Frequently asked questions

Pests & Disease

What are biological controls?
Biological controls, also known as beneficial insects, is a pest control method that does not rely on pesticides or insecticides.


Beneficial insects may provide long-term sustainable pest control solution by preying on the damaging pests. 
What pests are common in Colorado and the surrounding region?

  • Spider Mites
  • Aphids
  • White Flies
  • Beetles
  • Rabbits
  • Deer
  • Squirrels
What pests are common in Colorado and the surrounding region?

Spider Mite

READ: 6 Common Garden Pests in Colorado
What diseases are common in Colorado and the surrounding region?

  • Aster Yellows
  • Bacterial Wilt
  • Blight
  • Canker
  • Crown Gall
  • Rot, Basal Rot
  • Scab
What diseases are common in Colorado and the surrounding region?

Aster Yellows

How do I identify a pest?

  • Identify by insect (size, shape, color, leg count, wing count, or other attributes)
  • By damage done to the plant (holes, webs, wilting)
  • By the type of plant being infested or eaten
How do I identify a pest?

Damage from pests

READ: 6 Common Garden Pests in Colorado
How do I identify a disease?

By appearance of plant:

  • rot
  • spot color
  • extra growth
  • wilting
  • moldy
How do I identify a disease?

Diseased flower

How do I tell the difference between a pest or a disease?

  • By the appearance of the plant (holes, parts eaten, webbing, mold, pale spots, etc.), you should be able to identify the issue.
  • By the type of pest/animal found in the area. A larger animal will leave clear signs like droppings, footprints, etc. Smaller pests will generally be spotted on or under leaves or on blooms or fruits.
  • Pests simply cause damage to the plants by extracting water and food from the plant. Signs you have pests in your garden include wilting foliage, noticeable nibbling on the leaves and stems, falling leaves, dry leaves, and bad appearance.
  • Plant diseases change the plants physiology commonly from fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Symptoms of plant disease include loss of rigidity and fall of plants, stains on the leaves and fruits, abnormal local swelling, and non-uniform coloring in the foliage. 
READ: 6 Common Garden Pests in Colorado
Will diseases spread to other plants?

Most diseases will spread if the plant isn't tended to immediately. Remove all affected parts of plant if possible and separate from any other plants in area.

How do I prevent pests?
Preventing pets is an essential part of your garden maintenance plan. It is easier to take preventative measures than it is to deal with pests after an outbreak.

There are a variety of pesticides and sprays, that can help keep you plants healthy. For larger animals, fencing, raised beds, or barriers are your best defense. 

One should be wary of using any kind of pesticide, even organic because they can be just as toxic as chemicals products to the soil life and could kill beneficial insects. Pesticides can alter the pH balance of the soil, leave a toxic residue on the crop, and destroy beneficial soil microbes.


Tips for Naturally Preventing Pests

  • Encourage healthy soil.
  • Choose plants that are naturally resistant to pests.
  • Plant in the right place. 
  • Attract beneficial insects.
  • Repel pests using strong-scented herbs planted near plants and vegetables.
  • Rotate crops every few years.
  • Practice interplanting instead of monocrops. This can confuse pests. 
How do I prevent disease?

  • Fertilize plants and keep them healthy.
  • Inspect plants regularly.
  • Follow good sanitation.
  • Use warm soil went planting.
  • Rotate crops.
  • Water in the mornings.
  • Use mulch.
  • Good air circulation.
  • Clean all spotted or disease foliage as soon as possible.
How do I treat a disease?

  • Remove disease foliage first
  • Use fungicide if needed
  • Repot plant in healthy soil if possible
  • Give plant better air circulation

Basic Plant Care

What is an annual?

An annual plant is a plant that completes its life cycle, from germination to the production of seeds, within one growing season, and then dies.

What is an annual?

Pansy

READ: 8 Easiest Annuals to Grow in Colorado
What is a perennial?

A perennial plant, or simply perennial, is a plant that lives more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter-lived annuals and biennials. 


