- 'Purple Majesty' is the "classic" ornamental millet that was the first of its kind and became an All-America Selections award winner in 2003. It grows to be about four feet high and is good for a background plant in garden designs.
- 'Jester' has slightly more branching than 'Purple Majesty' and more green in its leaves.
- 'Purple Baron' will been added to the Prairie Star list for 2014. It has dark foliage and the flower spikes have a bright purple tinge when they are new.
- 'Jade Princess' is an unusual one, with much shorter plants that have chartreuse foliage and extremely furry flower spikes that resemble a giant bottle brush! It draws people to it and is especially great for children's gardens but it is a sterile pollenless variety that does not produce seeds to feed the birds.
As we enter the long, cold, dormant period for our annual gardens, remember that there is one kind of plant that can keep giving into the fall and winter: ornamental millet! This is one of the few plants in the annual flower trials that also provides food for wildlife. (Does deer feeding on sweet potato vine count as "feeding wildlife"??) Songbirds and finches love to feed on the seeds left on the millet plants.
There are four varieties of ornamental millet on the Prairie Star list:
So when you plan your annual flower garden next season, consider adding a few of these beauties and leave them for the birds. It provides some interest until things warm up again!
Located along the east side of the Johnson County Extension Office, the Garden Gallery is the next featured Kansas garden that tests Prairie Star flowers. With an impressive layout, the Garden Gallery is a very well-organized garden that has much more than annuals. Small trees, shrubs, perennials, and hardscaping are all featured.
According to their website, the Garden Gallery's stated goals are to display a diverse palette of plants for the home landscape that demonstrates:
Below are some pictures we took during a recent visit, but you can also do a virtual tour through their website, and get detailed maps of all the plants in the garden.
The garden is open year round, and volunteer Extension Master Gardeners work Thursday mornings between April - October and are available to answer questions.
For more information, you can also contact the Extension Help Line at (913)715-7050.
11811 S. Sunset Drive
Olathe, KS 66061
Located at the County Courthouse in Manhattan, the Demonstration and Research garden in Riley County is another place in Kansas to view Prairie Star plants. The Extension Master Gardeners do a great job planting and labeling the cultivars, making it a very colorful spot.
The garden is located at the Riley County District Courthouse,
100 Courthouse Plaza
Manhattan, KS 66502
For more information, contact the Riley County Extension office at 785-537-6350
The horticulture world is always changing, and each year we try to keep the Prairie Star list up to date. We noticed that several ornamental pepper cultivars are being discontinued in 2014, including the classic 'Black Pearl' and the smaller 'Purple Flash' and 'Explosive Embers'. So if these were some of your favorites, buy some seeds now to stock up!
Two Zahara Zinnia cultivars are being discontinued in 2014: 'Double Cherry' and 'Double Fire'. Both had done well in the K-State flower trials, but there are still plenty of other Zahara colors to choose from.
This week's featured demonstration and research garden is near the Colorado border in Goodland, KS. (Yes, Prairie Star flowers really do get tested in ALL parts of the state!) Extension agent Dana Belshe and the Extension Master Gardeners put on a beautiful display in two corners of Gulick Park.
The display varies each year with different flowers featured, but the volunteer gardeners always plant the beds with style. This is a great example of Hibiscus 'Mahogany Splendor' used in the landscape with low growing annuals surrounding it.
Another corner of the park features a garden organized by the local MOP's group with some help from the Master Gardeners, which also has great color!
If you happen to be in Goodland admiring the flowers, be sure to go downtown and see their large planters in the summer. The city makes an effort to plant colorful Prairie Star flowers that make a big impact.
The garden is located at the corner of 8th Street and Caldwell St. (NE corner of Gulick Park) in Goodland, KS. Contact the Extension office for more information at 785-890-4880.
The next featured demonstration and research garden is in Topeka. The Shawnee County Extension Master Gardeners maintain a great display right next to the county extension office, at the Kansas Expocentre. Bright cheerful flowers greet visitors as they enter the doors! The plants are well labeled and there are some perennials mixed in with the annuals.
Most of the garden is in full sun with a southern exposure, so the flowers are getting a true test of tough Kansas conditions.
There is also a Xeriscape Demonstration Garden on the other side of the sidewalk, which is a great resource for seeing how low-water use plants can be incorporated into the landscape. Read their plant list for specifics.
The garden is located at the Shawnee County Extension office:
1740 SW Western Avenue
Topeka, Kansas 66604-3095
For more information call the Shawnee County Extension Center at 785-232-0062
Did you know that there are over 20 demonstration and research gardens throughout the state of Kansas that showcase Prairie Star flowers? We plan on featuring them over the next few months with pictures and locations. If you are in the area, check them out!
