UC Master Gardeners of Butte County
University of California
UC Master Gardeners of Butte County

The Real Dirt Blog

Echinacea, Tagetes, Grindelia, and Helianthus…Oh my!: Garden flowers in the Asteraceae family

Honeybee on Echinacea (purpurea), Wiki Creative Commons

By Jeff Oster, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, October 19, 2018 Two weeks ago in this column, we introduced a few of the most common ornamental plants in the Asteraceae family. Plants in this family are also called composites (Compositae) because they have composite flower heads made up of a central disk of tiny flowers without petals, surrounded by ray flowers that do have petals (so each “flower” head is actually composed of multiple flowers). The following are some less common composites that do well in our environment. Echinacea is a tough perennial with brownish orange dome-shaped centers. E. purpurea (purple coneflower) can reach four or more feet in height and form...

Posted on Friday, October 19, 2018 at 5:00 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Composites, Part One: Add Sun(flowers) to Your Garden

Aster frikartii (Wonder of Staffa)

By Jeff Oster, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, October 5, 2018 The Asteraceae is a very large and widespread family of plants which includes many very common species of garden flowers, such as asters, daisies, zinnias, chrysanthemums and sunflowers. This plant family is also called Compositae because its members generally have composite flower heads made up of a central disk of tiny flower without petals, surrounded by ray flowers that do have petals (so each “flower” head is actually composed of multiple flowers). Composites are mostly herbaceous, but the family also includes shrubs, vines and trees. They have worldwide distribution, but are most common in arid and...

Posted on Friday, October 5, 2018 at 5:00 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Sage Advice: Welcome Salvias into Your Garden

Creeping sage by Cindy Weiner

By Brent McGhie, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, September 21, 2018 With just under 1000 varieties, Salvia is the largest genus in the mint family (Lamiaceae). Commonly known as sages, Salvias come in a dizzying variety of forms and colors. Salvias can be evergreen or deciduous shrubs, or perennial, biennial, or annual flowering plants. Although their flowers are most commonly a shade of blue or purple, different species of sages also produce white, yellow, pink, red, or even bicolor blooms. As members of the mint family, all Salvia flowers are two lipped (bilabiate) and commonly arranged in dense spikes. Salvia leaves are usually found in pairs opposite one another on square stems,...

Posted on Friday, September 21, 2018 at 5:00 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

What Makes a Plant Drought Tolerant?

Buckeye in upper Bidwell Park. Photo by Jeanette Alosi

By Laura Lukes, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, September 7, 2018 You've seen these terms often: “drought tolerant,” and “water-wise.” For water conservation and sustainable gardening, Master Gardeners recommend plants that are adapted to the long, hot, dry summers of the Mediterranean climate. But what are the characteristics that qualify a plant for membership on the Drought Tolerant Team? The beauty of evolution is its reliance on trial and error, or adaptation. What works, works very well, and allows life in many forms to exist in some of Earth's harshest environments. The climatic conditions of the planet's seven Mediterranean Zones include between five...

Posted on Friday, September 7, 2018 at 10:38 AM

Beautiful, Sustainable, and Functional, With No Added Water!

Teucrium chamaedrys. Photo by H. Zell

By Laura Lukes, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, August 24, 2018 Sideritis. It sounds like a medical condition, but it is actually the name of a plant genus known for its medicinal properties. And it is one of the latest additions to the UC Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden at the Patrick Ranch (10381 Midway, just south of Chico). This spring (2018), Master Gardener David Walther, an expert on unique and fascinating plants and owner of Spring Fever Nursery, added a Dry Garden to our Demonstration Garden with the help of a hard-working team of fellow Master Gardeners. This new garden is located between the Heritage Almond orchard and the roundabout in front of the Patrick Ranch...

Posted on Friday, August 24, 2018 at 5:00 AM
Focus Area Tags: Environment Yard & Garden

Ouch! It’s Puncturevine!

Dried puncturevine spikes in tires, UC ANR

By Jeanette Alosi, UC Master Gardener of Butte County, August 10, 2018 Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) is an attractive green plant with small yellow flowers commonly seen growing prostrate along the side of the road. A native to Southern Europe, it's also referred to as “goathead.” However, underneath its foliage lies danger: spiky seedpods with needle-point spikes. If puncturevine is stepped on, it is painful to bare feet and dogs' paws; it will pierce and flatten bicycle tires. Because of its spiky seedpods puncturevine is also referred to as “caltrop,” after the spiked metal devices thrown on the roadway to stop vehicles. Caltrops have four projecting spikes...

Posted on Friday, August 10, 2018 at 5:00 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

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