Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Who Likes Burritos?

Apparently everyone if you're asking a bunch of kindergartners!
This class was pretty excited when we told them that we were going to plant a garden of veggies that you would find in a burrito.
Now ask them what they like to eat in their burritos and you'll find that these tiny foodies have a seasoned palate for the popular wrapped up meal.

Here's what we planted:
Yellow Squash
and some flowers to keep our beloved 
pollinators interested.

First we woke up the sleepy garden bed from its winter nap with some soil turning and added in fresh Paydirt planting mix and mulch.
Then the students helped "hug" the new plants out of their containers by giving them a good squeeze.

Then we introduced the veggies to their new home in the soil and made sure to label what we planted so that we wouldn't forget.
We were careful to give everything enough space to stretch out their roots, stems and leaves.
Everything looked happier in the garden than in their plastic pots.
After the planting was finished, we gave everything a nice long drink of water.

See you soon burrito garden! 
Can't wait to eat you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Raise Up!

Raised beds are hands down the easiest way to grow veggies here in our desert.
Probably the most important thing about vegetable gardening is having a nice, nutrient dense, rich soil for them to grow in. If you've ever tried digging into the native soil in your backyard you know that it can really be difficult to add an amendment to the soil for planting. Being able to manipulate the soil above ground makes things 100 percent easier. 

You can tailor the height of your raised bed to the person that's going to be working in it. If you have small children or don't mind gardening on your hands and knees, then you'll do well with a bed that's about 8-12 inches off the ground.
Raise it up to 2-3 feet to simplify gardening for seniors or those with physical limitations. 
Wide edges on the top perimeter lend to easy leaning over into the bed.
Whether you choose to build with wood, concrete or brick, you will be able to make the space a reflection of your own tastes and personality.

Watering your raised bed can be calming and therapeutic, but as things heat up you may find it less soothing and more stressful.
Adding your own drip irrigation or soaker hose to the bed can take away the burden of daily watering when the summer months come. 

Veggies aren't the only thing easy to grow in raised beds. If you've been wanting to try growing some different flowers for arranging or maybe just to admire while you're sitting on your patio, this is an easy way to create the perfect growing conditions.

Here's a couple things to keep in mind when planning a raised bed.

Size: you'll want to be able to reach the plants in the center so a width of no more than 4 feet is desirable. The length can be whatever fills your needs.
Soil: Again, being able to easily manipulate the soil is the best perk. You'll want to mix a blend of 50 percent sand to 50 percent compost. You need the sand to allow for drainage and the compost to feed those plants.
Sun: Pick a spot that gets the most sunlight. It's always easier to add shade when you think you'll need it. There are very few veggies that can grow in the shade.

If you don't have space in your own yard, consider testing your green thumb at one of the valley's community gardens. They offer a pay for space program that can easily be shared with a friend or family member. It's an also an easy and fun introduction to gardening for kids.

Check one out today!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Desert Rose

George Burns Rose
Patented Floribunda

There's no shortage of beautiful flowers in the spring, even in the desert, but this time of year is especially nice for roses. 
Most people that don't already grow the flowering shrubs are surprised to learn that roses do really well in our climate. They are drought tolerant when established and are a rewarding way to add bold color to your landscape.

Ketchup & Mustard Rose

With the hundreds of varieties available to plant, it can be overwhelming to pick the right ones.
Here's a basic breakdown of five of the most common categories of roses that you'll find while shopping. Knowing how a rose is going to mature will help you put the right plant in the right place. 

Opening Night Rose
Hybrid Tea

Hybrid Tea are the world's most popular roses. They grow to 4-6 feet in height with a 2-4 foot spread and produce large well formed blooms atop long straight upright stems. They are excellent for cutting and arrangements.

Chicago Peace Rose
Hybrid Tea

Grandiflora, Latin for "large-flowered", are the largest of the shrubs getting up to 8-10 feet in height.
The blooms cluster in threes or fives and are also featured on long stems.

Dick Clark Rose

Floribunda, Latin for "many-flowering", is a cross between polyanthas and hybrid tea to produce a large number of high quality blooms. This bush stays in the 3-4 foot range in height with a 2-4 foot span. The flowers are typically smaller than a hybrid tea, but bloom in larger clusters. The Iceberg roses are also in this group and are very prolific bloomers.

