Dwarf Pussytoes (Antennaria parvifolia)

Photo by Lisa Bird

Appearance: Dwarf Pussytoes has pretty white flowers clustered like a cat’s toes on stalks growing to 6 inches in height.  The lance-shaped leaves grow in low mats, so the combination of the leaves and flowers on stalks makes it ideal for use as a groundcover.

Habitat: One of nine species found in the southern Rockies, it is commonly found in open mountain and foothills areas in sandy, well-drained soils. It has low moisture requirements and grows in sun to part shade. (more…)

Poison Ivy in Summer photo by Lisa Bird

Poison Ivy

Toxicodendron rydbergii

Appearance: Poison Ivy is a member of the Sumac family and recognizable by its three shiny leaflets, white flowers in March to June, and smooth white berries later in the summer.  It grows to a mature height of 2 feet.

Habitat: Found in the plains and foothills, it grows on rocky slopes and at cliff bases in full sun to partial shade. (more…)

Cotoneaster apiculatus - Cranberry Cotoneaster @DBG 28jul04 LAH 411-2


As summer’s flowers fade, plants that produce berries take center stage. Branches covered with bright red berries make cotoneasters especially attractive now, but they offer year-round interest. In spring, tiny but abundant white to pink flowers may be obscured by the shiny round green leaves. Foliage turns orange-red in fall. Finally, the berries persist into winter, or until the birds pick them clean.


The hardest part of growing cotoneaster is pronouncing it correctly (it’s “ko-TON-ee-AS-ter”). These shrubs thrive with little attention, handling poor soils, full sun to afternoon shade, and moderately low amounts of water. New shrubs should be coddled a bit until vigorous growth begins. Give plants room to spread, pruning only to remove oldest wood and enhance appearance. As with all members of the rose family, cotoneasters are occasionally susceptible to fire blight; some new varieties are tolerant of this disease. The many different species in cultivation vary in hardiness. Most will survive zone 4 or 5 winters, but check the label for the variety you are purchasing.


There is a size and shape for every use. Spreading plants under three feet high make good groundcovers. Try planting them where their arching branches can spill over a wall. Small, stiffly erect shrubs may be used as informal hedges. Tall, fountain-shaped growers form good screens.

Contributed by Leslie Holzmann, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 520-7684 or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com

Photo courtesy of Leslie Holzmann, Colorado Master Gardener

Wine Cups Joan Nusbaum 415-1APPEARANCE

Are you thirsting for color in your summer garden?  Winecups may be the drink you are looking for. Deep magenta, cup-shaped flowers give this summer blooming perennial its common name.  Its richly colored, five petal flowers have a white center and stand above the green, deeply lobed leaves. Reaching just 5-10 inches in height, it likes room to spread, as much as 20-30 inches at maturity.  Blooming from June through late frost gives the garden a splash of color through most of the growing season.


This native thrives in ordinary loam or dry clay soil and is hardy up to 8,000 feet.  It prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade.  Winecups requires low to moderate watering making it a good choice for a xeric landscape. Overwatering causes the stems to become straggly and collapse.


With its low growing, spreading habit, Winecups  looks good cascading over walls and tumbling down slopes, but also works well in the front of the border or in a wildflower garden. No matter where you plant it, you can be sure its eye-catching color will liven up the landscape well into the fall. Winecups was included on the 1999 Plant Select list. You can read more about Plant Select choices at : www.plantselect.org.

Contributed by Lisa Bird, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at (719) 520-7684 (new number) or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com

Photo courtesy of Joan Nusbaum, Colorado Master Gardener

Q: I have an area with creeping thyme planted as a ground cover next to my lawn, and the grass is growing into the ground cover. How can I stop this from happening?

A: The bluegrass that most of us have in our lawns is a tenacious spreader and will generally out compete other ground covers if steps are not taken to physically separate the two areas. It will take some time and effort to change your situation. Here are some suggestions:

– First, make sure your the site where the thyme is growing meets its requirement for full sun. If not, consider using a ground cover more appropriate to the area so that it can grow as vigorously as possible.

– Next, take a look at how these areas are being watered. If they are getting the same amount of water and that amount is enough to keep the bluegrass green, consider changing your irrigation practices to water them separately, and water the ground cover less than the grass. Many groundcovers, such as sedum, creeping thymes, and vinca, require much less water than bluegrass, and they are perfect choices for using drip or soaker irrigation. The grass will not be as tempted to spread to a less frequently irrigated area. If the two areas are already watered separately, check and adjust sprinkler heads in the grass area so that they are not overspraying into the groundcover, and try reducing the irrigation in the ground cover. (more…)