Miniature Roses Bloom with Little Space

Miniature Roses

For a gardener who has limited growing space, miniature roses can be a dream come true. With one small bush producing dozens of blooms that can last for weeks, it’s no wonder that potted miniature roses are often substituted for cut flowers. Gardeners with less space can enjoy growing roses on a smaller scale with these lovely plants.

Small but beautiful

Miniature roses are replicas of their larger relatives. Although they are typically smaller than standard roses, miniature roses still provide beautiful, fragrant and versatile flowers. The flowers, only an inch to two inches in diameter, give a delicate texture to the landscape. Miniatures can range in height from 8 inches to 24 inches and have smaller buds, stems and foliage.

The best thing about miniature roses is their carefree nature. Miniature roses can tolerate more shade than hybrid roses in your garden. The plants are tough, but they still need protection when temperatures drop below 100 degrees Ft. Since miniature roses do so well outside, many gardeners like to put the roses on a patio for a few months each year.

Alabama Extension Regional Agent Mike McQueen cautions against keeping miniature roses indoors. Even though miniature roses are often seen being sold in supermarkets or by florists, they are not known to thrive as indoor plants. Miniature roses need about six hours of sunlight, and their delicate roots require abundant water. Mulch will help to protect their shallow root system.

Miniature roses grow well and can also be a great addition to the landscape of your home.  When planted in containers, miniature roses can provide a focal point within a garden landscape. According to McQueen, they can also provide wonderful accents as a border or as a mass planting for spectacular color and variety in your garden. Miniature roses are also popular as ground covers, potted indoor plants, or hanging baskets.

Use a good rose soil mix

McQueen advises gardeners to get a good rose soil mix that will help when growing miniature roses.  He recommends a customized mix of one-third compost, one-third topsoil and one-third sand.

“For the best performance, miniature roses should have about 12 to 16 inches of soil,” said McQueen.”You can house miniature rose bushes in a five-gallon container for up to six years before needing to transplant.”

Miniature roses are a wonderful way to have a variety of blooms within a smaller space. They are even grown on their own roots, so the “suckers” that come up are of the same variety.

For more information about growing roses, visit

This article originally appeared on the Extension Daily website.

10 Facts to Know about Dogwood Trees

Beloved for their early spring blooms, dogwood trees are featured in many Alabama landscapes and celebrated in festivals throughout the South. The white flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), plentiful across Alabama, is an ornamental deciduous tree native to the eastern half of the United States.

  1. Dogwood trees sport white or pink flowers. However, the true petals are not the four showy blossoms. The tightly packed cluster in the center form the real blooms. What appears to be petals are actually bracts, which is a type of leaf.


  1. Flower color of the native dogwood is a creamy white. A naturally occurring variety of the native dogwood, Cornus florida rubra, has pink blooms. Many cultivated varieties are available in nurseries and landscape centers. Dogwood trees often appear in brilliant shades ranging from soft pink to deeper cherry reds. As a result, these showy bracts can attract pollinating insects to the flowers.


  1. In addition, there are 17 species of dogwood native to North America. Gardeners are most familiar with the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). According to Kerry Smith, Master Gardener program coordinator for Alabama Extension, another common species is the Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa), or Chinese Dogwood. Kousa thrives in either full sun or shade and is much tougher than the flowering dogwood.


  1. Many towns enjoy dogwood trees so much, they host annual parades or dogwood tours once the trees open their blooms in the early spring. North Carolina, Texas and Atlanta each host popular Dogwood Festivals each year. Vestavia Hills celebrates Alabama’s oldest Dogwood Festival and Trail.


  1. Dogwood trees are often a preferred choice for planting because they are low maintenance. Depending on the species planted, you might have a short, stout bush or a 25-foot tall tree. If carefully treated, a mature dogwood tree species may reach up to 30 feet in height as a result.


  1. Since dogwoods grow in nature as understory trees, they prefer afternoon shade to shield them from blazing sunlight. According to Alabama Extension regional agent Sallie Lee, dogwoods are pretty versatile as a small tree. “It can be planted where larger-maturing trees would be a nuisance or a hazard,” said Lee. However, dogwoods still need room to grow. Lee advises planting dogwood trees at least 25 feet from structures to give the roots plenty of room to grow.


