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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 :

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

Let’s Talk About February 2018

By: Pat Cordray
This has been a very cold winter for us. With all the freezing temperatures, our gardens are not looking their best. There is damage in my garden and I suspect there is in your garden as well. I believe that we will have more cold weather in February, I’m not a weather expert, I just feel we are not finished with the cold.  If that happens,
here is what to do: First you want to water, especially if the cold front doesn’t move through here with rain. Next, cover your tender plants with fabric made for protecting plants from the cold. N-Sulate is the product the nursery carries for this purpose. Don’t forget to get the yellow pegs to hold the fabric to the ground. These yellow pegs are easy to see in the dark and easy to remove. You want the fabric to be tented to the ground over your plant. Next, do you have any hanging baskets or plants in containers? If the plants are tender, you can bring them in. If you can’t bring them in, water and cover; for the hanging baskets place them on the ground before watering and covering. Once the cold weather has passed, you should remove the fabric. Now that is done, let’s garden.


With the freezes we had in January, many of us have many plants that are looking dead. Unless the plant is mushy don’t trim it back just yet. Wait until we are past all chance of freezing weather, to keep any new growth from being damaged by another freeze. Many plants may look dead, but looks can be deceiving, and the plant may need a trim and with a little patience the plant may come back from the root. How much do you trim off? Start at the top and trim a little at a time until you see live tissue.


February 14 is the traditional time to trim your roses back to get them ready to bloom. Make sure

Double Delight hybrid Tea

your pruners are sharp and your gloves are long enough to protect your arms. Hybrid teas and grandifloras need a good trim, trim out anything dead or crossing. Your goal is to get down by 1/3 to ½ of the previous year’s growth and a V-shaped plant with an open center. For floribundas, only cut back about ¼ of the rose bush and keep all the healthy canes.

Moonstone Hybrid Tea

Roses like plenty of sun and air movement and this trimming helps with that. For other roses, clean them up and shape them. If you have climbing roses or roses that bloom once a year trim them soon after they bloom.

It is time to begin our Spring Vegetable growing season. If you want to grow tomatoes, get them now! Tomato transplants are available at the nursery now, we have lots to choose from. As with any young plants, be sure to protect your tomatoes if there is a freeze. Why get them now? You want your tomatoes to produce before it gets so hot and humid that they drop their flowers (if the flowers are gone, you won’t have any fruit). If you are not ready to plant them in the ground, you can plant the tomatoes into larger containers; you will have bigger plants by the time you are ready to transplant them into your garden in March. The first part of February is the best time to plant red potatoes, my favorite.  Other vegetables to plant this month: broccoli, cabbage, Swiss chard, collards, lettuce, radish and turnip. What sounds good to you?
What about the lawn? Now is a good time to apply Humates Plus and leaf mold compost to your lawn and garden to help improve the soil. I would wait to fertilize until the lawn is growing. So, mow now and once it is time to mow again it is time to fertilize. I would use Microlife 6-2-4; this is an organic fertilizer and it is great for your lawn, trees and shrubs, and really, any plant that needs feeding. You won’t have to worry if your children walk barefoot on your lawn or if your pet eats some, it won’t hurt them.
Joseph’s Coat Hanging Basket

February is a time for change in the garden. A good way to change your garden is by adding color with hanging baskets. You don’t have to hang the baskets you can set the basket in a big pot for instant color with no planting. We will be getting big, full, luscious hanging baskets this month. These baskets will be overflowing with beautiful color plants like: fuchsia, double impatiens, scaevola, begonias, ferns, coleus, hibiscus, bougainvillea, lantana, verbena, petunia,

Cajun Hibiscus Hanging Basket

geranium, Joseph’s coat, and more.

Enjoy your garden,

Thoughts from the Garden January 2017

Each morning since early summer there is a lone bird, a cardinal, who when he sees

his reflection in my bedroom window sees his nemesis. He sees the bright red bird from yesterday,

the bird that he was unable to defeat even after hours of trying. Hour after hour he crashes into the

glass trying to defeat an enemy who is but a reflection of himself, not real, but real to him. He has

been fighting this enemy since he was a young cardinal, not yet red.

