UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County
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UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County

In the News

9 Scary Plants to get you into the Halloween Spirit!

While mums, pumpkins and apple spices usually signal the fall season has arrived, Halloween is right around the corner. Why not opt for some creepy or scary plants in your home or landscape? These creepy plants are sure to get you into the Halloween spirit.

Read on ... if you dare!

Brain cactus (Mammillaria elongate)
Brain cactus, otherwise known as Mammillaria elongata ‘Cristata' does well in arid, dry conditions or as a houseplant. It's curvy stems twist and turn, wrapping around itself looking like a human brain. (Photo credit: Cliff

Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
Probably one of the most well-known scary plants is the venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). This carnivorous plant was made famous in Little Shop of Horrors and its well known line, “feed me Seymour.” (Photo credit: Mokkie)

White ghosts (Monotropa uniflora)
These eye-catching plants have bright white droopy flowers reminiscent of ghosts found in spooky dark, dank basements. They hide in shady spots and live in a symbiotic relationship with a fungus in their roots providing food.(Photo credit: Will Brown)

‘Sticks on Fire' or pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli)
Sticks on Fire, also known as fire sticks and pencil cactus and by its scientific name Euphorbia tirucalli, is a very popular succulent for its showy soft green to reddish-gold stem. A native of southern Africa, the smooth, coral-like stems look deceptively harmless, but looks can be deceiving. The sap is toxic. Caution and care should be always exercised with this plant. (Photo credit: mark6mauno)

Doll's eyes (Actaea pachypoda)
Doll's eyes plants are native to North America and have eyeball-like berries that are highly toxic to humans. You may never set your own orbs on this plant but if you're in the Midwest or Northeast, know that it will be watching you! (Photo credit: Michael Lusk)

Bleeding tooth fungus (Hydellum peckii)
This startling-looking fungus oozes fake blood through minute pores. The red goo is actually a result of a process called guttation that forces water into the roots during osmosis. This spooky sight is found mostly in the Pacific Northwest and Europe living peaceably in symbiosis with conifers. (Photo credit: Holger Krisp)

Corpse plant (Amorphophallus titanum)
The corpse plant, Amorphophallus titanum, only blooms its magnificent flower every seven to ten years. When it does, it lives up to its name giving off an odor that smells like the rotting flesh of a corpse. This adaptation attracts flesh flies and carrion-eating beetles, corpse flower pollinators. (Photo credit: Rhododendrites

Cobra plant (Darlingtonia californica)
The cobra plant, also known as a cobra lily or California pitcher plant, is native to Northern California and southern Oregon. This carnivorous plant attracts insects and small animals into its long hollow leaves where they become trapped and drown. There, they liquefy and are absorbed by the plant for nutrients. This plant resembles a striking cobra, and is just as deadly for its tiny victims. (Photo credit: NoahElhardt)

Devil's claw or ram's horn (Proboscidea louisianica)
This unfriendly-looking species is native to the South Central United States and sports a unique horn-shaped seed pod. The dry, woody pods attach to human shoes and the paws of animals, hitchhiking to disperse seeds far and wide. In addition to its attention-grabbing visual appeal, the pod is used in basket-making traditions, and is also used to create pigments for dyes by several Indigenous Americans. (Photo credit: Frank Carey)

It's a Scary Time of Year! by Janet Hartin (published Oct. 30, 2017)

Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 11:20 AM
Tags: Fall (2), Halloween (2), Master Gardener (42)
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Plant fall bulbs now for spring blooms! A recipe for bulb lasagna

Fall is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs. As the cooler temperatures start to arrive in many parts of the country, the last thing on many people's minds is planting flowers for spring color in the garden. But, now is the perfect time to plant bulbs that will pack a punch of color to help usher out winter blues.

Start with a trip to your local nursery. When purchasing, look for heavy, dense bulbs with no decay, mold, or fungus. Bulbs should smell fresh and be free of cuts and bruises. Plant classics like daffodils and tulips or branch out with other textures, colors and heights with Fritillaria, Allium, Anemone and more.

Lasagna planting technique

The bulb planting technique of layering is also known as planting “lasagna-style.” Planting bulbs “lasagna-style” involves layering different bulb varieties in the same pot. Each bulb planted is selected based on its blooming times, planting depth and color.

By overlapping bulb bloom times you can create pots of long-lasting flowers and color. For three waves of bloom, select bulbs that bloom in early-spring, mid-spring, and late-spring. Bulb packages list bloom date information on the labels. When making bulb selections, consider choosing bulbs with overlapping bloom times so that the planting remains colorful all season. 