  1. In the Southeast, the dogwood typically begins blooming in early March in the southern portion of Alabama and two to three weeks later in northern areas of the state. The bloom duration can last from two to four weeks.


  1. Dogwood branches droop as the tree grows, and may need pruning to clear pedestrian or vehicle traffic. Pruning dogwoods can help shape them and improve their health. Prune if needed anytime after blooming. Alabama Extension regional Agent Mike McQueen said “since dogwoods bloom in early spring before May, wait until after they bloom to prune.”


  1. Dogwoods have been used medicinally for generations. Since the bark is a rich source of bitter-tasting tannins, dogwood leaves often treated pain, fevers, backaches, dizziness, or weakness. According to McQueen, “dogwood bark was one of many barks used as a fever medicine before quinine came into general use.” Tea made from the bark was used to treat pain or fever.


  1. Blooming by Easter, the tree and its flowers have inspired legends of their part in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Legend says that the bracts of the dogwood are set in the shape of a cross and bear nail marks of the Crucifixion, while the red leaves in autumn point to Jesus’s blood on Calvary.


To learn more about dogwoods, see Alabama Extension’s Selection and Care of Dogwoods at

This article originally appeared on the Extension Daily website.

April is National Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness

I met one of my best friends, Sarah, on the first day of kindergarten,” said Elizabeth Nichols, a senior at Auburn University. “In most ways, Sarah is just like you and me – she loves to laugh, sing, have fun. She is kind, funny, and perceptive. Breakfast dates are our favorite things. We love to talk about school, Disney World, movies, and our friends. In some ways, Sarah is a little different from me because Sarah has autism.”

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated one in 68 children in the United States are identified with autism spectrum disorder.

This April is Autism Awareness Month, but it’s more common to encounter someone who has misconceptions about autism than someone unaware of it. Autism is vastly misunderstood and difficult to define, since the spectrum describes a wide range of symptoms that vary in type and severity.

Autism Puzzle Pieces“Over the years, I have learned how much autism can vary from one person to another,” said Shelby Segrest, a special education major. “There is no specific formula for talking or hanging out with someone who has autism. Just like how I am different from my roommate, all people who have autism are different.”

The number of individuals diagnosed has increased by nearly 120 percent since 2000, making it the fastest-growing developmental disability and an urgent public health care need. This increase may also be attributed to the broadening of the diagnostic characteristics of the disorder, as well as broadened public awareness campaigns like Autism Awareness Month.

The first National Autism Awareness Month occurred in April of 1970. Nearly 50 years later, April is still celebrated as a time to raise awareness around the differences of those on the spectrum and educate the public on Autism. Julia MuppetPBS Kids recently introduced Julia, a Sesame Street Muppet with autism, and even the White House lit up blue to honor autism awareness.

“Other people can get involved by simply looking around themselves,” said Nichols. “People with autism are just people too. They are at your school, your church, or the grocery store. The next time you see a family with a child with autism or a person who may have autism, say hello. Be friendly. Treat them like you would want to be treated! Just know that they may interact with the world a little bit differently from you.”

Both Segrest and Nichols advocate for using “people-first” language, which puts the individual before their disability when talking about someone with autism.

“Using people-first language is HUGE. This means that, instead of saying ‘the autistic girl,’ you can say ‘the girl with autism.’ If we define a person by their disability, we are looking at them based on what they can’t do rather than what they CAN do,” said Segrest.

At Auburn University, there are many resources and organizations that provide opportunities for students to get involved. Best Buddies LogoBest Buddies, BraveHearts, Special Olympics, Miracle League and the Exceptional Foundations are all examples of programs where you can meet friends with autism.

There are also special events held throughout the year. Alpha Xi Delta, a social sorority at Auburn, often holds benefit nights or fundraising events for their philanthropy, Autism Speaks. A Freshman Leadership Group, All for Inclusion, began the “Amazing Auburn Program,” a special event held in the spring that highlights the talents and abilities of those with intellectual development disorders (IDD) rather than their disabilities. Even the current Miss Auburn, Ashley Moates, ran on a platform of making dreams come true for those with IDD.

