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Growing Tips

On Watering

By: Deb Pavlosky
I know you all know this already, but I am going to say this again – plants NEED water – how often and how much is dependent upon the plant and the soil it is planted in as well as other conditions (like temperature, light, wind, mulching, etc.).  If all you are growing is succulents or other drought tolerant plants, overwatering is more of an issue for you than underwatering and this article is not meant for you.
If, however, you are like nearly everyone I know and you are growing typical landscape and/or potted plants in this area, this article should be like gospel.
Water your plants.  During the summer, most plants will need water EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Yes, every single day.  This is especially true for newly planted plants.  When you put a new plant in the ground, the root ball is directly underneath the bottom of the plant.  Plant roots need time to grow and spread before they are truly efficient at getting water.  So, when you water, be sure to water at the base of the plant and directly over the root ball.  Water deeply to encourage the roots to grow more deeply.  If you only water enough to moisten the top couple of inches of soil, you won’t reach the whole root ball and any roots that grow will be shallow.  Shallow watering will lead to weaker and more thirsty plants over time.
If you have a sprinkler system, that’s great for established plants, but the sprinkler heads may not deliver water exactly to the root ball as necessary for new plantings.  So, YES, you will have to hand water those new plantings at least through the first growing season.   It takes some time for plants to become established and develop sufficient root systems.
For established plants (plants that have been in the ground for more than a growing season) watering is less of a concern, but you still have to pay attention to their needs.  Water stress can be the cause of a lot of issues and can make plants more susceptible to disease and pests.  Water daily in the summer to keep your plants happy and healthy.
If your soil drains well, that’s a good thing (ideal for most plants except boggy types that either like to be in the water or have wet feet).  But, because it drains well, you are going to have to water daily.  Even if there was a rainstorm the day before, you have to water.  I have personal experience that I am sharing with you in the photo included here.  This photo shows a half whiskey barrel planter that I was replanting the day following a rainstorm.  I assumed the soil would be too wet for me to plant, but I thought I would give it a go anyway.  I pulled the old plants out and then dug down into the soil to find that it was completely DRY beneath the surface.  And, though the surface appeared wet, the soil beneath was not.  I was so struck by it, I asked my husband to come out and see it too.  He’s always asking if I really need to water and this was prima facie evidence.  Yes, counselor, I do.
So, the end of June came with a few days of really rainy weather and that was a nice little relief for this gardener.  But, the heat will return and watering will be key to happy plants and in turn a happy gardener.
Also, remember that your plants are using up nutrients in the soil as they grow and all the watering can cause some of those nutrients to leach out of the soil too.  Fertilize through the growing season with a good organic fertilizer like Microlife 6-2-4.  This fertilizer provides needed nutrition and encourages more fine-root growth that will help plants uptake both water and nutrients.  As a bonus, Microlife will not burn your plants.  It’s a win-win-win so, don’t forget to water-water-water and use a good organic fertilizer.

Lantana Lace Bug

Lantana Lace Bug (Teleonemia scrupulosa) is a destructive pest that does extensive damage on lantana. Lace Bug feeds on the underside of the leaves and newly opened blooms. The damage can prevent new blooms and even leaf dropping. It’s easy to identify if you have this pest in your yard. The upper side of the leaves will be white from the chlorophyll being drained out and the underside of the leaf will have black spots of waste.  The edges of the leaves may also brown and curl. The extreme amount of damage this insect can inflict is so detrimental that it has been imported to countries where lantana is a noxious weed as a form of control.
Methods of treatment include light horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, neem and spinosad.
Predatory insects, such as lacewings, may also be used as a control.

Give Mom the Gift of Herbs

 by Kim Nichols Messer

 