The term is also widely used to distinguish plants with little or no woody growth from trees and shrubs, which are also technically perennials.

What is a perennial?

Lavender

READ: 5 Best Perennials to Grow in Colorado
What is a succulent?

Succulents are plants with parts that are thickened, fleshy, and engorged, usually to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions. These are plants that are typically found in dry/warmer/tropical areas.

What is a succulent?

Succulents

How much sun is full sun?

  • It is considered full sun if it gets at least 6 full hours of direct sunlight on most days.
  • Full sun is the trickiest level of exposure to achieve because while many plants need full sun to set buds and flower, some cannot handle the intense heat and/or dry conditions that often come with that much sunshine. Morning sun is best for more sensitive plants while others that can tolerate dry and high heat can handle Afternoon or all-day sun.
  • Plants that prefer full sun is by far the largest group you will encounter. Most flowering annuals and perennials will enjoy full sun, provided their moisture requirements are met.
  • Vegetable gardens also are generally best positioned in the very sunniest location you can find, although a few vegetables and herbs (mostly the leafy types) will tolerate some shade.
How much sun is partial sun (shade)?

“Partial (or part) Sun” and “Partial Shade” are often used interchangeably to mean 3 to 6 hours of sun exposure each day, preferably in the cooler hours of the morning and early afternoon.

Shade can be described in 4 categories.


LIGHT SHADE: is a permanent shade cast by the shadow of a building, wall, hedge, or tree on a site otherwise exposed to the sky and open to light. It offers the most opportunity for blooming plants that otherwise like the sun.


PARTIAL: provides the next best opportunity for flowers in shade. Under these conditions, an area receives up to 6 hours of direct sun, with four or more of those hours being in the morning, and the rest of the day being in shadow. It is the most beneficial for a variety of plants. (Note that if 4 or more of the 6 hours of sun are in the afternoon, is full sun.)


DAPPLED OR FILTERED: is created by sunlight filtering through the canopy of open tree branches or through latticework structures, with the pattern of light shifting all day. This is probably the most common shade in suburban backyards and is also the most common woodland shade-garden environment.


DEEP OR FULL: is the dense kind of shade found under evergreens or closely spaced shrubs and trees that do not allow any direct light to penetrate. This is the most cooling kind of shade but is also the most difficult; it takes effort to find plants that will bloom here. But it also can be the most interesting, because the plants suited to it tend to have the best leaf structure.
What kind of soil should I use?

The kind of soil you use depends on where you are planting your plants. Utilize potting soil or potting mix for containers, hanging baskets and other pots.


If planting on the ground, the best option is to improve your garden soil rather than removing and replacing the existing dirt. Mix 50% topsoil into with the current dirt to help condition your garden plot, add drainage, and add some organic matter to improve the garden’s growing condition. Do not use potting soil in your garden beds.

How often should I water?

This is dependent on the plant and its environmental condition. It is best exercise to check to watering at least once per day, and water once the soil has become somewhat dry on the surface.

How often should I water?
READ: Do's and Don'ts of Watering Outside Plants
How often should I deadhead?

It is proper to deadhead as leaves or blooms begin to fade and die to promote healthy growth.

Deadheading, or cutting off spent blooms, enables plants to use their energy for producing more blooms or fruit. In addition to improving the potential for my growth, it also helps clean up the appearance of your garden from unsightly brown, dead foliage. 
How often should I deadhead?

Deadheading

READ: How to Deadhead and Why You Should
How does the direction of your house affect your plant?

The direction your yard faces affects the amount of sunlight it receives and influences temperatures.
  • North facing will always get less sun, therefore will be colder.
  • South-facing yards get the most sun and north-facing yards get the least amount of sun. 
Should I plant in the ground or in a pot?
This is dependent on the plant. 

  • Perennials can last several years with proper care and maintenance when planted in the ground. 
  • Annuals tend to do just fine whether it is planted in a pot or in the ground.

Winterizing

What plants are good for Colorado winters?

  • First, find your Planting Zone.
  • Look for “hardy” and zone specific plants.
  • You should have a plan for sudden changes in weather.
How do I protect a perennial that is in the ground?

