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Maas Nursery

Gardening for Birds

By Kathryn Courtney
   I was sitting in my swing yesterday evening watching the birds. There were Cardinals, Mockingbirds, Inca Doves and the ever present Sparrows. I have to admit to a fondness for the Sparrows. They are very busy birds.  They were flying from trees to shrubs to plants and back to trees. Their antics were vastly entertaining so I stayed outside for quite awhile. As I sat in my swing I realized I was slowly unwinding and relaxing from a very stressful day. Watching birds, I decided, was a huge improvement over pharmaceuticals for stress relief. Bird watching is free, easy and there is no insurance to deal with. Making your backyard bird friendly is very easy to do. Birds require 4 things to be happy: shelter and nesting space, a source of water, food and a pesticide and herbicide free yard.
     Providing nesting and shelter places are probably already done in your yard. Most gardens already have trees and shrubs that provide nesting and shelter for birds. My Cardinals love nesting in the very large yesterday, today and tomorrow bushes. A majority of our birds will always nest in trees. Dense shrubs and vines also provide nesting areas. Large climbing roses make great shelter and nesting spots.  Antique roses also have hips in the fall that provide food for birds. Many trees and shrubs serve this dual purpose. Oaks and pecans provide both shelter and nuts, cedars provide berries and thick shelter and crabapples and mulberries provide fruit. Some birds that visit our area are cavity nesters. These are the birds that will use hollow spots in trees or birdhouses for nesting. Chickadees, Finches and Wrens are all cavity nesters. If you want to provide houses for these birds there are a few things to look for. The door of the birdhouse should be no bigger than 1& 1/4 inches wide to prevent predators from entering. The door should also be facing away from high traffic areas in the garden. A good birdhouse needs easy access for cleaning at the end of breeding season. After you clean your birdhouse you can either store it or put it back out for sheltering birds in winter. We have found birds will use all kinds of things for nests here at Maas. They love empty hanging baskets with coco liners, trellises, fences, and even empty pots.
Large Shrubs or Trees
Climbing Roses with Hips
Bird Houses
     Closely related to providing shelter is providing food. As I mentioned before many plants provide both. Some sources of food are bushes and trees with berries or nuts, flowers and grasses with seed heads, or best yet, gardens and flowers with insects. These food sources will feed the birds almost year round. Make sure all the plants used for bird food are organic. It is important, really, that your whole backyard is organic. Plant an abundance of different kinds of food plants in small drifts around the garden. Let a few of your annuals go to seed every time you deadhead your flowers to provide seed for your birds. In winter, when food is scarce, put bird feeders out. For larger seeds like sunflower use a platform feeder. Tube feeders are good for smaller seed such as nyger or thistle seeds. Hummingbird feeders can provide an extra source of food for your hummers. If you use hummingbird feeders, skip the red dye in the sugar water. It’s not needed and can be bad for the birds. Make sure feeders are hung in protected areas away from predators. Keep them clean and full of organic seed. Birds prefer morning feeding, so if you can provide a southeastern exposure for your feeder that’s best.
Grasses
Let flowers go to seed.
Bird Feeders
Berries
Nectar plants for hummingbirds
Hummingbird Feeders
  The next requirement is a source of clean water for your garden. You can add anything from a shallow dish or pot saucer to a fancy fountain to make the birds happy. Birdbaths need to be safe and accessible to the birds. Placing the bath near trees or shrubs gives birds an easy getaway from predators. Keeping the water depth 2 to 3 inches deep is safe for most birds. Add a flat rock in the deepest part of the bath for small birds. Baths can often be hung in trees for safety. Refill the birdbath every other day or sometimes daily in the summer. Mosquito Bits can be used to keep the mosquitoes under control and the bits are bird safe.
Hanging birdbaths can help with predators.
     Last but not least, please keep synthetic pesticides and herbicides out of your garden. Pesticides kill insects, an important source of food for birds, and poison seeds and berries. They also poison water sources. There are many organic alternatives to these synthetic chemicals. A strong spray of water can knock a lot of bugs off of your plants or just pick bugs off with gloved fingers and dump them in a bucket of soapy water. There are also natural products that can be used on bugs, use these products as a last resort.  Just because a product is organic doesn’t mean its not harmful. Natural products such as corn gluten, agricultural vinegar and molasses can be used for weed control.Cinnamon is a good selective weed killer for crabgrass. We have many organic products to control bugs and weeds here at Maas. If you are having a problem in your garden, come see us. We can help you with organic solutions. Keep your yard organic not only for the birds but also for your pets and children. More and more pesticides and herbicides are being proven carcinogenic and harmful to people and the environment.
     Birds are a joy to have in the garden. They eat bugs off vegetable and flower plants, mockingbirds chase squirrels, and watching them provides free relaxing entertainment. Here at Maas we have feeders, houses, birdbaths and all the plants you need to make your yard a bird paradise. Come see us and we will help you find the best plants and bird accessories for your garden. Also, check out our Backyard Bird Plants list for more ideas.