        It is important to celebrate our moms all year long, but on May 14th we want them to feel extra special.  Consider an herb pot.  You may select one already potted, we have many to choose from, or design your own.  A 19 inch pot will hold six herb plants easily depending on the growth pattern of the herb.  An Herb de Provence pot will provide an excellent source for seasoning many kitchen creations from baked chicken to roasted vegetables.  Using a 19 inch clay pot, put drainage material in the bottom and add a good organic soil.  The Provence herbs of your choice may be planted together.  I would put Basil in the middle as an anchor plant for some height. Oregano, Thyme and Sage on the outside ring, and Prostrate Rosemary can dangle down the side of the pot. The Basil will also repel mosquitoes as an added bonus.
       You may do a combination mint pot for cool and refreshing summer beverages.  Peppermint, Spearmint and Chocolate Mint are all fun and easy to grow.  You may do a pot with Fennel and Lemon Grass sharing the center of the pot as an anchor, then add Garlic Chives and Thai Basil, or Coriander and Cilantro for a stir fry or soup pot.  Lemon Grass will do double duty and also repel mosquitoes.
        A simple pot of Basil will provide almost endless pesto opportunities for al fresco dining.  And now that tomatoes are ready, my favorite combination, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes and mozzarella with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, some olive oil and cracked pepper… Yum!
       Give the gift of herbs.  They are easy to grow and low maintenance. Sunshine and well drained soil will give you happy plants to cook with and share with others, Good gardening!

Fragrant Plants

Fragrant Plants
Deb Pavlosky
“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” – Helen Keller
When most people think of fragrant flowers, I would assume roses come first to mind. Roses have such a wide array of colors and bloom types and growing habits and, yes, also fragrance. So, though Shakespeare wants us to believe differently, a rose by any other name does not necessarily smell as sweet. Actually, there are roses with no scent at all. Peggy Martin is one very popular variety of pink climbing rose that has no scent.  So, if you are trying to grow fragrant plants, and you are planning to use roses, be sure to smell the blooms before you purchase your plants. Also, check the temperature and time of day when you sniff the blooms. Some roses have stronger scents in cooler weather and some have stronger scents in the mornings. So, do a little research before picking your roses.
The following are just a few fragrant rose varieties that you can find at Maas Nursery.
Fragrant Cloud – Coral or red orange blooms, Strong sweet spice and rose scent
Iceberg Rose
Double Delight – Red blooms with cream interior, Strong spicy rose scent
Don Juan – Red climbing rose, Strong rose scent
Cecile Brunner – Pink Climbing rose, Moderate tea scent

Mister Lincoln – Velvety, deep red blooms, Strong Damask rose scent

Mister Lincoln Rose
   Bulls Eye – Cream or Ivory flowers with cranberry centers, Moderate sweet spice scent
   White Licorice – Yellow blooms (more yellow when cool), Licorice and lemon scent
Belinda’s Dream – Pink blooms, Moderate fruity scent
      Iceberg – White blooms, Mild honey scent
Beyond roses, there are many choices of very fragrant plants to use in your landscape.
More choices to add fragrance to your garden:
Annuals:
Sweet Alyssum

Flowering Tobacco – This plant is also known as flowering tobacco. Grows to 48″ in sun to part shade. Can bloom all year and blooms range in colors including white and pink.

Stock (this one likes cool weather) – Stock blooms in a variety of colors (pink, purple, white) in spring. Grows well in sun to part shade.
Sweet Alyssum – This plant blooms in clusters of very fragrant flowers (colors can be white, pink or purple). This annual is a prolific bloomer all year and some varieties can be grown as short-lived perennials.
Perennials/Shrubs:

Banana Shrub – Creamy-yellow flowers that have a banana scent.   This shrub blooms

Frost Proof Gardenia

during the warm seasons. Slow growing, 6′-10′ tall and wide. Part to full sun.

