**Links are provided to the MSU Extension Website and to the MontGuides. A preview of the MontGuide will be provided here! All MontGuides are publications of the MSU Extension specialists and staff.

January 2021

Gardening Related Topics


Cold Weather Storage and Handling of Pesticides

Updated 01/18

  • This MontGuide explains procedures for proper winter storage and handling of leftover liquid pesticides.
  • Applicators should know which pesticides can be frozen and which cannot be.
  • Techniques for thawing and dissolving are also discussed.


Growing Cold-Hardy Berries and Small Fruits in Montana

Updated 01/21

    • Berries and fruits that are hardy to Montana include currants, gooseberries, dwarf sour cherries, aronia, and haskcaps.
    • Strawberries and serviceberries are also well adapted to Montana. Strawberries in the Home Garden and Growing Serviceberries are other great MontGuide full of information.
    • These hardy berries and fruits grow in neutral to slightly alkaline soils and ripen consistantly in shorter, cooler growing seasons.
    • These fruit plants vary in uses, flavor, time to fruit maturity, amount of pest management, and pruining required.

Can I Grow That Here?

Updated 11/18

  • Information on days to maturity, planting dates, sun requirements, weeks to transplant size and frost tolerance for 34 vegetables.
  • With a limited growing season in much of Montana, this guide will help gardeners get the most from the growing season they do have.
  • Define the average first frost date in the fall and the average last frost day in the spring for your area. Then, with the aid of a calendar, calculate from thoe dates the spring planting dates for your area and the transplant starting dates.
  • Filled with useful growing charts and more helpful information!

February 2021

Updated 04/17

  • Agriculture is a complicated and scientific business; making observations and keeping records allows producers to make the best management decisions.
  • For permitted animal feeding operations (AFOs), there are recordkeeping requirements to demonstrate compliance with federal and state regulations.
  • Good records allow for making the most informed management decisions and can be used to demonstrate proper mangagement in the event an accusation of water pollution is made against a producer.
  • Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are required to obtain the Montana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MPDES) Permit.
    • This is acutally a federally required permit administered by the state, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Updated 08/20

  • This MontGuide addresses environmental needs to aid in houseplant selection so they can thrive, and not just survive.
  • Topics include appropriate lighting, watering, fetility, and humidity.
  • A brief discussion of problems is included, and a table of selected easy and moderate easy-to-grow houseplants is presented.
  • Houseplants go a long way towards making a house feel like a home, or an office or down room less sterile.
  • They can bring life and color to a drab environment and flowering plants can bring a fragrance and beauty to an otherwise lackluster room.
  • Houseplants are raised in greenhouses under ideal conditions so it's important to care for them properly while they are becoming established in a home environment, which will undoubtedly not have the conditions they're used to.

Updated 08/20

  • The purpose of this guide is to promote awareness of vermiculite (Zonolite) attic or wall insulation, as steps should be taken to minimize contact.
  • The focus of residential property inspections commonly involves an evaluation of potential human health concerns to home occupants, such as the presence of lead-based paint or asbestos-containing materials in thermal systems, insulation, ceiling texture, flooring, and siding.
  • However, the presence of another source of asbestos, vermiculite insulation, is not always included in this assessment.
    • Failure to account for the presence of vermiculite insulation in properties may result in serious health risks to occupants, especially if remodeling or other activities occur on the property that may disturb the vermiculite.
  • Vermiculite is a silver-gold to grey-brown mineral that is flat and shiny in its natural state and resembles mica.
    • Flakes of this mineral can also range in color from black to shades of brown and yellow.
  • Vermiculite in attic spaces is commonly descrived as resembling kitty litter or floor dry desiccant material due to its color and granular appearances.
    • Some vermiculite granuales may appear shiny and the granules will most likely not be as uniformly shaped and sized as kitty litter.
  • Due to its fire-resistance properties, its light weight and expansion capabilities, vermiculite has been extensively used as an insulation material for attics, wall fill, and concrete block.
  • The majority ( up to 80% of the world's supply ) of vermiculite was mined near Libby, MT, from the early 1920's through 1990.
    • Unfortunately, the vermiculite from Libby was contaminated with a type of asbestots referred to as Libby amphibole.
  • Asbestos-related diseases include several different illnesses that associated with inhaling asbestos fibers. These include:
    • asbestosis, accumulation of lung scar tissue (collagen)
    • mesothelioma, a cancer of the chest wall, lining of the lungs, or abdominal cavity
    • lung cancer
    • pleural changes, thickening of the lining of the lungs and/or along the chest wall and diaphragm due to collagen deposits and fibrosis.
  • The most effective strategy in preventing exposure to asbestos in vermiculite is to have it removed by a certified asbestos abatement contractor trained to utilize techniques that prevent living space contamination during removal.
    • Simply covering the vermiculite insulation with other insulation is not recommended.

