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Helpful Hints

The Magic of Container Gardening

By: Deb Pavlosky

This past Spring Break, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with my family and a couple of friends at the “Most Magical Place on Earth”.  And, it just so happened to also be the International Flower and Garden Show at Epcot.  Ah! Disney truly is Magic!!!

Anyway, I am sharing this with you, because being at Disney World confirmed my own experimentation at home.  You CAN grow just about anything in containers!!  So, those of us with small spaces or digging dogs or the inability to care for a large garden can still grow things we love!!  And, that includes food plants as well as pretty ornamentals and flowers.

Recently, I added a small gravel area to my backyard for a container veggie garden.  I have plenty of space, but I have doggies that love to get into things when I am not around.  So, a container vegetable garden was the way to go.  I used half whiskey barrels and water troughs for my containers and all is going well.  I am seeing great growth in just about a month since planting transplants and everything looks healthy.  I can’t wait to start harvesting!!!  I have planted: 2 varieties of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, spinach, okra, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, onions, and many varieties of tomatoes and peppers.  As long as you give these plants good soil, good drainage (so be sure to drill holes in the bottom of your planters), good fertilizer (like Microlife 6-2-4), regular watering and lots of sunlight, you can’t go wrong!

And, almost anything can be a container.  Wheel barrows, kitchen sinks, stock pots, buckets, food/water troughs for animals, etc.  Basically, as long as the material is weather proof, food safe and the container is big enough, you can probably make it work.  Just be sure to drill enough holes in the bottom for good drainage.  A little thing to help with drainage that I like to do is add a little gravel or expanded shale to the bottom of containers before I add soil.

Below are some pictures of my little garden as of March 8:

The Lettuce Barrel
Eggplant and Pepper Barrel
The Tomato Trough
 Below are some pictures of container gardening at Disney World’s Epcot:
Disney Stockpot and Small Containers
Disney Teacup
Disney Trough

I will keep you posted as my garden progresses.  Please share with us any photos of your own small gardens.  You don’t need Disney Magic to make it happen!

Let’s Talk About April, 2017

By: Pat Cordray

Whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s slow this train down! It is already April and I still haven’t finished all my garden clean up. I seem to work at a snail’s pace; I have only completed parts of my front yard, and there is so much more to go…. ugh! At least there is still time to finish and get this yard in shape before summer. I want to be able to garden from the window by the time it gets too hot and the mosquitoes get big enough to start carrying people off, and that is very soon.

Coleus
Yalaha coleus

Gardening to be done in April:

Water. Now that is getting hotter we must water more. I’m especially talking about watering those newly planted plants. Sprinkler systems are great for established plants, but newly planted plants need water that is directed at the root ball. It’s important to keep these roots moist and sprinklers may or may not get water to the root ball of a newly planted plant. Be careful to water your plants thoroughly, they will thrive and once established, you will be able to water less.

You may also need to water other plants, even the established ones, more often in the warmer weather. Just keep an eye on your garden and if you notice signs of stress like leaf drop, brown leaves and/or bud drop, you should check to see if it is just a matter of watering the plant. Don’t wait until there are limbs dying to check. With more sun, wind and less rain, plants will be thirsty.

If your camellias have finished blooming, it is time to prune, if needed, and fertilize them. This helps the plant to have a better show of blooms next year. Azaleas can be fed and pruned as well. If you haven’t cut back the winter damage to your garden plants, now is a good time to finish that.

April is a great month for vegetable gardening, you are not too late.   Plant beans, corn, cucumber, eggplant, okra, peppers, radish, squash, watermelon this month.  If you don’t have time to get a garden ready, use containers to grow your vegetables. Once you have your seeds or transplants all, you need to grow your own food is good soil, good drainage and full sun.  Why not give it a try?

There are tons of blooming plants here at The nursery, with all kinds of options for you to

Super Elfin Impatiens
Super Elfin Impatiens

add color to containers, landscapes, and even a couple for inside your home. For summer color in the shadier side of your garden try impatiens, begonia, Persian shield, coleus, heuchera, columbine, alstromeria, caladium, polka dot plant, ajuga, torenia, Mona lavender, cat whiskers, justicia, creeping Jenny, dichondra and many more. Brighten up your garden by bringing color to the shadier to part sun areas of your garden.