  • Burlap, frost cloth, blankets and tarps can be used for coverings.
  • Avoid plastics being placed directly on leaves or blooms.
  • Straw, hay, peat moss, and mulch can be added to the top of soil.
  • Bring containers inside or to a covered area.
How do I protect a perennial that is in the ground?

Protect perennials in ground

How do I protect vegetables? Will they come back?

Most vegetables varieties that are grown in Colorado are annuals. Tomatoes, beans, cucumbers complete their entire life cycle in a single growing season and are killed by the first hard frost.


There are a few varieties of perennial vegetables that may come back every year including asparagus, chives, horseradish, rhubarb, and shallots. Once established, these vegetables can produce for many years.


Always check out the zone hardiness of the vegetables you choose to see if it will be a perennial in your Planting Zone

  • Stakes, sticks, rings, a trellis, cages, and even twine can help support your plant during its growth
  • Harvest and cover plant before sudden freeze
Can I take a plant inside my house in the winter? Will it survive?

Depending on the level of care and conditions provided, a plant can survive inside, however it may still remain dormant during the off season.

How do I take care of my plants before and after winter?

  • BEFORE: Turning over the soil, raking leaves and adding any fertilizer needed to the soil.
  • AFTER: Cutting/trimming back spent plants.

Pollinators

What are pollinators? Isn't that just bees?

A pollinator is “anything that helps carry pollen from the male part of the flower (stamen) to the female part of the same or another flower (stigma).” This is the process that helps plants to become fertilized and produce younger plants, fruits and seeds that cannot pollinate on their own.
What are pollinators? Isn't that just bees?

Bee pollination

Which pollinators are native to Colorado?

Pollinators come in a wide range of variety from bees to bats. In Colorado specifically, there are over 900 types of bees and over 1000 types of moths. We also have hummingbirds, 250 species of butterflies, 18 species of bats, wasps, flies, ants, and beetles that all help contribute to pollinating Colorado’s environment.
Which pollinators are native to Colorado?

Hummingbird pollination

What should I plant to attract native pollinators?

During the summer, Colorado is home to many native types of flowers that would be a perfect addition to your garden. Some suggestions would be Bee Balm, Echinacea, Columbine, Daisy, Gilia, Yarrow, Nodding Onion and you can even plant crops like strawberries, squash, alyssum, rosemary, and so many more! Try open faced flowers to attract beetles, bees and birds while fluted flowers attract nectar collectors like hummingbirds, butterflies, and bats.
What should I plant and use to attract native pollinators?

Bee Balm

How do I protect these pollinators?

Building a garden with a variety of pollinating sources is a huge start, but there is more you can do to promote our pollinator community. You can create bee habitats away from your home made from wood like dead trees and tree limbs or you can even make a bee condo of your own. Supplying hummingbirds with feeders and nectar will also help attract them to your garden.


The best way to ensure that you protect our pollinators, and our plant life, is by using natural pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides at every opportunity!

What is a Neonicotinoid?

Neonicotinoids are ‘systemic agricultural insecticide resembling nicotine’ closely related to a neurotoxin. Many studies have found a link between neonicotinoids and declining bee populations. InColor's policy is to not promote or use neonicotinoids.

Specific to Colorado

When should I plant in Colorado?

The question of when to plant is a critical one. Colorado provides a unique spring weather experience. Colorado’s high altitude and unpredictable weather make it an exciting place to garden. Colorado is no stranger to powerful early spring snowstorms and then beautiful, sunny 60-degree days.

What types of plants are best for Colorado?

When is the right time to plant?

READ: When Should I Plant in Colorado?
How do I deal with hail?

Summer hail can arrive quickly and sometimes without warning, leaving your garden and plants vulnerable to hail stone damage, high winds, and heavy rain.


Bringing plants in under cover is the only way to 100% prevent damage, but when that is not possible there are several things that can be done to help protect plants from hail damage.


