- Author: Jutta Thoerner
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Jutta Thoerner UCCE Master Gardener
Sambucus nigra subspecies caerulea syn. Sambucus mexican
Size of tree: 10-25 feet high and wide.
PH: 5-9, will tolerate alkaline soils
USDA hardy zone: 6-10
Bloom description and season: flat topped clusters of tiny, creamy-white flowers. March- June depending on your location. Fragrant, a sweet scent.
Pruning needs: heavy pruning in winter, only necessary if a trimmed look is desired
Exposure: sun to partial shade.
Water needs: moderate drought tolerant, Watering produces more flowers and berries.
While growing up in Germany, it seemed that everybody in the countryside had an elderberry tree in their yard. We enjoyed the berries in jams and jellies and got dried berries or flowers as a tea remedy for various ailments. I was surprised to see the CA version growing in the hot Central Valley and all over the Central Coast. I learned that Native Americans used the berries for food and purple dyes, the bark and flowers for anti-inflammatory, diuretic and laxative properties. Now I know that the elderberry adapts to all types of soil, from sandy to loam, from acid to very alkane soil. It is fast growing and does well in semi shade and sun, but give it room to spread a bit. Because it is a semi drought plant, too much competition from other trees or shrubs and the flower show is short and the berries will dry up before they mature. In which case, keep the elderberry watered in hot dry climates well into the summer. If you like a more tidy appearance in your garden, prune it back hard in the winter. Did you inherit an unruly specimen? Then you can cut it back all the way to the ground and start over with the shaping of the tree. Don't like spraying for pests in your garden? There is a good reason why our organic farmers are planting elderberries as hedgerows. The flowers will attract a host of beneficial insects, the green lace wing is one of them and its favored diet is aphids and spider mites. The abundant flowers and berries serve as food for many insects and birds, if you can resist cooking the berries for jam, syrup or wine. So with a nice, sunny open spot in your garden, give the elderberry a try, you won't regret it.
We are still here!!!
No in-person workshops for now, but you can view workshops on:
Instagram live at slo_mg or visit our You Tube channel
at “San Luis Obispo County UC Master Gardeners”.
Visit our website; https://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/
or email us at email@example.com
Our physical offices are closed, but you can still call or email questions:
San Luis Obispo 805-781-5939
Arroyo Grande 805-473-7190
- Author: Leonard Cicerello
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leonard Cicerello UCCE Master Gardener
Planting areas: Sunset zones 16,17, 20-24
Size: 6'-8' tall and 4'-6' wide.
Bloom season: Early spring through summer.
Exposure: Full sun.
Pruning needs: Snip a little to maintain compact shape.
Water needs: Moderate water.
Snapshot: The Leucadendron genus is native to South Africa. It is not only related to Protea, but also its flowers are so similar to Protea that they are often mistaken for them.
Leucadendron plants are either male or female. The male plants of the L. galpinii have yellow pompon flowers. The female plants produce soft gray, pink-tinged cones that are as great in arrangements as the male yellow flowers. The foliage on this specie is narrow and the color is gray-green. Its shape is normally upright with dense foliage.
There are about 80 species within the Leucadendron genus. They are stunningly colorful plants. The genus is known for its many bright colors. The flowers of some can grow up to twelve inches in diameter. A bonus is that you get all of that beauty and they are low maintenance. Leucadendrons are commonly called coneflowers or cone bush.
Leucadendrons like well-drained, slightly acidic soil and do not need fertilizer. Maintain adequate distance between plants to avoid disease. They are similar to California native plants in that they are considered drought tolerant. Though they do well in coastal areas, they are a good choice for warm weather. In a warmer climate, water deeply once a week while keeping the foliage from getting wet.
Find comfort in knowing that Leucadendrons are very forgiving. Remove the spent blooms or pinch to encourage dense growth. Keep the plant renewed by pruning woody stems. It is important to leave some new leafy growth with each cut. If you wish to cut it back, wait until all blooming has ceased. When flowering has finished, cut green stems back to four leaves, remembering to leave some leafy growth intact. Then you can rest easy in knowing that it will hibernate successfully through the winter.
- Author: Noni Todd
- Editor: Dawn Peters
By Dawn Peters UCCE Master Food Preserver
Who does not love a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich or after school toast with strawberry jelly?
Now it's time to explore the more exciting, mature side of jelly. Rosy wine jellies that pair with delicate soft cheeses, or bold pepper jellies that are wonderful with a smoked gouda. Fresh herb jellies used as a condiment on a sandwich. Onion, garlic, and curry jellies as accompaniments to roasted meats or as a final touch in basting a fish or poultry give a hint of depth and contrast to the savory flavors.
Jellies are the shimmery, translucent spreads made by extracting the juice from produce; then cooking it with sugar, acid and sometimes added pectin.
Jellies can be more time consuming than jam as they are often cooked twice, once for extracting the juice, and again for the final cooking of the jelly. There can be a waiting period when the juice is filtered from the pulp. Since a jelly needs the correct ratio of fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar follow the directions of your recipe.