Brunfelsia – Also known as Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Very fragrant purple flowers fade to violet and then white over a period of days. Some varieties only grow to 4′ tall and wide and others 3′ to 8′ tall and 4′ -6′ wide. Part sun.
Buddleia – Also known as Butterfly Bush. Most varieties are purple flowering and bloom summer through fall. Butterfly bush ranges in size from 3′ to 7′ tall and 3′ to 5′ wide. Full sun.
Butterfly Ginger – This ginger blooms white from mid summer to early fall. Best grown in sun to part shade. This ginger will grow 4′ to 6′ tall.
Crape Jasmine – White blooms through spring and summer. Fragrance is stronger in the evening. Can grow to 6′ to 8′ tall and wide. Part to full sun.
Gardenias – There are many varieties of Gardenias and they range in size from Radicans (6″ to 12″ tall and 2′ to 3′ wide) to First Love (5′ to 8′ tall and 3′ to 6′ wide). First Love blooms late spring through early summer, Radicans and Frost Proof bloom in the summer and August Beauty blooms through spring through fall. Most people are familiar with the stark white blooms and amazing fragrance of gardenias.
Geraniums (lemon scented) – Blooms in summer with light pink to purple flowers. It’s the foliage with the lemon scent that you smell. Grows 18″ high and wide. Part to full sun.
Heliotrope – Can be perennial, but mostly grown as an annual. Purple flowers with intense fragrance that bloom spring through summer. Part to full sun.
Mock Orange – Blooms white flowers in April and May. Can grow to 6′ to 8′ tall and wide. Full to part sun. This shrub is deciduous.
Natal Plum– White flowers are very fragrant and this plant will bloom all year in sun to part shade.   Fruits will form on this plant, but leaves and flowers are poisonous.
Night Blooming Jessamine (aka Night blooming cestrum or night blooming jasmine) – Very small greenish white flowers bloom in the summer. Grows to 8′ to 10′ tall and 3′ wide. Part to full sun. Blossoms only open at night.
Pineapple Sage (Tender perennial) – Blooms, showy red flowers in late spring to fall. The foliage has a pineapple scent and can be used in drinks and foods. Grows 3′ to 4′ tall and wide. Full sun.
Pittosporum – Pittosporum shrubs bloom with very small clusters of orang-blossom scented flowers in spring. The Japanese Mock Orange variety can grow to 10′ to 12′ tall and wide.   The Variegated Japanese Mock Orange grows 6′ to 8′ tall and wide or even larger with age. Wheeler’s Dwarf Pittosporum grows 2′ to 3′ tall and 4′ to 5′ wide. All like part to full sun.
Sweet Olive – Small white blooms in the spring that are very fragrant. This plant likes morning sun and afternoon shade. It can grow to 10′ tall if un-pruned.
Viburnums– Eastern snowball viburnum blooms masses of white flowers though summer. It will grow 12′ tall and 10′ wide or larger with age. This shrub requires part to full sun. This shrub is deciduous.
Vines:
Arabian Jasmine (can be considered a shrub as well) – The fragrant white flowers open at night and bloom June through September. This plant will reach 6′ to 8′ tall and 3′ to 4′ wide. Part to full sun.
Carolina Jessamine – Blooms bright yellow flowers in late winter to early spring. This vine will grow to 20′ with support. Part to full sun.
Confederate or Star Jasmine – Very fragrant white flowers from spring to summer. This vine can reach 18′ to 20′ with support or 1′ to 2′ as groundcover. Part to full sun.
Honeysuckle – Hall’s Japanese Honeysuckle has white to yellow flowers that bloom in the summer. This plant can be grown as a vine to 15′ tall or groundcover to 2′ tall. Full sun. Trumpet Honeysuckle has trumpet-shaped scarlet-orange flowers and blooms spring through fall. It grows fast to 20′ long. Part to full sun.
Passion vine – The incense variety blooms violet to lavender from late spring to early fall in sun to part shade. This vine can grow to 10′ long.
Pink Jasmine – Very fragrant light pink flowers spring to early summer. Will grow to 20′ long. Full sun.
Rangoon Creeper– Also known as Drunken Sailor, this plant blooms in clusters of red flowers that fade to pink from late spring to mid fall. Can grow to more than 40′ in sun to part shade. This is a tender perennial.
Wisteria – The Texas Purple Japanese Wisteria blooms purple flower clusters in the spring.   This is a fast growing, deciduous vine that will grow to 25′ long. This vine likes full sun. Amethyst Falls Wisteria is also deciduous and will to 10′ long. This vine blooms with purple racemes in late spring and repeats lightly through summer. This vine likes part to full sun. Evergreen Wisteria blooms late summer to early fall and will grow to 15′ long in full sun. Evergreen Wisteria has been described as having a camphor-like scent.
Trees:
Angels Trumpet – These small trees can grow in sun to part shade. Blooms can be pink, white, yellow or orange and appear from summer to early fall. They usually grow 6′ to 8′ tall and these are poisonous plants. Angels Trumpet flowers are most fragrant in the early evening.
Citrus – All varieties of citrus trees produce fragrant flowers before they fruit.
Magnolia – Brackens Brown Beauty is a moderate grower to 50′ tall and 30′ wide in full sun. This variety blooms in late spring. The creamy white flowers are very fragrant. Sweet Bay Magnolias are moderate growers to 20′ tall and wide in part sun. The creamy-white, lemon scented flowers appear through the summer.
Mexican Plum – This tree will grow 15′ to 35′ and blooms fragrant white flowers before leaves appear. This tree does well in full sun.
Texas Mountain Laurel – This small shrub or tree blooms purple blooms in the spring that smell like grape soda. This plant prefers full sun and is slow growing to 10′ to 15′ tall and 8′ to 10′ wide. Can also be trained on an espalier or grown as a patio tree. Once established, it will only need occasional watering.
These are just a few options for adding fragrance to your garden. There are so many more….
Spring is here and I am looking forward to the aromas of freshly mowed grass and sweet smelling blooms. Time to add some sweet-smelling plants to your garden too.