Planting and positioning bulbs

Plant bulbs like you are making lasagna! Plant the largest bulbs approximately 8-inches deep, smaller bulbs 5-inches deep, and so on. Be sure to read the bulb package for planting depths. Potting soil is the “sauce” and used as the layer under and over your bulbs. 

  1. Choose a container that is at least 12-14 inches deep, with good drainage.
  2. Select a potting soil that includes a slow release fertilizer OR add bone meal to your potting soil according to the package instructions. Bone meal is rich in Phosphorous and will promote fall root growth.
  3. Add a 2-3 inch layer of soil and then plant the largest bulbs approximately 8-inches deep, smaller bulbs 5-inches deep. Be sure to read the bulb package for planting depths. Large sized bulbs may include (king Alfred) daffodil, allium, and tulip.
  4. Potting soil is the “sauce” and is used as the layer under and over your bulbs. Once the first layer of bulbs is in, add another layer of potting soil about 2-3 inches deep. Measure the depth from the top rim of your pot down, you should have about 6” more to plant.
  5. The next layer will be a bulb that is planted about 6 inches below the surface, examples include Dutch hyacinth or a jonquil Narcissus. Leave approx. ¼” space between each bulb. Remember to not overcrowd bulbs as they will swell once watering begins.
  6. Add more “sauce” and cover previous bulbs with about 1” inch of soil.
  7. The next layer will finish your container off with bulbs, look for smaller bulbs like grape hyacinth and/or crocus. Remember to leave a little space in between bulbs.
  8. Top off with five inches of potting soil and add some pansies or other colorful cool weather annuals to maintain seasonal interest.
  9. Finally, add mulch and water regularly. 

Lasagna bulb combinations

Sample Pot: 

  • Pansy and mulch (top)
  • Snowdrop
  • Crocus
  • Hyacinth
  • Tulip(bottom)

Sample Pot: 

  • Mulch (top)
  • Crocus
  • Grape Hyacinth
  • Tulip
  • Narcissus
  • Large Allium (bottom)

Sample Pot: 

  • Thyme (top)
  • Ranunculus
  • Anemone
  • Tulips
  • Daffodils (bottom) 

A beautiful spring show of blooms

As spring arrives, place your container in a spot with high visibility and enjoy the waves of colorful flowers as they emerge, bloom and die back. As each new layer of blooms appears, the previous layer's leaves will remain. You can clean up faded or dead flowers, but don't remove the leaves as they provide energy back to the bulb for next year's growth. This is a great project to do with children and share the experience as each flower variety goes through its life cycle.

Recipe for Bulb Lasagna by Carolyn Neumann (published Sept. 17, 2012) 

A display of bulbs blooming at different stages of growth. Bulbs shown are purple crocus, pink, yellow and purple hyacinth, yellow double ruffle daffodil and tulips. Photo: Lauren Snowden
A display of bulbs blooming at different stages of growth. Bulbs shown are purple crocus, pink, yellow and purple hyacinth, yellow double ruffle daffodil and tulips. Photo: Lauren Snowden

Potted plant of bulbs blooming at different stages.


Posted on Monday, October 18, 2021 at 11:23 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Hispanic Heritage Month: Collaborative Spanish Project Grant Awarded

The majority of resources offered through the UC Master Gardener Program are only available in English, so when an internalUC Agriculture and Natural Resource (UC ANR) grant arose to develop online educational resource materials in other languages it was the perfect opportunity to expand its gardening resources for Spanish speakers. UC ANR and UC ANR-affiliated academics and staff from across the state submitted proposals for review in hopes of getting projects funded and out into their communities.

Extending the UC Master Gardener Programs' reach and impact to non-English speaking audiences is key to achieving the program's mission of reaching all Californians. According to the 2019 census data, the most common non-English language spoken in California is Spanish; 28.8% of the overall population of California are native Spanish speakers. For this reason, building the UC Master Gardener Program's resources in Spanish is a significant priority area.

Award with a twist

While evaluating the proposals, Strategic Initiatives leaders discovered four proposals with similar gardening themes, and after careful consideration granted the award but with a little “twist”. The four proposals would be combined to form one collaborative project. The proposals shared common goals and had overlapping scope, so the Director of the UC Master Gardener Program, Missy Gable, was charged with coordinating a collective effort to develop food gardening resources in Spanish and distribute these new resources through the UC Master Garden Program channels.  

