- Author: Jutta Thoerner
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Jutta Thoerner UCCE Master Gardener
Height: 1-3 feet, Width: 6-30 inches
USDA hardy zone: 4-9
Bloom description and season: Green, white, red, or pink small flowers on stems up to 24 inches high. Spring, summer or fall bloom depends on cultivar and climate.
Pruning needs: after flowering remove flower stalk.
Exposure: part sun to part shade.
Water needs: low to medium does not like “wet” feet.
That Cora bells are one of the most under used plants in a landscape. With dozens of varietals, ranging from black/purple leaves with white blossoms to yellow variegated foliage and flower options of red, white, green or pink, you will find a Cora bell plant that enhances your landscaping. Its foliage is attractive all year and forms a tidy beautiful mound that requires no shaping or pruning. This low maintenance plant adapts to many soils and conditions, from sandy to clay soil, to cool coastal to hot inland temperatures. Ideally it likes part sun and part shade, but will do well (check tolerance for the varietal) in complete shade or sun. Cora bell's small flowers sit atop long stems and can last for months, depending on the heat index at the time of blooming. The flowers make excellent, lasting cut flowers and are favored by hummingbirds and butterflies.
Traditionally planted under shrubs or trees, it helps keep the roots of companion plant cooler and benefits from the shade produced by nearby shrubs or trees. Planted as a border or in rock gardens, it does best with limited water to avoid stem or rot disease. This perennial multiplies on its own and after 3-4 years you could dig up the plant on a cool, moist spring or fall morning, divide it, and have several Cora bells for replanting or sharing.
- Author: Maria Murrietta
The UC Master Gardeners of San Luis Obispo County covered a lot of territory in 2019. Our 90 volunteers recorded over 5,000 volunteer hours and 1100 continuing education hours.
Here's a snapshot of the 2019 activities and what we have planned for 2020.
More than 1,000 SLO County residents attended our monthly workshops in the garden. We visited a variety of community groups and libraries for an additional 18 presentations, which included a collaboration with the SLO Botanical Garden for a speaker series featuring UC Master Gardeners. MGs also staffed 10 information tables at festivals from San Miguel to Morro Bay to Arroyo Grande.
Thank you to everyone who responded to the follow up surveys. Your feedback tells us a lot about what you're are learning and how you're protecting natural resources.
Water conserving practices
- 75% have improved their drip irrigation systems and are more knowledgeable about selecting low water use plants
- 85% have improved their use of mulch
Improved pest management
- 73% have improved their pest monitoring practices
- 59% are reducing pesticide use
Improved personal food supply
- 79% have improved their edible growing practices
- 20% have started donating produce to community programs
Sharing the bounty is important. MGs harvested nearly 1100 lbs of fresh fruits and vegetables from the demonstration garden and delivered it directly to the SLO Food Bank.
Good job SLO County!
Looking Ahead at 2020
Visit our website for the 2020 schedule of monthly workshops - https://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/. New topics include Ca natives, invasive plants and seed saving.
Additional events and programming in the works include plant sales beginning in April and presentations on Pollinators in the Garden at 6 libraries throughout the county.
Last but not least, we received a record number of applications for the 2020 Master Gardener training class. A class of 34 will begin in January and wrap up in May. The addition of 34 enthusiastic certified Master Gardeners will help us increase programming and outreach efforts to help more home gardeners improve their practices, protect natural resources and have some fun in the process.
Thank you to everyone who came out to our workshops and events this year.
We'll see you in 2020!
- Author: Andrea Peck
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Andrea Peck UCCE Master Gardener
Common Name of Plant: Snake Plant
Scientific Name: Sansevieria trifasciata
Planting Area: USDA Zone 9-11
Bloom Season: Varies
Exposure: Medium Light
Pruning Needs: None.
Water Needs: Low
Snapshot: Sansevieria trifasciata is a perennial evergreen that is hardy and easy to grow. It has many nicknames, including, snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue, and viper's bowstring hemp. It has long, blade-like leaves that straighten as it grows from curling rosettes from the soil. Bold and architectural in appearance, it is well-suited in modern décor. When caring for S. trifasciata, a minimalist approach is best. S. trifasciata has few needs, but well-draining soil is a must. When potting, use succulent or cactus mix combined with potting soil to prevent the roots from rotting. Fertilizer needs are minimal as well---a bit of compost or vermicompost will suffice, but if you prefer, a serving of houseplant food during spring or summer will provide needed nutrients. It is generally regarded as a low-light plant, but there is some debate on this. Some say that a sunny location promotes growth and flowering, yet very direct, hot sun will lead to quick burning of the leaves. Frost, direct light from a bright window, and overwatering (or high humidity) are like kryptonite to this plant.
