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Cactus & Agave from Cold Hardy Cactus

Fort Collins Nursery has a wonderful collection of cactus and agave from Cold Hardy Cactus.  The collection was compiled by renowned Colorado nurseryman and propagator Kelly Grummons, and contains the most garden worthy species and varieties of cactus and agave from across North America. 

Agave

Agave is a delightful genus of succulent plants, mainly from the American Southwest and Mexico. They feature succulent leaves that end in sharp points with blue-green or grey-green foliage.  Most agave varieties eventually flower but take at least seven years to do so. The plant typically dies once they have bloomed but at that point will have produced many pup plants which grow in their place.

There are many practical uses for agave in landscapes and gardens. A large agave makes a nice sculptural focal point and smaller varieties can be featured in patio containers or rock garden settings. They make a nice border grouping and their hard edges provide texture and contrast with softer plants and grasses.

Here are a few great varieties to consider:

Guadalupe Mountains Agave

Agave gracilipes

  • Description: Guadalupe Mountains Agave is a particularly hard-to-find species originating from the Guadalupe Mountains of Southern New Mexico. It is considered a recently evolved species thought to be a combination of Agave parryi. v neomexicana and Agave lechuguilla. Guadalupe Mountains Agave is one of the hardiest agave for our region and produces spectacular flowers in its old age.
  • Height: 14”
  • Width: 30”
  • Water: Low
  • Hardiness Zones: 5

 

New Mexican Agave

Agave parryi v. neomexicana

  • Description: New Mexican Agave is an extraordinarily beautiful and very hardy plant with broad, blue-green leaves and striking black terminal spines. New Mexican Agave is native to a higher elevation which means this plant likes a little afternoon shade.
  • Height: 1.5’
  • Width: 2’
  • Water: Little to no water when established
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-9
  • Bloom Color: Yellow

Cactus

Plants in the family Cactaceae are all native to North, Central and South America and some Caribbean islands. Cactus are succulent perennial plants that have modified tissues for water storage, making them well adapted to survive in arid regions.  They have spines, which are modified leaves, to help prevent water loss and provide shade for the stem. Cacti vary in size, color, shape, and growth habit and often produce stunning flowers.  They are widely cultivated as ornamental plants and can fill many roles in the landscape by adding texture, shape, and various degrees of height to a space.

Here are several varieties to consider that are hardy to our region:

Mandarin Sunrise Opuntia

Opuntia WALKIN BEAUTY™ ‘Mandarin Sunrise’

  • Description: Mandarin Sunrise Opuntia features bouquets of unbelievably stunning orange flowers. In May and June, hundreds of blossoms cover the spineless greed pads. Mandarin Sunrise Opuntia is a new hybrid from Kelly Grummons.
  • Height: 8”
  • Width: 48”
  • Water: Low
  • Hardiness Zone: 4
  • Bloom Time: May-June
  • Bloom Color: Mandarin Orange

 

White Sands Giant Claret Cup Cactus

Echinocereus triglochidiatus v. gonacanthus ‘White Sands’

  • Description: White Sands Giant Claret Cup Cactus is a grand form of Claret Cup Cactus. It is one of the tallest varieties of triglochidiatus and spreads quickly to form large clumps. Scarlet red flowers bloom early in the summer, bringing a burst of bright color that contrasts
  • with their dark brown spines.
  • Height: 12-18”
  • Width: 18”
  • Water: Low
  • Hardiness Zone: 5
  • Bloom Time: June
  • Bloom Color: Red

 

Coryphantha vivipara

Coryphantha vivipara ‘Southern Colorado’

  • Description: Corypantha vivipara features flamingo pink flowers that burst from each solitary head of the cactus. Following the bloom, the plant produces a green, berry-like fruit that tastes like kiwi. Corypantha vivipara is hardy to 7500 ft. which makes it ideal
  • for planting in high elevations.
  • Height: 4”
  • Width: 2-3’
  • Water: Low
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-4
  • Bloom Time: May-June
  • Bloom Color: Pink

 

Originally posted July 3, 2018. Updated April 4, 2019.