Here are some tips to help prevent hail damage:

  • Add extra soil around the bases of plants to keep them upright and prevent the soil from washing away.
  • Place pots, buckets, baskets, or large garbage cans over plants to protect them from hail. Weigh them down with bricks or other heavy objects.
  • Cover plants that are growing along a fence or building with a piece of cardboard, wood, or other flat material. Lean it against the fence or building to provide protection.
  • Place some stakes in the soil that reach above the highest plant. Cover the entire area with a large tarp, weigh the corners down with bricks or other heavy objects. 
What types of plants are best for Colorado?

Most plants that are not tropical and do not need consistent moisture do fine in Colorado, depending on the season. All annuals, herbs, vegetables and Zone 5 perennials grow well.

What types of plants are best for Colorado?

Rocky Mountain Columbines

READ: 8 Easiest Annuals to Grow in Colorado
READ: 5 Best Perennials to Grow in Colorado
Which plants are annuals in Colorado?

Spring:

  • Pansies
  • Snapdragon
  • Ornamental Kale
  • Alyssum

Summer:

  • Geranium
  • Salvia
  • Marigold
  • Petunia
  • Snapdragon
  • Impatiens
  • Zinnia
  • Coleus
  • Sweet Potato Vine

Fall:

  • Mums
  • Ornamental Kale
  • Pansies
  • Millet Grasses
  • Ornamental Peppers
Which plants are annuals in Colorado?

Pansy

READ: 8 Easiest Annuals to Grow in Colorado
Which flowers are perennials in Colorado?

One thing to keep in mind about growing perennials in Colorado is that due to our extreme temperatures, plants that return each year in other parts of the country, may not survive Colorado winters. Its essential to understand your Planting Zone and select plants that match that plant hardiness for the best possible results.

  • Lavender
  • Echinacea
  • Heuchera
  • Sedum
  • Rocky Mountain Columbine
  • Amsonia
  • Fall Planted Bulbs
  • Ornamental Grasses
  • Perennial Salvia
  • Violas
  • Rocky Mountain Penstemon
Which flowers are perennials in Colorado?

Lavender

READ: 5 Best Perennials to Grow in Colorado
Which Planting Zones are in Colorado?

Colorado has multiple planting zones depending on humidity, elevation, temperature, and soil type. Zones vary from 4a to 7a.


Find your Planting Zone.

Which Planting Zones are in Colorado?

Colorado has multiple planting zones

How does altitude affect plants in Colorado?

Elevation can affect the amount of sun a plant receives, the temperature and the amount of water a plant can absorb.

What are the best plants for low land areas in Colorado?

Wild flowers such as daisies, columbines, zinnias and dianthus do great. Certain hardy succulents are also a good option.

What are the best plants for low land areas in Colorado?

Zinnias

What are the best plants for high altitude areas in Colorado?

Clematis, columbines, feathered reed grasses, lupine and catmint are wonderful options for Colorado's high country.

What are the best plants for high altitude areas in Colorado?

Clematis

Which plants are the hardiest in Colorado?

  • Daisies, dianthus, day lilies, lavender, phlox and other perennial flowers are hardy Colorado plants.
  • Certain succulents and arid weather plants are also fantastic.
Which plants are the hardiest in Colorado?

Daisies

Which plants are the most drought-tolerant in Colorado?

Certain succulents and grasses are typically tolerant to drought. These can range from cacti, to sedum, to yucca, agaves, and fountain grasses.

Which plants are the most drought-tolerant in Colorado?

Sedum

What kind of soil is best to use in Colorado?
  • Loam is the best mixture of soil consisting of 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay.
  • It is recommended to add fertilizer or plant food as needed to provide additional nutrients.
  • InColor plants contain enough fertilizer for 2-3 months. Continue fertilizing as needed.
Why should I grow native plants in Colorado?

Growing plants native to your area improves air quality, helps to prevent water run-off, helps to prevent erosion and usually requires less maintenance.


Native plants are greatly beneficial for landscaping due to their adaptability. 


