Plants, Flowers and Trees

Plants, Flowers & Trees

Plants, Flowers & Trees

Plants, Flowers & Trees Topics

Planting 101

Benefits of Flowers Plants and Trees

Importance of Native Plants

Nature Guides

New Mexico Vegetation

Downloads

truck with pumpkins

Planting 101

Spring is coming and it is time to get ready to plant. Planting a garden can be a rewarding and healthy activity for all ages – beneficial to mind, body and soul.

So where do we start?

To decide when to plant, we need to know what climate zone we live in. Anything that is not frost hardy needs to be planted after the danger of frost. Here in the higher elevations in NM, it is a good idea to plant around Mother’s Day. Hardy crops like peas can be planted earlier.

Choose an area that gets adequate sunlight for what is being planted and make sure the soil is properly prepared.

Proper soil preparation is probably the most important step of a successful garden. Here in NM the soils tend to be in poor condition and need to be supplemented with organic matter, including compost and manure. 

Soil Testing

It is a good idea to have a soil test to best know how to supplement your soil because plants won’t grow properly without all the nutrients they need. Fertilizers and organic matter contain varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and it is necessary to have these present in the correct amounts for the plants to grow well.

When to Plant

When planting your garden, you can use small plants or grow from seeds. Seedlings are started indoors in late winter and seeds are planted following the instructions on the seed packets (or other source). You need to plant seeds at the proper depth and thin them later on if they become too crowded. Gardens can be used for a spring, then summer, and finally a fall crop of plants.

Watering

Give the growing plants the proper amount of water during the growing season. Not enough water causes the plants to stress and too much water is not good either.

Generally, you want to keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate and the plants establish themselves. After that, water frequently and deeply so that around 12 inches of soil is moist, letting the top 1-2 inches dry out between watering. Drip irrigation is a recommended way to water as it is efficient and helps keep some moisture in the soil.

Weeding

Make sure to weed once a week or as necessary so that the plants can grow without competition by hoeing and mulching and watch for insect pests. There are both chemical and natural ways to deal with them.

Proper planning and preparation are key to a successful gardening experience. Consult your local nurseries, online sources or your gardening neighbors for gardening tips as needed!

References

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flowers

Benefits of Flowers Plants and Trees

Flowers, plants, and trees are an important part of the ecosystem, environmental landscape, and our communities. They reduce carbon dioxide and provide oxygen. Trees, shrubs, and plants can aid in the fight against soil erosion, as well as provide food and shelter to animals. Flowers, plants, and trees also provide beauty to our environment.

Giving flowers or plants to someone can have a positive impact on their mood and wellbeing. Research suggests that plants in an office can remove indoor air pollutants and boost employee wellbeing. “Standard nursery stock plants have been shown to be effective in removing indoor air pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene and ammonia. Plants can contribute to greater perceptions of workplace quality, affecting mood and making employees feel more productive” (Smith and Pitt, 2009).

Want to draw more birds and butterflies to your garden? Add native flowers and plants to your garden. Brian Wright states that having native flowers and plants helps maintain the native biodiversity of both plants and animals, and that they attract more birds and butterflies. They also require less maintenance than non-native varieties. “Because native species are adapted to the local environment, they require less water, pruning, pesticides, and fertilizers compared to non-native species” (Wright, 2017).

Trees provide cooling shade, block freezing winter winds, purify the air, prevents soil erosion, and cleans drinking water. Having restoration and reforestation programs can aid in fighting against climate change. “Reforestation  is  important  to  mitigate  climate  change,  and  attention  to  adaptation  to  future climates is crucial to increase resilience” (R, Balloffet, Crockett, Stanturf, & Nave, 2019). “Comprehensive urban forestry planning can influence the everyday lives of city dwellers by reducing stormwater runoff, decreasing wildfire risk and severity, reducing urban heat islands, decreasing utility costs, increasing economic growth, and providing clean drinking water” (Gaworecki, 2019). “Forests in watersheds act as natural water filters and storage systems. They help replenish the rivers and streams that run through them and keep them clear” (Frazer and Martin, 2016).

national parks patches

References:

Frazer, N., & Martin, T. (2016, Apr 11). Protecting utah's forested watersheds: Salt lake telegram. Deseret News Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.proxy- library.ashford.edu/newspapers/protecting-utahs-forested- watersheds/docview/1788570610/se-2?accountid=32521

Gaworecki, M. (2019). How cities can lead the fight against climate change using urban forestry and trees (commentary). Menlo Park: Newstex. Retrieved from https://search-proquest- com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/blogs,-podcasts,-websites/how-cities-can-lead-fight- against-climate-change/docview/2318880200/se-2?accountid=32521

