Keep the plants you love inside for the winter.
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Over Wintering Tender Plants

     Cool evenings, crisp mornings and pumpkin spice lattes at the coffee shop – fall is in the air! Perhaps you have a particularly beautiful hanging basket or container and you’re feeling sad that it will die when the cold weather comes. For special plants, you may want to try to over winter them. Over wintering means that you will bring the plant inside – either to the garage, basement or living area. Perennials and shrubs that are hardy in this area and which stay outdoors generally do not need extra protection, although a reasonable layer of mulch is always a good idea.
     Not all plants are good candidates for over wintering. Generally, plants that do well are tender perennials (which are often grown as annuals) and tropical plants. See the list below for specific examples.
     If you do want to over winter a few of your container plants, here’s some guidelines. First, check the plant thoroughly for bugs and disease. You do not want these in your house! If bugs are present, use the appropriate spray to clear them off. If any leaves or stems look diseased, cut them out. If the plant isn’t healthy and happy now, you may not want to go to the work of keeping it. Be sure to bring it inside before the frost. If the leaves get even a little bit nipped by frost, recovery can be difficult.
     Try to place plants you bring inside so they’ll get the most available sunshine. A south facing window, of course, would be best but those aren’t always available. Even in a southern exposure location, the plant may stretch toward the light simply because of the lower angle of the sun during winter. Continue to water the plant, but allow the soil to be on the dry side. You should not need to fertilize unless the plant is actively growing.
     The hope is that the plant will go into a semi-dormant holding pattern for the winter – not really growing, but not dead. This is much easier said than done – humidity is very low here in the winter, the house is a little too warm for dormancy, and the sunlight is weak. Many plants will drop their leaves and make a mess. Others will make it through the winter but they won’t be nearly as pretty next spring as they were when you brought them inside. In this case, next spring you can cut the plant back liberally and again watch it grow and (hopefully) flourish.
    Over wintering tender plants is difficult. Some will die despite your hard work. Don’t feel bad about it, instead keep trying – gardening is a constant learning experience!
     I expect several more weeks of nice weather. When the weather turns cold enough to freeze, you can expect to get a frost warning email from me. In the meantime, if you have questions about your plants, please contact me or call me at 970-988-3808. 
Over winter well and look decent as houseplants:
Cordyline and Spikes
Phormium (Elephant Ears)
Tuberous Begonia

Over winter fairly well, but expect a mess from the leaves:
Zonal Geraniums
Asparagus Fern
Keep as dormant bulbs/corms/tubers:
Tuberous Begonia
Sweet Potato Vine
Canna Lily
Calla Lily

Don’t bother; they’re too messy and they're cheap to replace:
Vinca Vine
Pretty Containers

Fall Clean-up Service    

Although I'm really hoping we'll have a few more weeks of pleasant weather, I want to remind you that I offer a fall clean up service to clean out and protect your containers for the winter. When you are ready to have your containers cleared up, contact me or give me a call at (970) 988-3808 to schedule.

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For the 2017 gardening season, I'm highlighting flowers and plants of each color of the rainbow. I've already pointed out pink, red, orange, yellow, green and blue flowers and this month I'll cover the final color of the rainbow, purple. 

Color of the Month: Purple

In containers...
Verbena is a frequent component of hanging baskets and container gardens. The flowers cluster together to form round balls. It is tolerant of both over and under watering and blooms continuously. Verbena can irritate your skin; wear gloves when handling. 
Floss Flower
Floss Flower / Ageratum
Aptly named for the tiniest petals as thin as dental floss, the clusters of flowers look like pom-poms when fully open. Floss Flower does best in a sunny location and appreciates extra fertilizer throughout the summer.
Wishbone Flower
Wishbone Flower / Torenia
The tubular, often bi-color, flowers make this flower distinctive enough but the attentive viewer will look closely inside the flowers to see a tiny "wishbone" formed by the anthers of the flower. Breeding work continues to improve this shade tolerant flower.
In flower beds...
Pincushion Flower
Pincushion Flower / Scabiosa columbaria
Rising above the mound of basal foliage on wiry stems, the 1.5" flowers appear in mass for most of the summer. The "pincushion" is in the center of the flower, but you have to look closely to see it (just like the Wishbone Flower). Spent flowers become little round off-white balls which can be removed for appearance, but not required by the plant.
Bell Flowers
Bell Flower / Campanula spp.
Campanulas range from low-growing ground cover to flowers that are 1-2 feet tall. The flowers are purple, "blue" or white and shaped like a bell. Campanulas are prone to getting powdery mildew late in the summer, but it's rarely fatal. 
In the yard..
The large, showy flowers of 'Jackmanii' clematis often cause bouts of nostalgia as this plant was very popular when it was introduced in England in 1862 and it quickly overtook gardens across the United States as well. Clematis vines always climb by tendrils, which look like threads coming off the stem which twist around objects they encounter. Thus, Clematis require a trellis or support structure with thin wires which the tendrils can twist around.
Russian Sage
Russian Sage / Perovskia atriplicifolia
I think Russian Sage is over used in northern Colorado, but it does have some nice characteristics that make it so attractive. It requires very little water; does fine with lousy soil; has a long bloom period; and requires minimal care. If Russian Sage gets too much water or not enough sunshine it will get floppy. It also attracts bees and pollinators of all kinds.
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