 

Let’s Talk About March 2017

By: Pat Cordray
March is the time when The Nursery is alive with the colors and sounds of spring.  The beauty of the sky, the flowers, and the butterflies moving from bloom to bloom.  Then add the sounds of the birds, the musical tones of the wind chimes and the bubbling fountains. Next add the breeze and now you have a chance to really be in the moment.   If you can get away, make it a point of coming by to see and hear “the spring” at The Nursery.  Come for a stroll, bring your lunch and enjoy the day here.
A little spring color:

Bougainvillea
Cajun Sunrise Hibiscus
Aloe
Cajun Starburst Hibiscus
March is a great gardening month with tons to do! Let’s get started.

The top of my list is getting the trimmers, garden scissors, and loppers out and get them sharpened because this month we are going to finally get all that dead looking stuff out of the garden. It only looks dead, most likely so don’t be hasty and pull it out by the roots. Cut it back starting at the top and then cutting a little back at a time until you see green. The plant may need to be trimmed all the way back to the ground, and that is okay. It may very well return quickly and be even more beautiful than before. Blooms might be delayed by this, but the plants will bloom again.
We may need a dose of color to brighten the garden quickly and now is a great time to add color plants. Some of the plants you might consider for containers or in the ground are dianthus, petunia, geraniums, begonia impatiens, marigolds, verbena, bacopa, nasturtiums, gazania, zinnias, pentas, coleus, salvia and dusty miller are just a few instant color options. Other plants to consider are foxglove, blue bonnet, delphinium and sweet pea. These plants are so beautiful you don’t want to miss having them bloom in your garden this spring. Any of these plants will brighten up your garden while you wait for the plants you cut back to fill in.
What about your vegetable garden? Let’s get going and get those tomatoes in the ground this month. Your potatoes should already be in the ground, plant potatoes mid-February. This month you can also plant beans, radish, corn, and lettuce. Mid-month you can plant cucumber, eggplant, peppers, squash and watermelon.
For your lawn, use leaf mold compost and MicroLife 6-2-4 this month. Spread about ½ to ¼ of an inch of compost on your lawn, the compost should fall between the blades of grass.  A MicroLife 6-2-4 40lb bag covers 1000 sq. ft. at 10-15lbs. Leaf mold compost and MicroLife will add tons of microorganisms that will help your soil feed the grass. It is also great for correcting fungal problems and will help your soil from being compacted.
Since you will have the big bag of MicroLife 6-2-4 out in the yard, go ahead and feed the soil around all your plants, shrubs, and trees. Once your soil is fed it will take care of your plants. That’s the way it is supposed to be. Healthy soil is the gold of the garden.
Walk barefoot in the grass and enjoy your garden,
 Pat

Fragrant Plants

Deb Pavlosky
“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” – Helen Keller
When most people think of fragrant flowers, I would assume roses come first to mind. Roses have such a wide array of colors and bloom types and growing habits and, yes, also fragrance. So, though Shakespeare wants us to believe differently, a rose by any other name does not necessarily smell as sweet. Actually, there are roses with no scent at all. Peggy Martin is one very popular variety of pink climbing rose that has no scent.  So, if you are trying to grow fragrant plants, and you are planning to use roses, be sure to smell the blooms before you purchase your plants. Also, check the temperature and time of day when you sniff the blooms. Some roses have stronger scents in cooler weather and some have stronger scents in the mornings. So, do a little research before picking your roses.
The following are just a few fragrant rose varieties that you can find at Maas Nursery.
Fragrant Cloud – Coral or red orange blooms, Strong sweet spice and rose scent
Iceberg Rose
Double Delight – Red blooms with cream interior, Strong spicy rose scent
Don Juan – Red climbing rose, Strong rose scent
Cecile Brunner – Pink Climbing rose, Moderate tea scent