Rock Garden/ Alpine Plants

Stop by Fort Collins Nursery to check out our amazing selection of rock garden and alpine plants grown locally at Laporte Avenue Nursery. Rock gardens are a great way to add a rugged, natural look to your garden and landscape and usually require little to no maintenance.  These plants come in many varieties, like Columbine, Penstemon, Saxifrage, and Phlox. They are well adapted to our environment and well suited for growing in rocky and low fertility soil. These exceptional plants are loved by everybody and come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Our expert staff will help you pick out the perfect plants for your rock garden today!

Here are some lovely varieties to get you started:

Pasque Flower

Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Hybrid’

  • Description: Pasque flower is an early season favorite that provides rock gardens and beds with fabulous early spring color. Their cheerful flowers bloom in rich lavenders, pinks, and purples with bright yellow centers. Their fern-like foliage and fringed petals contribute to their beautiful and elegant appearance.
  • Height: 6 in.
  • Spacing: 8 in.
  • Water: Regular
  • Bloom: Spring
  • Zones: 4-8

Silene acaulis

Silene acaulis

  • Description: Silene acaulis is an exquisite gem that should be added to every rock garden. Mats of tiny deep green needle-like leaves are smothered beneath pretty pink flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer.
  • Height: 1 in.
  • Spacing: 8 in.
  • Water: Moderate – Low
  • Bloom: Late spring to early summer
  • Zones: 2-9

Sugarbowl Clematis

Clematis scotti

  • Description: Sugarbowl Clematis was a Plant Select introduction in 2013. It features non-vining upright stems, narrow blue-green foliage, and rich purple-blue turban-shaped flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer. Sugarbowl Clematis are somewhat slow to establish but long-lived once situated.
  • Height: 12-15 in.
  • Spacing: 12-18 in.
  • Water: Moderate – Dry
  • Bloom: May – June
  • Zones: 4-7

Draba zapateri

Draba zapateri

  • Description: Draba zapateri is a bun-shaped plant with tight, deep green foliage and pure white flowers that bloom in late spring. These plants need partial shade and do well on northern slopes.
  • Height: 2 in.
  • Width: 5 in.
  • Water: Low Water
  • Bloom: Mid-April to early May
  • Zones: 5-8

Originally Posted March 31, 2016. Updated April 4, 2019.

Perennials

Over the past several weeks, our staff has been hard at work bringing perennials out of their winter slumber and onto the nursery grounds.  Many of these were grown right here at Fort Collins Nursery by our amazing production team.  Our perennials were overwintered and are now ready for you to take home and plant safely, regardless of our quirky spring weather.  Come in April 5-7th and check out hundreds of beautiful perennial varieties at our Perennial Palooza 50% off sale including the following:

Riding Hood Red Penstemon

Penstemon ‘Riding Hood Red’

  • Description: The Riding Hood Red Penstemon, developed by Pacific Plug and Liner, has created a buzz among many nurseries and growers and was a 2010 “Top Performer” Perennial at the CSU Trial Gardens. They are a very showy Penstemon with an abundance of huge, white lipped, coral-red flowers that bloom from late spring through summer. Riding Hood Red Penstemon are cold hardy, drought resistant, and do well in hot, dry sites.
  • Height: 24-30 in.
  • Width: 18-24 in.
  • Water: Moderate to low
  • Bloom: Summer
  • Zone: 5-8

Swan Violet & White Columbine

Aquilegia ‘Swan Violet and White’

  • Description: Columbines are wonderful plants to help you welcome in springtime to your garden! Swan Violet & White Columbines feature a beautiful bouquet of purple and white flowers with lobed blue-green foliage at the base.
  • Height: 16-22 in. 
  • Width: 14 in.
  • Water: Moderate
  • Bloom Color: Violet/White
  • Bloom Time: Mid Spring – Early Summer
  • Zones: 3-9

Blue Emerald Creeping Phlox

Phlox subulata ‘Blue Emerald’

  • Description: Blue Emerald Creeping Phlox feature a carpet of light blue flowers that cover the tightly mounded evergreen foliage in spring. The plants can be sheared after bloom to refresh foliage and encourage rebloom. Blue Emerald Creeping Phlox make an excellent edging plant for the front of any garden border.
  • Height: 4-6 in.
  • Width: 12-18 in.
  • Water: Moderate – Low
  • Bloom: Mid-Spring
  • Zones: 3-9

Originally Published March 31, 2016. Updated April 4, 2019.