Thanks to shared goals a creative team formed, including awardees: 

  • Dr. Lucy Diekmann, Urban Agriculture and Food Systems Advisor in Santa Clara County
  • Mimi Enright, UC Master Gardener Coordinator in County
  • Maggie Reiter, former Environmental Horticulture Advisor in Tulare/Kings Counties
  • Dr. Yu Meng, Youth Family and Community Advisor in Imperial County 

Collaboration and unexpected outcomes

With a spirit of collaboration, the group worked alongside UC Master Gardener volunteers, local community organizations and partners, and UC Communication Services News and Outreach in Spanish staff to create and release a series of food gardening videos in Spanish.

The project also funded a comprehensive vegetable gardening resource that is set to be released in 2022 in both Spanish and English. The teamwork didn't stop here though, YFC Advisor, Dr. Yu Meng initiated the development of a new UC Master Gardener Program in Imperial County so collaboration will continue and expand to meet the needs of residents in our southernmost locations.

Vídeos de jardinería en español (Gardening videos in spanish)

The statewide UC Master Gardener YouTube channel is now hosting a playlist of videos in spanish titled, Vídeos de jardinería en español . These videos are available for individuals or local programs to share on social media, websites, or anywhere the program is reaching the gardening public.

Full YouTube playlist link: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLw6OczuNHpWDc1YzCKXqj2PYQnDTl6Hx9 

A special thank you to those working in front of and behind the camera and computers to get these videos produced. The videos have already reached thousands of people in communities across California and beyond!  

Join us LIVE

UC ANR and the UC Master Gardener Program are joining the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationally to acknowledge Latinos' contributions and vital presence in the United States. UC ANR has already held several zoom forums and there are three more to come. The below events will be presented in Spanish.

Links to join will be sent to registrants prior to each event. Registration required: https://surveys.ucanr.edu/survey.cfm?surveynumber=35503 

  • Oct. 6, 1-2:30 PM - Zoom community forum in Spanish
    Be better parents, how to make your kid a leader.
    Guest speakers: Claudia Diaz – 4-H youth development advisor

  • Oct. 13, 1-2:30 PM - Zoom community forum in Spanish
    How to have a successful vegetable garden
    Guest speaker: Master Garden Volunteers from UCCE Contra Costa County

  • Oct. 15, 1-2:30 PM - Zoom community forum in Spanish
    The power of a nutritional meal
    Guest speakers: Susana Matias Medrano/Nutritional Science & Toxicology/ UC and CE Berkeley

2019 US Census, https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/news/updates/2019.html 
Data USA, California. https://datausa.io/profile/geo/california
UC ANR Employee Blog, https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=29017

Posted on Monday, October 4, 2021 at 10:59 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Benefits of Horticulture and Human Interactions

“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” Mohandas K. Gandhi, World leader, political ethicist, lawyer

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. ” May Sarton, Poet “

"May our heart's garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers.” Thich Nhat Hanh, global spiritual leader and activist “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher

"The importance of encouraging our children in outdoor work with living plants is now recognized. It benefits the health, broadens the education, and gives a valuable training in industry and thrift. The great garden movement is sweeping over all America, and our present problem is to direct it and make it most profitable to the children in our schools and homes. — Van Evrie Kilpatrick, 1918, in “The Child's Food Garden”

As the above quotes so beautifully proclaim, interacting with nature, whether passively (viewing plants) or actively (gardening, etc.) offers many positive benefits. In fact, the link between horticulture and health and well-being has been scientifically documented for centuries. In 1812, psychiatrist, professor, and Declaration of Independence signer Dr. Benjamin Rush reported that patients participating in gardening activities had better mental health outcomes than non-gardening counterparts.

Many additional papers were published throughout the 1800's documenting benefits of active participation in gardening. More recently, positive links between simply viewing plants through a window or even on a television, movie, or exercise apparatus screen have been reported in peer-review journals. A groundbreaking study in this area was published in 1984 by environmental psychologist Robert Ulrich (Ulrich, 1984) who compared post-operative patients recovering from gall bladder surgery who had views of landscape plants to recovering patients who had the same surgery in the same facility with views of a brick wall. Patients with landscape views had fewer surgical complications, shorter hospital stays, required fewer analgesics, had better moods, and even fewer derogatory remarks by medical staff in their daily records.

