Friday, December 18, 2020

Seedling Trees, Shrubs, and Perennial Wildflowers Available

Low-cost seedling trees, shrubs, and perennial wildflowers from the Colorado State Forest Service nursery are now available for order, as part of the 2021 Trees for Conservation seedling tree program. The seedlings can be purchased locally from cooperating agencies across Colorado

This year, the nursery is offering a small collection of perennial wildflower plants. Species include Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristate), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), and Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon strictus).

Early orders are encouraged as supplies are limited this year. Check out the current inventory here, but remember to make your order through your local cooperator.

The focus of the tree seedling program is to help landowners to meet conservation goals, restore forests impacted by wildfire and other disturbance, reduce soil loss, and enhance wildlife habitat. The program also allows landowners to plant vegetation in areas impacted by tree insects and diseases.

When considering which species to plant, landowners should consider elevation, aspect and soil type. Visit the Colorado State Forest Service website to find your local seedling sale and to obtain local assistance on tree species selection and ordering.

Friday, December 11, 2020


By Sharon Faircloth, Jefferson County Master Gardener

There are several blooming plant options during the winter holidays. A unique option is the Christmas Cactus.  The Schlumbergera is actually an epiphyte native to the coastal mountains of Brazil where they grow on trees and in the cracks of rocks.  The delicate 1-3” blooms cover the stems in cascading colors from bright white, pale peach to deep fuchsia to bright red.

The genus is named for Frederic Schlumberger who grew a variety of the cactus at his home in Rouen, France. While most often referred to as the Christmas Cactus, a Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) blooms in September and have pointy stems.  Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera Buckleyi) have a more rounded stems and bloom later in December and January.  The Easter Cactus (Schlumbergera gaertneri) has more of a scalloped leaf stem. 

Growing the cactus is usually quite easy, about the only bad things you can do to them is over water or give them too much sun!  For most of the year, watering once a week is plenty of attention. They like lots of cool indirect light and once they begin to bloom, only water when dry.  Blooms last about 3-6 weeks and once the plant is finished blooming, you can fertilize.  The nub left after the bloom drops will grow into another section of the stem.

Unlike the traditional holiday poinsettia, the cactus doesn’t take hiding in the closet to rebloom.  The cactus will require the cooler temperatures and short days to bloom but the plant never stops growing and it’s not unusual to live 20 years or more.

To stimulate growth, avoid over watering and make sure your pot is not too large for the root system.  The plant prefers well-draining soil like a succulent mix in a terra cotta pot.  To add humidity, place pebbles in a tray under the pot making sure the pot does not sit directly in water.  Think how they live in nature in rock crags.  You can propagate by snipping the stem at the joint and placing directly in the soil/medium.

There are few issues in growing the cactus.  If you have blooms drop before opening, you are letting the plant get too dry or possibly too much of a temperature change.  If the leaf stems grow red, there is too much direct sunlight.  If the plant base becomes woody, no worries, it’s normal!

The really lovely thing about the holiday cactus is that they often bloom more than once a year. Some months after the winter holidays, you may be surprised by another blush of blooms.  For a low maintenance unique plant, try this cactus.  It’s readily available in a whole palette of colors and will reward you throughout the year.

For more information, check out PlantTalk Information Sheets #1353 and #1336 at


Friday, December 4, 2020

Firewood Insects

By Kurt Jones, Chaffee County Extension Director 

That fire in the woodstove feels good on these cooler fall evenings, but the firewood can be a source of nuisance insects being introduced into the home. Though most insects will not attack home furnishings, these insects can be troublesome for the diligent housekeeper. Fortunately, I am not a diligent housekeeper. 

There are literally hundreds of insects that can attack our native trees, however several common ones can be found associated with firewood. Wood borers are the most frequently observed insects infesting firewood and house logs. Most common are roundheaded borers, also known as longhorned borers or sawyers. Adults are medium to large beetles (1/4 to 2 inches), often with long antennae that may exceed the body length. Common roundheaded borers are gray-brown with black speckling (sawyers) or deep blue-black (black-horned pine borer). 

Adult flatheaded borers, also called metallic wood borers (see picture), generally are smaller than roundheaded borers. Flatheaded borers commonly are gray, bronze or blue-green with a metallic sheen and have inconspicuous antennae.
Borer larvae are slender, white, segmented grubs with brownish heads and rather prominent jaws. These larvae produce the chewing noises and piles of wood-colored sawdust that frequently cause alarm. This sawdust material may be relatively fine or coarse and fibrous. These borers also are responsible for the wide zigzag or meandering tunnels seen beneath the bark and deep in the wood. The tunnels of both groups are oval in cross-section, not perfectly round. 

Wood borers are primarily a nuisance. The noise and sawdust they produce is suggestive of termites and, thus, disconcerting. Because of their long life cycle, borers may be present in wood for a year or longer. They do not emerge and attack healthy trees. Furniture, wall framing or other seasoned woods are not suitable for wood borer attack. Despite producing what may seem like great quantities of dust, borers rarely tunnel extensively enough to cause structural failure. Adult borers found inside the home may look ominous and pinch the skin if handled, but are not dangerous. 

Bark beetles commonly infest dead or dying trees and then appear in firewood from such trees. Several well-known tree killers and disease vectors are the mountain pine beetle, European elm bark beetle and Ips beetles. Adult bark beetles are small (1/16 to 1/4 inch), dark and bluntly cylindrical. Infestation on conifers usually is marked by a glob of pitch (pitch-tube) at the point of attack. Eggs are laid in central pathways (egg galleries) constructed under the bark. The larvae feed on wood as they chew at right angles from the central gallery. 

Most bark beetles have a one-year life cycle, but a few can complete generations in two-month intervals. Bark beetles cannot reproduce in household wood products. 

Problems with firewood insects emerging in the home are best handled by storing firewood outdoors until needed. Outdoor storage will greatly slow insect development during the winter and limit the opportunity of insects to emerge inside a home. Vacuuming can control the occasional insects that do manage to emerge indoors. To limit firewood insect infestations, stack wood so air readily flows through the pile. Well-dried wood will not invite bark beetle attack. The drying process can kill many developing bark beetle larvae already present in the wood.