Pansies & Annuals

Annual flowers are loved by many gardeners because they are inexpensive, versatile and easy to care for.  Mixing annuals in your perennial beds is a great way to provide color in your garden all summer long.  While perennials typically flower for only a portion of the growing season, annuals make the most of their one and only year by flowering throughout the summer.  They also look great in perennial bed borders, patio pots and hanging baskets.  We have many of your favorite annual varieties in stock with more arriving throughout the spring. 

Find our coupons in the April Valpak and Money Mailer for a buy one get one free pack of pansies.

Varieties currently in stock include:

  • Pansy
  • Snapdragon
  • Geranium
  • Stock
  • Dianthus
  • Alyssum
  • Vinca

Varieties expected soon include:

  • Petunia
  • Salvia
  • Phlox
  • Marigold
  • Celosia
  • Lobelia
  • Sunpatiens
  • Impatiens
  • Begonia
  • Gerber Daisy
  • and many more!

Originally Posted May 2, 2017. Updated April 4, 2019.

Veggie Starts

We have many veggie starts in stock and ready for your garden.  Now is a good time to plant your cold season crops like lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, snow peas, and kale.  Plant them in a nice shady spot so they’ll have protection from the hot sun in the summer months.  You’ll find a growing assortment of warm season starts like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, zucchini and artichokes in our greenhouse as we get closer to May.  Remember the average last frost date in Northern Colorado is May 15th and it can be much later in Southern Wyoming so keep your warm season veggies protected by keeping them indoors or using season extenders like Wall O’ Water.  Check back throughout the months of April and May for new veggie arrivals including the bulk of our warm season varieties!

Originally Published March 31, 2017. Updated April 4, 2019

Potatoes, Onions & Garlic

For those of you who are anxious to start planting early this spring, we have a great selection of Potatoes, Onions & Garlic.  A good rule of thumb is you can plant potatoes and onions directly in the garden after St. Patrick’s Day, but with our unpredictable Colorado weather it is important to keep an eye on them. Use mulch, Season Extenders, or cover with row covers to help protect veggies from low temperatures. Garlic bulbs can be planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked.  Shop early to find the best available selection and store your potatoes, onions and garlic in a cool, dry environment until you’re ready to plant. 

Potatoes

Potato plants are not grown from seed, so to produce a potato plant you will need seed potatoes, which are potatoes that have been carefully screened for common viruses and stored for planting. Seed potatoes can be planted whole or cut into pieces with at least one eye per piece.  Those with more eyes will grow to produce a larger quantity of potatoes that are smaller in size while those with fewer eyes will produce fewer potatoes that are larger in size.  For planting, choose a sunny spot with loose well-draining soil, so that the roots and tubers can develop. For a fun alternative planting method try planting potatoes in bloem BAGZ.

Here are some delicious varieties to consider (many more varieties will become available as we move into spring):

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes: This is a smooth, round, yellow-skinned potato with pink around the eyes. Yukon Gold have great flavor for baking, boiling or salads.
  • Russet Burbank Potato: This potato has dark russet skin and flaky white flesh. It is a perfect light, fluffy baked potato and is also excellent as fries or hash browns.
  • Viking Purple Potato: This Heirloom has large, smooth dark purple skin and pure white flesh that make it great for mashing. It is a high-yielding potato developed at North Dakota State University.
  • Dark Red Norland Potato: This Heirloom has an almost burgundy skin with white flesh. This high yield potato keeps well and is great for potato salad.

Onions

Onion sets and plants are the fastest, easiest way to grow full-size onions in a single season. For planting, choose a very sunny location with 8 hours or more of direct sun per day with fertile soil that drains well. Onions are heavy feeders and benefit greatly from an application of a nitrogen-rich fertilizer such as El Primero Organic Garden Fertilizer (21-4-4) locally made by Alpha One.