Coral Dawn Beauty 
Climbing Rose

Climbing roses grow very long (15-30 feet with a 10-15 foot spread) with more flexible canes than the shrub or bush varieties.
These are not to be confused with vines that can cling to walls or trellises by themselves, climbing roses need to be trained on to support structures.
The blooms are varying forms of small and large flowers and some can be repeat bloomers.

Don Juan
Climbing Rose

Miniature Roses are dwarf mutations of other shrub varieties. They stay relatively small growing only 6 inches to 2 feet in height with a span of about 2-4 feet. This makes them excellent for growing in containers or also in a bright spot indoors as houseplants.

Miniature Roses

All roses grown in our desert climate require some hard pruning in the dormant season (winter) to thrive. There is an art to pruning so make sure you check the seminar calendar in January to see when our next rose pruning segment will be. 
Pruning is well worth the time and you'll see the flowers of your labor in the spring, possibly all summer, and again in the fall.

Knowing the growing habit of a rose makes it easier to plan for its place in your garden whether you're looking for a more formal rose garden or just looking to add some color to your already drought tolerant landscape.

Check out our Star Notes on Rose Selection, Care, and Planting!

Friday, March 20, 2015

This Sunday, March 22nd!

We're having a free Spring Vegetable Gardening seminar at 
Craig Ranch Community Garden!
You don't have to be a member of the garden to attend.
10-11am at Craig Ranch Regional Park.

This month's topic- Get it in the Ground! Warm weather vs. Cool weather: What to keep and what to make room for. What to plant from starts and what to plant from seed.
See the full seminar schedule here!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

This Saturday, March 21st!

Star Nursery's Kids Garden Club will be out an about this Saturday at the Horses for Heroes 
Spring Health and Wellness Fair at Floyd Lamb Park.
Join us for a fun day of healthy activities, games and a gardening activity!
Parking admission is $6 per car. The event is free!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

This Saturday, March 21st!

If you're looking to tackle a new or existing irrigation project before the heat turns up, then you won't want to miss our Saturday seminar on Understanding Irrigation Systems. 
Join us at all Star Nursery locations this Saturday, March 21st at 10am or 2pm for this free and informative seminar.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Lucky Shamrock
Oxalis triangularis

We could all use a little more luck in our lives, right? 
Whether you celebrate this day by wearing green, drinking a pint of Irish beer, or eating a hearty meal of corned beef and cabbage, a three leaved plant would add a touch of luck and charm to your desk, dinner table or garden.

Oxalis 'Sunset Velvet'

We recommend planting the many shades of oxalis, ranging from emerald green to amber to dark purple, instead of the traditional Trifolium repens. It is said St. Patrick planted the clover crop all over Ireland as a symbol of the Holy Trinity represented by the three leaves.

Oxalis Burgundy Bliss

This shade tolerant ground cover is excellent for that North facing side of your garden that just doesn't seem to get enough light. The dark leaves of the purple varieties work well as a contrast to other bedding plants and flowers.

Purple Shamrock
also known as the "Love Plant"

They're also easy to grow indoors as houseplants in bright but indirect sunlight. Make sure to water regularly, but don't let the soil get soggy or the roots will rot. Better to err on the side of a skipped watering with this one.

Erin go plant this!

Monday, March 16, 2015

KNPR's Desert Companion on Tour with Norm Schilling

If the beautiful weather wasn't enough motivation to get into spring gardening this past Saturday, Desert Horticulturalist Norm Schilling of Schilling Horticulture Group, definitely inspired various shades of green thumbs to get planting. 
City regional magazine Desert Companion welcomed readers to "Desert Companion on Tour" at Star Nursery on Saturday, March 14. Norm joined editor Andrew Kiraly for a lively discussion, providing expert tips on spring planting, yard care and how to prune like a pro.

Red yucca
Hesperaloe parviflora

Norm addressed some common and some not so common desert gardening issues that many people face here in the valley. Whether you've just moved in from another part of the country, or you're a native, the challenges we all endure to create our own peaceful green space are the same.
Our poor soil can be embraced instead of cursed when using the right plant material.

