Give plants extra attention to help them thrive

Friday, June 2, 2017 9:41 PM

Editor’s note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Office’s Master Gardener Program, appears during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.By Darrin Parmenter

It’s almost dry season, otherwise known as the month of June. Like clockwork, we all seem to stop our complaining about the lingering cold when the calendar hits June 1. And this year is no different – the first week of the month is forecasted to be in the low 80s.

The timing is never perfect, as the warm weather (or really the lack of cold days and nights) brings out the gardener in many of us. We plant the tender vegetable crops (tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash and corn); we voyage to the nursery and find an assortment of perennials and annuals to liven up the landscape; or maybe we lay sod or seed the bare spots in the existing lawn.

Regardless, it’s never the best timing. Everything listed above is at somewhat of a critical stage – poor or little root development, fast growing vegetative growth (lots of green matter) or just transplanted. It’s like when tourists hop off a plane and go directly north to hike Engineer Mountain, bike Purgatory Resort or even walk around Silverton. Many times, that lack of acclimation ends poorly.

So just like those tourists, make sure the necessities are taken care of: Don’t go without water, make sure nutrients are supplied and that the occasional shady area can help during that transition.

You may have also noticed a number of plants showing some signs of freeze damage on the leaves or flowers. Remember that cold snap in April? It did a number to the newly leafed-out trees, especially the poplars (aspens and cottonwoods) and the oaks. Our hillsides should be almost fully green by this time of year. But if you go up to a stand of Gambel oak, you may notice many crispy leaves. They got nipped by that freeze.

In almost all cases, the trees will push out a second flush of leaves, but know that growth comes at a cost. The tree has to use more of its carbohydrate reserves for that second flush, so know that just like all those other tender crops, these trees and shrubs need to be babied a bit: an extra drink of water when it’s dry and perhaps a shot of fertilizer to replace some of those lost nutrients.

Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at or 382-6464.