Captivating Cosmos

Cosmos_DBG_LAH_7489Do you enjoy big flowers with bright, showy colors and carefree maintenance? It’s hard to beat annuals for season-long impact. Whenever I think of annuals, I immediately think of cosmos, one of the very best annuals for Colorado gardens.

There are currently thought to be 36 species in the genus Cosmos, but the two most often grown in our gardens are C. bipinnatus (left) and C. sulphureus. (There are two other Cosmos species in cultivation. One is a frost-tender, tuberous perennial known as Chocolate Cosmos, C. atrosanguineus. The other is Cosmos parviflorus, a wildflower of the western United States.)

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Ponytail Palms: Almost Foolproof

Ponytail Palm_LAH_9915How would you like a houseplant that isn’t fussy about food, water, light, or much of anything else, is ignored by pests, and looks good year round? If that seems too good to be true, then you haven’t met the Ponytail Palm. Granted, I have yet to see flowers, but with all its good points, who cares about flowers?

While “Ponytail Palm” is the most widely used common name, you might also see these plants labeled as Elephant’s Foot, Monja, or Bottle Palm. This is a case where the botanical name (Beaucarnea recurvata) comes in very handy. At least that way we know which plant we’re talking about!

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Cultivating Spiders

spider-plant-home-28mar2006-lah-123rHalloween is just around the corner. Spider decorations are everywhere. I don’t like spiders much (rather, I’m terrified of them), but even arachnophobes like me aren’t afraid of spider plants. There are no chitinous appendages, poison glands, and no skittering noises. Instead, they just grow like crazy and produce lots of offshoots.

It’s easy to see where the name comes from. All those strap-like leaves resemble spider legs (thankfully they aren’t hairy!), and the babies hang from stems in the same way that spiders dangle from silken threads. I wish all spiders could look this cute.

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