  For summer color in the sunnier areas of your garden, try these beautiful plants: blue daze, dianthus, petunias, celosia, cleome, coreopsis

Gomphrena QIS
QIS Gomphrena

, cone flowers, rudbeckia, salvia, vinca, gomphrena, sun coleus, pentas, zinnias, cosmos, angelonia, calibrachoa, gazania, lantana, verbena, and more. These plants will give your garden or patio a colorful new look for the summer.

For indoors, we just received tons of house plants that are amazing. There are many types of Sanseveria like: Bantel’s sensation, starfish, Mikado Fernwood, whaletail, cylindrical, etc. Sanseveria is a great indoor plant that doesn’t require a lot of watering or attention to grow; truly an amazing plant. We also received some beautiful aglaonema, Chinese evergreen plant, varieties include Etta rose, sapphire Suzanne, Siam red, silver bay, and sparkling Sarah. These plants are an easy way to add beauty to any room.

 Sanseveria

Come out and see these beautiful plants before they are gone.

Enjoy,

Pat

Dealing with Pests on Azaleas and Camellias

by Kathryn Courtney

 Last year was a very hard gardening year. Harvey had many of us with yards full of water and water in our houses as well. We were all finally getting back on our feet and then came the great freeze of 2018. Many plants that survived previous freezes did not survive this one. previous freezes did not survive this one. All of this added up to a great stress on plants that did survive. Stressed plants are very vulnerable to soil diseases, fungal problems and problems with insect pests. The camellias and azaleas in our gardens mostly made it through the flood and freeze, but these events left them very stressed and fragile. A perfect environment for attacks from tea scale and lace bug insect pests.

 

At the nursery, we are trying very hard to switch to organic methods to control pests and disease. At Bayou Bend Home and Gardens, home of the Ima Hogg plantation, the emphasis is on organic practices as well. Much of Bayou Bend was flooded for four days. The extensive camellia gardens were flooded along with the rest of the park. To start the revival process, the soil at the gardens was first attended to. Compost was added along with dried molasses and Microlife 6-2-4. Like the gardens at Bayou Bend, our gardens need to be replenished with organic matter after flood damage. Adding organic matter to your camellias and azaleas is the first line of defense against pests. Adding mycorrhizal fungi to your plants also helps the roots systems with the uptake of nutrients which is very important to the shrubs health.

 

The garden environment of your camellias and azaleas is critical to your plants health. Camellias need an acidic soil and partial sun to shade to be truly happy. Azaleas also need acidic soil. They need sun or shade depending on the type and need to be located accordingly. For example, encore azaleas prefer sun. Good organic matter, a proper soil pH and correct water and sun requirements go a long way in helping your plants fight pests and disease. Air circulation is also very important for your plants health. Prune your shrubs so they have an open habit allowing air to flow through the branches. A healthy plant is a strong plant and better able to fight insects.

The next step in warding off pests is vigilance. Keep a look out for insect pests when you water. During spring and summer do frequent checks on the undersides of your camellia leaves. You are looking for slightly fuzzy white and brown insects on the under side of your leaves. This is tea scale. The adult insects produce a hard shell, don’t move, and suck the juice out of your leaves. Tea scale can sometimes be misdiagnosed for a fungus because of its fuzzy appearance. At the first sign of scale, remove all the infected leaves and dispose of them away from you camellia. If scale is caught early you can control it by removing it. Female scale insects hatch eggs underneath their protective shell. Once the eggs hatch the crawlers emerge. Crawlers travel around the camellia until they settle down to feed. Once they have found a spot they stop moving and produce their own hard shell. Crawlers usually emerge in spring so spraying with a good horticultural oil will smother the insects. Once they have formed a hard shell they are much tougher to kill. Neem oil has been shown to be effective for controlling scale but must be reapplied throughout the growing season. D- limonene, the active ingredient in orange oil has also been tested on scale with some success. Both neem and orange oil have been shown to eventually break down the hard shell of the scale. All of the above mentioned methods for controlling scale are organic. These control methods take diligence and persistence by the gardener but the reward is no harmful chemicals in your garden.

Vigilance is also important to keep ahead of pests on your azaleas. Lace bug is the most common insect pest for azaleas in our area. Lace bug damage on azalea leaves will look like silvery white or yellow spots. The lace bugs themselves are very hard to see due to their almost translucent appearance. Lace bug, like tea scale, causes damage by sucking sections of the leaf dry. Also like tea scale, lace bug is found on the underside of the leaves. Control is much like tea scale control. Remove affected leaves and dispose of them away from the plant. Insecticidal soaps, neem oil or horticultural oil will also kill lacebug. When spraying these oils , make sure to cover both the tops and bottoms of the leaves to get all of the insects. Reapplication of oils or soap throughout the growing season will add an extra layer of protection. One caution on horticultural oils including neem oil, do not spray these oils in the heat of the day. They can burn your plants leaves.

