November 2015
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News for Norther Colorado and the world

Monday, November 30, 2015

Larimer Master Gardeners on deadheading and grasshoppers


The Art of deadheading

By: Charleen Barr
Colorado State University Extension Master Gardener in Larimer County

Many gardeners do not realize deadheading is an art rather than a chore. Some chores that are tedious for one gardener may seem pleasant to another, but deadheading flowers just requires a positive attitude. When deadheading, gardeners are tending their garden in a most intimate way.

Deadheading a flower refreshes a plant’s appearance, controls seed dispersal, and redirects a plant’s energy from seed production to root and vegetative growth. The gardener is forced to look at each flowering plant, noticing the plant’s general health, how well it is doing in relation to the plants around it and the state of weed populations.

Gardeners need to make choices about leaving a few seed pods, or perhaps moving the plant where it might be happier in partial shade. There are times when taking a quick walk around the garden and popping off a few spent blooms here, and a rose hip or two there, require taking mental notes as to what is looking particularly good, what needs to be done when more time is required and what should be put in that empty space.

Deadheading is done for a combination of reasons, including making the flowerbed look neater. When developing seed pods are removed, many perennials produce a second bloom and annuals will have continual bloom throughout the growing season. Although this second crop of blooms is never as big or as numerous as the first, it can be a welcome bit of color, coming as it does two to four weeks after a June or July cutting. Short-circuiting the seed crop can reduce subsequent weed problems. In addition, allowing plants to go to seed may shorten and weaken the plant’s life.

Most annuals and many perennials will continue to bloom throughout the growing season if deadheaded. Daisies, daylilies, dianthus, coreopsis, marigolds, petunias and geraniums demand deadheading attention and look unsightly if they are ignored. Even low-water and low-maintenance flowers, such as yarrow, appreciate the boost of a good deadheading at the end of a season. When a flower starts to brown, wither, shatter or otherwise appear past its prime, it is time to deadhead. Habitual deadheading is a means to control disease, since removing dead flowers eliminates an inviting environment for the growth and development of pests and fungi.

Before removing every spent flower in sight, be sure to know which plants produce attractive seeds or seed pods. If you are self-sowing and encouraging seed dispersal, keep deadheading until late in the season and then leave the last blooms to form seed-heads. Gardens are not really about product, but rather process; from early spring, with daffodils and tulips, to fall, with hardy asters and rudbeckias. Deadheading is the artful balance of selecting for attractive seeds and fruit and a way to extend blooms. For more information, visit Planttalk Colorado at  and read script #1072 on “Deadheading—How to and When to? ”

Gardening Tips

By: Anne Wuerslin
Colorado State University Extension Master Gardener in Larimer County

This summer we have an unusually heavy infestation of potato and tomato psyllids. These winged migrating insects have invaded from the south, and cause a yellowing or purpling discoloration of the midribs and tops of leaves. Insects can be found feeding on the underside of leaves, and damage is caused by adults and nymphs sucking on the plant juices. Please refer to CSU Extension Fact Sheet #5.540 “Potato or Tomato Psyllids” from

Bolt resistant lettuces such as Romaine (Green Towers) and Batavian (Magenta, Nevada) can fill in spaces left by harvested vegetables. Plant seeds in rows facing north that are shaded by larger established vegetable plants for best results.

In times of heat stress, it is normal for plants to wilt. Water plants regularly during times of high heat.

Avoid planting or transplanting during hot summer weather. Increase your survival rates by planting perennials in larger containers, and then transplant in mid-September.

Gardening Q&A

By: Annie Lindgren
Colorado State University Extension Master Gardener in Larimer County

Q: My vegetable garden is being eaten by grasshoppers! They are only eating some of my plants right now, but they are eating them fast and I see them everywhere. How can these hungry insects from killing all my plants?

A: There seem to be high numbers of grasshoppers this year, but populations fluctuate from year to year depending on a variety of environmental factors. Grasshopper problems increase in the early summer and can continue until a hard frost. In the vegetable garden they tend to prefer lettuce, carrots, beans, sweet corn and onions, but typically don’t bother squash, peas and tomatoes. There are different sprays, dusts, and baits available. Carbaryl (Sevin) can be used on a variety of fruits and vegetables, and can often be used up until harvest time. Acephate (Orthen) should only be used on non-edible crops. Permethrin is widely available for garden use on vegetables and fruits, but remains effective for a shorter period of time. Nosema locustae (NOLO Bait, Semaspore) is only effective against young grasshoppers and is slow acting, but it is allowed in Certified Organic crop production and only kills grasshoppers. For any pesticide, read the label carefully and apply only as directed.

Many of these products can be purchased at your local garden supply store. Some can be added directly to the plants, and others are best used on the perimeter of the garden or in the area around the beds. These chemicals may have to be reapplied after rain or watering. It is better to get the grasshoppers when they are still young and before adults begin migrating. Other methods for controlling grasshoppers include screening, encouraging birds in the garden, letting poultry run loose and controlling grasshopper breeding sites. For more information on Grasshopper Control, visit and read CSU Extension Fact Sheet #5.536.

The authors have received training through Colorado State University Extension’s Master Gardener program and are a Master Gardener volunteers for Larimer County

Larimer County is a county-based outreach of Colorado State University Extension providing information you can trust to deal with current issues in agriculture, horticulture, nutrition and food safety, 4-H, small acreage, money management and parenting. For more information about CSU Extension, Larimer County, telephone (970) 498-6000 or visit

Visit PlantTalk Colorado ™ for fast answers to your gardening questions!  PlantTalk is a cooperation between Colorado State University Extension, GreenCo and Denver Botanic Gardens.

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