Southwest Plant of the Month – Blue Trumpets – Ipomopsis longiflora

Plant Form: Flower Plant Type: Annual Sunlight: Sun Plant Size: 18″ x 12″ Water Usage: Low Colors: Blue, White Physical Description:  Pale blue to almost white, long trumpet-like flowers on intricately branching stems and finely dissected foliage. Care and Maintenance:  Avoid overwatering/poor drainage.  Gardener’s notes:  Loves hot, dry, deep sandy soil. Occasional summer supplemental water will prolong blooming into fall. Found in sandy areas of El Paso. Grow from collected seed. Southwest Plant of the Month material courtesy of NMSU ACES – http://desertblooms.nmsu.edu/plantadvisor/

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VERTICAL FARMING

by Carol Dimeff Sandoval County Master Gardeners toured Sananbio, Inc. in Albuquerque, doing R&D on new cultivars of lettuce. Plants are incubated from seed, then grown hydroponically under trademark LED lights, 30 cm. from light-to-bed. Production averages 500 lbs./10,000 sq. ft./day, with 12-15 harvests per year. Selection trials vary different light waves for optimal growth, including blue light for the development of anthocyanin. The LED lights are full-spectrum and have a long lifespan. Participants were offered to taste various lettuces as well as their “Salanova…

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Beneficial of the Month – Minute Pirate Bugs – (Family: Anthocoridae)

At approximately 2-3 mm long, these are among the smallest of our common predators. In spite of their small size, however, the adults are easily recognized by their black and white ‘checkerboard’ appearance. The immature stages are brown and orange. Both adults and nymphs will tackle a variety of prey, including whiteflies, mites, insect eggs and newly hatched larvae, aphids, and thrips. These insects can sustain themselves on pollen when prey is scarce and hence are often found in flowers. Beneficial of the Month material…

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Southwest Plant of the Month – Hill Country Penstemon – Penstemon triflorus

General Information Plant Form Flower Plant Size 2′ x 1′ Plant Type Perennial Water Usage Low Sunlight Sun, Partial Shade Colors Red Physical Description:  Small bushy stature with multiple, short flowering stems just rising over the compact mass of dark green leaves, carrying a number of slightly fuzzy cherry-red, 2′ long flowers. Care and Maintenance:  Remove spent stems to maintain compact bushy appearance.  Needs well draining soil.  Gardener’s notes:  This central Texas native is well adapted to El Paso’s dry limestone soils. Another eastern Texas species, P. tenuis, requires…

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Beneficial of the Month – Beetles (Order: Coleoptera) – Soft-winged Flower Beetles (Family: Melyridae)

As their name suggests, these beetles are often found on flowers, although they are common and widespread in other habitats, including alfalfa fields. They are often brightly colored, sometimes with a metallic sheen. Some species have enlarged basal antennal segments. Both adults and larvae are predatory, with the latter usually being found in the soil, in leaf litter, or under bark. Two species of soft-winged flower beetle. Source:  Pocket Guide to the Beneficial Insects of New Mexico

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Southwest Plant of the Month – Blue Star – Amsonia spp.

Plant Form: Flower Plant Size : 2′ x 1′ Plant Type : Perennial Water Usage: Low Sunlight: Sun, Partial Shade Colors: Blue, White Physical Description:  Mounds of willowy leaves and wiry stems topped  by star-shaped, white to light blue flowers in spring.  Can spread by root stolons. Care and Maintenance:  Avoid overwatering. Dies back to hardy roots in  winter. Difficult to locate seed or plant source. Gardener’s notes:  Several attractive native species,  including A. longiflora, A. palmeri, A. ciliata and sand-loving A. arenaria. Southwest Plant…

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Beneficial of the Month – Big-eyed Bugs – (Order: Hemiptera; Family: Geocoris species)

Small, inconspicuous insects (approximately 5 mm ng) that are very common in both garden and agricultural settings. Both adults and immatures (‘nymphs’) are readily identified by their broad head with large eyes projecting from the sides; nymphs are similar in shape to adults  but are smaller and lack fully functional wings. Adults are usually brown  or reddish in color and the nymphs a paler brown/grey. As true bugs, all stages have piercing mouthparts and feed by sucking the liquid contents from their prey (insect eggs,…

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Landscapes Need Irrigation in Winter

From Southwest Yard and Garden, November 5, 2005 by Dr. Curtis Smith, PhD, NMSU Extension Horticulture Specialist (retired) Water once a month, on a day when the temperature is above freezing. Most outdoor plants aren’t visibly growing in the winter; however they aren’t dead and still need water. Their root  systems may continue to grow even after the top is dormant, but we can’t see the roots grow. Water is needed  for root growth. Plants need much less water in the winter because water loss…

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