To keep your azaleas and camellias happy make sure they are located in the right environment, have the correct soil and sun requirements and have good airflow. Give them the proper food, organic matter and acid. Keep a look out for insect pests and remove them as soon as possible.Use organic oils and insecticidal soaps for  further protection. With a little more work you can keep your azaleas and camellias beautiful without harmful chemicals destroying your garden.

Let’s Talk About March 2018

By: Pat Cordray
March is an amazing gardening month, there are so many gardening opportunities.  Let’s take a look to see what’s up.  The seasons are changing and the flowers are changing from winter to warm weather bloomers.  All kinds of plants will continue to bloom and release sweet fragrance.  Vegetable gardening is moving forward with more heat loving veggies. Then there is the damage from our very cold winter.  Maybe it’s not as fun as planting but just because it is brown doesn’t mean it’s dead.
Coleus
Coleus

What flowers can you expect to see in March? Dianthus, petunia, geraniums, begonias, impatiens, marigolds, verbena, Bacopa, nasturtiums, gazania, zinnias, ageratum, phlox, salvia, coleus, pentas, and dusty miller are a nice start to this new season. For early spring flowers: foxglove, blue bonnet, delphinium, and sweet pea will be blooming soon.  These plants are so beautiful you don’t want to miss having them bloom in your garden this spring. Just having something beautiful to look at in your garden while you wait for all the cold damaged plants to return will make all the difference.

Texas Mountain Laurel

I love fragrant plants and some of my favorites will be blooming and smelling great this season.  Here are just a few of my favs: Sweet olive shrub, this one has a very potent sweet fragrance from the tiniest flower. Texas Mountain Laurel is another shrub with a fragrance that can knock your socks off.  This shrub/tree, has beautiful purple blooms with the scent of grape soda.  Pink Jasmine is a vine that has pink buds that open white with an intense jasmine scent.  Citrus trees have white blossoms with an amazing, you guessed it, citrus fragrance.  Skinners banana shrub fragrance reminds me of bananas and cake, not too bad.  Hopefully, these few plants will get you started interested to start your very own fragrant garden.

 

Next up, is your vegetable garden.  Get your tomatoes in the ground this month, don’t wait.  Other veggies to plant this month include:  Peppers, beans, lettuce, corn, eggplant, squash and watermelon.  What to pick for your garden? Plant what you love to eat!

Tomato
Tomato

 

If you haven’t trimmed back the cold damaged plants yet, now is the time. Get out the trimmers, garden scissors, and loppers and get busy. We are going to get all that dead looking stuff out of the garden.  Some of these plants only look dead, so don’t be too hasty and pull them all out of the garden.  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 within a few inches from the ground, and that is okay.  It may very well return and be even more beautiful than before.  Blooms might be delayed by this, but the plants will bloom again.
Oh, before I forget.  Fertilize your garden with an organic fertilizer.  Microlife will work wonders to improve your soil and help your plants thrive.

 

Enjoy your garden,
Pat

Great Low Maintenance Flowering Shrubs

 by Kim Nichols Messer

          My favorite shrubs are both low maintenance and multipurpose.  They attract and provide nectar for bees and butterflies.  They add color and texture to my yard.  Some have a dreamy fragrance and some leave flowers in my puppy’s hair.  Most of these flowering shrubs also attract hummingbirds when they are passing through.  The flowers provide nectar for the birds.  Your yard can be a pit-stop on their journey.

          Turk’s Cap comes in both red and pink varieties.  I have the red version.  It

Turk’s Cap

prefers full sun, but will do quite well in partial sun.  It may grow to 5 feet tall and wide depending on the conditions in your yard.  It is easily trimmed to a manageable size for most any yard.  It blooms profusely from early spring well into fall.

          Jatropha also has pink and red varieties.  This shrub can grow to 5 feet tall but will stay more compact and grow more upward than outward.  It will also bloom from early spring into the fall.  Again, this shrub prefers full sun.

