Friday, October 11, 2019

A Spring Bulb to Know and Grow

By Cherie Luke

Although still six months away, now is the time to dream about spring flowers and plant
spring flowering bulbs. One of my favorites that I have discovered in the last few years
are Species Tulips. Species tulips are also sometimes called botanical tulips, wild
tulips, or rock garden tulips.
It is believed that species tulips grow in an area that runs from Central Asia to Spain
and Portugal and that roughly 150 different wild species exist. They are in the Liliaceae
(lily) family.
Species tulips are generally smaller than hybridized tulips and grow to a height of
about 6”. As with other spring flowering bulbs, plant in the fall to a depth of about 4”,
but it is always best to follow the guidelines for planting that is listed on the bulbs
package. They will preform best in full sun to part sun in well drained soils. Their
hardiness zone runs from 3-9.
Species tulips are very good for naturalizing. They not only return each year, but they
multiply every year. In general they bloom for me in mid April. I had heard that species
tulips are critter resistant. The first year I planted them in an unprotected area, some
but not all of the blooms were eaten. Since that first year, none of the blooms or bulbs
have been eaten.



Tulip 'Tarda' is my favorite species tulip so far. This little gem was awarded the Award of
Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society and was pronounced ‘Flower Bulb of
the Year’ in Holland for the year 1997. Tarda was first cultivated commercially in 1590.


Another favorite is tulip ‘Norah’. This species tulip is a lovely shade of pink with a bluish
black basal coloring.

For more information on spring flowering bulbs see
Fall-Planted Bulbs and Corms - 7.410 - ExtensionExtension
https://extension.colostate.edu/.../fall-planted-bulbs-and-corms-7-410
Spring-Planted Bulbs, Corms and Roots - 7.411 - ExtensionExtension
extension.colostate.edu/.../spring-planted-bulbs-corms-and-roots-7-411
Photos by Cherie Luke a Jefferson County Master Gardener

Friday, October 4, 2019

Accepting What Is


By Nan Porter

I have written garden articles for the paper as one of my ways to fulfill my hours for the Master Gardener organization and my garden mantra has been modified dramatically over the years since I have been writing.  When I first envisioned my garden it would have flowers that would bloom all summer and at different heights. Butterflies and bees would be buzzing in and out of flowers.  Ahhh!

I bought lots of flowers from many different nurseries, consulted nursery owners and workers and really thought I had done my homework for my vision.  As I mention in past articles it used to rain every afternoon so my garden grew and grew. Then one day the rains stopped about 10ish years ago.

My vision of a quaint English garden was never realized due to the plants not adapting and the rain not falling  (We have a well and there wasn’t enough water for garden and family.) I also bought a horse and wanted to ride instead of picking weeds and watering for hours.

Of course I still “wanted a beautiful garden.” I am just not willing to put in the time to make it happen.  Now after 20 plus years of looking out at my garden I have a new mantra “ACCEPT WHAT IS” and this year I had a wonderful colorful garden. 


Accepting what is includes filling in a lot of the garden with big pieces of flagstone, river rocks with 4 to 5 thicknesses of highest grade weed barrier under the flagstone. If there is not weed barrier the flagstone, it disappears under the weeds. Choosing plants I see around town that really grow at altitude. Exchanging plants with friends. This technique is the best for many reasons.  The plants are from this area and it is wonderful to walk through the garden and think about the people who shared their plants with you.
Accepting what flowering plants are native and just show up in your garden. Just make sure they are not white top and other noxious weeds. (Please check with your local weed manager to be sure).
Accepting there will be weeds and if you have other interests besides a wonderful garden, you too can accept a weed that is green and blends in with the gestalt of your garden.

The last thing to accept is the weather. When it snowed a lot on June 21st I was really depressed, but this year I had a beautiful garden through August which is a month longer than usual.  The garden is fading and going to seed, but it was a wonderful summer with lots of colors!!! I love gardening when I don’t
spend every day weeding for hours!!! Oh, I still do water every other day if it doesn’t rain. Accepting what is allows me to enjoy the garden that I have.




Friday, September 27, 2019

What Have You Grown this Season ??