My Favorite Backyard Birds

By Kathryn Courtney
We are very lucky to live here on the gulf coast. Sometimes it has it’s ups and downs as we found out last year but for growing things and watching wildlife you can’t beat it. We live in a spring and fall migration path for thousands of birds. Our spring migration is in April and May and includes many colorful birds that we don’t usually see. Buntings, Tanagers and Warblers can come through in Spring. These birds are just passing through and don’t stay long.
Our fall migration is a different story.It lasts from August through November and some of these birds stay year round. We see many water and shore birds come through at this time of year. Some are here even later in the winter. It is the fall birds that need our help with food, water, and shelter as they come through.  We also have many birds that make their homes here year round. Here are some of my favorite yard birds and some suggestions on what to do to get them to stay.
Cardinals – These are large crested finch type birds. The males are bright red andfemales are a mixture of brown, tan and red. Cardinals forage in trees, shrubs, and on the ground and have a varied diet of seeds, fruits, snails and insects. Cardinals build their nests in trees and large shrubs. Their nests are built of twigs, leaves, grass and other found natural materials and are usually no higher than 5 feet off the ground. Dense shrubs are best for their nesting. Make sure you have plenty of food and materials for nest building in your yard. Cardinals love sunflower seeds in winter when food is scarce. They have a wonderful high pitched little cheep that lets you know they are around.
Sparrows – There are many types of sparrows in our area. I know most people think ofthem as a nuisance but to me they are the most entertaining birds we have. Sparrows are mostly gray, brown and black in different combinations. I have seen these birds described as gregarious and I think this fits them perfectly. They nest and feed in groups and are very social. They eat seeds, grains and larvae of many insect species.They can nest almost anywhere including eaves, masonry, ivy and bushes. Sparrows prefer smaller seeds in winter when food is scarce. Groups of sparrows in your backyard are a joyful sight.
Carolina Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse – These birds are usually winter visitors. Chickadees are gray and white with a prominent black cap on the top of their heads. Chickadees eat insects, spiders, seeds and fruit and are very efficient foragers.These birds are cavity nesters and will use a bird house if proper nesting places can’t be found. If you do have chickadees in your bird house, keep your distance. They will hiss and attack intruders to their nest. In winter feed them smaller seed in a hanging feeder. The tufted titmouse is a small bird with gray on the upper parts and pale gray and rust brown on bottom and flanks. They are distinguished by a gray cap and crest like a cardinals. They have the same nesting habits as the chickadee and eat berries, acorns, seeds, insects and snails. They also prefer smaller seeds from a hanging feeder in winter. Titmice love to eat hanging upside down.
Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Mockingbirds – You can’t write a favorite bird article without including the state birdof Texas. Mockingbirds are gray on top with a paler gray underneath. They have a thin black eye mask and black and white wings. Mockingbirds eat insects, fruit, snails and small vertebrates. They can forage in trees, shrubs and on the ground. They can be aggressive. I have seen them attack both of my cats. One cat has a bald spot on its head from mockingbirds.They have large cup like nests built in low trees consisting of twigs and grass.  In the winter leave out dried fruit, apples or pomegranates on a platform feeder for the mockingbirds.
Doves – We have several types of doves here. Some of the most common are morning doves, Inca doves, and Eurasian collared doves. We sometimes see white wing doves passing through. Doves are ground feeding birds and primarily eat seeds. You can try platform feeders for doves, but in my experience they just throw the seed on the ground and eat from there. Doves range in color from soft browns to grays. The collared dove has a black ring around it’s neck. Doves will nest in almost anything. Trees, shrubs, buildings, flower pots, and hanging baskets are all nesting places for doves. I’ve had Inca doves nesting in a hanging planter for several years. Their soft cooing sound is so peaceful and soothing.
Mourning Dove
Inca Dove
Hummingbirds – Hummingbirds begin their migration through our area beginning in August. Some hummingbirds will over winter in our area. They sip nectar from many different kinds of plants. Plants with tubular shaped red flowers are a favorite along with pentas, zinnias, and many others. We have three types of hummingbirds in our area. Ruby- throated, Rufous and Black-chinned. I seem to have mostly Ruby-throated in my yard. To keep hummingbirds around make sure you have plenty of nectar flowers or a hummingbird feeder. Hummingbirds also need thin branches to perch on and shallow water to drink. Pound for pound hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive species on earth. This can be witnessed by the hummingbird wars at your feeders
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Black-chinned Hummingbird

Summer Dreaming

By: Deb Pavlosky

 