Colorful flowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees are well adapted to the Colorado diverse climate, soils, elevations, and temperatures.

Why should I grow native plants in Colorado?

Rocky Mountain Columbines

Tips & Tricks

Am I underwatering or overwatering my plants?

If you overwater a plant, the best advice is to immediately stop all watering for the next several days. 


If potted, make sure your plant has adequate drainage to let the water properly flow out of the planter and away from the roots. Also, don’t let your plant sit in pools of water for long periods of time.


If you have underwatered an in-ground plant: find a long stick or pencil to carefully penetrate the surrounding soil with a stick to make several long holes. This will aerate the soil and allow the water to flow down to the root system easier to help revive your plant a little quicker. 


If you have an underwatered potted plant: grab a plastic tray or fill the bottom of a sink/tub with water. Place the potted plant in the water so its drainage holes will be submerged. Remove the planter after an hour or two once the soil inside the pot expands and moistens. 


If your potted plant does NOT have drainage holes, you can also water this with the in-ground method.

READ: Do's and Don'ts of Watering Outside Plants
How do I transfer my InColor plant into a new planter?

Supplies:

  • A larger pot with holes for drainage
  • Potting soil
  • Trowel
  • Gloves
  • Your InColor plant
  • Fertilizer/Manure (Optional)
  • A larger pot with holes for drainage
  • Potting soil
  • Trowel
  • Gloves
  • Your InColor plant
  • Fertilizer/Manure (Optional)


After putting on some gloves, you’ll want to loosen your new purchase from its current planter. Depending on size, you can tip your plant on its side in your hand and squeeze GENTLY around the planter to slowly shimmy the plant out with your free hand. You can also cut down the side of plastic planters with scissors; don’t worry too much if you cut a root or two, plant’s root systems can be resilient! Just be patient and take your time.


Take a good look at your root system. If you notice the roots are circulating around the dirt/plant and it looks like it desperately needs space, you can begin to gently tease the roots to loosen the dirt around the bottom of your plant. Be careful doing this as too much teasing can cause transfer stress to the plant.


Take a few handfuls of soil and press it gently into your new planter. You want enough soil on the bottom so that when the plant sits on top of the soil, it meets just under the lip of your planter. If you are adding any manure/fertilizer, sprinkle some on top of this soil layer. Once you have enough, go ahead and place your plant inside.


You’ll begin to fill around the edges of the pot with your choice of soil, gently tapping the bottom of the planter against a hard surface (BE CAREFUL if you have a ceramic or glass planter as you can crack your planter) to shift the soil into any empty spaces. Once the sides are filled, check to see if it needs any additional soil on top.


Your new plant home is complete! Now your new potted plant needs a good shower of water; this eliminates more air pockets and allows the soil to get even closer to the root system. Allow it to drain so it does not drip.


Your last step is optional, but if your plant has a lot of extra growth, you can cut back overgrown foliage so the plant can devote more energy into placing its root system.


Your last step is optional, but if your plant has a lot of extra growth, you can cut back overgrown foliage so the plant can devote more energy into placing its root system.

How do I transfer my InColor plant into the ground?

Supplies:

  • Trowel/Shovel
  • Gloves
  • InColor plant
  • In Ground or Bedding Soil
  • Fertilizer or manure (Optional)
  • Mulch (Optional)


You will begin by putting on gloves and digging a hole in your desired planting area that is roughly 1/3 larger than the size of your current pot. Make sure that it is both 1/3 deeper & 1/3 wider. You can place the plant still potted inside the hole to check for size as well as to make sure it is level with the ground. Covering the base with too much soil can cause collar rot from moist soil covering the base/truck of a plant so keep as level to the ground as you can.


At the bottom of your in-ground hole, scatter some manure/fertilizer to add nutrients to the plant and soil around it. Do not overfill. Feel free to test the height again with your plant inside the hole.


Now, if your plant is still inside its original plastic container, you can leave it in the hole and surround all its sides with the dirt. Do not pack it in too tight; we are leaving it in to create the perfect indention for your plant to go inside!