                                 
By Jan Boone        Photos by Jan Boone






Vegetable seeds
As Fall is coming quickly, it’s a valuable time to take stock of what you grew this past season.
Hopefully you’ve amassed new successes in plant varieties, be it vegetables (heirloom or
hybrid) varieties, new perennials or annuals, shrubs or fruit trees.  The failures of things you really hoped would work can be put aside for the “Lessons Learned’ pile in planning for 2020.  Those of us who work the Evergreen Farmer’s Market booth for JeffCo Master Gardeners took an informal survey (non-scientific, I admit) in late August to confirm what people had success with and wanted to share with other gardeners.  While specific plant varieties were not accounted for, it’s perhaps a starting point for those looking to try something new in the 2020 growing season.  The everlasting quest for the perfect Foothills tomato is evident, but a missing popular vegetable which does not show up in our survey is any member of the squash family!  Perhaps it was due to the cool and wet start to our growing season?  We all agreed that only so much can be accomplished in our average 80 day growing cycle, as well a our average early frost dates of mid-September. The usual container annuals appeared in the survey as they are popular with those who plant on decks to avoid wildlife foraging, HOA constraints or small spaces.  See below for the resulting list we gathered:

 
Catmint
                                     
 Flowering Plants, Bulbs & Shrubs

Bee Balm                                                                            
Begonias – hanging
Black Cohash
Bleeding Hear                                                                                    t
Borage
California Poppies
Columbine
Cosmos
Creeping Flax
Creeping Mahonia
Daffodils
Day Lilies
Garlic
Echinacea
Helianthus varieties
Hollyhocks
Iris (bearded)
Irish Moss
Lilac
Lupine
Nepeta  (Cat mint)
Oregon Grape (dwarf & regular varieties)
Penstemon
Peonies
Roses
Russian Sage
Salvia
Yarrow (colored varieties)
Wooly Thyme


Strawberry planter

Vegetables & Fruit
Asparagus                                                                                          
Collard greens
Carrots
Jalapeno peppers
Kale
Okra
Potato
Rhubarb
Romaine lettuce
Spinach
Swiss Chard
Tomatillos
Wild strawberry


 
Planter
Herbs
Basil
Cilantro
French Thyme
Lavender – Munstead variety
Lemon Thyme
Parsley
Thyme



As you look forward to seed saving or planting bulbs in the coming weeks, there also is the chore of putting your garden to bed for the winter.  That’s a tough one as our climate changes and some things may grow longer (or bloom later) than anticipated.  Time to dig out and maybe create a cold frame for cold season vegetables or provide protection for smaller potted plants?  Don’t forget the containers that support the favored plants you’ve worked hard to maintain in the garden or on the deck.  Evaluate what plantings have worked well and what you’d maybe like to expand upon for next year.  Consider new microclimates that may have appeared in your garden due to water (snow) packs, winds, changing sun and shade patterns as well as hardscapes; straighten out the accumulated clutter from those dead plants that didn’t survive a hot spell or a browsing deer or elk. Does something need to move inside to survive the winter freezes?  Do your beds need a hearty soil and compost boost to replenish and overwinter?  Watch out for diseased leaves if you add these to home sourced mulch for winter.  Mulching too close to stems may promote rot with trapped moisture. Put yourself in the best possible position to start your 2020 growing season, imagine  the sparkle of hellebores blooming in retreating snow, daffodils dancing and wildflowers bobbing their heads.  Those 2020 garden catalogs will be arriving before you know it and you’ll pat yourself on the back for thinking ahead.

Friday, September 20, 2019

A Tool For Understanding The Soil On Your Property



by Kristina Hughes
Clear Creek County Master Gardener

I just discovered an online tool which I think is pretty neat for learning about the characteristics of your property. You can type in any address in the U.S. and receive a report of the soil types typically found in that area.

The start, go to https://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov and click on the big green button ‘Start WSS’. Find the Area of Interest (AOI) tab. Click on ‘Address’ and enter an address. Click on ‘View’. A map will appear with a location marker on the address.

The next step is to select an Area of Interest. Along the top of the map are tool buttons. On the right end of the tool bar, click on either button which says ‘AOI’. Then use the mouse to delineate a specific area on the map. Once you have outlined an area, click on the ‘Soil Map’ tab towards the top of the page to find the report.

The report for my area was interesting. It gave mean annual precipitation, numbers of frost free days and mean annual temperature. The next section listed the typical depth of each soil layer and its composition. There was information on drainage, runoff and flooding characteristics.


There is also an educational area on the website which provides brief descriptions of what soil is, how it is formed, and more.