“I’m pretty biased, but Best Buddies does an incredible job of getting people in the community with IDD connected to students at Auburn.” said Segrest. “As a college buddy at Auburn, you have an amazing opportunity to became a best friend to someone. My buddy is someone I see every week. She brings me so much joy and we have the best times together.”

Elizabeth Nichols can also speak to the positive impact of a friend with autism.

“Living life with Sarah as my friend has taught me so much. Autism allows her to interact with the world in a different way than many of us. Sarah has taught me what real love and empathy looks like. She knows how to see beyond the exterior down to the good in everyone. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Sarah,” said Nichols.

No matter how you choose to raise awareness and show support, Autism Awareness Month is a great time to get started. To learn more, visit….

This article originally appeared on the Auburn Family blog.

Stress-Relieving Strategies for Students

Stress is an inevitable part of life, especially when you’re attending an academically challenging institution like Auburn University. With the end of the semester quickly approaching, many students are already beginning to experience some finals week stress. Parking at the library is now nonexistent, coffee shops become crowded, and finding a quiet study spot in the student center is like discovering a rare gem!

Stress is impossible to eliminate, but you can learn to manage it. So before pulling an all-nighter or panicking about every possible worst-case scenario, read these tips from students on how to keep stress at a minimum:

1. Get enough sleep.

Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night. Although spending the night in RBD reviewing study guides seems like the productive thing to do, the reality is that sleep does more good for a tired brain and body. Sleep is the best way to take a break and recharge for your next study session. It helps avoid both mental and physical fatigue, so it’s easier to retain information.

“Definitely take a nap.” – Paige Purvis

2. Step away from the desk.

Sitting in the same spot for hours on end won’t boost your brain power! Studies have shown that being active causes the brain to release endorphins, which improves your mood and overall happiness. Try visiting the Rec and Wellness Center on campus for a study break that can help take your mind off the status of your GPA.

“Go out on a run.” – Melissa Bryant

“Having a dance party always helps me.” – Lauren Gaines

Take your dog for a walk.” – Julie Tewell

3. Eat a healthy snack or meal.

Fuel your mind and body before you begin studying. Try eating a balanced diet with fresh foods. Healthy food improves your ability to think clearly, concentrate, and feel energetic when you need it most. Most importantly, avoid eating too much caffeine, sugar or junk food. Even if you’re in a rush getting to class, don’t skip a meal just to save time! That way, hunger pains are one less thing to worry about.

“Grocery shopping makes me feel relaxed” – Meagan Richardson

“Find some good snacks to eat” – Crandall Hinton

4. Focus on your friends.

Spending time with study partners or pals to keep you company in RBD is always a great idea. Good friends can encourage and motivate you to get work done, as long as they are careful not to distract too much. It can also help to have someone that understands the material and can help explain when studying gets tough.

“To reduce stress, I like to play foosball or video games with my friends.” – Patrick Snell

“I like getting coffee or wings with my pals when I’m stressed.” – Nicole Bianca.

5. Find an escape.

For many students, going back to one of their favorite hobbies may help reduce stress from a long day in the library. Listening to music, especially classical, while studying is especially known to give your brain a boost.

“Hot baths always make me feel relaxed.” – Kohler Constantine

“I like to play the piano or cross-stitch. Call me a grandma, but I ain’t joking!” – Elizabeth Cummings

“Watch the Office or Parks and Rec whilst eating candy snuggled in a blanket.” – Lindsey Guin

It’s important to remember that stress exists for a reason. You can either choose to let it be your downfall or use it to drive you to improve your work!

How do you de-stress from school? Tell us in the comments below!

This article originally appeared on Auburn Family.

Making an IMPACT at Auburn University

IMPACT is well known around campus as the largest community service organization, with more than 60 project coordinators and 16 project sites.

However, many students at Auburn University simply don’t realize the incredible impact that the student volunteers have on the Auburn and Opelika communities.