Dark dancer autumn sage
Salvia greggii 'dark dancer'

He brought to light many underused and overlooked desert compatible options.
He showed us the potential that some drought friendly varieties could have in our landscape, even though they may not look very promising in their nursery containers.

Tam Juniper
Juniperus sabina var. tamariscifolia

Here are some of the answers given to the excellent questions that were asked:
  • If your Texas Rangers have gotten too large, you can prune them down to nearly nothing in the early spring to revive them and get a better look and shape to the plant.
  • Put plants that have different watering needs on separate valves and zones so that you don't end up over or under watering certain varieties.
  • Make sure to use organic wood mulch around your roses and fruit trees.
  • Choose smaller sizes when picking out plants so that you are in more control of their growth.
  • Raised beds make vegetable gardening easy and rewarding.

A small list of Norm's plant recommendations for the desert garden:

Tam Juniper (Juniperus sabina var. tamariscifolia)
Blue Carpet Juniper (Junioerus horizontalis 'wiltonii')
Autumn Sage (Salvia Greggii)
Gopher Plant (Euphorbia rigida)
Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida)
Red Yucca  (Hesperaloe parviflora)
Bush Morning Glory (Convolvulus cneorum)
Cup-Leaf Texas Sage (Leukophyllum frutescens 'cup-leaf')
Lynn's Legacy Texas Sage (Leukophyllum frutescens 'Lynn's legacy')
Perky Sue (Hymenoxys argentea)
Powis Castle Artemisia (Artemisia 'powis castle')
Tangerine Beauty Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata 'tangerine beauty')
Red Push Pistache (Pistacia 'red push')
Mexican Blue Fan Palm (Brahea armata)
Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)

Bush Morning Glory
Convolvulus cneorum

Thanks again to Norm and Andrew and the crew over at KNPR/Desert Companion 
for a fun and educational day.

Oh, and drink wine!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Rockin' Garden Art

Star Nursery's Kids Garden Club was out at First Friday last week and we had a blast painting lucky river rocks.
It seems like such a simple activity to paint a rock, but both the kids and their parents seemed to get more than just a pretty take-away from the night. 
There's something quite soothing about taking a brush to a smooth surfaced stone and making it your own.
We saw all sorts of things painted on rocks that night. From bugs to footballs, and peace signs to abstract colors and shapes.

Exposure to art opens up a whole world of imaginative possibilities to children and they're eager to dive in. Allowing them to create something in their own way gives them a sense of being and personal importance. 

The garden can be an outlet for children to observe art in nature and painting planters or making garden sculptures is a way for kids to express what they are feeling and seeing in the growing process and space. Adding plants or art to a garden gives a child a sense of ownership to the space. They'll want to return again and again to observe the many changes the garden undergoes.

So give it a try! Paint a rock and see where it takes you!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

This Saturday, March 14th!

Come down to your neighborhood Star Nursery for Kids Garden Club this Saturday.
We'll be painting and planting with a Jack and the beanstalk theme!
Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 9, 2015

This Saturday, March 14th!

Join us on March 14 at Star Nursery on West Tropicana and Fort Apache for our next Desert Companion on Tour event. We'll be talking to horticulture expert Norm Schilling, who'll share expert tips on spring planting, yard care and how to prune like a pro. 

Got a tough gardening question or just want to get some sound advice on great options for spring planting? Come on out, enjoy complimentary coffee from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, nice weather and take in the wisdom of Nevada Public Radio "Desert Bloom" commentator Norm Schilling. 

Star Nursery 
9480 West Tropicana, 89147
9:30 a.m. Saturday, March 14.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Happy First Friday!

Join us tonight at First Friday, downtown Las Vegas.
You'll find us in the Kids Zone off Casino Center and California from 5-9pm.
We'll be making and spreading our own good fortune with painted river rocks!
Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Grow Some Flowers. Ok, Now Eat Them!


It seems too good to be true, I know, but there are so many flowers that are more than just a pretty face.
Some can make lovely additions to salads, edible garnishes on deserts or cocktails..
Put some to your ice cube trays for a beautiful and tasty treat in your summer iced teas or lemonade.