          My Mock Orange is a transplant from my mother’s yard.  This woody shrub will have a brilliant show of flowers in May.  It will be completely covered with white orange blossom flowers.  It is also very fragrant.  It may be trimmed to maintain a certain size, or if in a corner of your yard, it can grow to a large 6 feet tall and wide anchor shrub.  Full sun is preferred, but it will still bloom with a little bit less than full sun.

         My Blue Plumbago is a small, hardy, profusely blooming shrub.  It will grow to 4 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide.  This sun-loving shrub can easily be trimmed to maintain a certain size.

         All of these shrubs are heat and drought tolerant once established.  Of course, they do need occasional watering.   Shrubs can handle a lot of foot traffic and lots of dog interaction.  I still get the beauty of a flower bed, but in a more upright position.  I like to think of it as a dog safe upright garden.  She still has the run of the yard, and my flowers are safe above ground.

Everyone is happy… Good gardening!

Fragrant Plants

By: 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

It Might Not Be Dead!

By Deb Pavlosky

So, if you are looking at your garden and feeling a little fret over the number of ugly looking plants in the ground right now – take a deep breath and let your worries go.  Some of those plants may actually come back for you.  We had a REAL freeze this winter and even some things that we protected may have been affected. I did not protect a thing in my yard or on my patio and it’s not the prettiest looking garden right now, but I know there is hope!  Yes, I will have to be a patient gardener, but my patience will pay off in the end.

Once we are free and clear of freezing weather, I will cut my hibiscus (and other woody tropical perennials)  back to green wood, leaving at least six inches from the ground.  It’s amazing to me how these plants can come back.  If you have hibiscus in your yard too and you just can’t wait to trim off some of that ugliness, you can, but leave at least 1″ of ugly for now.  Yes, I said it.  1″ of ugly.  This will give the plant a little bit of protection if we have another freeze.  You can trim back other woody perennials the same way too.

Don’t forget there are lots of shrubs and trees that are supposed to lose their leaves before or during winter  (they are deciduous) – Redbuds, Figs, Blueberries, some Blackberries, Mulberries, Apples, Pears, Plums, Peaches, Persimmons, Nectarines, Hydrangeas, Japanese Magnolias, Crape Myrtles, Japanese Maples, Mock Oranges, Quince, Spirea, some Viburnums and Beautyberries as well as others.  It’s not recommended to trim these plants in winter or spring because they are going to bud out soon for flowers.  If you trim them now, you could be trimming their buds.  Not sure?  A good rule of thumb is to trim or prune pretty soon after they are done blooming or fruiting during the year.  Also, not everything needs to be pruned or trimmed.  A lot of deciding how to trim or prune is up to you – training to a specific shape, removing unwanted growth or to grow on a trellis, etc.  You get to decide.  Funny, I often choose not to trim or prune, but I guess that’s mostly because I forget to do it until it’s too late.

Nearly all fruit trees are deciduous except citrus, loquat, kumquat, guava, avocado, mango, pineapple guava olive and a few others.  These trees should remain full of leaves through a winter freeze (if protected).  If they look freeze damaged, the same rules apply as for woody perennials.  You can trim some, but it’s best to wait until after threat of freezing temperatures is over for the season.

Sometimes it takes days for freeze damage to really show up on plants.  So, it’s important to give your plants a little time after a freeze before you assess the damage.  Because tropicals are used widely in our areas landscapes, we need to be especially mindful of protecting them.  Though many are hardier than you would think, most would need protection from freezes.  Plants like Cannas, Elephant Ears, Bird of Paradise, Begonias, Philodendrons, Ixoras, Bougainvilleas, Gingers and Banana Trees fall in the tropical category.  If the plant has slimy, mushy, smelly or oozy areas, cut those areas out pretty quickly.  If that “gross area” occurs low down on the plant, hope for the best after you trim.  Give your plants a chance to recover, but if you don’t see new growth into the first few weeks of spring, you are probably not going to get that one back.  I see that as an opportunity for experimentation.

If you have succulents in your yard, I am hoping you did protect them.  They are particularly sensitive to freezing.  I was a very lucky, lazy gardener this year.  I did not protect mine and they are mostly fine (except a few that I will have to cut back pretty drastically and some that are mushy and smelly (yuck)).  Can I say again just how lucky a gardener I am?

If you have palms, it’s important to remember that they grow from their crown.  So, the portion you need to protect is at the top, not the foliage but the “heart” of the palm where the fronds are growing from.  If this dies, you will lose your palm tree.  Some palms are more cold-hardy than others, so be sure to research the varieties you have planted in your landscape.

