Cheyenne Botanic Gardens : Past Gardening Tips From our News Page

Getting a head start with potatoes

Chitting potatoes (also called “greensprouting”) refers to a technique that can reduce the time to harvest by 10 to 14 days. This is important in short growing climates like Wyoming. It is simple and all you need to do is place your store bought seed potatoes in a warm indoor area for several weeks to induce sprouting. Plant when the soil has warmed up to 50 degrees.

Don’t use potatoes from the grocery as they may harbor diseases. Instead, only use “certified” seed potatoes which are available at most garden centers or the garden section of department stores. They are normally around the size of a chicken egg.

Hard to find hardy roses

P1010077Where can one find the hardiest of roses for our tough gardening climate?
Most garden centers sell grafted tea roses which have a difficult time surviving in our harsh climate. One common series of rose that is commonly available and does well here is called “Knock Out.” Like most hardy roses, it is not a grafted rose. While it survives well, it is a small plant and has little fragrance.
If you have a strong passion for growing roses in our tough climate, you should be sure to visit the High Country Roses website. They carry one of the best selections of roses suited to the Rocky Mountain region. You can visit them online here or call them at 1−800−552−2082. Even if you buy locally, which we recommend – you can use their selection as a shopping guide. Still, you will find that High Country Roses has a selection that is beyond most any garden center around.

Abrupt freeze causes evergreen damage

Although this limber pine is mostly brown, its branches are pliable and likely still alive.

Although this limber pine is mostly brown, its branches are pliable and likely still alive.

Cheyenne, along with many other communities in the central and northern Rocky Mountain region saw a temperature swing of at least 80 degrees last November of 2014. The month started with record warmth, and then the temperatures dropped to an early-​​season cold within a two to three day period and then back to warm temperatures by the end of the month.

“The browning on the evergreen trees occurred because the plants had not gone into complete dormancy. Woody plants prepare for winter through a process called hardening off. They reach their peak cold hardiness around the end of December,” Olson said. “The frequency and severity of winter damage is determined by a number of factors, including the plant species or cultivar and its hardiness to the area, the location and conditions under which the plant is grown, and the timing of the weather extremes within the dormant period.” (more…)

Clover in lawns making a comeback

In the 1950s and 60s clover was a common component in grass seed mixes for lawns. Clover had the ability to reseed itself and stay green. It also attracted bees (which helps with overall garden pollination) and had the unique ability to add nitrogen to the soil which also reduced the need to fertilize your lawn. Clover was also was drought-​​tolerant and had low-​​maintenance qualities.

Once broad leaf weed killers became popular in the 1960s, the clover died with the dandelions. At that point lawn seed mixes dropped the clover. Now, clover lawns are making a comeback thanks in-​​part to people wanting more natural and chemical-​​free lawns.

One company (Outside Pride) has bred clover into a very small size even better suited to lawns. It is known as Miniclover® (Trifolium repens) and is a dwarf perennial clover bred to reach only four inches high. It can be a lawn alternative or mixed into your current lawn grass. Like other clover, this clover’s relationship with root microbes enable it to make its own nitrogen, feeding not only itself but reducing your overall need for nitrogen. This means your lawn will need less fertilizer. You can also create either a mix with grasses or a pure clover lawn. For seed sources click here.

Seedlings in recycled pots

It is getting close to the time when people think about starting seedlings in the windowsill or under lights. Rather than purchase new plastic pots for seedlings consider using recycled materials. Old Dixie cups or yogurt containers make great pots. Be sure to poke a few small holes in the bottom for drainage. You can also make pots out of old newspapers. This can be done with the help of a can (see link here).  There are also tools that can help you make newspaper pots that are available from garden supply companies. These do not need a drainage hole and readily biodegrade when you plant the seedling, pot and all directly in the ground.

Geraniums from cuttings

cuttingsDo you have a favorite geranium growing in your windowsill? If you want more for planting outside in summer, now is the time to make more plants by rooting cuttings from your main plant. Cuttings should be about 5” long dipped in rooting hormone powder (available at garden centers). The rooting powder will soon trigger roots. Place the cuttings in new potting soil in a bright but not in direct sun. Water regularly and mist the cuttings twice a day.

After about a month you will have enough roots produced on the cuttings to pot them up in preparation for setting outside.

New choice peas

A garnish is a palette cleansing green (often a sprig of parsley) added to a dinner plate. While rare in today’s restaurants, it is making a comeback in a new form: pea tendrils and blossoms. These are varieties not grown for their peas, but instead produce mostly edible tendrils and flowers. Look in catalogs for these varieties: “tendril pea,” “dwarf grey sugar pea,” and “feisty.” (more…)

Weather forecast accuracy


Gardeners watch the weather more closely than most. With the advent of computers and smart phones there are numerous apps that will give you both short and long-​​term forecasts.

Have you ever wondered which app is the most accurate? People have their favorites like Weather Bug, Weather​.com and Weather Underground. Now there is a web site that tracks the accuracies of these forecast sites. It is called “Forecast Adviser.Click here to view how accurate the forecasts are for Cheyenne. You might want to change your weather app after you see how accurate they really are, or you might just want to flip a coin.

End of season chores

What are some of the last outdoor chores we need to do before everything is totally frozen?
• Clean chimney– important if you burn wood or pellets. You can either do this yourself by purchasing a sweep or hire it out.
• Put away hoses– or at the very least get them out of direct sun.
• Put insulating caps over your outdoor water spigots or, if you can, turn them off from inside.
• Put fuel preservative in your gas lawn mowers, place trash bag over the mowers engine.
• Clean gutters– use a blower to make the job less messy.
• Clear debris away from house to prevent mice entry
• Rake the last of the leaves
• Check around doors and windows for air leaks and then seal with caulk
• Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector now that it is heating season.
• Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. In winter, set it for a clockwise rotation. This pushes the warm air near your ceilings down into your living spaces. This is particularly important for homes with very high ceilings. Set to slow.
• If you’re not using your fireplace, check to be sure your damper is closed. Leaving it open is equivalent to leaving a window wide open.

What you need to know about leaf blowers

Leaf blowers are a great help with autumn cleanup, and double as driveway sweepers or even snow blowers (when the snow is light and dry).


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