You will pull your plant out of the newly shaped hole, careful to not collapse the structure you made. Slip the plant out of the plastic container but holding it on its side with one hand and grasping the base of the plant with the other. Gently shimmy the plant out of the planter.


Now place it inside its new home! Place a little bit of dirt on top if needed and give it a very thorough watering and cover the top with mulch if you choose to for better water retention and for weather protection.

How do I know when to fertilize and how do I do it?

The good news is most of our InColor plants have fertilizer that will last anywhere between 2-3 months. Before fertilizing on your own, do some quick research and look up the fertilizing needs of your specific plant and look to see if has any specific nutrient needs like more nitrogen.


After that, you should investigate if you want to invest in an organic short term or long-term fertilizer (usually split between liquid and granular fertilizer options). We recommend an organic fertilizer as some standard fertilizers can “burn” your plants & their roots with too many chemicals.


Potted outdoor plants should be fertilized one to two times a month when plants are flowering or growing, depending on if your fertilizer is liquid or granular. During the winter, when plants are dormant, you can skip fertilizer altogether. If a plant is dropping its lower leaves, showing weak growth or an overall yellow-green color, it may need more fertilizer.


Outdoor plants should be fertilized one a month; do not use LIQUID fertilizer before watering or rainfall as the water will wash most of the nutrients away from the soil. Granular fertilizer should be safe.

Fertilizer/Manure should also be added at the beginning of the growing season as you are preparing your garden or your containers. For best results, apply them again at the end of the season to replace lost nutrients and organic matter.


To fertilize your plant with GRANULAR fertilizer: Spread several handfuls around the base of your plant spanning about a 6-inch circle around. Using either a gloved hand or a tool, mix the fertilizer into the soil around the plant careful to avoid any roots.


To fertilize your plant with a LIQUID fertilizer: Dilute the fertilizer in your watering container to the specified instructions and then pour around the base of the plant. Be careful to not put the fertilizer directly on the roots as this can cause “burns” if the soil is too dry.

How do I make a natural insect repellent for my plants?

Making an all-natural pesticide at home is easier than you may think! Here are some quick recipes to try:


Oil Spray: Mix one cup of vegetable oil with a tablespoon of a mild hand soap (we recommend an organic or natural scentless soap, such as castile soap) and mix these together in a container. Cover and shake well to combine. When ready, mix two teaspoons of your oil spray mixture to one quart of water and apply it thoroughly on any areas effected by: Mites, aphids, etc.


Soap Spray: Mix one and a half teaspoons of mild soap (we recommend an organic or natural scentless soap, such as castile soap) into one-quart water and spray on effected areas. This can be useful against: Beetles, aphids, mites, whiteflies, etc.


Garlic Spray: Take two full bulbs of garlic and puree them raw with a quart of water in a food processor or blender until smooth. Let this sit in a covered container in the fridge overnight. Strain with cheesecloth into a container and save. Save the leftover garlic so you can mix it in the soil where the plant is most effected by pests as a further repellent. When ready to use, mix your garlic water with one quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray effected areas thoroughly.

How do I know when to water? (potted and in ground)

Watering plants can be tricky both potted and in ground. The best way to tell if your plant even needs water is to look at the soil surrounding it.

  • If the soil is light brown/tan while also being loose and dry, go ahead and water. 
  • Your goal is to water 3 to 4 inches deep around the base of your plant and to not flood the root system or your planter; you can also use your finger to check the soil for moisture. 
  • If you see your soil is dark brown/black in color and is moist to the touch, you should let your plant dry out for the next couple days and come back later.
How do I know when to water?
READ: Do's and Don'ts of Watering Outside Plants
How much space should I put between plants in the ground?

Spacing between plants is important because it gives room to promote the best root growth we can give to our plants. It all depends on the size of the plant at its largest. 


If you are planting vegetables like corn, you will want at least 10” to 15” of space between each plant. For most annuals it is best to have 7” to 12” of space. If your plant gets very bushy, plan for possibly as much as 2’ between plants live lavender bushes. 

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