Mister Lincoln – Velvety, deep red blooms, Strong Damask rose scent

Mister Lincoln Rose
   Bulls Eye – Cream or Ivory flowers with cranberry centers, Moderate sweet spice scent
   White Licorice – Yellow blooms (more yellow when cool), Licorice and lemon scent
Belinda’s Dream – Pink blooms, Moderate fruity scent
      Iceberg – White blooms, Mild honey scent
Beyond roses, there are many choices of very fragrant plants to use in your landscape.
More choices to add fragrance to your garden:
Annuals:
Sweet Alyssum

Flowering Tobacco – This plant is also known as flowering tobacco. Grows to 48″ in sun to part shade. Can bloom all year and blooms range in colors including white and pink.

Stock (this one likes cool weather) – Stock blooms in a variety of colors (pink, purple, white) in spring. Grows well in sun to part shade.
Sweet Alyssum – This plant blooms in clusters of very fragrant flowers (colors can be white, pink or purple). This annual is a prolific bloomer all year and some varieties can be grown as short-lived perennials.
Perennials/Shrubs:

Banana Shrub – Creamy-yellow flowers that have a banana scent.   This shrub blooms

Frost Proof Gardenia

during the warm seasons. Slow growing, 6′-10′ tall and wide. Part to full sun.

Brunfelsia – Also known as Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Very fragrant purple flowers fade to violet and then white over a period of days. Some varieties only grow to 4′ tall and wide and others 3′ to 8′ tall and 4′ -6′ wide. Part sun.
Buddleia – Also known as Butterfly Bush. Most varieties are purple flowering and bloom summer through fall. Butterfly bush ranges in size from 3′ to 7′ tall and 3′ to 5′ wide. Full sun.
Butterfly Ginger – This ginger blooms white from mid summer to early fall. Best grown in sun to part shade. This ginger will grow 4′ to 6′ tall.
Crape Jasmine – White blooms through spring and summer. Fragrance is stronger in the evening. Can grow to 6′ to 8′ tall and wide. Part to full sun.
Gardenias – There are many varieties of Gardenias and they range in size from Radicans (6″ to 12″ tall and 2′ to 3′ wide) to First Love (5′ to 8′ tall and 3′ to 6′ wide). First Love blooms late spring through early summer, Radicans and Frost Proof bloom in the summer and August Beauty blooms through spring through fall. Most people are familiar with the stark white blooms and amazing fragrance of gardenias.
Geraniums (lemon scented) – Blooms in summer with light pink to purple flowers. It’s the foliage with the lemon scent that you smell. Grows 18″ high and wide. Part to full sun.
Heliotrope – Can be perennial, but mostly grown as an annual. Purple flowers with intense fragrance that bloom spring through summer. Part to full sun.
Mock Orange – Blooms white flowers in April and May. Can grow to 6′ to 8′ tall and wide. Full to part sun. This shrub is deciduous.
Natal Plum– White flowers are very fragrant and this plant will bloom all year in sun to part shade.   Fruits will form on this plant, but leaves and flowers are poisonous.
Night Blooming Jessamine (aka Night blooming cestrum or night blooming jasmine) – Very small greenish white flowers bloom in the summer. Grows to 8′ to 10′ tall and 3′ wide. Part to full sun. Blossoms only open at night.
Pineapple Sage (Tender perennial) – Blooms, showy red flowers in late spring to fall. The foliage has a pineapple scent and can be used in drinks and foods. Grows 3′ to 4′ tall and wide. Full sun.
Pittosporum – Pittosporum shrubs bloom with very small clusters of orang-blossom scented flowers in spring. The Japanese Mock Orange variety can grow to 10′ to 12′ tall and wide.   The Variegated Japanese Mock Orange grows 6′ to 8′ tall and wide or even larger with age. Wheeler’s Dwarf Pittosporum grows 2′ to 3′ tall and 4′ to 5′ wide. All like part to full sun.
Sweet Olive – Small white blooms in the spring that are very fragrant. This plant likes morning sun and afternoon shade. It can grow to 10′ tall if un-pruned.
Viburnums– Eastern snowball viburnum blooms masses of white flowers though summer. It will grow 12′ tall and 10′ wide or larger with age. This shrub requires part to full sun. This shrub is deciduous.
Vines:
Arabian Jasmine (can be considered a shrub as well) – The fragrant white flowers open at night and bloom June through September. This plant will reach 6′ to 8′ tall and 3′ to 4′ wide. Part to full sun.