R, K. D., Balloffet, N., Crockett, J. W., Stanturf, J. A., & Nave, L. E. (2019). A national approach to leverage the benefits of tree planting on public lands. New Forests, 50(1), 1- 9. doi:http://dx.doi.org.proxy-library.ashford.edu/10.1007/s11056-019-09703-2

Smith, A., & Pitt, M. (2009). Sustainable workplaces: Improving staff health and well-being using plants. Journal of Corporate Real Estate, 11(1), 52-63,66-67. doi:http://dx.doi.org.proxy-library.ashford.edu/10.1108/14630010910940552

Wright, B. (2017, May 17). Want to attract more birds and butterflies in your garden? native plants can help. Daily Herald Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.proxy- library.ashford.edu/newspapers/want-attract-more-birds-butterflies-your- garden/docview/1899529524/se-2?accountid=32521

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Native Plant

Importance of Native Plants

What is a Native Plant?
By Bob Sivinski, retired NM Forestry Division Botanist

Five floristic regions with different climates and geologic histories contribute to the rich native flora of New Mexico. These are the Northern Chihuahuan Desert, Mogollon/Southern Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, Colorado  Plateau, and Apachean regions. The resident plant species that evolved within, or naturally dispersed to, these regions are "native" or "indigenous" species. Other plant species that have been introduced into these regions since Europeans began bringing plants to North America are "alien" or "exotic" species.

Botanists are able to distinguish native from alien plant species with the records of early botanical explorers and by inferences made from geographic distribution, relatedness to other species, and the types of habitats where they occur. Plants with small restricted ranges are obviously native, but several alpine and wetland plants, mosses, and ferns have circumboreal or even cosmopolitan distributions and are native to different continents.

Misinterpretations of native or alien plant characteristics remain common. The most frequent mistake is to identify naturalized alien plants as native species because they are common and reproducing within natural habitats. For instance, sweet clovers (Melilotus sp.) and many pasture grasses (Bromus inermis, Agrostis gigantea, etc.) are purposely introduced to alien species that are often perceived as native. On the other hand, some native plants that are aggressive or occur on disturbed soils can occasionally be interpreted as not belonging to the natural flora.

Most people think all of our thistles (Cirsium sp.) are aliens. The truth is, there are more species of native thistles in New Mexico than there are alien thistles.

Now that the New Mexico flora is relatively well known, it is easy to make a "native or alien" determination by comparing the Index of New Mexico Plant Names to the list of Alien Plants Known in New Mexico. If a plant occurs in the New Mexico flora and is not on the list of alien species, then it is probably native.

Why Is It Important?

All of our native plants evolved here and been subjected to long periods of natural selection. They are perfectly adapted to the climate and habitats of New Mexico. Native plants are in balance with the ecosystem, provide cover and food for native animals, and have developed a surprisingly diverse array of relationships with soil fungi and other native microorganisms. What better plants to grow on any patch of ground than the species that have evolved upon that spot?

Alien species are out of place in the natural habitats of New Mexico. The specific soil and climatic characteristics that allow them to thrive and reproduce may not be here. Likewise, the insect herbivores, diseases, and climatic conditions that kept them in check in their native lands are also unlikely to be here. Most will persist on disturbed soils for a brief period and then die away. Some others are released from their natural constraints and proliferate to such an extreme degree they damage agricultural operations and entire ecosystems. These naturalized alien species deprive native plants, microorganisms and animals of their habitats and ultimately diminish the biodiversity of New Mexico. Most of New Mexico's most damaging alien weeds were purposely brought to North America as garden, forage or erosion control plants.

Below we provide some information to assist interested individuals in learning about our native flora and the floristic zones and vegetation types that contribute to our state's biodiversity. We include some species checklists as they become available, and provide links to botanical photographs.

References:

Found on the Native Plant Society of New Mexico Website:

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nature guides

Nature Guides

Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC)

The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) at the Los Alamos Nature Center provides visitors to its website with nature guides highlighting Flowers, Trees, and Weeds, amongst several others, found in the Los Alamos area.  Below are excerpts from these three guides and the links to those guides.

Flowers

https://peecnature.org/learn/nature-guides/flower-guide/

“The Jemez Mountain Herbarium located at PEEC has a specimen collection of over 1,000 plant species that are found in the Jemez Mountain region. This guide was developed as a subset of this collection to help in the identification of the most prevalent flowering plants in Los Alamos County. Most of the plants shown here are native to the area, though a few were introduced to the region...More detailed descriptions can be found in “Plants of the Jemez Mountains Volumes 2 and 3 ”, which are available in the PEEC gift shop.”

