Mountain Valley Growers USDA Certified Organic Herb, Perennnial and Vegetable Plants



Mountain Valley Views is the online newsletter for Mountain Valley Growers. Fall Sale extended one week.

  A plant to know: Kniphofia  

Kniphofia is an African native (mostly South African) that is comprised of may different species. The most common is K. uvaria and its many varieties. True to its temperate heritage, it prefers a slightly drier soil or at least one that drains very well. It does seem to tolerate varying degrees of sun and shade.

The brilliantly colored Oriole (pictured to the right) just happens to be a perfect color match for the spiky Kniphofia flowers. This patch of Kniphofia is now in its sixth year and every year the Orioles visit. It is the only time they are seen here and this is the only plant they have been spotted visiting for any length of time. The nectar must be mighty tasty because the birds work relentlessly to sip from each flower tube. Usually there is never more than one Oriole in the patch at a time. This year, though, a young Oriole was spotted on the tail of an adult as it followed its leader into their Garden of Eden. Hummingbirds can also get pretty possessive of the nectar rich flowers, but no matter how much the little hummers buzz around they cannot run off the Orioles.  Kniphofias bloom in early spring and it takes a few blooms before the Orioles show up.

An Oriole sips nectar from a Kniphofia flower.
Kniphofias bloom a long time in the garden.

 In the picture to the left, it is easy to see the grassy nature of the Kniphofia which adds extra texture and interest to the garden. This patch has self seeded and so there are varying color patterns among the flowers but they are all in the yellow to orange range. The flowering spikes can reach 5 feet tall. The bloom right under the bird is shorter because it is newly emerging and smaller because it has not yet unfurled its flowers. New flower spikes continue to be produced for many months which lengthens the stay of the Oriole.  There does not seem to be any advantage to removing spent flower stalks to encourage more bloom.

Over time the plant does get messy and needs to be cleaned up. Dead blades of grass can be removed by pulling from underneath the plant or, if the plant becomes very untidy, it can be sheared back to about four inches above the ground. Flower spikes can be removed at anytime, however,  if the flower stalks are allowed to make seeds, the finches will come and feed on the seeds.

Also, if the seeds are allowed to form and drop at will,  there is usually some sprouting of new plants in the spring. These can be moved or left to grow where they sprout. Make sure to give new plants plenty of space to grow. Each clump of grass can take up about three feet of air space while it is growing and blooming. Crowding the plants causes death to those that cannot make it out from underneath its neighbor's canopy.

Wherever you spend the most time gazing out the window is where you want to plant these incredible plants.

  Fall Extravaganza extended one week. Fall Veggies added.  
Our Sale is at an end and we thank all of you who made it such a big success. Look for our new 2010 catalog coming in January!
Great prices on tools for fall pruining.
There is so much pruning to do in the fall that it is really important to have tools that can do the job. If you have ever suffered through a season with cheap or inadequate tools then you know what we mean. We have put all of our Fiskars tools on sale to help you get your work done easily and efficiently. Be sure and check out the PowerGear hedge shears. These are perfect for trimming lavenders back. Order here.

New Wildlife Herb Garden Six Pack.

Perfect for fall planting is our brand new Wildlife Herb Garden Six Pack. Attracting birds and butterflies to your garden will help to keep your garden in balance and reduce the need for chemical pesticides.

Click here for more information.

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