 I imagine that not very many people get to live in their dreams, even just temporarily, but that’s exactly what I got to do this summer.  A planned family reunion in Germany turned into an opportunity to take our kids on an adventure in the EU.   We took some time narrowing our destinations (over the better part of a year) and the sights we would choose to see and we ended up with an itinerary that included The Netherlands, Italy and Germany.  We had approximately one week in each locale and we took advantage of our time in each spot.
For the next few newsletters I will be sharing a little international plant-spiration from each locale.  Do with it what you wish; I came home thoroughly inspired to try some new plantings (once our weather cools) and to travel more too.
It was very hot for most of our trip and The Netherlands was no exception.  Amsterdam and surrounding areas recorded some of the hottest temperatures ever. There were no fans left on the shelves and no one has AC (including our AirBnB).  But, the nights would cool down much more than they do here at home.  The cooler night climate and generally cooler climate year round allows their plantings to flourish more than ours.  That’s my theory, anyway.
While in The Netherlands, we actually stayed outside of Amsterdam in the village of Edam.  Edam is a very picturesque place with canals lined with small boats of all kinds, charming little front yards filled to the brim with plants and wonderful little shops and cafes and cheese markets.  Just imagine sweet cobblestone homes with canals all around and cobblestone streets lined with dahlias and hydrangeas and snowball viburnum with butterfly bush and geraniums and petunias and scaevola and black-eyed susans too.  Oh! and lets not forget the water lilies in the canals.
Edam
Edam Canal
The canals, oh the canals!  What a way of life that must be – to hop on your boat to head to work or school or shop.  I am incredibly jealous.  But, what was truly special about the canals became more evident at dusk.  At dusk, the calm waters turned into magical mirrors with the reflections of clouds and nearby homes and surrounding greenery.  I know my pulse rate slowed and my eyes lit up every time I walked the streets along the canals and this was especially true at dusk.  Honestly, I can totally imagine the Dutch Masters painting at any number of spots in this little area.
Most people in The Netherlands seem to garden in some way even though most homes have very small plots.  There were window boxes and pots overflowing with some combination of geraniums, petunias, scaevola, mandevilla and more. If there was a front yard, it was chock full of blooming plants.   The most beautiful shrubs I saw in Edam were altheas that had been grafted with three different bloom colors – they were just absolutely fabulous.  I have put a bug in the ears of the powers that be here and I am hoping we can have some of those in the future.
In Amsterdam proper, even the house boats had plantings overflowing with blooms.  There are currently around 2500 houseboats in Amsterdam.  There are no more open spots for them, so that is it.  I saw so many pots with succulents, roses, mixed plantings with geraniums and small trees as well.
One thing in unending supply in Amsterdam were bicycles.  There were bikes upon bikes upon bikes everywhere.  Honestly, how do you find your bike when it’s parked among hundreds???  And, we learned that if there was ever an altercation involving bicyclists, one bike would invariably end up in the canals.  We actually saw them pulling bikes out at one area.  Our driver told us that he had sent a few bikes into the Amstel himself.
Homes in Amsterdam tend to be very narrow – property taxes used to be determined by the width of a home.  No matter how narrow, many people find space to garden in small containers and in rooftop settings.  Many homes in Amsterdam also have courtyards and shared gardening spaces that cannot be seen from the street.  Oh, I would love to secretly tour those little gardens.
So, there is no mention of tulips, because it just wasn’t the time for them.  I am most definitely going back some day while the tulips are blooming.  I can only imagine the magic that must be.
So, here I am, dreaming of going back and how to make my landscape feel a little dutch.  Check back next month to enjoy plant-spiration from Italy.

 

Great Expectations

By: Deb Pavlosky

So, it wasn’t long after I started working at Maas Nursery that I encountered a customer walking through the center aisle of bedding plants with a paint chip card.  I thought, hmmmm, that’s interesting.  Trying to match paint color to the blooms on flowering plants is quite ambitious, but ok, to each his/her own.

 

This little scenario does bring up an issue that I suspect all landscape designers/retail nursery workers have.  Sometimes, customers do have unrealistic expectations of a plants appearance, performance, as well as availability at the nursery.  Plants are living things – they don’t always look exactly as you expect, grow as you expect, bloom as you expect, and they most definitely don’t look the same year round, year after year after year.  That’s just life.  Plants grow and change and bloom and wilt and die too.  Their performance/success in your garden is very much up to you the gardener.  It’s you who has to make sure you have your plants growing in the right conditions and with the right care

 

Magazines and Pinterest are great places to get basic landscape ideas, but they often include very ideal pictures of established plants at their peak performance and, many times, the plants used in the articles/pins/etc. just don’t grow here.  Check the article, those beautiful hostas you see growing in full sun are probably somewhere in the Midwest, definitely not here.  You may be able to get a different variety that does grow in our zone (often with protection from our afternoon sun), but sometimes, you just have to pick a completely different plant to get the look you desire

 

So, what about gardening with natives?  YES, native landscapes are great for many reasons, but if they aren’t planned well, they will often look very unkempt in their off-peak seasons.  Most beautiful landscape plants (native or otherwise) need a fair amount of work to keep them in tip-top shape and looking good.  Trimming, fertilizing, watching for pests, keeping diseases under control and proper watering are key (even natives will need some water in drought periods)- All good garden stewards know to stay ahead of the game.

