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Table of Contents

Compiled by Stan Barrett and Connie Rayor, Colorado Master GardenersSM, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver County.

  1. Flowers: Next spring, I would like to grow some annuals, that have good fragrance. I plan to grow them from seed, starting them in late winter. What varieties do you recommend?
  2. Trees & Shrubs: My crabapple trees suffered fireblight damage last summer. When and how should I prune it out?
  3. Lawn: Yellow spots and dead areas ruined the looks of my lawn last season. Was it a fungus disease? Is there something I can do now to prevent the same thing from happening this year?
  4. Insects: Little tiny bugs are invading my house and leaving red stains on the furniture and carpets. What are they and how can I get rid of them?
  5. Insects & Trees: Can I use something now the keep the aphids off my shade trees this summer?
  6. Pests: What can I do to stop woodpeckers from damaging the siding and eaves on my house?

Next spring, I would like to grow some annuals that have good fragrance. I plan to grow them from seed, starting them in late winter. What varieties do you recommend?

The following plants are fragrant and will grow well in Colorado if treated as annuals. These are not hardy, so should not be taken outside until all danger of frost is past:

  • Night-scented stock (Matthiola longipetala)
  • Flowering tobacco (especially Nicotiana sylvestris, if available)
  • Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maratima)
  • Marine heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)
  • Scented-leaf geranium (Pelagonium, many varieties)
  • Chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus)
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My crabapple trees suffered fireblight damage last summer. When and how should I prune it out?

The best time is late winter, before new growth starts. Cut back the affected branch to a point 9 inches below the onset of the damage. Use a sharp saw or pruning shears and be sure to sterilize the blades between cuts, using a spray bottle containing either rubbing alcohol or diluted bleach (1 to 4) in water. Alcohol is preferred since the bleach tends to corrode the blades. Do not use pruning paint and do not compost the clippings.

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Yellow spots and dead areas ruined the looks of my lawn last season. Was it a fungus disease? Is there something I can do now to prevent the same thing from happening this year?

Preventive maintenance now and later on in the spring can make a difference. During our typically dry winters, it's important to water the lawn about every four weeks. Wait for a day when the morning temperature is above freezing. Using a frog eye sprinkler, water each lawn area for 30 to 40 minutes. In spring, core aerate the lawn for good air circulation and to avoid compaction. Delay spring fertilization until May. Succulent new growth in early spring is particularly prone to disease.

For more information, see CSU Factsheet 7.202 and March Tips

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Little tiny bugs are invading my house and leaving red stains on the furniture and carpets. What are they and how can I get rid of them?

Clover mites sometimes move into homes in February and early spring. When crushed they leave those tell-tale rusty red stains. The good news is they don't bite, cause disease, or eat household furnishings. Remove them when they become abundant by vacuuming them and disposing of the vacuum cleaner bag. Clover mites can also be spot treated and killed with household "spray and wash" cleaners. An effective way to prevent clover mites from entering your home in the first place is to remove all grass next to the foundation leaving a strip of soil at least three feet wide. The strip may be covered with pea gravel or planted with annual or perennial flowers. You may also spray a chemical barrier strip on the outside, 5 to 10 feet out from the base of the foundation and a few feet up on the walls–especially on the south and west sides of the house. Malathion is an acceptable product for this use. Always read and follow the label directions.

For more information, see CSU Factsheet 5.505. Link to factsheets is listed at the bottom of this page.

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Can I use something now the keep the aphids off my shade trees this summer?

February or early March (before the trees leaf out) is a good time to control aphids that overwinter on the tree. Use a horticultural spray oil on a day that is above freezing and dry. If aphids become a problem later on in the season, you can spray horticultural oils again or use insecticidal soap. Caution: Some maple trees and conifers are sensitive to horticultural oils.

For more information see CSU Factsheets 5.511 "Aphids on Shade Trees and Ornamentals", 5.569 "Insect Control: Horticultural Oils", 5.547 Insect Control: Soaps and Detergents."  Link to factsheets is listed at the bottom of this page.

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What can I do to stop woodpeckers from damaging the siding and eaves on my house?

Prompt repair of holes discourages woodpeckers.. Cover the holes with metal sheathing and paint to match the siding. If a board provides a landing site, stainless steel wire or monofilament fishing line can be stretched tightly about two inches outward across the landing site to exclude the bird. Certain visual deterrents can be effective. Attach 7 inch cosmetic mirrors flat to the side of the house with the enlarging surface facing outward. Hang hawk mobiles with a wing span of about 22 inches and a length of 11 inches near the damaged area with monofilament line. Or hang 12 inch pie plates, 2 - 3 foot strips of black plastic, and big reflective pinwheels near the damage.

For more information see Woodpeckers, and CSU Factsheet 6.516. Link to factsheets is listed at bottom of this page.


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Date last revised: 01/05/2010