Telstar Mix Dianthus

Even more surprisingly, the stems and leaves of the same plants are also edible!
Flowers of most herbs like basil, dill and rosemary, are also edible and are a potent version of the leaves that are typically harvested. So when your herbs go to flower, take advantage and use them on an appetizer.
An herb and flower garden is beautiful, it smells incredible, and it saves you from having to buy those tiny packages of herbs at the supermarket that cost about as much as a single plant.
Not to mention that if you grow your own, you'll be able to experience varieties of herbs that you can't find at the supermarket.


If you're the type that likes to entertain or throw parties, using fresh herbs and flowers from your garden is an easy and inexpensive way to wow your guests. It's also super fun for kids to learn that they can munch on those pretty blooms.

Here's a few to look out for when you're buying flowers for the spring:

Callendula (similar to saffron, slightly spicy and tangy) 
Dianthus (sweet, spicy, similar to clove)
Roses (sweet, aromatic)
Violas & Pansy (mildly sweet to tart)
Bee Balm (similar to earl grey tea)
Nasturtium (sweet, spicy)
Scented Geranium (lemony to mint depending on variety)
Lavender (floral)
Sunflowers (slightly bitter)
Hibiscus (tangy and slightly acidic)
Jasmine (light, sweet, mostly an aromatic)

Goodwin Creek Lavender

Don't forget the Herbs:

Rosemary (pine-like, sweet, savory)
Mint (asst. varieties vary in flavor)
Basil (asst. varieties vary in flavor)
Chives (mild onion)
Chamomile (faint apple flavor)
Dill (tangy, lemony)
Lemon Verbena (lemony)
Oregano  (warm, sightly bitter)
Parsley (bright, mildly bitter)
Sage (savory, slightly astringent)
Shiso Green (similar to anise or basil)
Shiso Red (cinnamon flavor)
Sorrell (tart, tangy)
Thyme (lemon, aromatic)
Stevia (very sweet)

For more tips on growing herbs, see our Star Note on Growing Herbs in the Desert.
If you're looking to grow some interesting or heirloom varieties of flowers or herbs, we're now carrying the Botanical Interests line of seeds. 

Visit your Star Nursery to see what's new!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This Saturday, March 7th!

Craving some color in your garden?
Join us this Saturday, March 7th, for a free seminar on Spring Flower Gardening!
10am and 2pm at all Star Nursery locations.
See you there!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Berry Good

Strawberries are an easy perennial favorite for Spring planting here in the desert. 
Whether grown in containers like these strawberry pots, or hanging baskets, or in the ground you're sure to be rewarded for your efforts.

I know what you're thinking... you tried to grow strawberries one time and you only got a few berries and then nothing, ever, again.

Well consider that maybe you were expecting berries when berries weren't to be expected. The keys is timing. Knowing when certain varieties are going to give up the goods.

There are three types of strawberry plants and numerous varieties withing each type.
Each type will flower and produce fruit at different times during the year:

  The Everbearer - These plants will bud in the summer to produce fall fruit, and then will bud again in the fall to produce spring fruit.

  The Junebearer - These varieties produce buds in the fall, followed by flowers and fruit in the spring and runners (that will eventually be daughter plants) in the summer.

 The Day-Neutral - These are the least temperamental when it comes to day length. As long as the temperatures are between 35-85 then this plant will produce flowers, fruit and runners.

Most desert gardeners seem to be happy with the combo of beauty and abundant fruit with those everbearers like Pretty-in-Pink, Berri Baskets or Quinault.

A few things to consider when planting in the ground:
  • Pick a spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.
  • Add compost to your soil at a 50/50 ratio of native soil to compost.
  • Space your plants at least 20"apart and 4' between rows to accommodate the runners
  • Increase water when flowers appear 
  • Mulch the beds to keep moisture in and weeds down.

Things to consider when planting in pots:
  • Seal your pot with a clay pot sealer if you want to use terracotta. These clay pots dry out very quickly here in our desert and you'll need all the help you can get come August.
  • Use a potting soil. If it's growing in a pot, use potting soil. Simple.
  • Before filling your pot with soil, place a tall water bottle (slightly taller than your pot) or piece of pvc pipe drilled with many tiny holes all around it, into the center of your pot. Then fill the pot with soil all around the pipe. When you go to water the pot, fill the bottle or pvc first, all the way to the top, and then water the pockets. (If you've ever had an issue with bad water distribution in your strawberry pots, this will help immensely!)

Check out our new organic varieties!