Carolina Jessamine – Blooms bright yellow flowers in late winter to early spring. This vine will grow to 20′ with support. Part to full sun.
Confederate or Star Jasmine – Very fragrant white flowers from spring to summer. This vine can reach 18′ to 20′ with support or 1′ to 2′ as groundcover. Part to full sun.
Honeysuckle – Hall’s Japanese Honeysuckle has white to yellow flowers that bloom in the summer. This plant can be grown as a vine to 15′ tall or groundcover to 2′ tall. Full sun. Trumpet Honeysuckle has trumpet-shaped scarlet-orange flowers and blooms spring through fall. It grows fast to 20′ long. Part to full sun.
Passion vine – The incense variety blooms violet to lavender from late spring to early fall in sun to part shade. This vine can grow to 10′ long.
Pink Jasmine – Very fragrant light pink flowers spring to early summer. Will grow to 20′ long. Full sun.
Rangoon Creeper– Also known as Drunken Sailor, this plant blooms in clusters of red flowers that fade to pink from late spring to mid fall. Can grow to more than 40′ in sun to part shade. This is a tender perennial.
Wisteria – The Texas Purple Japanese Wisteria blooms purple flower clusters in the spring.   This is a fast growing, deciduous vine that will grow to 25′ long. This vine likes full sun. Amethyst Falls Wisteria is also deciduous and will to 10′ long. This vine blooms with purple racemes in late spring and repeats lightly through summer. This vine likes part to full sun. Evergreen Wisteria blooms late summer to early fall and will grow to 15′ long in full sun. Evergreen Wisteria has been described as having a camphor-like scent.
Trees:
Angels Trumpet – These small trees can grow in sun to part shade. Blooms can be pink, white, yellow or orange and appear from summer to early fall. They usually grow 6′ to 8′ tall and these are poisonous plants. Angels Trumpet flowers are most fragrant in the early evening.
Citrus – All varieties of citrus trees produce fragrant flowers before they fruit.
Magnolia – Brackens Brown Beauty is a moderate grower to 50′ tall and 30′ wide in full sun. This variety blooms in late spring. The creamy white flowers are very fragrant. Sweet Bay Magnolias are moderate growers to 20′ tall and wide in part sun. The creamy-white, lemon scented flowers appear through the summer.
Mexican Plum – This tree will grow 15′ to 35′ and blooms fragrant white flowers before leaves appear. This tree does well in full sun.
Texas Mountain Laurel – This small shrub or tree blooms purple blooms in the spring that smell like grape soda. This plant prefers full sun and is slow growing to 10′ to 15′ tall and 8′ to 10′ wide. Can also be trained on an espalier or grown as a patio tree. Once established, it will only need occasional watering.
These are just a few options for adding fragrance to your garden. There are so many more….
Spring is here and I am looking forward to the aromas of freshly mowed grass and sweet smelling blooms. Time to add some sweet-smelling plants to your garden too.

Growing Flowers and Herbs with your Veggies…

Growing Flowers and Herbs with Your Veggies
     It’s pretty and your veggies will thank you.

By Kathryn Courtney
  How do you have a healthy, organic vegetable garden? Add flowers and herbs of course! The benefits of planting all of these types of plants together is amazing. Flowers and herbs attract pollinators to your veggies, repel pests, invite beneficial predatory insects and make very attractive plantings in your garden.
     There are so many herbs and flowers that attract pollinators to your vegetable garden, I just can’t list them all. A stroll through the nursery will give you an idea as to what types of flowers bees and other pollinators like. You will notice that bees are attracted to certain flowers. Flowers with a daisy like shape are the most attractive to bees and butterflies.Their flat surfaces make it easy for the bees to collect and spread pollen. Once the bees have found their favorite flowers, they will then move on to the nearby vegetable

Cosmos and Parsley with Cucumbers

flowers, pollinating as they go. This pollinating helps guarantee a healthy harvest. Some of my favorite flowers to add to my garden are zinnias, cosmos, cone flowers, coreopsis, sunflowers, pentas and sweet alyssum. Dill, celery, parsley and basil flowers will also attract pollinators. Anise hyssop and tulsi basil are my favorite pollinator herbs. These plants will have the bees and butterflies flocking to your garden.

