Monday, March 12, 2018

Get The Flower Garden Of Your Dreams!

 From seed or nursery transplants, in the yard, in containers or hanging baskets, flowers brighten our property and add to the pride of ownership. How do you plant warm-season flowers? Finding a spot with sunshine that you can also get a shovel into is a great start! Most colorful blooming flowers have much more tender roots than trees or shrubs so it is important that you have rich garden soil. 
Due to our poor native soil, it is best to add organic material like Paydirt™ Planting Mix or Humus Gro, with a liberal addition of Dr. Q’s® Gold Dust Starter Fertilizer. Install your flowers, water with a solution of Dr. Q’s Plant Tonic, fertilize monthly and enjoy! Container gardens are super too!
Alyssum is a low, bushy, spreading plant covered with small fragrant flowers in shades of white, pink or purple. They self-sow readily and resprout in spring. Excellent in borders or mass plantings. Be sure you want them where you put them!
Begonia makes a colorful addition to any shady garden area. Bronze or shiny green, semi-succulent foliage is highlighted with delicate flowers in white, pink or red. Good in containers. Variety New Guinea is taller and bushier with larger flowers. Be sure this one has excellent drainage.
Buddy Purple has papery purple flower heads atop compact bushy foliage. Good for edging, beds or pots. Cut flowers are excellent in dried arrangements.
Celosia gives bright garden color in the hottest weather.  New Look has purplish red foliage and feathery, deep red flower spikes.  Plume Celosia has green foliage with feathery flower spikes in shades of yellow, pink and red. Makes an excellent full sun accent, border or background. Groom as needed to keep neat.
Cosmos is a delicate, fernlike plant with large, bright daisy-like flowers in shades of pink, purple, white, or lavender. It frequently reaches 3 feet in height and makes a good background or accent. Plants self-sow freely.
Impatiens give delicate color to shady areas, patio containers, atriums, and entryways. Succulent stems bear flowers in a wide variety of colors. Needs good garden soil and excellent drainage.
Lobelia makes an excellent trailing plant for shady containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets. In shady gardens, it makes a nice, compact accent or border. In varieties like Cambridge Blue and Crystal Palace, rich blue flowers contrast with bright green or bronzy green leaves. Other varieties may be pure white, pink or blue with a white eye.
Marigold comes in an endless variety of colors and sizes. From dwarf to giant, in colors of bright yellow, orange and red, this plant has always been a favorite of gardeners in the southwest. Equally, at home in containers or gardens, it self-sows readily. It’s great in full sun and better without overhead water.
Petunias are marked by large, trumpet-shaped flowers on compact, bushy plants. Shades range from pure white through purple, pink, red and bicolor. Some varieties are sweetly fragrant. Excellent in massed plantings, spring and fall; needs afternoon shade in summer to look good. May carry over in mild winters.

Vinca is a showy, glossy green, heat-loving plant with flowers in unusual shades of grape, raspberry, blue, red, rose, white and bicolor. Excellent in masses, as borders or spot accents. Avoid overhead sprinkling. It may return from seed next year.
Zinnia makes a spectacular addition to any summer garden. Ranging in size from dwarf to 3 feet or more, this heat lover produces flowers in nearly every shade imaginable. Good in pots; remove spent flowers to encourage repeat blooming. Avoid overhead sprinkling.

Dianthus is a member of the carnation family that makes perfect mounds of color in spring and fall. Blooms off and on throughout the rest of the year. Shows nearly endless color varieties from deep red through pink, purple, white and bicolor. Will also grow well in part shade. Plant anywhere in the garden.
Dusty Miller is highly favored for its soft, silvery gray foliage. It’s excellent for formal borders and accents in traditional or desert gardens. Stalks of mustard-yellow flowers appear in summer. Remove them to keep the plant vigorous. This one is rabbit resistant!

Gazania is a bright, cheery, heat-loving plant available in trailing or clumping varieties. Trailing types make excellent ground covers while clumping plants are perfect for spot accents, masses or borders. Colors range from white to burgundy, yellow, orange, red and bicolor. Don’t over water this one!
Lantana is one of the most versatile, colorful plants available for our climate. Varieties include trailing, mounding, and bush with shades of purple, orange, yellow, red and multicolor. Use it as a ground cover, accent, border or clipped, low hedge. Prune in spring when new growth appears.
Pentas are wonderful, spreading, multi-stemmed perennials grown as annuals in our climate. Compact plants are continually covered with clusters of white, pink, lilac or red flowers. Superb as borders, masses or accents. Takes overhead watering better than most bedding plants.