 

And, I know this won’t be a shocker to our loyal customers, but not all plants are available in all sizes year-round.  I think most of us know that annual plants are available by season (for example – snapdragons in winter and vincas in summer).  But we all don’t seem to know that many perennials are also only available from growers for short periods of time.  Some plants grow VERY quickly and getting them in smaller sizes (or at all) is very difficult later in their growing season.  For instance, you may be able to get flats of 4″ verbena in late spring/early summer, but by mid-summer all you can get are quarts and gallons.  This tends to be an issue with seasonal perennial color plants more than others, but it’s an issue we encounter with many other landscape plants as well.  If you can get the plants from growers, it is going to be a little more stress on your wallet than if you had bought them earlier when they were available in smaller sizes.

 

So, what does all of the above mean?  Really, the more you know about your zone and your specific growing conditions and plants that do well in your area, the more successful you will be in your garden and the better your landscape will look.  But, such is life, nothing is guaranteed.  Plants are ALIVE.  They have needs and if those needs aren’t being met, you won’t get good performance from them.  Gardeners can certainly be dreamers, but they also need a healthy dose of realism mixed in there too.  Your plants are not going to look magazine ready year-round without some serious planning and work in the garden.  Great expectations can be met in the garden with a healthy dose of care and understanding.  And, as we often say in the garden center, there is no such thing as a care-free plant unless it comes from a local craft store.

Let’s Talk About August, 2018

By: Pat Cordray

 

Just saying the word “August” makes me think HOT and steamy, like hot asphalt, I can even smell it. This heat seems unrelenting, but we know it will eventually end. Don’t we??? August isn’t all bad. Really, it’s not. August is the beginning of our fall vegetable gardening. If you like to eat fresh veggies, now is the time to get ready. First, though, we have to talk about watering, it is still at the top of the list. Then flowers, blooming flowers to provide nectar for the hummingbirds as they migrate through our area. That’s not a bad list: a little water and food for us and hummingbirds.

 

August gardening includes watering (again), vegetables and blooming flowers:

 

Water, water, water. You know that plants need water, so water. If you are growing vegetables and or fruit, regular water is essential. Vegetables and fruits are made up of mostly water, so if you don’t water regularly it affects your produce. Irregular watering can cause you to have less fruit and poor-quality fruits (includes tomatoes cracking). Who wants that? While you are watering your vegetables and fruit, make sure your other plants have a drink too.

Let’s talk about veggies now. Pick veggies you like to eat and that do well for a fall and winter garden. Leafy greens, beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and root crops are a few of the veggies to plant this time of year. Check the chart below to help you plant at the right time.

Mustard Greens

Cherry Tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                     When to Plant Fall and Winter Vegetables
Vegetable
Seed/Transplant
When to Plant
Beans, Bush
Seed
September
Beans, Lima
Seed
Mid-August – September
Beets
Seed
September – Mid-October
Broccoli
Transplant
September – January
Brussels Sprouts
Transplant
September – January
Cabbage
Seed
August – November
Cabbage
Transplant
*September – November
Carrots
Seed
September – November
Cauliflower
Transplant
September – January
Collards
Seed
September – December1
Collards
Transplant
September – January
Cucumber
Transplant
September – January
Garlic
Clove
Late September –
Mid November
Kohlrabi
Transplant
Mid-September – November
Leek
Seed or Transplant
October – November
Lettuce, Leaf
Seed or Transplant
Late September – December
Mustard Green
Seed or Transplant
September – November
Onion
Transplant
*November
Peas, snap
Seed
Late September-October
January – Early February
Peas, Southern
Seed
August 1 – late August
Potatoes Irish
Seed Potatoes
mid- August – late August
*February
Radicchio
Seed
Late September – October
Spinach
Seed or Transplant
October – November
Squash, summer
Transplant
Early September
Squash, winter
Seed or Transplant
Mid-August
Swiss Chard
Seed or Transplant
September – October
Tomatoes
Transplant
mid July – mid-August
Turnips
Seed
September – November
January – February
This list was taken from Kathy Huber’s article in the Houston Chronicle, Aug. 14, 2009

 

If this is your first garden, don’t make too much work for yourself. Start small and grow the size of your garden each year. Before you build your garden. Look for a spot in your yard that drains well, has full sun, vegetables need 6 hours to full sun, and near a water source. Once you have picked a spot, you will need good soil. Get the best soil you can. Good soil makes for better vegetable plants and vegetables, with fewer problems. If you can’t afford to raise your bed to the proper height at first, about 6 – 12″, you can always add soil to your garden each season until you get the height you need. Then there is the water, read the watering paragraph above, again.