     There are several flowers and herbs that will repel garden pests. A good companion planting chart will help you find the plants that will help repel the bad pests in your garden. One of the most common companion planting flowers is the marigold. French type marigolds help repel harmful nematodes that do damage to the roots of your veggies. The nematodes can also climb through the roots and up to the stems and leaves of your vegetables,destroying the entire plant. Melons, cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, squash and okra will all benefit from marigold plantings. Basil and dill are two herbs that will attract tomato horn worms away from your tomatoes. Borage also repels worms that feed on tomatoes. Planting nasturtiums and tansy among your squash and cucumbers will repel cucumber

Nasturtiums with Squash
Nasturtiums with Squash

and squash beetles. Google companion plantings or look up this subject in your favorite gardening books. You will find a planting combination for everything in your garden.

     Not only can flowers and herbs repel bad insect pests, they can attract beneficial, predatory insects. These insects will feast on pests in the garden. Beneficial insects include ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic and braconid wasps and hover flies. The verdict is still out on praying mantis as these cute bugs will eat the good insects along with the bad. These beneficial garden insects munch on aphids, mealybugs, thrips, mites and scale.To attract these great predators plant daisies, dill and parsley for parasitic and braconid wasps. Mint, fennel, tansy and yarrow will attract a variety of beneficials including ladybugs, lacewings, hover flies and parasitic wasps. Sweet alyssum is one of my very favorite companion flowers because not only do bees love it but

Marigolds with tomatoes

so do hover flies and braconid wasps. Search to find what insects will eat the pests in your vegetable garden, then plant flowers to attract these garden helpers.

    Flowers, herbs and vegetables benefit each other, but planted together they make beautiful gardens. Line your flower beds with curly parsley for a ruffled border. Plant swiss chard for the bright, colorful stems. Plant borage for its great sky blue flowers. Try different combinations of flowers, herbs and vegetables all over your yard. Just remember to keep your yard organic if you are going to eat your wonderful garden plants. Come see us at the nursery. We can help you plan a perfect organic mixed garden.

Disappearing Soil

 

By Deb Pavlosky

 

Have you ever looked at a container planting and wondered what the heck happened to all the soil that was in that pot?  Well, though you may think differently right now, soil doesn’t disintegrate in the Texas heat.   And there’s no magic, naughty garden gnomes or desperate neighbors involved in disappearing soil either.

 

Soil is not just dirt.  Soil, at least good planting soil, has lots of organic matter with nutrients that your plants need to uptake in order to survive and thrive.  As plants use up the available nutrients, the soil shrinks and the soil level lowers in the pot as this happens.  This doesn’t happen overnight, but the longer you have a container planting, the more you will notice this problem.  Because nutrients are getting used up, container plants need to be fertilized on a regular basis.  If your plants are healthy, you can let trimmed or fallen parts of plants sit in the pot to decompose, returning some of the used nutrients to the soil as they do.  Don’t do this if your plants are fighting any pathogens or pests, but do fertilize with a good organic fertilizer to support your struggling plants.

 

Another factor to consider is simply compaction of the soil over time.  Soil will naturally collapse on itself and will compact under the influence of water as well.  It’s always a good idea to fill a pot a little fuller when planting a new container.   The soil level should not be above the original soil level of the plants, but closer to the top of the new container than you think.    Just make sure that you don’t lose soil out of the top of the pot as you water.

 

One other thing to consider is that sometimes you can lose soil out of the bottom of a pot.  I used to “poo poo” this thought.  I had never seen soil come out of the bottom of any pot that I had ever planted – until this year, that is.  I have a very wide pot that has a large drainage hole in the bottom.  I thought twice about putting something to prevent soil from falling out, but decided not to and was fairly certain that was the right decision since I didn’t lose any soil when planting.   Well, just a few weeks after planting, soil started falling out of the drainage hole.  Bummer.  Because now I know I will need to replant this pot sooner rather than later.  You can easily prevent this from happening by placing a piece of screen over the drainage hole inside the pot before you add soil for planting.  I highly recommend doing this, especially if the drainage hole in your pot is large compared to other pots.

