CO-Horts

CO-Horts

Monday, August 21, 2017

It's Melon Season!

 Posted by: Deryn Davidson, Boulder County

As the grocery stores begin to fill their produce aisles with bins of melons in all shapes and sizes, there has been much discussion in our office about the "right" way to choose the perfect melon. It seems everyone has their own technique and they vary widely. Carol O'Meara recently wrote a delightful piece about just that for some of our local newspapers. I'm telling you, the topic is HOT!!

Well, last week my husband and I decided we were going to take a little road trip to the "Sweet Melon Capital" (of the U.S.? The world? We're not sure, but it's their claim!) and drove to Rocky Ford, home of the famous Rocky Ford cantaloupes and watermelons. Nestled smack dab in the very open and expansive south eastern plains of the state, you see fields of melons growing as you begin to approach the tiny town of roughly 4,000. Melon fields are an unusual site coming from the Front Range where we are used to seeing corn, sugar beats, wheat and development.

We decided to pull in to the first farm stand we came across and it was impressive! As soon as we opened the car doors we could smell the almost sickly sweet aroma of all those melons. We were practically giddy with melon anticipation.


We walked through the bins of freshly picked produce (most had been picked that day) and tried to narrow down what to get. Not an easy task! However, once we did figure out what we wanted, then came the even more difficult task of finding just the right ones.




I decided to call in the experts. I spotted a woman who clearly looked like an employee and might know a thing or two about finding ripe fruit. I felt slightly sheepish about bothering her, it looked like she'd had a long day of melon slinging, but asked her if she wouldn't mind given me a quick tutorial. To my delight she gave us an extremely thorough and rather chipper tour of all the melons and what to look for. When I complimented her knowledge she said, "Well, I've been doing this for 50 of my 55 years on this planet, it's what I know!!"

Here is what she told us:
Cantaloupe
  • First, you don't thump or push the ends of cantaloupe.
  • A ripe, ready to eat cantaloupe will have a nice white netting or webbing with golden yellow beneath. 
  • If it is greenish below the netting it may still be ripe (if other criteria are met) but will have a longer shelf life. 
  • "Full slip" indicates that the melon was fully sugared when picked and is recognized by there being no stem left on the fruit. The stem "slips" off the fruit when ready. If there is a piece of stem still attached, the melon has not fully sugared and never will. 
  • If you shake the melon and you hear the seeds, this means the melon is too ripe.
White netting, golden below (ready to eat now)

White netting, green below (it will be ready in a few days)

Left didn't reach full slip stage (it was a mistake to pick), the right did

Rocky Sweet and Dove Melon (hybrid cantaloupe/honeydew)
  • On the bloom end of the melon (opposite the stem side) give a light push with your thumbs. It should go in slightly and spring back. If it goes in a lot, too ripe.  
  • These are both hybrid melons and have a very high sugar content. Because of this they don't store particularly well so eat 'em if you got 'em!


Honeydew
  • She said you can do the blossom end push test on these too, but her preferred method is feeling the rind/skin. It should feel waxy. There was a bin of honeydews that had be picked that day and they were not waxy. After bringing one home and waiting for 3-4 days, it started to feel waxy!! 

And finally, watermelons
  • These are the melons you want to thump. That can be with an open hand or give a light knock with your knuckles. As Carol explains in her article...there is no need to abuse the melons, a light thump will do. 
  • Should sound hollow. 
  • If it sounds dead or thuddy, too ripe. (clearly this is pretty subjective, but I figure with practice and a few good/bad melons we can all get the hang of it.)
  • You can also look for red or brown ooze coming out of the ends or anywhere, really. This is sugar so it means your melon will be super sweet.
  • If there is still stem on a watermelon, that is fine it just means it was recently picked. They eventually dry up and fall off. 
"Thump a Friendly Melon at Knapp's Farm Market"

Reddish brown ooze signals high sugar and ripeness

More ooze coming from stem end

So, with all of our new found knowledge we loaded up the car with melons and were on our way. It was such a great experience getting to learn from someone so close to the actual process. As we left the farm stand, tractors were driving through with bin after bin of freshly picked melons. On the drive back home we saw pick-up trucks cruising down the highway with those same bins loaded on trailers taking them across the state to expectant customers eager to dig into the famous Rocky Ford melons. 