 

Don’t over plant your garden. Give your plants plenty of room for more production and air flow. Plant tall vegetable plants so that they don’t block the sun for the lower growing ones. Feed them with an organic fertilizer like Microlife, feed them so they can feed you.

 

Now, how about those blooming plants? Want to attract hummingbirds to your garden? Plant for them. Hummingbirds migrate through this area August – October. Here are a few plants that attract hummingbirds:

Flame acanthus, Perennial shrub, part sun to sun, 4-6’tall & wide, Blooms summer – fall

Turk’s Cap

Hamelia, Shrub, Part shade to sun, 3-8’+tall & wide, Blooms spring – fall
Texas betony, Perennial, Part sun to sun, 14-18″ tall & wide, Blooms late spring – early fall
Turk’s cap, Shrub, Part sun to sun, 2-9’tall & 3-6’wide, Blooms late spring – early fall
Shrimp plant, Perennial, Light shade to part sun, Blooms repeatedly
Pineapple sage, Perennial, Sun, 3-4’tall & wide, Blooms spring – early winter
Firecracker fern, Perennial, Part sun to sun, 2-6′ tall & wide, Blooms late spring – early fall
Cigar plant, Perennial, Part sun to sun, 2’+ tall & wide, Blooms repeatedly
Almond verbena, Shrub, Sun, 6-15’tall & wide, Blooms mid spring – mid fall
Bee balm, Perennial, Part sun to sun, 2-4’+ tall & 1-2’wide, Blooms summer
Bottle brush, Shrub, Sun, 6-15′ tall & wide, Blooms late spring – fall
Cardinal flower, Perennial, Part Shade to sun, 2-3’tall & 1’wide, Blooms summer – fall
Cone flower, Perennial, Part sun to sun, 2-3′ tall & wide, Blooms summer – fall
Coral vine, Perennial vine, Sun, 20′ spread, Blooms Spring – fall
Cypress vine, Annual vine, Part sun to sun, 15-20″ spread, Blooms late spring – early fall
Duranta, Shrub, Sun, 15-25’tall & 6-10’wide, Blooms summer – fall

Esperanza, Shrub, Sun, 25’tall & 10-20’wide, Blooms spring – winter

Gay Feather

Gaillardia, Perennial, Sun, 1-2’tall & wide, Blooms spring – fall
Gay feather, Perennial, Part shade to sun, 5’tall & 1.5’wide, Blooms summer – fall
Gaura, Perennial, Sun, 2-4’tall & wide, Blooms late spring – fall
Lantana, Perennial, Sun, Varies, Blooms spring – frost
Mexican bush sage, Perennial, Sun, 3-4’tall & 3-6’wide, Blooms early summer – fall
Mexican flame vine, Perennial vine, Sun, 8-10’spread, Blooms spring – fall
Milkweed, Perennial,Sun, 3-4’tall & 1.5’wide, Blooms spring – fall
Pentas, Tender perennial, Bright light to sun, .5-3’tall &, Blooms spring – frost
Pineapple sage, Perennial, Sun, 3-4’tall & wide, Blooms spring – early winter
Porterweed, Perennial, Light shade to sun, 3-6’tall & wide, Blooms spring – winter
Red yucca, Perennial, Light shade to sun, 3-5’tall & 2-4’wide, Blooms spring – mid summer
Rock rose, Shrub, Part shade to sun, 5’tall & wide, Blooms spring – fall
Salvia, Perennial,Part shade to sun, varies, Blooms summer – fall
Yarrow, Perennial, Sun, 1-5’tall & wide, Blooms spring – fall

Get these plants in your garden now to help feed the hummers while they are here. Plant the smaller plants in clumps of 3 to 5. If you use feeders, keep clean and full.  Be still and patient then watch for their visit to your garden, I know you will love it.

Enjoy your garden,
Pat

A Little Something About Sun Exposure

By: Deb Pavlosky
Often times, when we are trying to help our customers select plants, we ask about sun exposure.  What is the sun exposure in the area?  I hear it and say it multiple times every work-day.  And, that’s because it’s important to know.  Before you can select plants for your home landscape/garden, one of the things you have to know is how much sun exposure you get in the areas you want to plant.
It sounds like a simple question, but often times the answer is very complex.  So, I hope you find this helpful…
First things first – Telling us the direction your home faces doesn’t give us the whole answer.  Yes, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West every single day, but we need more information than that your house faces southeast.  Is there a large tree that shades your whole yard most of the day?  Is the bed narrow and along the house and therefore shaded by the house most of the day?  We need you to actually look and see how many hours of sun you get and in what part of the day you get it.  Hours of sun – yes, it matters!

