Straw Foxglove

Unlike foxglove that are biennial, straw foxglove (Digitalis lutea) is a true perennial. The light yellow bell-shaped downward-facing flowers are smaller than their biennial relatives, but what is lost in flower size, straw foxglove makes up for in reliability and ease of growth.   Straw foxglove does best in average garden soil in a site…

Valentine’s Day Alternatives

No doubt there are certain reported health benefits to a little dark chocolate now and then, but maybe this year, an alternative is in order for your loved one.   Here’s a short list of good ones:   *A potted plant – pots of Boston fern, rosemary, African violets, orchids and sweet bay can last…

February’s Garden Basket

February, March and April are busy months for the Nebraska Extension Master Gardener program. Master Gardener Interns are participating in classes, on their way to becoming certified Master Gardeners. The classes are intensive, covering botany, plant diseases, landscape design, bug boot camp, and plant management. Once coursework is complete, Master Gardener volunteers hit the ground…

The Amaryllis

Of all the holiday plants, the amaryllis boasts some of the largest flowers and can be one of the easiest to grow for next year’s re-bloom. Bulbs received as gifts can be planted right away and their fast growth will amaze everyone, even those with brown thumbs. Hybridization has greatly expanded the red-flowered offerings of…

Pruning Hydrangeas

In the realm of gardening questions, answering “When can I prune my hydrangea?” can be the most complicated. This is because of the number of hydrangea types that grow in this region, requiring an understanding on our part before the pruning saw is even employed. It’s important to note that pruning most woody plants in…

Looking Ahead: Plan to Help Pollinators Next Year

Kicking back to consider next year’s garden, let benefitting pollinators be one of your considerations. Of course pollination is important to us because we like to eat—one-third of our food supply exists because pollinators pollinate. Pollinators, specifically native bees, are real work horses of the pollination world—just 250 native bees do the work of thousands…

Helen’s Flower

Helen’s flower, Helenium autumnale, is a native perennial of the sunflower family, producing show-stopping 2-inch flowers in colors of yellow, gold, orange, red or variations in between.  The notched petals, surrounding a yellowish brown globular cone, are a nice touch, giving the flowers the appearance of a ruffled skirt. The specific epithet “autumnale” refers to…

Flowering Plants for the August Garden

When it comes to August’s garden, many gardeners, plant enthusiasts and landscapers are willing to skip the month entirely because of the challenge posed by the seemingly few plants that provide interest during August. I’d like to challenge that notion, mainly because August is a perfectly fine month of frost-free weather and why not make…

Caterpillars on Coneflowers

The silvery checkerspot caterpillar, Chlosyne nycteis, can be found right now, happily munching away on the leaves of sunflower, aster, Echinacea, goldenrod and Rudbeckia.  The checkerspot caterpillar has branched spines on its back that are black in color. Sometimes the caterpillars will have an orange stripe or two.  Depending on weather conditions, there will be…

Classic Color Combinations

  The keys to success with patio planters and pots of all sizes are: Designing with the thriller, chiller and spiller concept in mind. The “thriller” is a plant chosen to “wow” you, to attract attention.  The “spiller” is the plant that cascades over the edge of the pot, providing a softening effect, and the…