With a prominent place right in front of the Agricultural Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, KS, the Demonstration & Research garden in Wyandotte county is a great place to see some Prairie Star flowers. Under the guidance of Horticulture Extension Agent Lynn Loughary, the Wyandotte County Master Gardeners plant and maintain the space. There are both annual and perennial plants in the gardens.
Here is a very healthy Lavender 'Provence' in the perennial section. Soaker hoses are used as a water conservation measure. The flowers get watered twice a week here.
The Master Gardeners also have an amazing demonstration vegetable garden behind the Ag. Hall of Fame. Just look at the impressive bounty they had laid out!
Located at 630 N 126th St, Bonner Springs, KS 66012
While we hope your flowerbed is always healthy and in full-bloom, damaging diseases and insects can pop up unexpectedly. Here are some to look out for in your gardens.
Aster yellows disease is spread by a small leafhopper insect. The population of leafhoppers dramatically increases shortly before the wheat crops are harvested in mid to late June. Check plants in your garden for the disease beginning around the first of July. Note the proliferation of mutated vegetative growth around the flower bud. There is no cure or treatment for the disease. You should remove infected plants immediately from your property and do not place into a compost pile. Read the K-State publication on aster yellows disease for more information and a list of susceptible cultivars.
Thrips are extremely small insects that are difficult to see. Most often a distortion of the growing tips and flower buds are the first signs of their presence. Insecticidal sprays are effective in controlling the insect. Angelonia and vinca are useful as indicator species for the presence of thrips.
The larva, caterpillar stage, of a small moth's lifecycle feeds on the flower petals of several annual flower species. Petunia, geranium and calibrachoa are favored hosts. Damage from the bud worms seems to appear overnight. Plants that are beautifully flowering all of a sudden have no flowers. The insects have two to three lifecycles per growing season and can easily be controlled with insecticides. We apply a spinosad-containing insecticide on our flower trials to keep these pests in check.
These pests seem to be increasing each year, and we find them congregating on the cannas and roses in the flower trials. The large beetles are easily seen while voraciously feeding on a wide variety of garden plants. KSUTurf's blog post about Japanese beetles has great information on the insect and various control methods.
Rose rosette disease causes unusual growth in roses like elongated stems, thick stems, excessive thorns, and other abnormalities. There is no cure for this disease, and you should remove plants, roots and all, from your garden and sterilize any tools that may have been in contact with an infected plant. Read K-State's publication on Rose Rosette for more detailed information.
If you're looking to add some low-growing plants to your landscape, consider using some annual flowers to provide a splash of bright color. Just as we vary flower and foliage size and texture to provide interest in a flower bed design, we should also consider plant height or relative lack of height.
We've all heard the saying "can't see the forest for the trees." The tall trees and understory brush are simply too dense a growth for our vision to penetrate. A clearing in the forest makes for a more beautiful view. It is the same in a landscape or in a flower bed. Quality design includes void, empty space, a clearing so we may see all there is to see and enjoy. A void in the landscape needs a floor covering, for dirt can be considered ugly and may erode away. Turf is an excellent floor covering for large areas of void. Low growing annual flowers can provide the pizazz, the color contrast, the attention grabbing burst of color for smaller areas or areas within a flower bed of taller plants.
The petunia 'Supertunia Charm' colors are more compact than the other 'Supertunias' and offer a LOT of color for a small plant.
This appeared in the National Garden Bureau newsletter; an excellent description of how to water!
Watering. One might think that would be the easiest part of gardening. However, experienced gardeners know that it’s not as simple as it seems, nor is it rocket science. With just a few good pointers, you too can have happy, properly watered plants and a beautiful garden.
Timing: One commonly known fact is that watering in the morning is best. Not that you shouldn’t water in the afternoon or evening but when possible, avoid watering in the heat of the day. Morning watering is best for two reasons: 1) less water evaporates as you water and 2) Overnight dampness on the leaves could cause diseases so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Frequency: Watering more thoroughly is better than watering more frequently. A thorough drink for your plants will help them establish deeper, stronger roots.
Amount: This is where it gets tricky and no one can precisely make a blanket statement on how much water your plants need. It depends on your soil type, the air temperature, wind, type of plant, age of the plant, in-ground vs. in containers (and which type and size of container). An overall rule of thumb is to give your plants 1” of water per week. If you have sandy or silty soil, you will likely need to water more than 1” per week. If temperatures spike then you will also likely need more than 1” of water per week. For vegetables, here are a few more specific guidelines:
* All seeds need even moisture during germination.
* Beans need more watering when they’re flowering.
* Sweet corn needs water during silk, tassle and ear development
* Watermelon needs more water during fruit set and growth
* Tomatoes need consistent amounts of water to prevent blossom end rot