The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Laurie Zitterkopf
Nebraska Extension Master Gardner 

Master Gardner Tips for the Panhandle


Here are some profiles of the trees and shrubs being planted in the City of Scottsbluff in the public parking lot at 17th Street and Second Avenue. These well-adapted plants would be good choices for anybody considering what to plant in their home landscape. Anybody is welcome to stop by the parking lot and see them.

Sucker Punch Canada Red Chokecherry (Prunus x virginiana ‘P002’): Sucker Punch® Canada Red Chokecherry is a breakthrough selection of chokecherry as it doesn’t sucker. New leaves in spring emerge green and then by summer turn a reddish purple and stay that way through autumn. In mid-spring fragrant clusters of white flowers cover the tree followed by edible small fruit that many songbirds love to eat. Chokecherries are self-fruitful.

The green and yellow-fruited chokecherries are native to Wyoming, whereas the Canada Red chokecherry is not, but still does well. All produce good amounts of fruit suitable for jams and jellies. Chokecherries are excellent multi-purpose shrubs for food, windbreaks and screening and as a wildlife enhancer, namely birds.

Littleleaf Mountain Mahogany Cercocarpus intricatus: Found growing in the wild primarily in western Colorado and our own Wildcat Hills, this densely branched, slow-growing shrub may be the perfect choice for many situations. It’s pest-free, seldom browsed by deer in cultivated situations, and requires almost no care once established, but once in the landscape, these plants flourish and grow in even in the harshest conditions. Narrow leaves that are 1 to 1.5 inches long are held year-round on greyish, twiggy stems. In spring the plants are densely covered with small, fragrant reddish-yellow flowers. Once the flowers are pollinated, long-tailed seeds cover the plant producing a feathery, ethereal “glow” until wind disperses the seeds.  I enjoy the seeds and the way the tail goes into the ground, the name “mahogany” comes from the reddish color of the inner wood.

Pawnee Buttes Sandcherry, Prunus besseyi P011S: An outstanding selection of our western native sand cherry, Pawnee Buttes® is a low-growing, groundcover shrub with a profusion of fragrant white flowers in early spring and showy mahogany-red foliage in the fall. It is a drought-resistant/drought-tolerant plant, 12-18 inches tall x 4-6 feet wide.   Mulch with common mulching materials. As they get larger, thicken the mulch layer to a depth of 2-3 inches. Even xeric (waterwise) species will establish better and grow more quickly when given regular irrigation during the first 3 years in the garden.

As they begin to reach maturity, watering frequency can be reduced to a good deep soaking every 10 to 14 days during the heat of summer. Plant in full sun or part sun depending on plant preference.  Dig a wide but shallow hole and enrich the soil with ample amounts of compost. This will help them to grow and mature more quickly

Dakota Sunspot Potentilla, Potentilla fruticose ‘Fargo’: A compact shrub that will mature at 3 feet by 3 feet. Its leaves are bright green. It flowers very profusely from late spring until killing frosts in late fall.  This might be a shrub to try! A little shade during the heat of the day keeps the plant blooming longer. 

The flowers are less than 1 inch across and are a deep golden color.  Has wonderful color for the whole season.  It will reach essentially mature size in 3 to 5 years.  Potentilla needs full sun or light shade. It prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soil but tolerates clay, rocky, alkaline, dry, or poor soils. Strong disease and insect resistance make growing Potentilla easy.

Gwen’s Buffalo currant, Ribes aureum ‘Gwen’s Buffalo’: Gwen’s Buffalo’ is an improved selection of our native Western currant grown for its profuse display of fragrant yellow flowers and large, black edible berries. It’s a drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric) that is 5-6 feet tall x 5-6 feet wide. The shrub also has highly fragrant yellow flowers in mid-spring and a fine display of orange to red fall foliage. An easy-to-grow shrub providing the landscape with three seasons of interest. Will grow in most soil types including clay. (Cutting propagated).

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