Plant Requirements:

Full sun – 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day
Full sun + drought and heat tolerant – 6 or more hours of sunlight per day and it can probably handle our mid-day/afternoon summer sun
Part Sun – Between 3 and 6 hours of direct morning sunlight per day or filtered light all day
Part Shade – Between 3 and 6 hours of direct sunlight per day or filtered light all day, but needs protection from intense mid-day sun
Full Shade – Less than 3 hours of direct sun and needs protection from intense mid-day sun.  Many plants requiring full shade do well growing in filtered light, but can not take our mid-day intense summer sun at all.
Filtered Light – aka Dappled light, just refers to sunlight that is “filtered” by a shade tree or other plant or structure from above.  The plant gets some light, but never full-on direct sunlight.
Medium to Low Bright/Indirect Light – this typically refers to houseplants being grown indoors in bright light, but not being hit by direct sunlight through a window.

So, Let’s talk a little bit more about Full Sun:

Full Sun sounds brutal, but this is actually the amount of sun needed by most flowering/fruiting plants.  If a plant is labeled heat or drought tolerant, it can even handle mid-day to afternoon summer sun here!!!  If it’s not, it may still be ok (vegetables and citrus and roses and fruit trees will be just fine), but let’s hope you have full sun in the morning hours.  Some plants (and most people) need a little protection from our afternoon sun in the middle of the summer.  If you put a plant that needs part sun, part shade or full shade in a full sun location, that plant will probably burn and it most likely will not survive long.  So, in the converse, what happens if you put a plant that requires full sun in a less than full sun location?  Well, it will probably still grow, but it may not flower or fruit and may become very leggy as it tries to reach out to get the sun it needs.
So, here in lies the rub – You look at a plant’s tag to get information about the plant.  It says full sun, but does it really mean OUR full sun?  Sometimes not and this is where having a little plant knowledge and savvy goes a long way.  Many plants will grow here that will also grow in zones well to the north of us.  A good clue is to look at the zones on the tag to see how far north it grows.  The farther north the zones are, the more likely full sun really means full sun in the morning hours only here.  The farther south the zones go, the more likely you will have to protect it from freezing in the winter.  Of course, all generalizations are just that.  Ask questions if you aren’t sure.
As a rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to gradually move plants from one sun exposure to another even if you know they can take it.  Any plant can experience shock if moved from part sun (where you have been hoarding it along the side of your house until you have time to plant it) to full sun.  Make this move gradually, over a period days, to give your plant some time to adjust.
And here’s another thing, it does not matter whether the hours of direct sun are sequential or if the plant gets direct sun at different times throughout the day.  Many times there are structures or trees or fences or something blocking the sun at some point during the day.  But, as long as your plant gets the required hours of sun each day, it does not matter if it gets them all in a row or if the hours of sun are spaced out in some way through the day.
So can you have a single landscape bed that has different zones of sun exposure in it?  Absolutely!  Nothing is perfect in this world and often some landscape beds get more sun along one edge or more shade at one corner because of a tree or other structure.  Yes, you have to take that into account too!
And in the end, sun exposure is just one key factor affecting plant growth and performance – don’t forget about watering, drainage (different than watering), soil type, wind and salt exposure (especially important along the coast), nutrients/fertilizer and age.  Suddenly picking plants for your garden is very complicated.  Well, once again, that’s why we are here to help!

Thoughts from the Garden July 2018

Hi everyone, happy July!
So, the other day I was sitting at my desk minding my own business, working on a landscape design, when I accidentally looked at an email.
Ok so it wasn’t really an accident, I looked on purpose.
But it makes the story more interesting if I start it by accidentally opening the email, so let’s stick with that.
Anyway,  the email is from the rep of one of the pottery suppliers we like to buy from, I open the email.
“Jim, Would you be interested in a really good deal on cast iron planters?”
“Why yes I would”, I thought.
I decided to call and asked him what did it mean when he said I’d get a very good deal.
Sometimes it might mean free freight or a 10% discount which is not too exciting.
I had stopped carrying cast iron planters a few years ago because they had just gotten too darn expensive.
I like them a lot. They look cool, almost can’t blow over because they are so heavy. They almost last forever. I still see cast iron pots around that were made in the 1800s.
As I am talking to my sales rep I find out that they have decided to quit carrying cast iron planters.
He says he will send me a special offer from the company. I get the special offer the next day.
Yes, they wanted to quit carrying cast iron planters.
This kind of thing has worked out very nicely for us in the past so I read on.
They will give me a big discount if I buy way more than I need.
THAT HAS NEVER STOPPED ME BEFORE.
$ 24,000 retail for a big discount.
I do the math, that’s a lot of planters.
I keep reading.
If however, I buy their entire inventory I can get twice the discount. Now we’re talking.
Whoops, they still have over $150,000 retail in inventory.
I had to think about it for a minute. That’s really a lot of planters.
I made a counter offer a few dollars lower with free freight.
By the time you read this, they should be here.
I’m pretty sure we now have more cast iron planters than anyone else in Texas.
Care to guess what’s on sale this month?
If you guessed cast iron planters, you are right!
We are able to retail the new cast iron planters for a bit under what was once our wholesale cost.
BUT, I have a LOT of planters.
The July sale is 1/2 price. Remember our new normal retail price is less than I used to pay wholesale.
 So when we have them 1/2 off, you are paying 25% of wholesale.
 Now we’re talking.
Come check ’em out.
See You in the Garden,
I’ll be the one standing beside the big stacks of cast iron planters!