The information in the report is generalized for the type of land forms in an area. For example my report is titled ‘Georgetown Area, Part of Clear Creek, Gilpin & Park Counties’. To get specific, detailed information for planting on my property I still need a soil test, but I found this report from the Natural Resource Conservation Service to be fun and interesting!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Raise your sites


By Claudia Dausman, Master Gardener

Raised gardens are fairly easy to build and maintain, simply a container above the ground filled with fertile soil and plants. The myriad benefits are: (1) its relatively small in area; (2) maintenance without bending over to the ground; (3) fewer weeds; (4) longer growing season; and (5) full control over the quality of the soil.

The containment box can be constructed of almost any wood, like aspen, although cedar and redwood are best. Length of the garden is only constrained by the space available, but width shouldn’t exceed 4-5 feet to facilitate the gardening of the plants. As to depth of soil, most plants need 12 inches for their roots, so 15-18 inches of soil is optimal.

The beds should be composed of topsoil, compost and other organic materials, such as manure. An appropriate recipe for a 4x8 foot bed is 8 cubic feet (cf) of topsoil, 6 cf of peat moss and 4-6 cf of compost or manure. Although not necessary, many gardens have a screen on the bottom to deter varmints from below.
My interest in raised gardens (and authoring this article) was piqued by meeting a young man, Andrew Zopf, who made a raised garden out dead aspen trees from his parents’ backyard and beyond. Andrew was inspired by Miss Gay, his AP Biology teacher in Steamboat Springs, and dreamed of having his own garden.  He began by hiking up a hill and locating some large logs, trimming the large branches, and then hauling them back down the hill to the garden site. Quite a task because most logs were 5-6 inches in diameter and a total of 5 beds were constructed. When Andrew started stacking the logs, it became evident how difficult it was to level them on top of each other to achieve a dirt deterrent seal. This created a new appreciation of the original settlers who built houses using this method.

The garden beds were built over an old compost pile so it had a good base. Unfortunately there are tall trees nearby and the beds receive only 6-7 hours of sunlight, whereas the ideal situation is direct sunlight all day.

The project the first year was somewhat expensive, since it required purchasing all of the dirt, plants and seeds. The watering system consists of a drip line from his parents’ house with a mechanical system to control the water to the desired areas. Andrew readily admits he has made mistakes, but is learning from them. Nevertheless, he has seen the fruits of success through the growth of his garden.

We encourage everyone to use the Colorado Extension office for information. It is a free service and their Master Gardeners love to help.

Be an Andrew and “Just Do It.”

Claudia Dausman moved to Steamboat in 2002 and became a Master Gardener in 2011.  Besides gardening, she loves her husband, her horses, knitting, and pickleball.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Witches’ Broom

by Vicky Barney

Witches’ broom is the name given to the strange looking knot of growth on trees and shrubs.   It looks like a broom – a large number of small branches growing from one spot – and may be found on both deciduous woody plants and conifers.  It is interesting to observe out in the forest but may be concerning if found close to home.

A tree or shrub may grow witches brooms when stressed by insects like mites or aphids, a plant pathogen like fungi, bacteria, viruses, phytoplasmas, or by parasitic plants.  In Colorado conifers, the stressor is likely one of five parasitic dwarf mistletoes (Arceuthobium).
Witches' Broom on conifer
Dwarf mistletoe infects a tree by growing root-like structures under the bark and into the wood. It lives by pulling nutrients and water from the tree.  It is a slow growing organism: after several years it will develop inconspicuous flowers and produce fruit that when ripe, will explode and send a seed into the air.  The seed will stick to any surface up to 60 feet away.  If the surface is a susceptible tree branch, the seed will germinate and grow into the bark, spreading the infection to another tree.

Witches’ brooms caused by other stressors rarely kill the host plant and may be pruned out to improve the appearance of the tree or shrub.  Dwarf mistletoe, however, can be deadly.  Over time, infected trees fail to thrive and may have witches’ brooms, unhealthy looking foliage, and dead branches.  The trees are then susceptible to fatal problems like pine beetle attacks.
Mistletoe on deciduous tree
While no viable treatment is available for infected conifers, proper management may slow or stop a dwarf mistletoe infestation. Severely affected trees should be removed and other trees pruned to remove infection from lower branches.  As dwarf mistletoe is species specific, its spread may be halted by planting different tree species between infected trees.  A chemical spray may be warranted under special circumstances.   Please see CSU Extension Fact Sheet No. 2.925 for more details. (https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/mistletoes-in-colorado-conifers-2-925/).