Trees

 https://peecnature.org/learn/nature-guides/tree-guide/

“Growth of trees in the Southwest largely depends on temperature and moisture. In general, temperature is lower at higher altitudes, moisture is greater. As altitude affects temperature and moisture, it largely determines the distribution of tree species in this area.Los Alamos County and surrounding areas include three main vegetation zones. The Pinyon-Juniper Woodland (4500 – 7500 ft; 1375 – 2300 m) is characterized by pinyon pine, one-seed juniper, alligator juniper and Rocky Mountain juniper. The Ponderosa Pine Forest (5500 – 8500 ft; 1700 – 2600 m) consists mainly of ponderosa pine. The Spruce-Fir Forest (8000 – 12000 ft; 2500 – 3650 m) includes Douglas fir, white fir, quaking aspen, limber pine, and, at higher altitudes, Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir. Little (Southwestern Trees: A Guide to Native Species in New Mexico and Arizona) describes these zones in more detail.Two recent catastrophic wildfires (Cerro Grande Fire in 2000, Las Conchas Fire in 2011) burned large areas of Los Alamos County. The burned areas now support fast-growing pioneer species rather than the slow-growing trees that characterize the vegetation zones. What was Pinyon-Juniper Woodland is now largely grassland; what was Ponderosa Pine Forest is now largely grass, Gambel oak, and quaking aspen; what was Spruce-Fir Forest is now largely grass and quaking aspen. Vegetation in these areas will change as succession proceeds. This guide describes many of the native species of trees in and around Los Alamos County. It also includes a few introduced species that are often seen in the wild. More detailed information can be found in “ Plants of the Jemez Mountains Volume 1 ”, which is available in the PEEC gift shop.”

Weeds

https://peecnature.org/learn/nature-guides/weed-guide/

“The term weed is commonly used to denote a plant that is growing in an area where it is not valued. It is officially defined by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as being any plant that poses a threat to agriculture and/or a natural ecosystem. A noxious weed is one that is particularly troublesome and can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to crops, livestock, or natural resources. In general, plants that are within their native range live in balance with their environment and are not typically considered to be weeds. Issues can occur, however, if a plant is introduced, either directly or indirectly, to a new ecosystem. These, now non-native plants, may be able to thrive in their new environment. If so, these naturalized plants can fall into one or two categories long term: (1) plants that are valued for their flowers and fruit and (2) plants that are rapidly considered to be weeds. The plants in the latter category are those that are generally regarded as noxious weeds. While some species shown here are included in the PEEC Flower and Tree Guides, this guide concentrates on some of the nastier introduced species that you might see in your yard or on local trails. In addition, this guide includes some native plants that meet the general definition of weed.”

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New Mexico Vegetation

New Mexico Vegetation

By Tim Lowrey, UNM Herbarium Curator

New Mexico has one of the most diverse landscapes in the United States. The topographic and geologic diversity interact with the climatic features of temperature, wind, and precipitation to determine the plant diversity in New Mexico. In terms of size, New Mexico is the fifth largest state in the union while it has the fourth highest plant diversity in terms of numbers of species.

Plant diversity in a particular region is often described in terms of vegetation diversity. Vegetation has two components: structure and floristic composition. Vegetation structure refers to the physiognomy such as forest, grassland, or shrubland. The floristic composition is the actual taxonomic diversity of the different structural types. For example, all continents except Antarctica have forests but the families, genera, and species in them are very different among the different geographic locations.

Description of plant diversity relies on the use of physiognomic and floristic classification systems. There are five floristic zones (see below) and within these zones there may be some or all of the six major structural or physiognomic vegetation types as defined by Dick-Peddie (1993). These major structural types are: Tundra, Forest, Woodland, Grassland, Scrubland, and Riparian.

Vegetation types are based on growth form and abiotic features of climate (primarily precipitation and temperature), geography (elevation and latitude), and geology (soils, slope, and aspect). In New Mexico the greatest influence on vegetation is precipitation (Dick-Peddie, 1993). The next most important influence is temperature and together with precipitation comprise the primary determinants of vegetation patterning. Other components of climate, geography, and geology such as wind, soil type, slope, aspect, elevation, latitude etc. are considered secondary determinants of vegetation patterns.

Reference:

Found on the Native Plant Society of New Mexico Website:
https://www.npsnm.org/education/native-plants/

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