THE END


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hort Peeves (Tree Edition): Planting to Kill

Posted by: Alison O'Connor, Larimer County Extension

I started my career in horticulture working at Bailey Nurseries in Minnesota. I was a high school student who needed a job, never once thinking how the nursery industry would shape my future. Because of this...and because my brother, Jeffrey, works for Bailey's, I have a deep appreciation and understanding of nursery practices and what's required to produce landscape plants. This is why my blood boils when I see trees mistreated, carelessly maintained or poorly planted--I understand what it takes to produce healthy trees.
Burlap and twine left on the tree at planting. Remove all root ball coverings! Or as much as you possibly can.
Think about it. To help supply the landscape industry, trees are produced at wholesale nurseries throughout the country. The majority of nursery production is on the west coast--California, Washington and Oregon, because they have ideal growing conditions. These states have consistent moisture in winter and long summers perfect for growing ornamental plants. You can produce plants more quickly when you have an optimal growing environment. But that doesn't mean a tree can be grown overnight--in fact, most trees take years to grow.

And then these young trees are delivered to a job site and left to die. Or they are planted wrong, neglected and left to die. Or they are just mistreated and left to die.
Tree planted at the new CSU Medical Center on campus. This tree died within two weeks of planting, likely due to drought stress. It has since been replaced, costing additional time and money.
That's not to say that all nursery trees don't make it--most do. Most of this is preventable. We can prevent tree death if we step up to care for the trees in the first place. I don't have a solution for how to fix this problem, but in true Extension fashion, perhaps a little education is necessary:

All trees start out as a seed or a cutting. It just depends on the type of tree and how it's typically grown. Most named cultivars are vegetatively propagated through asexual reproduction (cuttings, budding, grafting). Some trees, like oaks and redbud, are grown from seed (though they may be grafted later). Seeds are typically fall-sown and cuttings are taken throughout the summer. Regardless, either seeds or cuttings will be sown outdoors or stuck in a greenhouse, nurtured and maintained.
A greenhouse full of maple cuttings.
The young trees (often referred to as "liners") are harvested once they are ready for the next stage of their production cycle, generally after six to 12 months of care.
A maple tree liner.
Trees are dug from the greenhouse and outdoor seedbeds in the fall and transported to cold storage facilities to be sorted and graded during the winter months. The trees are sorted by size, caliber and quality. The following spring, the liners are "lined out" in the field, generally between March and May.

After planting, multiple things can happen. The tree may be budded the first growing season in the field. It may be left to grow for one year so it develops more roots. It may be grown (with regular pruning and training) for a certain period of time (no budding or grafting). Some are even grown in the field for awhile and then transplanted into containers to be grown for an additional year.

But what's important to know is that from seed/cutting to a 1 1/2" to 2" caliper tree may take anywhere from three years....to five years. It will take even longer for bigger trees. That's a long time for the nursery to invest in a product. And that's why it hurts to see these trees dead in the landscape.

For example, if a maple cutting was initiated in the greenhouse this summer, it would be dug in the fall of 2017. It's then planted into the field in 2018. It's grown for another season (2019) and by 2020 it's considered to have a "three year top". The tree may be dug that season or grown for one more and harvested in 2021 (four year top). So after the initial planting of the cutting in the greenhouse, it grows for another four full growing seasons--about five total years, give or take.

This is also why trees are an expensive investment.
If you stop watering (or don't water) the turf, young trees will likely suffer. Remember trees and turf are sharing the water.
Though the industry has recovered quite a bit from the Great Recession, you may have noticed that there was a short supply of trees available for purchase. Calculate back to when those trees would have been started as seeds or cuttings--it would be the late 2000s. Many nurseries stopped producing trees, not knowing if the industry or housing would recover. Things are starting to improve and nurseries are back on track. But there was a definite decrease in supply for a few years.

When you buy a tree or you're planting a job site, make sure you have everything ready to plant. Get the utilities marked. Mark where the trees will be planted. Have water readily available. Make a plan for maintenance following planting. This is far easier for homeowners, who only have to take care of one or two trees. It gets more difficult if you have a large site with 100 trees. But it's not impossible.

So does the grower care what happens to the tree after it leaves the nursery? ABSOLUTELY! Nursery employees spend a lot of time growing trees and want to see their product be successful. We all do.

Monday, August 7, 2017

My Grandpa's garden put baseball in the dugout

Posted by: Darrin Parmenter, La Plata County Extension

As a kid, my memories of a backyard garden are somewhat vague, and honestly, none too pleasant.

