Cheyenne Botanic Gardens : Past Gardening Tips From our News Page

Time to cut back ornamental grasses

Now is the perfect time to do some important maintenance to your clumps of ornamental grasses.  Because these grasses are about to start growing again, it is a good practice to prune each clump down to a height of 10” so that the new growth is not interspersed with the dead brown grass blades from last season.
A fast, easy way to cut the ornamental grass is with a small folding pruning saw . Use the cut grass as a mulch on your perennial bed or add to the compost pile. The most dependable ornamental grasses you can grow on the High Plains include Karl Forester (all types), blue oat grass and blue fescue.
Click here for a great handout on ornamental grasses for our harsh climate.

City’s Yard Waste Program Resumes

Starting as of April 1, the Summer City Yard Waste Program will resume for the season. Those residents enrolled in the program will have their yard waste containers picked up the week starting on Monday, March 31. Billing will start on April 1. The program ends mid-November. Program users are reminded only grass, leaves and garden waste are allowed in the yard waste container.
Customers are reminded not to bag the material, and to not place large branches, limbs or brush in the yard waste container because bulky items prevent the container from being emptied. The Yard Waste Program is currently not accepting new customers because staff and equipment limitations.
For more information on the program, call the Sanitation Division at 307-637-6440.

A new old way to schedule planting

Check out this handout on how to use indicator plants to schedule your outside plantings. Click here for our phenology planting schedule

Dwarf Iris time

What’s blooming right now in Cheyenne? Dwarf irises!

These dwarf irises come every year with little care and they each year they come back more plentiful than before. They bloom through the unpredictable weather of spring and do fine in the snow and cold of early to late March. They can be planted in a lawn (even dandelion killer won’t hurt them) or a in bed. These dwarf iris go by the fancy name of “Iris reticulata,” for the bluish/purple ones and “Iris danfordiae,” for the yellow ones.  They’re among the first to bring color to the garden at the beginning of spring.

They come from small bulbs planted in late summer or early fall and you can often find them sold as a mixture of yellow, blue, dark purple and light blue. Look closely at the bluish shades and you’ll see an intricate little pattern that attracts bees like a lit airplane runway.

Snowdrops blooming in Cheyenne

Snowdrop blooming outside in Cheyenne February – March

If you had planted the bulb, ‘snow drop,’ in a sunny spot in your yard. You would have blooms today.

The snowdrop flower that comes from a small bulb is always the first flower to bloom in High Plains gardens (usually you see the first flower in mid-February through early March), even under a blanket of snow. While it is quite small, looking like three drops of milk hanging from a stem, it does wonders for the spirit when it blooms in the snow. It’s Latin name is appropriately “Galanthus” which means “milk-white flowers.”

These are not common bulbs to find but most good garden centers will carry snowdrops.  They are also readily available via mail order. They are commonly sold in the Fall and should be planted prior to winter setting in. Make a note on your calendar now for to purchase them in late September. They bloom best and earliest in a sunny location.

The next flower to bloom in Cheyenne will be the early dwarf Iris reticulata (blue) and Iris danfordiae (yellow).

Some favorite seed catalogs

It is the time of year when the seed catalogs arrive. What are your favorite catalogs and does it make sense to do mail order or just buy seeds at the hardware store?

We would urge you to order seeds from catalogs because it gives you much more in the way of choices. For instance you might find one early tomato variety on a seed rack and five choices in a catalog. Here are a few of our favorite catalogs that are worth considering: for flower and vegetable seeds, try Johnny’s Seeds (, (more…)

Fun Herb Catalog

If you have an interest in medicinal, culinary or useful herb plants, seeds or books, you can’t do any better than Richters herb catalog. There you will find an extensive listing of both common and unusual herbs. For instance they offer over 40 different types of basil. (more…)

New Orange Petunia

True orange petunias are rare until now. The new petunia variety “African Sunset” wowed the judges of the All American Selection organization. They found the African Sunset petunia to be superior to similar colored petunias currently available. Gardeners are always looking for a petunia that grows evenly and uniformly in the garden while producing a prolific number of blooms all season-long and this beauty certainly fills that need. (more…)

When potatoes go green

When potatoes are exposed to excessive light, a green skin color forms from chlorophyll development. The green chlorophyll increases the production of a toxic substance in the fruit called solanine.

A bite or two isn’t harmful but if eaten in quantity, it may cause illness. You don’t have to waste these potatoes as you can remove the solanine by pealing the potato below the green, back into the white flesh. To prevent green potatoes always store potatoes in the dark and avoid buying greenish potatoes in the grocery.

What you think about winter solstice is wrong

You are wrong if you think that immediately, the day after winter solstice (Dec. 21st) the sun starts to set later and rise earlier. The truth is in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the sunset started setting later each day beginning around December 12th, after bottoming out at 4:30 pm it is already getting later each day. Conversely, the sunrise doesn’t start rising earlier until around January 8th, after hitting the latest sunrise of the winter at 7:24 am. Don’t believe us? Visit any number of sunrise/sunset calculators.

While it is true that Dec. 21st is the shortest day of the year, it is an average and marks our furthest away position from the sun.

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