If you find a witches’ broom in your conifer and seek pruning information, please see CSU Extension GardenNotes #633 (https://static.colostate.edu/client-files/csfs/pdfs/618.pdf).  If you suspect a dwarf mistletoe infestation and would like help with a management plan, please contact a professional forester, the Colorado State Forest Service, or the Master Gardener program.

Vicky Barney gardens for wildlife and is a member of the Master Gardener Class of 2011.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Yikes--Bugs in Compost!!!



By Yvette Henson, CSU Extension Agent, San Miguel Basin

Last year, my compost pile became infested with pill bugs—what most of us call ‘roly poly’s’.  In the early spring, I like to add an inch or two of compost to my raised beds in preparation for planting, I noticed a solid layer of all sizes of pill bugs covering the top of my compost pile!  I wish I had taken a photo but I wasn’t thinking of documenting it at the time.  I did my best to remove that layer with my shovel and tossed them into the woods.  I went ahead and applied the compost to my garden beds.  Most references tell us that these little arthropods don’t do much damage to our plants—they simply munch on organic matter.  So, it makes sense they would be in a compost pile.   There are other positive attributes to these little buggers too.  However, they ended up thriving and multiplying in my beds, eating almost ALL of my carrots as soon as they germinated and so I had to replant!  In my short mountain growing season, replanting was a real bummer (not to mention the loss of the seeds)!  I spent quite a bit of time picking them out as I found them, luring and ‘trapping’ them under cardboard so I could toss them or squish them.

  While this was somewhat satisfying as ‘revenge’ it didn’t amount to much reduction in population. They kept hidden and multiplied in the crack between my soil line and the raised bed walls.  Finally, I got and applied an organic granular product containing spinosad that was somewhat effective.  It was labeled for pill bug control.


Pill bugs or’ roly polys’


Another insect I have seen in my compost pile are grubs! I saw these this year when I was adding partial compost to cover newly added food scraps. Beetle larvae are appropriately called ‘grubs’ and have a dark head, 6 legs near the head and they curl into C shape.  Some grubs feed on plant roots so you don’t want to add them with your compost to your garden.  Instead, screen them out of your compost pile when you find them.  You can feed them to your chickens, if you have any, or leave them for wild birds.  By the way, chickens don’t favor pill bugs for snacks. 


A ‘Grub’ ie beetle larvae






You might see maggots, fly larvae, in your compost pile if you add cooked or oily food or meat or some manures to your compost pile.  Too much nitrogen and water is a good breeding ground for them too.  Maggots have a pointed head and no legs (see the photo below).  Maggots are a good protein source for chickens and birds.  When they mature, they will fly away.   Besides not adding the above to your compost, keeping it just damp enough, like a wrung out sponge, and burying kitchen waste as you add it, will help prevent maggots from developing in your compost. 






The best way to prevent or rid arthropod invaders from your compost is to add a nitrogen source by layers to the compost as you turn it.  Keep the nitrogen in balance with the dry brown carbon in your compost. Some nitrogen sources are fresh grass clippings, alfalfa pellets, blood meal or some other fertilizer high in Nitrogen.  The way I ‘turn’ my pile is by moving my compost from one bin or ‘pile’ to another.  This puts what was on top on the bottom and what was on bottom on top.  The reason we do this is to add oxygen and a food source (the nitrogen) for the microorganisms that do the work of turning the waste into a great soil amendment.  These microorganisms will heat the pile as they feed and multiply.  A temperature of around 145 degrees F should kill most of the ‘critters’ and their eggs, plus it will help your compost break down and ‘finish’ more quickly.   Ideally you should turn your compost whenever the temperature in the center of the pile gets below 70 degrees F,  unless it is finished.  Turning it once in the spring and once in the fall is usually sufficient.  Using a compost thermometer to monitor temperature is a good idea and they are relatively inexpensive.

For more information on composting in general see,

Sometimes we get other pests in our outdoor compost piles and our indoor worm bins but I will save those for another blog, if there is interest.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Deadheading


My garden has been neglected when it comes to deadheading.  Mostly native plants have flowered year after year, providing cheerful color and food for wildlife.  But there is trouble in Paradise. The short blooming season is limiting pollinator food supplies, and aggressive plants have spread and crowded out other plants. By incorporating deadheading into my routine, I may have a longer season and greater variety of flowers.

Deadheading is the practice of removing spent blossoms.  It can be done all season long when a bloom has faded.  The practice allows energy to flow back into the plant, rather than into seed production, improving the plant’s health.