For me, summer was meant for baseball. Every day in June and July, the script was already written: wake up, grab the glove, bike to the baseball fields at the old Fairgrounds in Durango, then play, practice and pull weeds (this was pre-child labor laws, apparently). After the game, I’d go to a buddy’s house for a good two hours of Wiffle ball, and be home by evening for a round of catch with dad.

That was it. My world consisted of a ball, bat and glove.

The garden was merely an obstacle to the game. If the batted ball reached the tomato plants, then it was a ground-rule double; the makeshift greenhouse was a foul ball; and if it was wacked to the raspberries, well, then the game was usually over and it was time to find a new ball.

But in 1981, it all changed.

The family took a vacation to grandma and grandpa’s house in Beulah, Colorado. Not too long after the fluids had cooled in the Oldsmobile Omega my parents kissed our foreheads, waved and headed back to Durango. Maybe they wanted to subject us to a week of “granny boot camp,” or maybe they needed a vacation from my sister and me, or perhaps it was simply them wanting us to experience something new during our summer break. Regardless, I was not too happy about being away from my friends or baseball. The thought of drinking grandma’s diluted Kool-Aid from an aluminum glass for a full week still makes my teeth hurt.

After my sister and I got settled, I soon learned that a) Grandpa knew how to play baseball (what a relief!), and b) behind the house, next to the tire swing, was grandpa’s garden. Man, that garden was big, and that soil was black. As children, the dirt was best used to paint our clothes, but as a gardener it was pure gold, and grandpa knew it. It was in this garden where he was always happiest.

He was proud—proud of his space behind the house that he bought, in the town he helped support. He would talk while the kids darted in and out of the two-story corn. Not sure what he was talking about, or whom he was talking to, but I still remember the excitement in his voice. I recall sitting on his knee, shucking beans, him smiling and kidding me about my (lack of) technique. And for once, baseball sat in the dugout while vegetables took to the field.

Baseball continued to be there every summer until I was 17, and I am pretty sure that the week away when I was 9 didn’t set my skills back that far. Grandpa Mickey died a number of years later, and if my memory serves me, so did the garden. There are no photos or journal detailing the crops behind the house. For all I know, the garden may not have been big at all.


photo courtesy of travelaroundusa.com

Fast forward 35 years and gardening - and baseball - are still in our lives.  Ask Beth or Elena, it's way too much baseball; ask Asher and it's not enough baseball and who cares about gardening. Me? I want a bigger garden - you know, the kind you lose baseballs, and hours to. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Making the Grade: CSU's Annual Trial Garden Evaluation Day

Posted by:  Amy Lentz, Weld County Extension


If you have yet to visit Colorado State University's Annual Flower Trial Garden, you must put it on your lists of things to do! This is a garden that is truly like no other place in Colorado, where research and education meet beauty and community. The mission of the garden is to provide education, research and outreach to students, community members, industry professionals and anyone who wants to learn about how various landscaping plants grow in our unique Rocky Mountain environmental conditions. And while accomplishing that mission, the garden is also a favorite place for lounging, meeting up with family and friends or leisurely strolling through on your way around campus. 
 
Sun beds of petunias and other annual flowers near the gazebo at the CSU Annual Flower Trial Garden
 
Earlier this week, over 100 selected industry representatives, staff, faculty and Colorado Master Gardeners from the front range gathered at the Annual Flower Trial Garden to evaluate this year's entries. There were over 800 plant varieties to evaluate for 2017 that were sourced from 19 different companies; including annuals, perennials, patio-type vegetables and novelty varieties. Those evaluating were asked to rate the plants and remark on various traits such as plant vigor, uniformity, flower color and number, unique flower traits, tolerance to environmental conditions and susceptibility to disease. 


Evaluations of sun-loving annuals

Each person involved was given a section of the garden to judge which included approximately 200 of the 800 entries located in both sunny and shady bedding sites, as well as, plants grown in large containers. This year, participants could log their results electronically with a smartphone or tablet by using a website tailored toward each person's list of plants. If I might interject my personal opinion here..the website worked seamlessly and was super easy to use! I love seeing new ways that we can use technology in the garden! 

Evaluations of container grown plants in full sun

Kudos to the students, staff, and faculty who coordinate and maintain the garden...it's simply amazing! It makes it hard to scrutinize the flowers when they look so beautiful!
 