You’ll cry tears of joy after tasting one of these savory varieties:

  • Red Candy Apple Onion: This onion features a large, flattened red globe and is the type of red onion you’ll find in an Italian restaurant or salad bar. There is limited storage capacity with this one.
  • Copra Onion: This is a very sweet storage onion that can be stored for up to a year. It produces a beautiful, hard 3” onion that cooks love.
  • Ailsa Craig Exhibition Onion: This globe-shaped, yellow onion is very sweet and very large. Ailsa Craig can potentially grow up to 8” across and up to 6 lbs. They have a storage life of 1-2 months.
  • Walla Walla Onion: This onion has pale yellow scales with white interior and is the sweetest of the long day varieties. They can be stored for one month.

Garlic

Garlic grows from individual cloves broken off from the whole bulb.  It is easy to grow and requires very little space in the garden. While the ideal time to plant garlic is in the fall, it can still be planted successfully in early spring. Garlic should be planted in a fertile, well-drained soil, avoiding areas where water can collect around the roots.  The cloves should be planted 1-2 inches into the ground with the pointed end up. Give your meals some bite with one of these wonderful varieties:

  • Silver Rose Garlic:Silver Rose Garlic produces rose-colored cloves in very smooth bright-white bulbs. Frequently planted in the spring, this is a fast growing garlic that produces 12-15 cloves per bulb.
  • Early Italian Purple Garlic:This bulb is large and white-skinned with purple stripes and numerous small cloves. Early Italian Purple Garlic adapts to summer heat better than the Italian Late variety.
  • Inchelium Red Garlic: This large 3” bulb produces 8-20 cloves with mild, but lasting flavor with a hint of hot.  The dense cloves store well and the flavor gets stronger in storage.

 

Originally published on March 1, 2017. Updated on March 1, 2019.

Spring-planted Bulbs

Spring-planted bulbs produce dramatic garden color with minimal effort and are a great addition to your summer garden.  Not to be confused with “Fall Bulbs” which are planted in fall but flower in spring, “Spring Bulbs” are also known as “Summer Flowering Bulbs.”  Spring-planted bulbs are tender and will not survive cold ground temperatures and should generally be planted around the last frost date or when you plant your vegetable garden. Because they are not cold hardy, spring bulbs should be dug up, stored and then replanted every year or grown as annuals.  To get a quick start on growing your summer flowering bulbs, pot them indoors 1-2 months before planting time and transplant them outside and into your garden after our last frost (average of May 15).

Fort Collins Nursery currently has all of these great varieties in stock: Dahlia, Canna, Elephant Ear, Amaryllis, Gladiolus, Eremus, Crocosmia, Lily and more.

 

Originally published on March 1, 2017. Updated on March 1, 2019.

Cool Season Veggies

Late March is a great time to start planting cool season vegetables. Cool season crops prefer cool daytime temperatures of 60 to 80 degrees, and down to 40 degrees at night.

Semi-Hardy vegetables such as beets, carrots, cauliflower, parsley, parsnips, potatoes and Swiss chard are less tolerant of a frost, and may need some additional protection. Using mulch, Season Extenders and covering with row covers will help protect veggies from low temperatures. The most cold-hardy, such as broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, onions, lettuce, peas, radish, spinach and turnips, can withstand a frost.

Cool-season crops will stop producing when temperatures are high in the summertime, but keep in mind you can plant another round of crops in late summer for a fall harvest!

We have an extensive selection of cool season veggie seeds from great companies like Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., Beauty Beyond Belief, Botanical InterestsRenee’s Garden, Seed Savers Exchange, and Territorial Seed Company.

Cool season starters like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and various greens will also be available in our greenhouse later in the month of March.

 

Originally published on March 2, 2018. Updated on March 1, 2019.