The ideal jelly is clear, sparkling with a fresh flavor. It is a balance of sweet and tart making it a perfect addition to savory dishes, sandwiches, and cheese boards.
Wine Lavender Jelly
Yield: four 4-oz. jars or two 8-oz. jars
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
2 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch (3 oz.) liquid pectin
Prepare canning jars and lids according to manufacturer's directions.
1. In a large stainless-steel pan, combine wine and lavender. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and steep for 20 minutes.
2. Transfer to a dampened jelly bag or strainer lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth set over a bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for 20 minutes. Measure 1‐3/4 cups.
3. Transfer infused wine to a clean large stainless-steel saucepan. Stir in sugar.
4. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
5. Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.
7. Pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4‐inch headspace. Wipe rims; add two‐piece metal canning lids.
8. Process in a boiling water or atmospheric steam canner for 10 minutes at 0‐1,000 feet elevation.
Source: Ball Complete Book of Home Canning, ©2012
For more information about safe canning procedures contact our UC Cooperative Extension office at 805-781-1429 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Author: Andrea Peck
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Andrea Peck UCCE Master Gardener
Common name of plant: Passion Flower
Scientific name: Passiflora spp.
Planting area: USDA Zones 7-10
Size: 30+ Feet
Bloom Season: Spring-Fall
Exposure: Full Sun
Pruning Needs: Prune to encourage healthy growth.
Water Needs: Moderate
The exotic passiflora vine is a beautiful addition to any garden. Like many pretty plants, this one thrives in a 'just right' climate, neither too cold nor too hot. Freezing winter climates may kill the plant and relentless hot, dry temperatures may leave them wilting. In the right situation, the passiflora, of which there are many varieties, grow lush green leaves, eye-catching flowers, and delicious fruit. Typical of a tropical plant, the passion flower requires consistent, moderate irrigation---not over-watering, which can contribute to soil-borne disease. Fertilize twice yearly, once in early spring, and again in midsummer with a 10-5-20 fertilizer. In order to thrive, make sure the soil is well-drained and loamy with a pH between 6.5 and 7. If you experience frost in your area, mulch the base of the plant heavily and you may keep it from dying, though the exposed vine may surrender to the cold. If you are successful in keeping Ms. Passion warm, she will reward you with new growth in the spring—and, depending on the varietal, fruit. Passion fruit, for the uninitiated, is ultimately worth getting beyond the goopy-insides factor. Maybe close your eyes and don't look---it's a bit like eating an oyster but definitely worth every last bite. Make sure you do your research and select a plant that is suitable to your area---there is quite a lot of variation in this species. The flower type can be remarkably different between varietals and not all passion vines produce edible fruit. The types that do produce fruit will need pollination; some are self-pollinating while others need more than one vine planted nearby to fruit properly. Keep in mind, also, that this lovely likes to get comfortable and spread out along a fence. Prune regularly to keep her in check and then sit back and enjoy.
- Author: Linda Lewis Griffith
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Linda Lewis Griffith UCCE Master Gardener
Planting Zone: All zones
Bloom Season: Plants flower in summer, fruit ripens in fall
Exposure: Full sun
Water Needs: Water regularly but keep foliage dry to prevent disease
Narrative:Nothing says fall like a home-grown pumpkin. This member of the Cucurbitacea family is native to the Andes and related to gourds and melons. All are large, low-growing vines with yellow or orange blossoms. Male flowers are smaller, appear first and produce pollen. Larger female flowers produce the fruit.
Pumpkins vary widely in size. Miniature varieties, such as Jack Be Little and Munchkin, are used for decorations. White skinned Lumina is both novel and attractive, and is excellent for baking. Atlantic Giant tops the scale at 200 pounds. Pumpkins are easy and rewarding to grow. They do, however, require lots of space. An individual vine can cover 500 square feet. Plant seeds by June to have them ready for fall. They can be planted directly into the ground, or started in pots, then transplanted as the plants mature and the weather warms. Pumpkins do best in soil amended with compost or manure. Add a balanced fertilizer at planting time. Create a mound of soil, then plant three seeds one inch deep and one inch apart. After germination, thin to one seedling, ensuring the healthiest survives. If planting several mounds, space them three to four feet apart. Water daily at first. As vines mature and spread, switch to deep watering every five to seven days, allowing the soil surface to dry between watering. Avoid getting water on the foliage to prevent mildew and other disease. Fertilize monthly with one tablespoon vegetable fertilizer raked into the soil. As flowers set, bees will help pollinate the fruit. Consider planting herbs, ornamentals and other flowering vegetables nearby to attract bees and beneficial insects. To promote larger fruit, select one or two from each plant, removing all others on the vine. In late summer, slide wooden shingles or other materials to protect developing fruit from wet soil and rot. Leaves may wilt on extremely hot days but typically recover as the temperature cools at night. Depending on the variety, pumpkins are ready in 90 to 120 days. To harvest, use a sharp knife to cut the stem, leaving three to five inches. Avoid picking pumpkins up by the stem.