“Many project sites have told us that if it weren’t for Impact volunteers and project coordinators coming every day of the week, they wouldn’t be able to keep their doors open,” said Kennon Pouncey, IMPACT president.

Pouncey has worked with IMPACT for four years as a volunteer, project coordinator and now president of the student-run organization. The biomedical sciences major encourages all Auburn students to give back to the Auburn community through local service.

“Each organization has such a big impact contribution to Auburn as a city, and we’re so proud to keep those places going and just offer our support by being present and volunteering with whatever they might need help with that day,” said Pouncey.

IMPACT Project Coordinators

Project coordinators work project sites in the Auburn/Opelika area and serve as a liaison between the site and volunteers to create student volunteer opportunities. They lead groups of volunteers to their prospective site on a weekly basis, as well as participate in special projects throughout the year such as the Joyland Daycare Easter Egg Hunt or Azalea Retirement Home Prom.

“This is my third year doing IMPACT, and I’ve really enjoyed every year doing it. It’s just a really cool way to get out of your Auburn bubble with your studies and friends and go out to a new community to meet people and help others,” said Project Coordinator Blair Englebert.

IMPACT Project Coordinators
IMPACT Project Coordinators

“I get to see the people that make up our organization and see the sacrifices that they make every week to be able to go to their project site, report their volunteer hours and all the work that goes in behind the scenes,” said Pouncey. “I think our project coordinators are some of the best students on Auburn’s campus because they have the biggest hearts of most people that I know. As president, I just get to see that and am so blessed by that on a weekly basis.”

“We talk about Auburn being one big family, and in my perspective, that’s what IMPACT is. It’s taking students and putting them out into the community, and giving the love that we see every day on Auburn’s campus,” said Project Coordinator Nick McAllister.

Volunteering with IMPACT

With a diverse schedule of times and locations to choose from, fitting volunteer hours into a student’s busy academic week shouldn’t be a problem. All they need before meeting at the intramural fields for a project site is a signed waiver and the willingness to work. The community also benefits from this method of volunteering, as it receives exposure to new volunteers each week. It can also enjoy the work of students that have specifically chosen to be there and want to be serving.

“The beauty of IMPACT is that already we’ve done all the work setting those times up. You don’t have to sign up in advance, you just go whenever it works best for you,” said Pouncey.

IMPACT’s project sites include non-profit organizations such as the BigHouse Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, Community Market, Humane Society, Storybook Farm and Salvation Army. Many sites are volunteer dependent, so every helping hand makes a huge difference.

The newest project, the Jason Dufner Foundation, is a program that works takes place in the Auburn Arena each Thursday.

IMPACT Executive Officers
IMPACT Executive Officers

“Students that might not get a meal until they come back to school on Monday are given these bags so that they will have food over the weekend. IMPACT’s part in that is helping to bag up those things and just making that food bagging process go even faster,” said Pouncey.

So how is IMPACT different than any other organization on campus?

“IMPACT is unique in that it offers students a way to give back one of the only things they have, and that’s time. We don’t often have much money or many resources to give to people around us, but we do have time,” said Pouncey. “The best way we can spend our time is by giving back to those in our community that really need it and can benefit from it, and that’s what IMPACT strives to do.”

This post originally appeared on the Auburn Family blog.

The Health Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential Oils

For centuries, essential oils have been used as natural health remedies in cultures around the world. Widely available online and sold by independent consultants through multilevel marketing companies, essential oils have become a trendy way to treat conditions such as pain, anxiety or insomnia.

Today, many practitioners use them in a combination of traditional medicine and aromatherapy, a form of alternative medicine. However, some of the health benefit claims associated with essential oils are controversial.

The safety of essential oils

Very little is known about the effectiveness of essential oils in treating health conditions despite their widespread use. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any essential oils for safety or effectiveness, and there’s no standard protocol for practice or dosage.

“No research in the area of nutrition has been done to ensure these oils have a significant benefit on health,” says Health & Nutrition Specialist Tamara Warren, Ph.D.

The quality and composition of essential oils can vary greatly given that it is an unregulated industry. Many companies claim that their oils are “pure,” “natural” or “medical grade.” However, these terms are not universally defined and hold little weight.