Snapdragon is available in many colors and sizes. Dwarf varieties are excellent for masses, foregrounds, and borders. Taller varieties work well as background and accent plantings. All do well in containers. Self-sows readily and produces endless color variations due to cross-pollination.
For more information on Warm Weather Flower Gardening, check out Star Note #310.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Your Essential Spring Garden Guide

Vegetables have been grown successfully in hot, dry climates for many years. In Southern Nevada, Southern Utah, and Northern Arizona, many tasty crops can be produced with a little preparation and planning. 
Soil preparation is very important in producing bountiful crops. 
Consistent fertilizing and watering practices are also needed. 
Here are a few handy tips for the home gardener:

  •  Don’t try to garden in caliche! If you have an impermeable layer near the surface, build raised beds and fill them with a mixture of native soil and bagged organic material like Paydirt™ Planting Mix or Dr. Q's Vegetable & Herb Mix. 

  •  When locating your vegetable bed, choose a spot with good air circulation. 
  • Avoid excessively windy areas or reflective heat sources like south or west facing walls.

  •  Use the right fertilizers for what you’re trying to grow. Leaf crops need lots of nitrogen; fruit crops like peppers and tomatoes need less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium. Dr. Q’s Vegetable and Tomato Food is excellent, as well as our Earthworm Castings. A Star Nursery sales associate can help you pick the right fertilizer.
  • When amending vegetable beds, a mix of no more than one half organic material to one half native soil will suffice. To keep the soil fresh and viable, add some new organic material each time you replant your beds. Add Dr. Q’s® Gold Dust Starter Fertilizer, according to package directions, a day or so before planting.
  • Surface mulches help prevent weeds, conserve water and cool plant roots. 

  • Shredded Cedar Bark repels insects! Use them generously.

  • Most pests can be controlled by hand and sprays of water from the hose. The biggest pests in warm weather vegetable gardens, along with aphids, are caterpillars, cabbage loopers, and hornworms. These can be safely controlled with Bio-Worm Killer® or an equivalent bacillus thuringensis (BT) product. Be conservative in applying chemicals. Use the right ones, and ALWAYS FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS.

  • The first frost is usually around mid-November in Southern Nevada, Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, the last frost is usually early to mid-March. Due to the erratic nature of desert weather, these dates can vary considerably. Be flexible and be prepared to protect your young vegetable plants if necessary. 

  • If you want to start your own seedlings instead of purchasing transplants, add a 6 to 10-week lead-time depending on variety. For example, if you want tomatoes, you should start them indoors in mid-January to have them ready for a late March planting.


Artichokes (March to May). Grown from transplants; tough, attractive and tasty. Harvest buds when tight and plump. Flowers are spectacular in dried arrangements. Use a hose to wash off aphids.

Asparagus (November to January-roots; March to April-seeds).  Seed make strong plants in one season. Plants take 2-3 years to produce in quantity. Prefers rich soil and regular water. Cut stems to the ground when plants turn brown in winter.


Beans (March to July).  Grown from seed or transplants. Salt-sensitive; flush soil regularly. Chinese long beans (asparagus beans—seed only) are the most heat tolerant of common beans.

Corn (March 15, July 15).  Grown from seed. These are the two best dates. It can also be planted in between. If planting after late July, use short or mid-season varieties (65 to 80 days). Plant in blocks rather than rows, since row-grown-corn pollinates poorly here.

Cucumber (March to August). Grown from seed or transplants. Armenian (burpless) cucumbers are more heat tolerant and less likely to turn bitter. Grow on fence or trellis tie fruit to support and to prevent curling (use old pantyhose); harvest when no more than a foot long. Plant bush varieties to save space.

Eggplant (March to July). Grown from transplants. Oriental (Japanese) and white eggplants produce better in summer heat than traditional varieties. Plants do well in semi-shade; watch for spider mites.

Lettuce—leaf (All year).  Grown from seed or transplants. Leaf lettuce like Black Seeded Simpson can be grown all year. Plant every 2 weeks for a good, regular crop. Best with PM summer shade.

Melons (April to July).  Grown from seed or transplants. Give plenty of water as melons develop. Cantaloupes and other musk-type melons don’t transplant well and do best if started from seed. Watermelons are good either way. Overhead sprinkling is not recommended.

Okra (April to May). Grown from seed. Pick small pods every day to keep from getting tough and woody.

Peppers (March to July). Begin with transplants or seeds. Make sure soil is warm before planting; use black plastic to warm it up if necessary in early spring. To aid in setting fruit, some gardeners recommend pinching off any fruit already on transplants before planting. Give regular water and good drainage; plant deep.

Radish (All year).  Grown from seed. Gets pithy and hot fast, so plant small amounts every two weeks for a regular supply.

Spinach, New Zealand (April to August).  Grown from seed. Similar to regular spinach, but more heat tolerant. Endures salty soils.

Squash (March to July). Grown from transplants or seeds. It’s important to water beneath leaves. That prevents mildew and allows you to use Sevin Dust to control squash bugs. Popular varieties are Yellow CrookneckZucchini, and Spaghetti.