Deadheading to encourage more flowers can be as easy as pinching off the dead flower.  For most plant species, the process is more effective if the stem is cut just above the first leaf, ensuring the removal of the seed pod.  Annuals like geraniums, marigolds, and dahlias respond well, as do perennials like Jupiter’s beard, Shasta daisy, and blanket flower.  For plants that don’t have leaves along the flower stem, the stem is cut down at the base.  A longer blooming period or a rebloom may result, depending on a number of factors including the plant species, the weather and the time of year.
 
Pussytoes to deadhead
Deadheading can also be used to limit self-seeding of aggressive or unwanted plants, allowing other plant species to grow.  Some of my native plants (showy daisy, yarrow, and pussy toes) are bullies and crowd out harebells and lavender.  Deadheading will reduce their seed proliferation and help keep these aggressive plants in check.  Roots and new growth also needs to be controlled with a sharp shovel since these species spread by rhizome too.

For some species, deadheading does not result in more flowers.  Some nonnative plants are cultivated to bloom profusely without the need to deadhead. Others are one-time blooming plants, like daylilies and peonies.  Gardeners may deadhead just to improve the appearance of these plants and to keep their gardens tidy.  Follow this link for a list of common perennials that may rebloom after deadheading: https://www.finegardening.com/article/off-with-their-heads-deadheading-perennials.

Incorporating deadheading into my weekly routine will keep the task manageable.  Aggressive seeders have been addressed first, then plants that may produce more flowers for pollinators. To ensure an ample supply of seeds and fruit for wintering wildlife, I will suspend the practice before too long.  Seeing birds feasting in the winter garden is a treat!

Vicky Barney gardens for wildlife and is a member of the Master Gardener Class of 2011.

Friday, August 23, 2019

WOW! What outstanding wildflowers!


By Sandy Hollingsworth, Gilpin County Master Gardener
2019 is one of those banner years for our native wildflowers in the forests, public lands, and our neighborhoods.  With the wet Spring and then repeated rains this summer, the seeds have sprouted and the flowers are in bloom.  Another benefit of the wet earth is the lower wildfire risk in our local mountains and where we live in rural Gilpin County. And our cool season high elevation vegetable gardens are happy and productive!
Wildflower enthusiasts in Golden Gate State Park (author at the far right)

Our CSU Extension office offers wildflower walks in the summer during peak bloom color. I went on one the last day of July on a beautiful Wednesday morning. Our group was focused and inquisitive about learning the flowers. Many questions were asked about identifying characteristics to help recognize and remember the flowers and plants. We were in the local state park and encountered some noxious weeds like yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) and musk thistle (Carduus nutans) but by and large the native flowers, grasses and trees were dominating. Our Extension agent, Irene, even showed us her technique for toppling the musk thistle by bending it to the ground, stomping on it, taking the flower head off then pulling up and tossing the remaining stalk to its demise.

Among the native flowers (and plants) in bloom that we admired and examined were:
Harebell                               Campanula rotundifolia
Tansy aster (yellow center)  Erigeron speciosus
Shrubby cinquefoil              Potentilla fruticosa
Gum weed (sticky flowerheads) Grindelia squarrosa
Wild Rose                            Rosa woodsii
Yarrow                                Achillea millefolium (lantana)
Evening primrose               Oenothera villosa
Whiplash daisy                   Erigeron flagellaris
Mariposa/sego Lilly           Calochortus gunnisonii
Blue mist Penstemon         Penstemon virens
Lamberts locoweed           Oxytropis lambertii
Laxman’s Astragalus        Astragalus laxmannii
Hairy golden aster            Heterotheca villosa         
Showy aspen daisy           Erigeron speciosus
Sulphur buckwheat          Eriogonum umbellatum
One-sided penstemon      Penstemon virgatus
Fringed sage                    Artemisia frigida
Blanketflower                  Gaillardia aristata
Blanket Flower (with Yarrow in front)
Mountain sage                    Artemisia ludoviciana
Nodding Onion                  Allium cernuum
Northern bedstraw (scented)     Galium septentrionale
Stick seed Hackelia          Hackelia floribunda
Native thistle                    Cirsium clavatum (whitish flowers)
Mountain larkspur           Delphinium ramosum
Indian paintbrush (scarlet and white) Castilleja miniata and occidentalis
Indian Paintbrush
Wild geranium                       Geranium caespitosum
Stonecrop                              Amerosedum lanceolatum
Scorpion weed                       Phacelia heterophylla
Fendlers meadow rue            Thalictrum fendlerii
Twin berry honeysuckle        Lonicera involucrata
Nodding brome (native grass)    Bromus anomalus
Golden rod                        Solidago simplex
Prairie June grass              Koeleria macrantha
Native cinquefoils             Potentilla argentea, speciosa, and pensylvanica
Fendlers sand wort            Eremogene fendleri
Mountain parsley             Cymopterus montanus
Whiskbroom parsley        Harboria
Wild tarragon                  Oligosporus dracunculus
Limber pine                     Pinus flexulis
Blue spruce                     Picea pungens
Wall flower                     Erysimum capitatum
Kinnikinnick                  Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Scarlet gilia (biennial)   Ipomopsis aggregata
Scarlet gilia
Golden banner                Thermopsis divaricarpa
Yellow false dandelion  Agoseris
Horsetail                       Equisetum
Black eye Susan           Rudbeckia hirta
Blue flax                       Linum lewisii
Smooth penstemon      Penstemon glaber
Porter aster
Porter aster                  Symphyotricum porteri
Pea Vine                      Lathyrus polymorphis
Snowberry bush          Symphoricarpus alba
Showy goldeneye       Heliomeris (Viguera) multiflora