We All Need Water

by Kim Nichols Messer

          It is always a good time to add a water feature.  Our birdbath in a shaded corner of our yard is a very popular place to visit on a hot afternoon.  Each day we check the water level.  We add clean water daily.  The high temperatures increase the rate of evaporation.  Almost immediately after we add water, a Blue Jay or two will land on the edge, jump into the water and splish splash until clean.  They move up into a tree to shake off.  The little birds, like Wrens come by in a pack of ten or so.  They are very social and chatter while they bathe or wait for their turn in the water.

 

        The birdbath is like a beacon announcing open for business.  The birds drink and bathe.  The squirrels come by for a drink, but the bees are our favorite.  The bees seem to sense that water is being added.  They arrive in a small group and hover above the birdbath waiting for the water to stop.  Once stopped, they land on the rim and drink from the full bowl.  It is fascinating to watch.  And, you feel like you have helped everybody out with a cool and refreshing drink.

 

          The bees help pollinate my veggie plants and my citrus.  The birds bring the gift of song and sometimes a mystery plant from afar.  The squirrels give my puppy some exercise.  And by providing a water source, the squirrels, will leave my tomatoes alone. Most tomatoes are consumed in search of liquid.  The birdbath provides both a distraction and a water option for the squirrels.

           Add a birdbath to your yard… It is like a tiny waterpark that never closes.  Sit back and enjoy!

Hibiscus

By Kathryn Courtney

 

Like almost everyone in our area, I’m replanting my garden this year. I’m busy replacing plants that have been in my garden for years. The situation is sad in a way but also gives me a great opportunity to try something new. I’m planting several hibiscus. The nursery has some real beauties this year. The hard part is deciding which ones I want for my new garden. The big, showy Cajun hibiscus are calling to me along with some new Althea which are in the hibiscus family. There are the large Shirley Temple and variegated leaf hibiscus along with Texas star hibiscus. Perennial hibiscus have large dinner plate size blooms that are amazing. I could fill my whole garden just with hibiscus. And the fun part is growing them is easy. Hibiscus have a few requirements but nothing demanding.

Hibiscus need full sun to filtered light in our hot summer afternoons. Water them regularly but don’t let them get soggy. A very important requirement is fertilizer. Hibiscus really need their own food. These plants originate from volcanic regions which are high in potassium. Potassium is the third number on your fertilizer container. Maas carries food specifically for hibiscus to meet the unique nutrient requirements of these plants. I use granular food because it is easy. Water your hibiscus a little first, sprinkle the food around the plant and water again to start the feeding. Slow release fertilizers will feed the plant every time you water. Do this for your hibiscus every month or more during the blooming season. My hibiscus in potsHibiscus get fed every two weeks.

 

The only real issue with hibiscus is they are not freeze hardy as most of us found out this winter. Bring your hibiscus pots in if the temperature gets to the low thirties. For hibiscus planted outside use Insulate cover over the plants and secure it to the ground with rocks. Do not use plastic as this will burn the plants and bed sheets sometimes are not enough cover. One of my colleagues at Maas is very clever. She uses cotton backed plastic picnic table cloths to prevent freezing hibiscus. The cotton side goes on the plants. She says they work great. If after all your precautions your plants still freeze, do not pull them up immediately. I have had hibiscus come back from the dead several times because the roots did not freeze. In spring, cut the dead plants back to the ground and wait. Miracles do happen.

 

Sometimes hibiscus get pests or fungus. Treat your hibiscus with Triple Action when this happens. It is an organic pesticide and fungicide all in one that does the trick every time. Spray your plants when you first notice the problem, and continue spraying every 7 days for 3 weeks. This should take care of the pests. If the bugs, such as mealy bugs come back, keep repeating the treatment. In the hot summer spray only in the evening. Triple Action is oil based and can burn your plant in the hot sun.

There are so many beautiful pictures of hibiscus from the nursery. Here are some examples of the colors and varieties Maas carries. If you want a special variety, call before coming. Our stock changes daily. My advice is come to the nursery and see what we have. It’s a fun outing and the hibiscus won’t disappoint!

Hibiscus

Hibiscus
Hibiscus Hibiscus

Other Plants in the Hibiscus Family

Rose of Sharon or Althea
Rose of Sharon or Althea
Blueberry Smoothie Althea
Confederate Rose
Blue Chiffon Althea
Texas Star Hibiscus

A Patient and Joyful Heart.