Read Full MontGuide

  • Wildfire is, has been, and always will be a part of Montana's wild landscapes. As a result, many plants developed fire-resilient adaptations, creating the foundation for adapted ecosystems.
  • With human expansion into the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), the potential increases for impacts of wildland fire on cummunities and individuals.
  • Learning about fire-resistant landscapes is an important component in reducing wildfire risk.
  • Montana is often referred to as "The Last Best Place". Many people enjoying living, recreating, and visiting here. Communities have expanded further into more remote and rugged terrain, increasing the presence of humans across wild landscapes.
  • This area where human development meets with wildland vegetation fuels is referred to as the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI).
  • Wildfire activity across the state for the past 20 years have shown a steady increase in average number of wildfires, as well as an increase in average annual acres burned.
  • Fire behavior is a result of the interaction of three variables: weather, terrian and fuels, high temperatures, high wind speeds, and low humidity allow wildfires to spread more quickly across a landscape in the event of a fire ignition.
  • Any plant will burn under the right conditions. The ability of a plant to withstand heat and not ignite depends upon fire behavior and intensity, along with certain plant characteristics such as moisture content, size and the presence of flammable compounds within the bark and leaves. Even if a plant is identified as fire-resistant due to its natural characteristics, where plants are located, how they are arranged, and their ability to retain moisture should be taken into account.
  • Location and arrangement of landscape should take priority over whether plants are fire resistant or not.

Read full MontGuide on Fire-Resistant Lanscaping

Growing Lilacs in Montana

Updated 7/20

This publication contains information about one of the plants best adapted to Montana's climate. It includes sections on hardiness, colors and fragrances; advice on which cultivars to plant; recommended techniques for planting, watering, fertilizing and pruning; and information about diseases and insect problems.

  • Lilacs are the beacon of Spring to many Montanans. The earliest homsteaders brought lilacs to the state and found them to be one of the exotic flowering shrubs to thrive on the Great Plains. Even today, many of these hardy shrubs survive next to long-abandoned homesteads.
  • Lilacs thrive in sunny sites with good air circulation. Although some varieties can withstand -40oF, they need protection from cold winds that can kill flower buds. Lilacs will not tolerate poorly drained sites where the roots freeze in blocks of ice during the winter.
  • Modern lilacs can be white, violet, blue, lavendar (true lilac), pink, magenta, purple, or some variation. Colors are most intense during cool, damp springs. Often the buds and open flowers are of differnt colors. This "unfolding of the colors" is part of the captivating charm of lilacs.
  • Lilac fragrance varies considerably with species and cultivar. Even on the same shrub, fragrance depends upon stage of bloom, time of day and temperature. Lilacs are most fragrent on a warm, sunny afternoon when the florets are fully open.
  • Plant lilacs where they will receive at least six hours of sunlight each day. Shade greatly reduces flowering, causes plants to become leggy and increases powdery mildew problems. Dark-flowered lilacs seem to tolerate dappled shade better than lighter ones. However, do not plant dark-flowered lilacs on sites that recieve hot afternoon sun, which fades the flowers quickly.
  • Avoid windswept locations and warm areas near reflective, light-colored buildings where the buds will be killed or forced prematurely.
  • Lilacs need approximately one inch of water per week during June and July. Begin decreasing irrigation in early August to encourage the shrubs to harden tissues for winter.
  • The best time to prune is immediately after flowering, since the flowering buds for the next year are produced in June and July on almost all species. Prune out all diseased canes, old and declining stems, thin suckers, and twiggy small branches.
  • To rejuvenate overgrown or declining lilacs, cut to the ground one-third of the largest trunks each year to encourage the growth of new shoots from the base. Over a three-year period, the lilacs will rejuvenate without a complete loss in bloom or canopy. Pruning in early spring when leaves are absent will make it easier to see which stems need to be removed.
    picture of lilac flowers

Read more about lilac growth, care, and diseases in full MontGuide