Once the data is tabulated from the day's event, a summary of the results will be published in a Garden Performance Report that will be available for use by the horticulture industry and the public.

If you are interested in learning more about the Annual Flower Trial Garden or view the results from years past, the website can be found here:  www.flowertrials.colostate.edu

The Annual Flower Trial Garden is located at 1401 Remington Street in Fort Collins, Colorado (80523) on CSU's campus.





 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tree Trunks Tell A Story



Tree Trunks Tell A Story
By CSU, Golden Plains Horticulture Associate, Linda Langelo

Do you notice the texture on the trunks of your trees?  Most of the time we may not even notice the trunk's texture.  If the texture has changed direction, this might indicate a stress!  There are four basic stresses for a tree:

  1. Compression: is a squeezing action.
  2. Tension: is stretching or pulling action.
  3. Shear: occurs when components slide relative to one another.
  4. Torsion: is a type of shear stress caused by a twisting force. 
It is important to keep in mind that these stresses can occur in combination or alone.   The trunk will tell the story.

According to the International Society of Arborists (ISA) an article titled, "Tree Risk Assessment: Loads and Growth Response," by Smiley, Matheny and Lilly:  "When gravity acting on a branch pulls or bends it downward, the bending moment creates tension in the top of the branch (fibers are stretched), while the bottom of the branch is under compression (fibers are pushed together).  In the middle of the branch, the "neutral plane" experience shear stress, where the fibers in tension and compression meet and try to slide in opposite directions.  Bending, therefore, involves at least three stresses: compression, tension, and shear, and may also have a torsional component."

The picture of a tree trunk below quickly captured my attention:

Catalpa Tree- Photo Credit-L. Langelo

Interesting trunk, right?  As you walk around the tree, the trunk twists in a spiral motion.  This is an example of torsion of a tree's trunk.  At one point in the history of this catalpa tree, a violent storm or high winds had enough force to twist the fibers of the tree.  Therefore, it looks like there are lines that curve up and around the tree.  Wind, particularly high winds are dynamic forces on trees.  Now that this torsion has occurred this tree has become a hazard.  This is a structural defect and it is a matter of time before the next environmental occurrence will take the tree down. 

There is science behind how a tree responds to environmental forces.  For example, think about the individual branches and then factor in the leaves.  In other words, aerodynamic drag -- leaves in the wind.  The ISA has formulas designed to measure these forces accurately.  Data is collected to measure these forces to predict the tree's response.  There is a great deal of math involved with tree sway motion.  Trees can be pushed to lean because of wind speed and aerodynamic drag.



In this example, which shows a leaning tree, we could say that this tree is a hazard.  The structural roots may have a harder time keeping this tree in the ground due to some of the science we know that has created this situation.  

However, there is more science:

  1. Statis load, which is a load that has no movement.  As trees grow larger, they become static.
  2. Dynamic load such as wind.
What happens to a tree in a violent windstorm is based on the mathematical data, which is placed in a model/formula accounting for all possible factors.  The model is dynamic model and it considers all the following factors:

  1. Mass of trunk, branches and leaves.
  2. Spring -- wood Young's Modulus-the measure of stiffness of an elastic material.
  3. Damping has three components:
    • Aerodynamic drag -leaves in the wind
    • Viscoelastic damping -stem/root/earth
    • Mass damping -limb sway interaction
Damping is the measure of vibration or oscillation (movement of a wavelength or back and forth movement of a tree branch).  The greatest amplitude of the vibration or oscillation is oscillation damping.  This is a form of resistance and the tree's ability to withstand a high wind.  Factored in is stem, root and earth damping.  Every aspect of a tree is taken into account.

This is the simplest way of describing how hazardous a tree can be.  There is more to a leaning tree or a simple crack in the trunk.  There is a history behind the crack, it may record the time of a violent storm or tornado or dramatic change in temperatures.  Here is a picture of what is called a shear force when tree fibers are sliding relative/opposite directions to one another:






There are times when Mother Nature is not responsible for tree hazards.  Here is an example below:







This is another type of compression from the staking material used to hold the tree in place against violent winds.  This has constricted the tree's fibers severely.  This threatens the health of the tree and further weakens the strength of the trunk.

