Cheyenne Botanic Gardens : Past Gardening Tips From our News Page

When to up-pot a houseplant

How do you determine when a houseplant is in need of repotting into a larger pot?IMG_6151

You can tell if the plant need repotting when roots emerge through the drainage holes or a network of roots developing on the soil surface. Do not go overboard with a new pot larger than a few more inches, as most plants like to be slightly rootbound. (more…)

Growing amaryllis

The amaryllis houseplant is native to Central and South America and is famous for its large trumpet-like blooms. The amaryllis is a common gift plant during the holidays. Once it blooms, you should snip off the tips anthers (the little stems that come out of the flowers that bear pollen). By doing so, you’ll prolong the bloom show for a few extra days.

Once the amaryllis blooms have faded, cut the flower stalk off at the base and let it continue to grow leaves, give it a well-lit room, and grow as you would most houseplants (normal water, occasional fertilizer). After about 15 months it should bloom again (normally in spring) then it will bloom every spring after that.

What is the correct way to pronounce the word “poinsettia”?

Some people say “point-set-ee-ah” while others say “point-set-ah.” Most dictionaries say that both are acceptable pronunciations, but many experts say that “point-set-ee-ah,” better reflects the spelling of the word.

The plant was named after American diplomat Joel Poinsett who sent the plant back to the US in the early 1800s from Mexico.

Picking out a Christmas Tree

Before you head out to the local Christmas tree lot, first get out a tape measure and check height of ceiling. Add to that measurement the height of your tree stand. With this information you can prevent spending too much money on a tree that is too tall for your room.

Always shop in daylight to really see the quality of the tree. Try bending a few needles, if they are brittle skip that tree. Within two hours of setting the tree up always cut two inches off the bottom of the trunk. If you wait past two hours you may need to re-cut again. This is important for the tree to take up enough water .

Keep the tree well-hydrated. It is in the first few days that they drink the most (up to 1/2 gallon of water a day).

Always locate the tree away from heater vents, television, fireplaces or any other source of heat which could dry out the tree. Avoid leaving the lights on when you are away. The newer LED lights are always safer than the old incandescent tree lights because they run much cooler and you can put more strings into one plug.

Preventing mice in the home

Mice in the home can cause big problems. They populate fast, often having a litter of up to 13 pups every 20 days! Mice can chew through electric wires, eat and pollute your food, and even carry the deadly hantavirus.

Mice can squeak through even the smallest openings. Inspect your home’s exterior perimeter looking for small openings and plug them with caulk, screen or steel wool. Use traps, cats, and baits as needed—but always keep baits away from children and pets.

Never pile firewood, debris, leaves or compost bins or piles adjacent to your home. This will quickly become habitat for mice who will soon find a way in. Sometimes mice walk right into the home through an open door. So, don’t leave your door open on the occasional warm day.

Yard chores before the cold is permanent

•     Before it gets really cold, do a yard-wide roundup of your tools, sprinklers and hoses.
•     Scrape the dirt off the tools and rub vegetable oil on the handles and blades to prevent rust and wood cracks.
•     Clean out your gutters to prevent basement flooding and to alleviate gutter damage and help the snow to dissipate faster.
•     Prepare your lawn mower for winter- remove gas and place the engine in a large trash bag
•     Safely store all fertilizers and pesticides in an area where there is no freezing – especially insecticides.
•     Disconnect your hoses, insulate your hose bibs or disconnect the water supply using an indoor valve (if you have one).
•     Store your pots (clay and plastic) in a place out of the weather
•     Remove all water timers and plastic nozzles– they crack when we get hard frosts.

Pruning and wound dressing

It used to be commonly believed that tree wound dressing should be applied to the cut area when pruning large diameter branches. However, research has shown that the practice of using wound dressings does not inhibit decay. They also do not prevent insect infestation or foster quicker healing. In fact, these wound dressings often slow the healing of the tree where the limb was cut. Sometimes it is simply better to do nothing to the tree wound.

Time to clean out the gutters

gutterIn fall, if your gutters become full of leaf debris, it can cause water to back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim. Gutter cleaning can be hired out for around $60 to $200 to clean gutters depending your home’s size.

You can also do it yourself with a ladder. If leaves are really dry, you can try using an electric blower to blow the leaves out of the gutter. While you are eye to eye with your gutters, check for for holes or damaged gutters and repair them. Plan another raking job after you blow out your gutters.

There are also gutter covers available at hardware stores that you can instal (or hire out installation). These covers prevent leaves from accumulating in gutters, while letting water through. Thus saving you time from having to do this yearly chore.

Perennial fall asters

Perennial fall asters make showy fall blooms and are a must for every perennial garden. IMG_2063They come in a variety of colors including shades of white, blue, red and pink. They also come in varying heights from 1 to 3 feet. They are virtually pest free and tolerate drought. Perennial asters do not require much in the way of special care except for the fact that they do best in a sunny location.

Experts advise against using weed fabric

The thinking of using “weed fabric,” also known as “weed barrier,IMG_5345” has changed. Experts no longer recommend using weed fabric as it only works for a year at best. Weed seeds soon blow in and the stone or bark chips over top provide perfect conditions for germination. The germinated weeds above have roots penetrate into the fabric, making them all the harder to pull. Once the fabric is down it is extremely difficult to remove.

In addition the use of weed fabric combined with a rock or pebble ground cover creates stressful conditions for existing trees, has been shown to lower the value of homes and is difficult to keep the area free of debris. After a few years the end result can be unsightly.

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