 

So, there you go.  Soil does not have legs and the dogs probably aren’t eating it (though some find Microlife tasty).  Shrinking soil is a clue that your plants are using up all the good stuff and it’s also a reminder to repot your plants into new containers too.  Take the cue and have some fun with your container plantings.

 

Confused about Hibiscus? By Beth English

Perennial hibiscus, hardy hibiscus, tropical hibiscus, rose mallow, swamp mallow, scarlet rose mallow, Texas Star hibiscus, hibiscus moscheutos, hibiscus coccineus, hibiscus mutabilis, Rose of Sharon(shrub form of hibiscus), or rose mallow (perennial form).  OK, now to make it simple.

Perennial hibiscus

Perennial hibiscus

Perennial hibiscus are commonly called “hardy hibiscus” and “rose mallow,” and the rose mallow is the same as moscheutos.  Perennial hibiscus are hardy in zones 4 to 9, and die back to the ground every year.  The plants are slow to emerge in spring so just be PATIENT for them to start growing.

Hibiscus coccineus

Hibiscus coccineus

Hibiscus coccineus is known as swamp hibiscus, scarlet rose mallow and Texas Star hibiscus. These plants also come back every year.  Then, there is the tropical hibiscus and it’s just that, tropical, meaning it will die if not protected from cold temperatures.  It is perennial in zones 9 and 10.  The features of  hibiscus include large saucer shaped flowers measuring 6″ to 1 foot across, lovely colors of pink, red, purple, white and various shades of the above.

 

 

tropical hibiscus

tropical hibiscus

The leaves are green, reddish purple, or bronze depending on the plant variety.  For a dramatic look space your hibiscus 3 foot apart in the garden.  Keep in mind your hibiscus prefer moist to wet soil and the moisture availability influences the height, (staking is not normally needed).

One good thing for the Texas gardener, the hibiscus plant is tolerant of heat and humidity, and is attractive to hummingbirds and the butterflies, but ignored by deer.  If you want to wow your friends and neighbors, people walking their dogs, or riding their bikes start planting your hibiscus collection today.

 

 

Really it’s not that hard, easy to grow, full sun,  decent soil, and water.  Check out our supply at the nursery,  you would be” Plum Crazy” (my favorite purple) if you didn’t!

Plum Crazy Hibiscus

Plum Crazy Hibiscus

It is always a good time to plant a tree..

 by Kim Nichols Messer
 
Now that spring is just around the corner, it is the perfect time to plant a tree. There are so many options. Trees are just like people, they come in many varieties. Live Oaks, also called Classic Southern Oaks, provide shade and a beautiful canopy and can grow to 40 or more feet tall and wide. They are great for climbing or picnicking underneath. Bur Oaks are very similar, but their larger acorns provide great wildlife food. The Shumard Oak, with vibrant red fall color, has a more conical nature of growth and is very drought tolerant. Another favorite is the River Birch. It can grow to 40 feet. The multi-trunk variety is both handsome and hardy. The papery peeling bark with pinkish strips give the tree an ornamental quality. And of course, the Lace Bark Elm is truly a beautiful tree with its exfoliating bark. It has more of an upright nature and can grow to 40 feet. Another tree with an upright nature is the Japanese Blueberry. It will work as a standard tree or provide privacy when grown in shrubby form. The birds will enjoy the berries. The birds will also enjoy the berries on many different Holly varieties which are a good choice for an area with limited space. The Savanah Holly will grow to 30 feet, but in a columnar fashion at only 8ft wide.
Also good for smaller spaces are fruiting trees and ornamental flowering trees. Citrus trees are my favorite which stay around 10 to 15 feet. Some flowering Magnolia varieties remain smaller. The Jane Magnolia and the Fairy Magnolia with grow 10 to 13 feet tall with the Jane possibly topping out at 15 feet. Still great options for smaller areas. Some Crape Myrtles remain small. Siren Red, Pink Velour and Zuni Lavender average between 10 to 12 feet. All are easily planted, easy to maintain and are a welcome addition to any yard.
 
Trees provide us with many benefits and can be planted for many reasons. Mostly we think of shade and shelter or just fun to climb, but a tree planted, can be a celebration. We can plant a tree to celebrate a new beginning or mark a significant event. Plant a tree for Arbor Day, April 29th, to celebrate the benefits of trees. A tree helps clean the earth. A tree should make you smile. Remember, your family tree really can be a family tree.
Be green and smile at trees… They are smiling back… Enjoy!