How to use essential oils

Several essential oils pass the sniff test for aromatherapy benefits. Lavender and chamomile are often used as ingredients in sleep-inducing or stress-relieving products. Applying peppermint oil topically may help relieve tension headaches or migraines, and ginger’s anti-nausea properties are possibly effective in treating seasickness.

“These oils are normally inhaled or used topically,” says Warren. “It has been claimed that the oils are useful in those manners.”

Essential oils are potent, and when applied topically, can cause skin irritation. Cinnamon, peppermint and tea tree oil can be irritating to sensitive skin. To limit this effect, they are often diluted with a “carrier oil” such as coconut or olive oil.

Everyday Uses for Essential Oils

They also have many uses outside of aromatherapy. Many people use them to scent their homes or freshen up laundry. A popular treatment uses oils known for their anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, such as lemon or tea tree oil, to create a natural household cleaner.

There are hundreds of essential oils to explore, including the best-selling “thieves” oil. A popular blend of cinnamon, clove, lemon and eucalyptus oils, advocates claim it can boost the immune system and stave off germs during cold and flu season.

The evidence for many essential oil health claims is lacking, especially in the area of health and nutrition. However, when used appropriately, essential oils can positively affect your family’s well-being through aromatherapy.

OP-ED: Why college students should register to vote

You’re in college, expanding your mind and your comfort zones. You’re challenging yourself and learning about issues you’ve never considered before. But when the time comes, you’re going to pass on empowering yourself by voting?

The collegiate vote is too important to disregard. You’d have to be a hermit to ignore the sensation of the 2016 presidential election, but many college students ignore the role that they have played in the election results. Voter turnout for this demographic has reached record lows in recent years. If election night goes wrong for your candidate, you can tweet or post disappointment to your heart’s content. However, if you didn’t vote, can you complain knowing you missed your chance to change America’s future?

First, it’s your right as a citizen of the United States to vote. Many governments around the world don’t enjoy the freedom of democracy that we often take for granted. You have the unique opportunity to help select our government leaders, and the health of our democracy relies on your participation. Voting can also be a way to honor those who have helped secure our rights. No matter your race, gender or age, that right came at a price. Military who have fought for this country, suffragettes, activists and Civil Rights leaders are just a few examples of those to whom we owe our respect and freedom. Voting gives you the opportunity to help pay that debt. Honor the sacrifices others made so your voice could be heard when theirs was not.

Second, your vote matters even more than you might think. Many students don’t believe their vote will make a tangible difference, but history has shown that elections can be decided by just a handful of voters. In the 2012 presidential election, young voters were one of the key voting blocs in electing Barack Obama. Obama won the young adult vote over Mitt Romney by more than five million voters. When mobilized, millennials can be a powerful political force. Your generation can decide the whole course of an election.

Finally, elections are relevant to college students. Elections focus on issues that can have a direct impact on a student and their collegiate community, at a local or presidential level. Consider the fact that the president selects U.S. Supreme Court Justices for lifetime appointments. These judicial officials can exert a powerful influence for decades to come. The policies you vote for today can have an enormous impact on your life after college. Within the next four years, you may be getting a job, owning or renting a house, getting married, starting a family, paying for health care or building a business. By voting, you’re not just doing your part to influence the present; you’re also making an impact on the future. Do you want to leave those decisions up to someone else?

As students, you are known to be an unreliable voting bloc. Young adults often feel they don’t have enough of a stake in their college town or community to vote. Many college students are not able to vote using an absentee ballot. Students may live on campus for nine months of the year, and whether they can vote or not depends on state registration laws. These laws can be confusing to a young voter without the proper guidance. Combine this with the fact that many issues discussed in national elections, such as Social Security or foreign policy, are not issues that college students worry about.

However, for college students to have significant political influence, they must turn out in greater numbers than ever before. You have a part to play in that process. It’s a proven fact that college students have the power to make a difference. An important way to achieve this is to make your voice heard at the polls on Election Day. Voice your opinions on issues, policies, candidates and referendums. Stand up for what you believe in. Vote!