Sandy Hollingsworth is a Master Gardener with  Gilpin County.  All photos by Sandy.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Sedum lanceolatum


by Cindy Gibson
There is a path I take almost every day as part of my morning or evening chores on our small ranch. I’m a downward-looking walker, usually making sure that I don’t trip over a new gopher mound or looking for weeds that I need to pull. However, I stopped in my tracks when I saw this little native gem seemingly to grow out of some rocks.

Commonly known as yellow stonecrop, Sedum lanceolatum can be found in the Western
United States and Canada, from Alaska and the Yukon to California and east to Colorado and South Dakota. It grows at montane or alpine elevations in open, rocky and dry locations. The plant evolved during the last ice age when higher altitude areas became isolated by glaciers.
Sedum lanceolatum
Like other sedums, it has a waxy coating on the stems and leaves to help reduce water loss. In addition, plants that have evolved in dry environments are able to keep their stomata closed during the day to conserve water. Most plants open their stomata during the day because that is when energy is received from the sun. The plant will also take in carbon dioxide and use the energy from the sun to form sugars. All the steps of photosynthesis occur during the day and oxygen is released. The sedums, cacti, and agaves are able to open their stomata at night to capture and store carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis starts the next day when the plant receives the energy from the sun. This two-step process is known as CAM photosynthesis, named after the plant where this process was first discovered.
Sedum lanceolatum rosette
Sedums belong to the Crassulaceae, or Stonecrop, family. The USDA classifies this plant as a perennial herb. It has been reported to be hardy in zones 4-9.  This succulent plant will appear in the spring with tight basal rosettes that are composed of small, narrow leaves that come to a blunt tip. The reddish leaves point upwards and become smaller as the plant grows. They often fall away by the time the plant blooms. 

The flowers will appear sometime in June and last until August. They have five narrow, lance shaped, pointed-tipped petals and a ring of protruding stamens. Most flower parts are greenish yellow in color. The stamens are tipped with yellow anthers. At the center of the flower is a five-lobed ovary, which transforms into reddish fruit in the fall. The tiny, lightweight seeds will emerge in late August when the fruit turns tan and begins to split open at the top. The plant will also grow from leaf or stem cuttings.
Flowers with ring of stamens and the five-lobed ovaries
Fun Facts about Sedum lanceolatum:
• The young stems and fleshy leaves have been used medicinally by Native Americans as a
laxative.
• The flowers attract native bees, butterflies and the syrphid flies whose larvae will prey on
aphids, scale insect and thrips.
• The larvae of the alpine butterfly, Parnassium smintheus feed primarily on this plant. The
female butterfly lays her eggs on the surrounding ground vegetation. The caterpillars will
pupate within a silk cocoon located in ground debris.
• The plant produces a chemical called sarmentosin, which is a bitter-tasting deterrent to
herbivores. The Parnassium larva, however, will store this chemical and use it for their own
defense.

Now on my daily walks, I’m more apt to be looking for tiny treasures instead of weeds. Who knows what I will find next!

References:
  • USDA Plant Database
  • Southwest Colorado Wildflowers Database
  • Native Plant Network

Cindy Gibson is a Master Gardener in Jefferson County.
All photos by Cindy Gibson