especially during these grey days of winter. For aroma, look for a houseplant with white or light-colored flowers.
If your houseplants are looking a little sickly lately, maybe it’s time to perk them up with some new soil, a larger pot, some trimming or other care. The first step is to carefully check the plant and the pot it is sitting in.
Some of my favorite houseplants are ones from friends who gave me pieces of stem and leaf from plants in their own homes. Propagating houseplants is easy to do and a great way to increase your houseplant collection or make gifts for friends. One way to propagate houseplants is by placing a piece of stem and leaf in water or potting mixture to root.
Driving down the road into town last week when it was 40 below zero, I felt sorry for the poor horses and livestock and wild animals that had to stay outside in this frigid weather. Then I began wondering about some new trees and perennials I put in the garden last year. I’m sure many of us are wondering how our gardens will survive when temperatures drop below the norms for our Zone 4 area.
Now that most of our gardens are asleep under a blanket of snow, you might wonder how your plants make it through a long, cold Steamboat Springs winter. Especially one as cold as this year’s has been.
Homeowners often use furniture, artwork, wall treatments, rugs and more to create areas of interest, focal points and screens in rooms. Houseplants are another interior decorating tool that serves the same functions while also adding color, aroma and freshness.
Indoor plants need fewer nutrients during winter months
During winter months, with their short daylight hours, your houseplants need little to no fertilizer unless they reside under artificial lights or the plant instructions require fertilizer during more dormant periods.
Winter in Steamboat Springs is a great time to think about what you might want to do in the garden next year to enhance your enjoyment of it.
When it comes to cooking, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Somehow, I tend to either slice a finger on the utensils or burn myself. A lot. Consequently, aloe vera has been the best ingredient we stock in our kitchen.
Most of us know that our houseplants need air, water, sun and soil nutrients. But many of us give little thought to how the plant uses those elements to create foliage, color, blooms or root growth. By understanding what it takes to make your plants happy and healthy, you can nurture them to create beautiful, long-lasting greenery.
Poinsettias are the top-selling flowering potted plant in the United States. Native to Mexico, these beautiful plants are especially coveted during the holiday season. The showy and brilliant red, pink, white, yellow, and multi-colored bracts (leaves) are their most resplendent in November and December, when they come into full bloom.
I’m always amazed at how well some local gardeners do with houseplants. Our climate is so dry indoors and some window spaces can have such intense temperature swings between day and night that plants really struggle to stay alive. Here are a few tips for maintaining houseplants.
With the expense and effort put into landscaping yards and gardens, naturally, gardeners want to do everything they can to protect their investment. And trees tend to be the biggest investments that gardeners need to protect.
Landscape your exterior to complement your interior
Have you ever seen that funny sign that reads “Plan Ahea,” where there wasn’t enough room at the end to include the “D”? Organizing a garden is kind of like that. If it isn’t planned, it’s going to look a little off. Even rustic, native and natural gardens will benefit from landscape design.
The bulb catalogs are filling our mailboxes and our imaginations with enticing possibilities for our gardens next spring. Now is the time to plant bulbs for spring flowering.
Spring and early summer blooming plants should be divided in early fall so roots have a chance to grow some before winter. This only needs to be done if perennials have stopped flowering and crowded themselves into an unruly mass of leaves and roots.
Even though our gardens seem to be going into hibernation for the coming winter, they still may need watering before the snow covers them. Several factors determine how much, if any, water gardeners should give their plants in fall.
If you haven’t yet gotten out in the garden to clean up before the coming frost and (yikes) snow, now is a good time to do so in order to avoid a huge, messy cleanup project next spring.
How to deal with affliction to aspen and cottonwood trees
The cool, wet spring we experienced this year has been tough on humans who wish to enjoy outdoor activities, but wonderful in most every way for plants. Every way, that is, except for the growth of fungus on aspen and cottonwood trees.
Just as home gardeners are bringing in cherry harvests, we’re finding a problem with some cherry produce in Routt County. In certain areas, ripe cherries are found to be infested with white, maggot-like larvae from the western cherry fruit fly.
There’s an old gardening saying that a weed is only a weed when it’s in a place where you don’t want it. However, in the case of several noxious weeds in the Yampa Valley — some of which have beautiful flowers — it’s a weed wherever it grows.
One day while on weed patrol, one of the Yampa River Botanic Park staffers asked, “What is with all these worts: soapwort, lungwort, mugwort, dropwort, sneezewort. What does wort mean?”
If we pay attention to the type of plants that naturally grow here in our high mountain environment, we have a better chance for success in our home gardens.
Each year, it seems the Yampa Valley has infestations of several varieties of grasshopper, each with a different life cycle. Needless to say, it is a challenge for gardeners to control damage to their plants from these voracious pests.
The cool, wet spring we experienced this year has been tough on humans who wish to enjoy outdoor activities but wonderful in most every way for plants. Every way, that is, except for the growth of fungus on aspen and cottonwood trees.
Considering the very dry environment in the Steamboat Springs area, it’s easy to think that desert cactus would thrive in homes, where it is protected from the brutal cold of winter. And so it can, if cared for properly. But that’s the tricky part.