Lastly, you can help your plants be less susceptible to freezing by making sure they are healthy and taking good care of them throughout the year.  Water well and regularly through the year and especially water well before a freeze.  Mulch to protect the base of your plants.  Fertilize your plants during the growing season, but not during winter.  New growth is tender.  Cover your tender plants with plastic and make sure the plastic is secured at the ground to create a tent.  If you have potted plants that are tender, move them inside or move them to a more protected location if you can’t bring them in (next to a wall of the house, or just out of the wind and under a tree is better than nothing).  And remember, plants don’t live forever.  A plant that has made it through multiple freezes might not one year.  It happens.  Also, some plants are annuals and don’t survive more than one season anyway.  Usually, those bedding plants that you add for color are annuals or short-lived perennials.  That’s just another opportunity to change things up in your garden!

Oh and BONUS!  There are some plants that actually LIKE the cold weather!!!  Gardenias, Peonies (yes I do have one in my landscape and it is sending up new growth as I type), Camellias, Daffodils (and other bulbs), Delphinium, Pansies, Snapdragons, are just a few winter loving plants for your landscape.  And most of these plants bloom when other plants are dormant.  Ohhh.  That’s what I am going to say from now on.  I am not lazy, I am dormant.  I like it!

As always, call the nursery with any questions.

Antique Roses in your Garden  

By Kathryn Courtney

Antique Roses are one of the most versatile and carefree perennial shrubs for your garden. They can be formal or informal, for flower, vegetable or rose gardens, or used in the landscape as focal points, borders or hedges, or filler plants in your landscape. I have seen beautiful hedges of Old Blush roses and many stunning rose covered arbors. Antique roses can be grown up trellises or pergolas, espaliered against walls, or left to ramble on the ground. The smaller antique roses do great in containers that can be placed on patios, decks or in the garden itself.  There are infinite ways to add antique roses to your garden.

 

Because antique roses come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and growth habits, there is always a rose to fit any garden space you have. Antique roses have only two requirements, at least six hours of sun a day and good drainage. I have been growing antique roses for as long as I have been gardening. These wonderful shrubs actually started my gardening obsession. My newest antique rose is a Libby that I planted in a container and put in my vegetable garden. It adds interest to the garden and is a great pollinator plant. At the house I am in now I have a Monsieur Tillier rose against my back fence and a Cornelia climbing rose over my patio. Other antique roses are scattered all around my garden. Place large or climbing antique roses in the back of your garden for a heavenly scented back drop to other perennials and annuals. Add mid size roses for another layer of flowers and scent and small or spreading roses in the front of your border. Place a large antique rose in the middle of a garden as a focal point and plant other sun loving flowers, veggies or herbs around it. I have a large Mutabilis rose that is going to become the center of a new herb garden.When you are ready to dive into the world of antique roses, research the roses for habit, fragrance, color and other traits that will work well in your garden

 There are several different types of antique roses. Some do better in our zone 9 climate and humidity than others. The roses we carry at Maas are especially suited for our area. Most of our antique roses come from the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas. There are three groups of rose titles at the Emporium. All of the roses are classified as old roses. Old or antique roses are defined as rose varieties that were introduced prior to 1867. Antique roses can also be defined as roses that have been in cultivation for at least 75 years and that have old rose qualities such as flower form, color, and fragrance. Some of the antique roses have the EarthKind designation. EarthKind roses are screened by the Texas Agrilife Service through Texas A & M University. These roses are selected for their durability and ease of care. They go through a rigorous testing program before they are rewarded the EarthKind label. Found Roses are roses that have been rescued by the Texas Rose Rustlers.These rose enthusiasts have traveled Texas taking cuttings from abandoned old homesteads and cemeteries. Found roses have survived on their own with no care for years, proving their toughness.

The Antique Rose Emporium’s Pioneer rose series are newer roses that have been bred for their versatility and durability in the landscape. Antique roses have a vast assortment of flower color,shape and scent. Some of the roses also produce rosehips which are a great source of Vitamin C and very decorative as well. Your antique rose choices are limitless. It’s up to you to decide your personal favorite.