Tomatoes (Early March to May; August).   Grown from transplants. The smaller-fruited varieties like Sweet 100Red CherryPatioYellow Pear and Roma tolerate the heat better. Beefsteaks are generally disappointing. Heartland and Heatwave are larger-fruited, heat tolerant varieties. Other varieties do not generally set fruit in July and August here. Cut back in late August for a fall crop from summer plants. Plant deep and water thoroughly but infrequently until fruit forms. Some gardeners recommend a fifty-percent shade cloth cool the plant and improve humidity.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

6 Things You Can Check Off Your Garden To-Do List

Spring is closer than you think and February is a great month to do some preparation, clean-up, and planning. Here are a few items to check off the garden to-do list and get your yard ready for spring!

Watch out for strong winds. 
Spring often comes early to the Desert Southwest. Winds can stress new plantings and burn young leaves. 
Water deeply and make sure all new trees are STAKED PROPERLY. Use multiple poles and soft ties to keep trees from breaking or blowing over.

Finish planting Dormant Pot Roses and Fruit Trees.  
All planting should be completed by Valentine’s Day or the plants may not survive the coming summer heat.

“Wake up” Established roses.  
About 3 weeks after pruning, get roses ready for the spring blooming period with the “Star Potion” discussed in StarNote 605, Fertilizer Mixture for Established Roses. 

Fertilize fruit trees and grapes early in the month.  
The greatest need for nitrogen is about 6 weeks before and after bloom. Proper feeding during this period helps ensure the highest quality fruit. The use of a soil alkalinity modifier like Con-Gro can substantially enhance your plant's uptake of nutrients. The “Star Potion” for fruit trees is discussed in StarNote 610, Fertilizer Mixture for Established Fruit Trees. 

Frost-damaged plants.  
If damaged by a freeze or hard frost, leave plants unpruned and undisturbed until later in spring. Pruning or transplanting after such damage may further weaken or kill the plant. When new growth emerges, you’ll see where to prune it.

Prevent spring lawn weeds 
An application of a granular pre-emergent weed control product, like Amaze® or Bonide Crabgrass and Broadleaf Weed Preventer, give excellent pre-emergent control in tree wells, shrub and flower beds.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Simplest Way To Boost Your Health

It’s a New Year and for many of us that means new health commitments.
Here’s one that doesn’t require a membership, tight clothes or counting reps.

Get a Houseplant.

The health benefits are at the top of the list for reasons to add houseplants to your living or work space. Studies indicate that indoor air quality can be up to 5 times worse than our outdoor air. Since most of us spend an average of 90% of our day indoors, the health risks associated with indoor air pollution are significant.

Research shows that plants can:

  • ·   Purify the air and help get rid of harmful organic compounds like Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde, and Ammonia.
  • ·   Reduce stress and lower blood pressure by creating a calming effect.
  • ·   Improve memory and focus while increasing productivity.
  • ·   Contribute to an overall sense of well-being
  • ·   Increase and regulate humidity in the air.


Think you don’t have a green thumb?
We've all been there.

You finally commit to buying a beautiful houseplant and put it in the prettiest pot and it makes you so very happy.
Then, almost as quickly as it came, that happiness fades with the wilting and eventual death of your cute little green friend.
::play sad violin tune::

Here are some fool-proof tips to get you off to a good start.

1. Drainage: Pick pots or containers with drainage holes.

Roots need air to live and planting them into a pot without holes is condemning them to a slow death by drowning. Make sure there are holes in the pot and a drain plate to catch the draining water.
Empty that drain plate a few minutes after watering.

2. Light: Check the plant’s needs.

Even the most low-light tolerant plants need light to live. 
Photosynthesis is a plant's well balanced diet.
There should be enough light to read a book by for most of the day.

3. Soil: Not all soils are created equal.

Succulents and cactus are a trendy option for bright indoor spaces.
Remember that their needs are different than those of a traditional houseplant. Traditional houseplants need a good water absorbing potting soil.
Cactus and succulents need the opposite. 
They need a sandy well-draining soil and need to dry out between watering.

Some tropical plants would also do well with a regular misting of the leaves. It’s important to know what type of plant you’re considering and weigh out how much time you can dedicate to the care.


Here are some eye-catching and low maintenance options:

·         Snake Plant – Very Low Water & Very Low Light
     Ponytail Palm – Very Low Water & Bright Light
     Pothos – Low Water & Medium Light
     Zeezee Plant – Very Low Water & Very Low Light
     Dracaena – Low Water & Bright Light
     Jade Plant – Very Low Water & Bright Light
     Heatleaf Philodendron – Low Water & Medium Light
     English Ivy – Medium Water & Low Light

     Arrowhead Vine – Low Water & Low Light