In regards to staking, when doing so for long periods such as several seasons, this weakens the strength of the trunk.  I had a client who staked Kentucky Coffee Trees with a two inch caliber trunk for over 3 years.  By the time I was called to visit with the client, he became aware of his misunderstanding.  These trees were being grown for sale.  When the stakes were removed, the trees were more weeping than upright.  A few were able to rebound, but most still had some weeping/bending in the trunk.

On a personal note, I do not stake trees.  At the knee of the root ball I place a huge rock(s) around the root ball to allow the tree to sway until the roots are established.  So far I have not had a problem.  But again, that is my personal choice and experience. If you want more information on how to properly plant and stake trees, please click on this link:
http://static.colostate.edu/client-files/csfs/pdfs/633.pdf



But I digress......

Every trunk tells a story.  There is much to the story of each tree.  Every tree has to stand up to a lot in its lifetime.  Let's give them the best chance we can.  



Thursday, July 27, 2017

Herb Gardening 101
By Sherie Caffey, Horticulture Coordinator, CSU Extension-Pueblo County

Herb gardens are great. They are one of the most useful, and versatile types of gardens you can grow. Outdoors, herbs can bring beauty, fragrance, and flavor to your landscape. Indoors, herbs can brighten up your home and give your cooking a fresh kick in the dog days of summer or the dead of winter.

Whether you are growing an herb garden indoors or out, light is a very important factor to consider. Generally, it is ideal to give your herbs a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight per day. Western and southern exposures are ideal. Indoors, if you do not have a west or south facing window to put your herb garden in, you will likely need supplemental lighting. There are many great grow lights that can be purchased, but they can be a little pricey. To keep it cheap, you can use two 40 watt white fluorescent bulbs, and leave them on your plants for about 14 hours per day. Keep the bulbs about six to twelve inches away from the plants.

Soil is another important thing to consider. Here in Colorado, we tend to have alkaline soil that is often low in organic matter. Outdoors, before planting your herb garden, you can mix in plant based compost to a depth of about 24 inches. This will help to build organic matter and give your herbs a light dose of nutrients as well. For herbs in containers, you can use a soilless media, which is readily available at many garden centers. There are also soil mixes, but you should be sure it is free of weed seeds, insects, and diseases.
 
Water may be the most important consideration to make when growing a great herb garden. You should check the plant tag for the herbs you buy, or do some research, to figure out what their water requirements are. Plant herbs next to each other that have similar water requirements. Drip irrigation is preferable for in ground gardens, because overhead watering tends to promote disease. Containers will usually require more watering than in ground gardens. The amount of water depends on the size and material of the container, the type of plant, and the environment the plant is in. Water containers at the base of the plant, and try to avoid splashing the leaves. Overwatering your herbs makes your chances of attracting pests or getting fungal diseases much greater.

Harvesting your herbs may be the most exciting part of herb gardening. Outdoors, harvest in the morning on a sunny day with no rain, after the dew has dried. Indoors, harvesting can be done whenever the herbs are needed. It is generally best to harvest the outer leaves first. Never take more than one third of a perennial plant at a time, and for annuals, leave at least four inches of plant, along with some greenery and growth nodules so you can have more harvests. If you plan to use the leaves of the plant, you should pinch off any flowers that grow. The plant will put more energy into the flowers once they appear, and the leaves will be less flavorful. If you want to use the flowers, such as lavender or chamomile, or the seeds, like coriander (cilantro plant), then you should leave the flowers there, but harvest any leaves you want to use before bloom.

If you are a great herb gardener, then you probably have more herbs than you know what to do with. I would say that is a great problem to have! There are many options to preserve the herbs you grow, so you can use them throughout the year, or maybe give them away. Drying is a great option. You can either air dry them, or dry them using a dehydrator, or even easier, a microwave. Dried herbs tend to be more potent than fresh. As a rule of thumb, use one teaspoon of dried herbs for every tablespoon of fresh herbs that you would need. You can also freeze your herbs to make them last longer. You can either flash freeze them on a cookie sheet, or you can chop them up, put them in ice cube trays, and fill them with water and freeze them. These herby ice cubes can get popped right into any recipe you are making, or even into your summer time iced tea.


You can find a lot more information on growing specific herbs, and on using and preserving herbs on the CSU Extension website, extension.colostate.edu. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Beneficial Buddies in the Backyard


Posted by Mary Small, CSU Extension Colorado Master Gardener Coordinator
I regularly scout in my backyard. No, I’m not building a campfire or setting up a tent. Rather, I look around to see what’s going on out there in terms of pests, plants and plant growth.