Caring for your antique rose is very easy. Roses need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. They need well draining acidic soil and regular watering when first planted. Plant your roses above soil level as explained in the Maas Planting Guide. If you do not have one of these guides ask for it at your next visit to our store. Mulch is the secret to happy roses. Mulch your roses to two to three inches deep. Keep the mulch away from the trunk of your rose to prevent disease or rot. Mulch will keep the water in and the weeds out of your garden. Fertilize your roses every six to eight weeks during their bloom period with a good organic fertilizer for acid loving plants. Antique roses can do without fertilizer but I prefer to fertilize mine. When first planted, water roses regularly. A good, deep watering two to three times a week is preferable to watering shallowly every day.

Deep watering promotes deep root growth and helps with good drought tolerance for a healthier rose. In February, around Valentine’s Day, cut your roses back to your desired height. Roses benefit from a good pruning. I prune my roses in August also. This promotes a fresh flush of fall blooms. Now, sit back, relax and enjoy your beautiful blooms and the fantastic fragrance of these old-fashioned roses.They are definitely the favorite flower of my garden and always will be.

Happy, Healthy Soil  

By Kathryn Courtney

Having healthy soil is the cornerstone of success in your garden. It is impossible to have a successful garden without first having happy, healthy soil. Fortunately, healthy soil is easy to obtain. As I researched this article it became clear to me that I could write a book on soil biology. To make things simple there is really only one thing you need to know, your soil is a living ecosystem all its own with its own needs to keep it healthy. As you work in your garden you need to think about what is good for your soil as well as what is good for your plants.

One teaspoon of a  typical, healthy soil contains more living organisms than there are people on earth. Pretty mind boggling right? We have all seen beetles, earthworms and other animals living in our soil.  Algae, bacteria, fungi, nematodes and protozoa are all microorganisms living in the soil that we can’t see. Soil requires all these living organisms to be healthy. These are the organisms that supply nutrients to our plants. Keeping our organisms alive requires organic matter, macro and micro-nutrients all found in most organic fertilizers. The key to keeping your soil healthy is organic practices.

Organic fertilizers feed the soil and add organisms back into your garden. Compost, such as leaf mold, adds valuable nutrients to the soil. This is the food that the microorganisms live on. Humates are like concentrated compost. They consist of a combination of humic and fulvic acid which is produced by degradation of dead organic matter. In short, it is super compost. Using these organic products on your yard and garden give your grass and plants a tremendous boost and make them stronger and better able to survive disease and weather stresses such as drought. In contrast, chemical fertilizers do not feed your soil microorganisms. In fact, chemical fertilizers produce salts that harm the living soil. Your plants and grass become completely dependent on the fertilizer for their nutrition, destroying the soil in the process. Switching to organic methods can rejuvenate the soil and restore healthy microorganisms. Biological inoculants are used to restore your soil faster and to get rid of  toxins. Bio inoculants contain beneficial bacteria and fungi, along with food for these microorganisms, to replenish your soil.

Macro nutrients required for healthy soil are Nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium and sulfur. Each of these chemical elements contributeto  different plant processes. For example, nitrogen is the building block for most of the plants parts especially the leaves and stems. It’s what keeps a plant green. Potassium and phosphorous help with the plants blooms and roots. All of these elements are essential to a plants health. Organic fertilizers provide your plants with these elements in a form that is easy for a plant to use. These fertilizers also contain microorganisms that help the plant absorb these elements. Micro nutrients such as iron, manganese, zinc and copper are also needed for plant health. Healthy soil and good organic practices will provide all these nutrients.

To keep your soil alive, no chemical pesticides, herbicides or fungicides should be used. If a chemical kills your grass or the bugs in your yard, it will also harm your soil. Because fungi and mycorrhizal fungi in particular are critical for nutrient uptake by your plants, it should go without saying that fungicides are devastating to your yard and garden.

At Maas we have a vast inventory of organic products that will take the place of any chemicals you need to use. We have premixed organic soils for your yard, garden and pots. The nursery has a vast array of organic fertilizers and soil additives for any type of plant or problem. If pesticides, herbicides or fungicides are needed there are organic choices for these also. If you have questions about any organic methods, ask someone in the nursery for help. We can find an organic product for any problem. Come see us and start making you soil happy and healthy. Your yard and garden will be happy too.

Here are some of our organic products :

Fertilizers
Microlife Fertilizers
Lady Bug Fertilizers
Fox Farm Fertilizers
Soil Additives
Microorganisms and Nutrients
Mycorrhizae
Soil additives
Organic Soils
Seed Starting Soil
Organic Garden Mix
Organic Potting Soil
Organic Problem Solvers
Organic Herbicides
Organic Pesticides
Organic Fungicide