I guess he will keep showing up each morning hoping the other bird has given up. But he never

does. The nemesis is always there waiting, taunting, unbeatable. Some days the cardinal is tired,

 sore from yesterday’s fight. Luckily the enemy is always tired and sore on those same days, such

good luck.

How ironic, how tragic that the beautiful red cardinal spends 6 to 8 hours a day

fighting against an illusion. Wasted hours, wasted days, wasted life.

He should be out singing, flying, flirting with girl birds, doing happy bird things,

but it is not to be.

He is instead caught in a cycle of trying to accomplish something he thinks

important. Something that only leaves him tired and sore, missing a few feathers.

  See you in the garden.



Poinsettias are Here!

Poinsettias seem to be the official flower of the holiday season. With a minimal amount of care, poinsettia blooms will last for several weeks, maybe even longer. Place your poinsettia plant in indirect sunlight, away from drafts or heating vents in your home, and water when soil is dry to the touch.  Fertilize after the blooming season with a balanced all-purpose fertilizer. Plants can be moved outside after all chance of frost has passed. Getting a plant to re-bloom outside of a controlled environment can be difficult, requiring 14 hours of complete darkness each day for 14 weeks with a constant temperature, but growing an attractive plant in the yard is possible with a minimal amount of care and protection from freezing as with any other tropical.
For years this colorful traditional Christmas plant has taken a bad rap, the one of being poisonous.  In fact, the POISINDEX Information Service, the primary information resource used by most poison control centers, states that a 50-pound child would have to ingest over 500 poinsettia bracts to surpass experimental doses. Yet even at this high level, no toxicity was demonstrated.
Don’t forget, poinsettias grow well here in the ground after Christmas. Just don’t let them freeze! Come see us at the nursery. We have lots of poinsettias to choose from!

Boozy Narcissus

By: Deb Pavlosky

Evidently, I am late to this secret, but if you grow paperwhite narcissus bulbs, there is a way to keep the foliage from growing too tall and falling over.   WOW!  I am so excited to start my bulbs now!!!  When planting your bulbs, choose a container with no holes and use a substrate of gravel or rocks or marbles, etc.  I like to use canning jars or wine glasses or hurricanes, etc with some colorful and pretty gravel.  Use just enough substrate to support your bulb without completely covering it.  Find a nice sunny location to place your bulb (whether indoors or out) and add water to the container to just reach the bottom of the bulb.  Add water as needed to maintain the water level.

Then you wait….

Once roots appear and a green shoot is growing about 1″-2″ above the bulb, pour off the old water and replace with a 4%-6% solution of hard liquor (like vodka, gin, tequila, rum, whiskey, etc).  To get a 5% solution from an 80 proof (40%) distilled liquor, add 1 part liquor to 7 parts water.  You can use isopropyl alcohol if you reserve your booze for more important uses (for 70% rubbing alcohol, use 1 part rubbing alcohol to 10-11 parts water).  Anytime you add water to your bulb, use the alcohol solution.  This stunts the growth, but not the size of the flowers.

Voila! You should get short, but beautiful flowers!!!!  I may even try this on some other bulbs too!!!!
Helpful hints:
*Don’t use more than a 4%-6% solution, you will kill your bulbs
*Don’t use beer or wine, the sugar will harm your bulbs

To read more about “Pickling your Paperwhites” go here:


Austin City Limits: My First Black Angels Show

By: Gloria Cadena

To be honest I am not a typical fan. I am a Fan of the Nursery a fan of Jim and Carol. I am a fan of Music. That being said I am a Fan of Alex Maas. Mainly because I love my bosses. It is a joy to hear Jim Maas talk about his kids. To talk about his son.

I have heard many of The Black Angels songs, sitting in Jim’s office. They have a unique sound. Alex has a unique voice. A voice that is his own sound.

My daughters are huge music lovers. This year I decided to get them and myself 3 day passes to Austin City Limits music festival.