My most recent “find’ was this beautiful dragonfly – a female Widow Skimmer. She was just hanging out  on a spent daylily stalk. Widow Skimmers are so named because after they mate, the male takes off, leaving her to lay the eggs by herself. Usually dragonfly males stick around and “guard” the eggs for a while.

Widow Skimmer Dragonfly

Like all insects, dragonflies have 6 legs – but they can’t walk! The dark wing mark toward the outer tip of the wings acts like a weight to help stabilize the insect while flying. It dampens the wing vibration. The costa, the outermost “leading edge” of the wing is a vein that helps the insect “slice” through the air while in flight.

The term “eating on the fly” or “eating on the run” may have developed around dragonfly feeding habits. They capture their insect prey while in flight and consume it while in flight. They eat a variety of insects including mosquitos, gnats, flies, bees and even other dragonflies.

Halictid bee
This shiny metallic green insect is a Halictid bee. These insects are not only attractive, but also important pollinators. Just look at the huge pollen basket on her legs! The females typically dig burrows with individual cells in them. The burrows are usually made in bare soil in a sunny location. They lay an egg in each cell of the burrow and provide nourishment in the form of pollen balls and nectar for the larva to eat when it emerges. The adults provide pollination services for a wide variety of flowers. I caught this one on a New Mexico evening primrose (Oenothera neomexicana).


Posing praying mantid
Here’s a recognizable insect – the praying mantid. I love how it looks like it's smiling! Maybe it just ate or is eagerly anticipating it's next meal! I can’t tell you which one this was, since I was more focused on photographing its “face” than identifying it. It was "resting" on a flower stalk and blended in  so well with the surroundings that I almost didn't see it. (That’s to their advantage in their feeding behavior).

Many believe mantids are voracious predators of “bad” insects – but that’s simply not true. While they might eat some “bad guys”, they just as easily might not. They prefer faster moving insects to slower aphids and caterpillars – and those insects that are within their reach. Mantids will ambush or even slowly stalk their prey. They grab the prey with their front, spiny legs so quickly that it’s difficult for humans to observe! I may have caught this one waiting for dinner to come along, but it sure was posing nicely in the meantime.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

When Beauty IS the Beast





When Beauty IS the Beast
By Irene Shonle, CSU Extension in Gilpin County.

What would you say if your neighbor told you she was growing a plant that was beautiful, long-blooming, drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, and spreads very quickly?  You might say, “Sounds too good to be true.”  In fact, it may be too good to be true.  Here in Colorado, we have a problem with many non-native “invasive ornamental” plants which do too well in our climate, and have escaped from cultivation and are wreaking havoc in our natural areas.  Many of these are on our State Noxious Weed List, making them illegal to sell or plant.   As gardeners, it is our responsibility to know these plants, and avoid planting them.

The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens estimates that there are 300 dangerously invasive weeds present in the continental U.S. and Canada and of these, half were introduced as ornamentals. They were brought to this country intentionally and allowed to gain a foothold before their harmful effects were known.  
When they arrived in this country, none of the mechanisms that keep plants in check, such as insects, disease, and competition came with them.  In natural areas, unmanaged populations can displace native plants, reduce biological diversity and alter ecosystem processes. These impacts affect bird, insect, fish and mammal populations which depend upon native plants for food, shelter, and protection from predators.


Is it possible to plant invasive ornamentals responsibly?
Not really. As soon as the "responsible" gardener who knows about the plant’s invasive characteristics is out of the picture (moves away, gives away cuttings or transplants, goes on vacation), the plant has the chance of becoming a problem. Also, seeds can be eaten by birds, carried by cars, dogs, or the wind and then may be planted in new locations. Gardeners, no matter how diligent, cannot control for natural processes.

What can I do?
  • Choose native or non-invasive plants for your garden.
  • Do not plant invasive ornamentals. Remove any invasive ornamentals in your garden.
  • Become familiar with invasive species and report their presence on public lands.
  • Ask your greenhouse and/or nursery to stock more natives and no invasive non-natives.