Fruit Trees

Fruit trees are a great addition to any home landscape.  They provide privacy and shade, look beautiful, and can produce large quantities of delicious, edible fruit. Did you know a single mature apple tree can yield up to 15-20 bushels of fruit per year? Fruit trees are some of the best options for long-term, sustainable, and low maintenance growing and can continue to produce fruit for decades.  Fort Collins Nursery has one of the largest selections of fruit trees in the region with over 80 varieties of fruit trees including apple, cherry, plum, peach, pear, crabapple and mulberry.  Our trees are picked for their ability to grow and thrive in our Northern Colorado environment.  With so many fruit trees to choose from, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Honeycrisp Apples

Malus ‘Honeycrisp’

Available on either standard or semi-dwarf root stock, this tree produces a large crop of crisp, sweet fruit that can be over 3” in diameter and ripens in September.  Honeycrisp apples are sweet, firm, and tart, making them perfect for eating right off the tree. Honeycrisp trees are known for their hardiness, however some protection from our strong winds is a must. These mid to late season bloomers are not self-pollinating so you’ll need another apple variety nearby in order for it to produce fruit.

  • Height: 
    Standard 15-20 ft.
    Semi-dwarf 12-16 ft
  • Width:
    Standard 15-20 ft.
    Semi-dwarf 12-16 ft
  • Water: Moderate
  • Bloom: Mid-Season
  • Zones: 3-6

Honeycrisp apples were introduced by the University of Minnesota in 1991. They have since been crossed with other apple varieties, creating wonderful hybrids that are also available at Fort Collins Nursery including Sweet Sixteen, Kindercrisp, Frostbite, and Snow Sweet.

Semi-Dwarf KinderKrisp Apples

Malus ‘KinderKrisp’

Like its parent Honeycrisp, this early ripening apple features exceptional flavor and crisp, fine texture but with much smaller fruit. The apples taste best when fresh from the tree and are perfect for lunch boxes and afternoon snacks. The tree flowers early in the season and the fruit ripens in late August.  KinderKrisp trees require a pollinator so you’ll need another apple variety nearby in order for it to produce fruit.

  • Height: 12-15 ft.
  • Width: 12-15 ft.
  • Water: Moderate
  • Bloom: White/ Early Spring
  • Zones: 4-7

Bali Cherry

Prunus avium

The Bali Cherry is a hardy, semi-sweet cherry that was discovered in Edmonton, Alberta. Its deep, dark red fruit reaches 1” in diameter. The fruit ripens in August and is great for baking and fresh eating, although not considered a sweet cherry. Bali Cherry trees perform well at high elevations and are self-fertile and will produce fruit on their own.

  • Height: 10-15 ft.
  • Width: 10-15 ft.
  • Water: Moderate
  • Bloom: Spring
  • Zones: 3-8

Green Gage Plum

Prunus domestica

This old-fashioned European Plum has been an American favorite for many years because of its great taste and usefulness in the kitchen. Their yellow-green fruit has a juicy, sweet flavor and is considered by many to be the best flavored of any plum variety. They are great for canning, cooking or eating fresh off the tree. Green Gage plums are partially self-fertile and will produce some fruit on their own. Planting with another variety of European plum will yield even greater crops.

  • Height: 10-15 ft.
  • Width: 10-15 ft.
  • Water: Moderate
  • Bloom: White/ Spring
  • Zones: 4-7

 

Originally published on March 2, 2018. Updated on March 1, 2019.

Spring Nursery Stock

Each fall we release tons of fresh new perennials, shrubs, and trees into our inventory throughout the month of September. Many of them were grown right here at the nursery by our wonderful production team.  All of this remaining stock is tucked away for the winter and protected from the harsh elements.

Fast forward to spring…

All of this robust stock has hardened off and is now adapted to our climate.  This means all our wonderful perennials, shrubs, and trees can be planted as soon as the ground has thawed out enough to dig.  Throughout the month of March, many of our little beauties will make their way from the Quonsets to the nursery blocks.  You can be confident that the plants you bring home are strong, healthy, and ready to go immediately into the ground without the muss and fuss of acclimating them.

Our spring nursery stock features many specialty plants that are limited in availability so shop early for the best selection.