 

By: Deb Pavlosky

 

This one time at band camp, no… Just kidding…

But there was this one time…   I was waiting in a long line to check in to a hotel after a very long day of driving.  There were only a couple of front desk employees and it seems everyone checking in for the night was showing up at the same time.  I don’t mind waiting and I do understand when things take some time, so I was just waiting patiently for my turn.  About 15 minutes in, a woman tried to skip the line and interrupt the clerk at the desk.  Of course, I couldn’t let her do that without saying something.  So, I did.  I asked her,” Why are you skipping the line?” Her response was that she had a very long day and only had a question to ask.  I looked at her and asked her if she realized that everyone in the line had a long day and we all had one question too, “Can I check in to my room?”  As it turns out, her question was not so simple and it took time and effort to get her an answer, but she DID wait in line for that answer.

I had another experience at a sporting competition.  I was waiting in line at the bathroom with my young daughter.  There were probably ten people in front of me and 5 people behind me.  My daughter really needed to go, but everyone standing in that line needed to go.  So, we waited patiently with our legs crossed and lips pursed.  Until, one mom ran past all the women and girls with her daughter in tow and took a stall before the next person in line had a chance to enter.  Upon exiting the stall she made comment that her daughter “really had to go”.  Well, we weren’t standing in line because we didn’t have to go.  Everybody in that line had to go.  Why was her daughter’s need more urgent than anyone else’s in that line?

If there is a line, more than likely, there isn’t a shortcut you can take without setting someone else back.

I have been noticing more and more people living in their own little world.  I am sure I am guilty of this myself occasionally.  But, I just want to remind everyone that we all have our struggles.  Time is always running short and there are always places we need to go and a lot of the time, we are already late.  So, it’s just that much more important that we remember to be courteous and patient and to try to find the joy in our heart in the midst of it all.

You may ask yourself why I am writing about this.  Well, it’s about to be full-on summer here at the nursery.  The heat and the humidity get to all of us.  Checkout lines do get long sometimes, computers do shutdown occasionally and sometimes we just can’t step away to personally show a customer something.  We always try our best to be helpful to our customers.  We really do want you to enjoy your visit, purchase some plants and/or other items and leave with a desire to come back and shop again.  However, our ability to help our customers is sometimes dependent upon the customer’s attitude and their willingness to be patient.

So, here are just a few things I considered when writing this article that some customers do seem to get a little miffed over, but really, there are reasons that things are the way they are.  Honesty and openness are always beneficial in any relationship, so I am going to be really honest about the way some things go here and maybe help you understand a little bit of why things happen the way they do…

Sometimes things on the nursery grounds aren’t priced and we can’t always get an immediate answer on pricing.  We do our best, but if:

A). A plant is fresh off the truck and waiting to be priced, we can’t tell you how much it is until it is actually priced.  You may have to wait just a bit for that price.

B). An antique item has lost its price tag and has been on the nursery grounds longer than most of the trees, it may take us a little time to get you a price.

OR

C). If you are asking for a discount due to perceived damage to an item, it may take us a little time to get you an answer.  And, sometimes the perceived damage is actually intentional artistry or if it’s a plant, it may be that it is currently dormant, but totally healthy and going to be beautiful in no time.

Also, there are only a few people that handle deliveries, scheduling appointments, etc. at the nursery.  If those people are out of the nursery or off for the day, we probably can’t tell you an exact date of when something can be delivered to you or when you can have your appointment.  It’s just how it works.  We will get back to you as soon as we can, but it may be the next day or two before we can give you an answer.  If you don’t hear from us in a day or two, give us a call or send an email and ask!

We only have so many designers and so many landscape crews working and in the spring especially we get VERY busy.  It’s not unusual for someone to wait weeks to get in for an initial consult and another few weeks to come back to review the design and then even more time before they get on the install calendar.  There are always customers in line ahead of you for consults/installs/etc.  And, it’s always a good idea to set up an appointment early.  In other words, make your initial consult appointment during the winter months if you want to have an early spring install.

And lastly, if you set an appointment to meet with a designer at the nursery, whether it’s a large design or a short advice appointment, please remember that we have set aside time specifically to meet with you.  If you can’t make it, that’s no big deal, but please give us a call to let us know.  If we are able to schedule someone else in that time slot, we will.  People are sometimes waiting weeks to get in to meet with one of us – give us the opportunity to put someone else in your spot if you can’t make it or no longer need the appointment.

So, I hope you all know that WE LOVE OUR MAAS NURSERY CUSTOMERS!!!  We are always striving to make your experience better – we want your repeat business.  So, if things aren’t going the way you expect, please let us know.  We will do our best to help our customers in any way we can.  And just a little word to the wise – it’s always much easier to help a customer who has a patient and joyful heart in the midst of it all.