Two resources to learn more about native plants include the CSU Extension Native Plant Master Program (http://conativeplantmaster.colostate.edu/) and the Colorado Native Plant Society ( www.conps.org)

Our worst ornamental invaders
Our worst ornamental invaders in Colorado include: purple loosestrife, ox-eye daisy, Russian olive, tamarisk, Bouncing Bet, Dame’s/sweet rocket, perennial sweet pea, Dalmatian toadflax, yellow toadflax/butter and eggs, Mediterranean sage, common tansy, scentless chamomile, and myrtle spurge. 

Purple Loosestrife (Image :City of Boulder)
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is an extremely aggressive weed which is overtaking U.S. wetlands at the alarming rate of 475,000 acres each year. It thrives in moist soil--near rivers, streams, irrigation canals, drainage ditches, lake shores, wet meadows and marshes. It's easiest to identify when the purple-magenta flowers bloom from mid-June through mid-September. The blossoms have five to six petals and grow in clusters at the end of long spikes. Each plant is capable of producing 1-3 million seeds annually. Some cultivars carry the claim of sterility but recent research has shown that these varieties can and do produce viable seeds.
Planting Alternatives: Spotted gayfeather, (Liatris punctata) Russian sage (Perovskia), butterfly bush (Buddleia), Delphinium or larkspur, blue vervain, lavender, wild lupine, violet sage (Salvia x superba), Fireweed (Epilobium spp).





 
Oxeye daisy
Oxeye daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum or Leucanthemum vulgare) A member of the Sunflower family, is an erect perennial plant with white ray and yellow disk flowers which bloom from June through August. A native of Eurasia, this aggressive plant has escaped cultivation and become a troublesome weed in the mountains. In Crested Butte, the “Wildflower capital,” this plant is crowding out many of the wildflowers they are famous for.
 Planting Alternatives: native daisies (Erigeron spp), Shasta daisy, Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), and Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata), and native yarrow (Achillea lanulosa).
 
Scentless chamomile
Scentless chamomile (Tripleurospermum inodora) is very similar to Oxeye daisy, except it has ferny leaves and is an annual.  It is very aggressive in seeding disturbed areas in the mountains.  
See oxeye daisy for planting alternatives. 

Yellow toadflax
Yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) is so widespread that you can often find it mistakenly listed as a native wildflower in field guides, and not as a noxious weed.  Unfortunately it still is sold by some seed companies as “butter and eggs” or as “wild snapdragons.” Always look on the back of wildflower seed mixes for a listing of what's included in the mix. If toadflaxes are listed, PLEASE DO NOT buy that product.  Yellow toadflax is adapted to a variety of site conditions, from moist to dry and does well in all types of soils. Because of its early vigorous growth, extensive underground root system, and effective seed dispersal methods, yellow toadflax is difficult to control. 
 Planting Alternatives: Annual snapdragons, Coreopsis, yellow columbine (\2001 Plant Select® selection Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Denver Gold’), or the 1999 selection SilverbladeTM Evening Primrose, (Oenothera macrocarpa spp. incana 'Silver Blade'), Golden Banner (Thermopsis spp.), Wallflower (Erysimum asperum, Showy goldeneye (Heliomeris multiflora).

 
Dame's Rocket
Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) is also known a Dame’s Violet or sweet rocket..  It tends to invade riparian and wetland habitat, but can also “naturalize” in other habitats.  It can still be found in “wildflower” seed mixes. If Dame’s Rocket is listed, PLEASE DO NOT buy that product.  This native of Europe may be either a biennial or perennial, and may be from 1-1/2 to 4 feet tall, while flowers range in color from white to pink to purple. There are four petals, which help to distinguish it from phlox. Dame’s Rocket flowers from April through July.

Planting Alternatives: Blue Columbine (Aquilegia caerulea) Native Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa menthaefolia), woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata 'Chattahoochee). Native harebells, (Campanula rotundifolia), Showy locoweed (Oxytropis lambertii)


Bouncing Bet. Photo credite: John M. Randall/The Nature Conservancy
Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis) can form dense stands of plants, especially in disturbed areas as along roadsides.  It grows up to three feet tall, with clusters of pink to white flowers on the tops of the plants.  Each flower has five petals, all with a distinctive notch at the end.  The plant has a strong creeping rootstock and opposite, strap-like leaves.  It flowers from July to September.
  Planting alternative: Garden phlox, (Phlox paniculata), the 2000 Plant Select®  selection Prairie Jewel Penstemon, Rocky Mtn beeplant (Cleome serrulata),