Since 1984, dozens of other studies have documented similar positive outcomes resulting from both passive and active engagement with nature and plants. These include improved physical, mental and emotional health; environmental benefits; and community and societal benefits. Recent literature reviews that summarize these findings include:

- An overview of 77 peer-reviewed journal articles (Howarth, et. al., 2020) identified 35 positive outcomes linking physical and mental health and well-being to active and passive horticultural interactions. doi: https://10.1136/bmjopen-2020-036923

-A meta-analysis (Soga, 2016) of 22 studies identified several positive mental health outcomes related to gardening including mood, group cohesiveness, cooperation, pride, well-being, and more. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.007 -

An overview of 45 peer-review studies (Shepley, et. al., 2019) identified links between properly designed and maintained urban green spaces and crime, gun violence, and the overall safety and cohesiveness of low-wealth urban neighborhoods. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16245119

- A review of 120 papers (Crus-Piedrahita, et. al., 2020) reported public health benefits from urban horticulture activities in the global North. Thirty-two papers had a specific focus on social cohesion and/or social capital. https://doi:10.1016/j.glt.2020.10.001

-Alizadeh (2019) synthesized research regarding the environmental benefits of urban plants, highlighting their vital roles in combating climate change, cooling urban heat islands, providing habitat, removing air and water pollutants, enhancing soil health, and more. https://www.researchgate.net/deref/https%3A%2F%2Fdoi.org%2F10.1108%2FIJCCSM-10-2017-0179

Enjoy your garden!  Enjoy a day in nature.


Posted on Saturday, October 2, 2021 at 9:24 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Environment, Family, Food, Health, Natural Resources

Hispanic Heritage Month Happenings

UC Agriculture and Natural Resource (UC ANR) and the UC Master Gardener Program are joining the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, From Sept. 15 through Oct.15, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationally to acknowledge Latinos' contributions and vital presence in the United States.

Over the coming weeks UC ANR will hold several zoom forums with topics ranging from how to stop the implicit bias towards Latinos and other ethnic groups, what do we need to know to better understand the Latino community. To the indigenous migrant workers, who are they? What are the most pressing needs? These communities were hit hard by COVID-19.

Registration is required for these events (links provided below), however they are being recorded and posted to the Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 website for those who can't make it. 

Hispanic Heritage Month Honorees

We are celebrating three Latino UC ANR professionals in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Congratulations to Liliana Vega, Leticia Christian, and Gersain López, each have an informative, short 2 minute video explaining their work and will be part of a forum on Sept. 29. They were chosen for being Latino professionals who serve their communities while always upholding UC ANR's public values of academic excellence, honesty, integrity, and community service. Watch the honorees videos below.





Zoom Forums

All the zoom forums will be from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and moderated by Ricardo Vela, manager of News and Information Outreach in Spanish (NOS).

The below events will be presented in English. Links to join will be sent to registrants prior to each event. Registration Required: https://surveys.ucanr.edu/survey.cfm?surveynumber=35590

  • September 15, zoom forum, 1-2:30 PM
    One size does not fit all! – Myths, Stereotypes and Discrimination against Latinos.
    Guest speaker: Victor Villegas /Oregon State University/Latino advocate.
    Testimonies from: Christian Gomez Wong, Beatriz Nobua-Bherman and Bertha Teresa Felix-Simmons.
  • September 22, zoom forum, 1-2:30 PM
    Indigenous Migrant Communities – “The forgotten ones in the age of COVID19”
    Guest speakers: Arcenio López/ Exec. Director Mixtec Indígena Organization Project (MICOP)

  • September 29, zoom forum, 1-2:30 PM
    Meet the HHM 2021 Honorees
    Guest speakers: Katherine E. Soule /Liliana Vega – 4-H; Tuline N Baycal/Leticia Christian – CalFresh Healthy Living, UC; Jairo Diaz/Gilberto Magallon/Gersain Lopez – Desert Rec.

The below events will be presented in Spanish. Links to join will be sent to registrants prior to each event. Registration Required: https://surveys.ucanr.edu/survey.cfm?surveynumber=35503

  • October 6 zoom community forum in Spanish, 1-2:30 PM
    Be better parents, how to make your kid a leader.
    Guest speakers: Claudia Diaz – 4-H youth development advisor.

  • October 13 zoom community forum in Spanish, 1-2:30 PM
    How to have a successful vegetable garden
    Guest speaker: Master Garden Volunteers from Contra Costa County UCCE.

  • October 15 zoom community forum in Spanish, 1-2:30 PM
    The power of a nutritional meal
    Guest speakers: Susana Matias Medrano/Nutritional Science & Toxicology/ UC and CE Berkeley


Registration and Website Links

Please help us make this year's celebration a success, spread the word about the events.

Those interested in attending the September forums should register here.

For the Spanish community forums, please register here.

For more information, Zoom backgrounds and phone wallpapers


Questions, Contact:

Ricardo Vela, rvela@ucanr.edu, (951) 660-9887

Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 at 2:27 PM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

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