The Black Angels were one of the bands.  We made it a point to stop what we were doing and check out my bosses sons group. He drew such a crowd. All ages from the older to the teenagers. It is real music, real lyrics, real instruments, a girl drummer and just really entertaining. 

I must admit “Austin psych”, the genre of music that is The Black Angels is very chill.  I have never personally met Alex, but watching him do his thing at ACL, well I felt like a proud sister. I knew Dad, Jim Maas was, is a proud father.

A Place for Quiet


By: Kim Messer Nichols


        As summer slowly winds down, it is a good time to plan and create a quiet spot in your yard to sit and relax from a hectic day or week.  The upcoming cooler weather will make an evening in your garden both peaceful and refreshing.  I have flowering plants and shrubs in my landscape as well as hanging baskets hanging from long chains from our Oak Trees.  I have plants which bloom for several days to weeks that attract butterflies and bees.  Pentas, Salvias, Lantana, Porter Weed are wonderful nectar plants for the bees and butterflies.  Milkweed, Fennel, Cassia and Passion Vines are host plants for butterfly caterpillars. I consider these plants to be my daytime standouts.


        Some people do not know that you may have nighttime standouts as well.  I have two upright Night Blooming Cereus.  They are slightly different varieties which open about 10:30 at night with quite a spectacular display.  The large bud, about 3 to 4 inches will pop open in about 5 to 10 seconds.  It will only last for the night and will start closing just after sunrise. I also have a night blooming Epiphyllum Cactus which is in the Orchid family.  It will also pop open around 10:30 and produce a very fragrant bloom until sunrise.  I usually have to catch them in early morning before sunrise.  What a great way to start the day.But I must admit,  my most favorite night bloomer, is my Night Blooming Jasmine.  Tiny white tubular flowers will burst open with fragrance once the sun sets.  Not at dusk, but once darkness envelopes the yard, the Jasmine flowers shoot fragrance out like a bellows creating a heady cloaking fragrance.  It is really quite spectacular.  What a great way to end the day.
        So pull up a chair and enjoy your garden.  Cooler weather makes morning, afternoon and evening all equally enjoyable.  A bird, bee and butterfly friendly environment will be a joy to all who take the time to sit and enjoy the view.


Night Blooming Cereus
Epiphyllum Cactus

The Good, The Bad and the Buggy

The Good, The Bad and The Buggy
By: Jennifer Gregory
They wriggle and creep through the undersides of leaves, looking for their next meal. They eat, hunt, and grow until one day they transform. Weeks pass and a new life splits forth, spreading wings out to dry as it’s carapace develops color and hardens. These voracious predators take to the sky and descend where they see their chosen prey.
This Summer, Coming to a Garden Near You! Ladybugs!
The Terror of the Aphid!
Ladybird beetles, commonly known as Ladybugs are a brightly colored beetle whose iconic red with black spots pattern is instantly recognizable. What is less easy to recognize are their larvae.
ladybug larva
This fearsome looking fellow is the larvae of a ladybug. This is one from about the middle of it’s development. The younger larvae are solid black and the older larvae can show more orange mottling with a marked decrease in the “spikes” covering them.
ladybug larva
When a ladybug is about to mature from a larvae to an adult it will form a pupa. The pupa looks more like a mature ladybug, however, once the insect crawls free of it, it will still not bear much of a resemblance to the final mature form. While the beetle’s shell is hardening it will be a creamy yellow-orange color, and totally free of spots. Once mature the newly hatched ladybug will be the familiar red hue with black spots.
If you have aphids you probably have ladybugs, be sure to check any plants prior to treating them so you’re not taking the good out with the bad!

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.

Tropical Hibiscus, Bling for your Garden

I admit it. I am a compulsive plant collector. I collect native plants, heirloom vegetables, antique roses and all kinds of salvia. My new obsession… tropical hibiscus.They are the most showy, colorful, stunning, spectacular plants and flowers in the world! (in my opinion) And the fun part is growing them is easy. Tropical hibiscus have a few requirements but nothing hard.
These 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 pots get fed every two weeks.
The only real issue with hibiscus is they are not freeze hardy. 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, Don’t let the bugs get out of hand.
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!