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K-State launches Prairie Star Flowers blog

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Kansas

Short, dark winter days have many gardeners dreaming about spring and the chance to try out new flowers in the landscape. In order to help gardeners find varieties that work best in Kansas, Kansas State University scientists launched a new blog www.prairiestarflowersblog.com and Facebook page www.facebook.com/PrairieStarFlowers.

Prairie Star is a collection of annual flower varieties tested by K-State to determine those that are best suited for the challenging prairie climate. The list includes flowers that exhibited superior performance for two or more years in bedding plant research trials in Olathe, Wichita, Hays and Colby.

"All varieties on the list grow well across the state, east to west and north to south," said Alan Stevens, horticulture specialist with K-State Research and Extension.

"Growing flowers in Kansas is not like growing them in Florida or California or Illinois," said Stevens, who is director of K-State's Horticulture Research and Extension Center in Olathe. "Everything on the list has not only endured, but thrived in the sometimes harsh Kansas growing conditions."

Plants are rated for vigor, which he defined as how fast and strong they grow and how much substance they have. They are also rated on floriferousness--the overall visual impact of the flower and foliage display.

The varieties include such names as Petunia Surfinia Wild Plum, Canna South Pacific Scarlet and Marigold Hero Series.

"In starting this blog, we wanted to give people a way to learn about flowers that can be grown successfully in Kansas, as well a way to interact with us," Stevens said.

The blog is one of several ways K-State's Department of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources is using social media. William Reid, a research and Extension pecan specialist for Kansas and Missouri hosts a blog about northern pecans at northernpecans.blogspot.com. The department has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kstate.hfrr, as does the nursery production extension program at www.facebook.com/NurseryWorks.

Date: 3/4/2013



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