Avoid that trifecta and your plant should thrive indoors or, in mild climates, outdoors. S. trifasciata will grow upwards of 3 feet in under right conditions. It spreads underground by rhizomes so in time, you will see little offsets appear. Those are easily disengaged from the main plant for propagation. Getting this plant to flower can be challenging, but more light exposure may prompt bud development. The flowers are whitish-green and scented. Use caution around pets---S. trifasciata is mildly toxic if chewed. This is a great plant for travelers who want low-maintenance greenery, but its most beneficial contribution is that it gives off oxygen at night---a rarity in the plant world---and it filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene from the air./span>
- Author: Leonard Cicerello
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leonard Cicerello UCCE Master Gardener
Citrus x meyeri
Planting area: Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24.
Size: 6' to 12' tall and 6' to 10' wide.
Bloom Season: Spring.
Exposure: Requires at least six hours of sun per day. Afternoon shade is okay, but not required.
Pruning needs: Prune during first or second year after fall harvest. Prune suckers, weak limbs, crossing limbs, and dead wood. Also prune to improve light penetration. Watch for thorns.
Water needs: Allow soil to dry out only slightly between waterings.
Snapshot: The Meyer lemon was hybridized in China in the early 1900s. It is a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange. By the 1960s, a majority of Meyer Lemon trees in California were destroyed by a virus they carried. One stock that was deemed free and clear of the virus in the mid-60s became the source of what was named “Improved Meyer Lemon”.
The Improved Meyer lemon is self-pollinating. Plant it in well-drained soil in the right location. Fertilize with citrus fertilizer monthly between April and September. Yellow leaves indicate a need for water or fertilizer. These trees do well in large containers. For larger fruit, thin when they are marble size.
Meyer lemons have thinner rind than other lemons and has a slight orange tint. The aroma of the fruit is spicy and tropical. Its flavor is sweeter and less acidic, yet still juicier than other lemons.
Citrus does grow and fruit well on the central coast but do to protect your tree from frost if that's an issue in your corner of the county. Professional citrus growers use large wind machines for frost protection. Homeowners can cover their trees with cloth, not plastic, to maintain heat. Remove the cover during the day.
Meyer lemons brighten desserts, sauces, salads, and roasts and are highly prized by chefs. A special treat for those who love limoncello and make their own at home, is to make it with fresh Meyer lemons.
- Author: Linda Lewis Griffith
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Linda Lewis Griffith UCCE Master Gardener
Common Name: French Tarragon
Planting Zone: Sunset zones 14-24
Size: Sprawls to less than 2 ft. tall
Bloom Season: Mostly non-flowering
Exposure: Full sun
Pruning Needs: Trim sprigs as needed for seasoning
Water Needs: Moderate to regular water, letting soil dry between watering.
Narrative: Tarragon is a bushy, aromatic perennial that is in the same genus as wormwood and mugwort. Native to southern Europe, it has become an important garden herb in Europe, Asia and the United States. The botanical name, dracunulus, comes from the Greek word for little dragon and likely refers to the plant's serpentine root system. According to medieval folklore, plants with coiled roots were believed to cure venomous snake bites. The Romans thought tarragon would ward off exhaustion. Travelers in the Middle Ages placed fresh sprigs inside their boots before embarking on long journeys. Tarragon is no longer used medicinally but instead has become an indispensable component of French cooking. It pairs well with egg dishes, fish and chicken recipes and flavored vinegars and mustards. There are two common forms of tarragon; French tarragon, often labeled ‘Sativa,' is a sprawling, flowerless plant with slender stems and smooth, aromatic, shiny dark leaves that are widely spaced along the stem.
Russian tarragon, which may be labeled ‘Inodorous,' grows to 3 ft. tall and is a coarser plant with roughish, pale green leaves that lack the flavor and aroma of French tarragon. Both varieties die back to the ground in winter but return in spring. Any tarragon seeds available for sale are generally the Russian variety. Therefore, true French tarragon must always be propagated from cuttings or seedlings. Divide mature plants every 2 to 3 years to keep them vigorous and to prevent them from becoming woody. Divide plants in late summer when growth is minimal and mild weather causes less damage to the roots. Lift host plant from the ground, shaking off loose soil and removing dead leaves or stems. Trim off excess top-growth to minimize moisture loss through the leaves. Divide the plant into smaller pieces, replant new divisions promptly and water thoroughly.