About Lauren Banks

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So far Lauren Banks has created 18 blog entries.

Pecan Tips for Late August and Early September

Pecan kernels fill out their shells during August and September in Central Texas, usually between August 15 and September 15. This is a critical time for the trees to receive DEEP watering. Without sufficient rains or irrigation, the kernel does not compress all the packing material tightly to the inside of the shell and some of that packing material adheres to the kernel. Unfortunately, the kernels themselves also suffer, as they will not be filled out as well, and may have air space in the nut “meat”. We always see [...]

By |2018-09-03T14:39:27+00:00September 3rd, 2018|Fruit & Nuts, Trees|

Cicada Killers – Don’t Kill These Killers

Giant wasps sound like something out of a nightmare! Fear not though, the huge yellow and black insects loudly buzzing around are gentle giants that are either slow to sting, or unable to sting, depending on the gender. Although they are Texas-sized, these wasps are not limited to our state, and can be found from Canada to Mexico. Cicada Killers, Sphecius speciosus (Drury), are large, solitary burrowing wasps.  The name ‘solitary wasp’ may seem questionable as Cicada Killers can appear in large numbers, but refers to the fact that they do not [...]

By |2018-07-05T09:36:00+00:00July 4th, 2018|Insects|

Scarlet Laurel Bug on Texas Mountain Laurel

Some of you may have noticed an exceptionally large outbreak of the Scarlet Laurel Bugs on the new growth of your Texas Mountain Laurels this year. This scarlet red bug with a central black wing area feeds on new growth, blooms and seed pods. In addition to having piercing/sucking mouthparts, the female of this species inserts eggs in to plant tissue with a bladelike ovipositor, causing further damage to foliage on your trees. Scarlet Laurel Bugs are “True Bugs”, meaning they are in the Order Hemiptera, and are related to [...]

By |2018-04-23T10:10:41+00:00April 12th, 2018|Insects|

JANUARY GARDENING CHECKLIST

ANNUALS AND PERENNIALS: Continue watering and fertilizing cool-season annuals to ensure productive flowering.  Use NutriStar Color Star time-release fertilizer or Ladybug ‘Flower Power’ Organic fertilizer. Continue planting pansies, violas, ornamental cabbage and kale, snapdragons, dusty miller and cyclamen. VEGETABLES: Begin planting beets and carrots about mid-month, direct-seeding into the garden. Spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard and other cool-season greens may be direct-seeded now as well.  Be prepared to cover as needed on freezing nights.  Parsley likes the cool season as well, and will do well if planted this month. Plant asparagus [...]

By |2018-01-02T11:41:24+00:00January 2nd, 2018|Trees, Vegetable Gardening|

Lacebug Damage on Lantanas

Watch for Lacebug damage on Lantanas! The leaves will appear “bleached-out”, and there will be black specks on the back of the leaves. Damage usually appears in July and August. Cut these plants back pretty hard and then fertilize them. When new growth appears, protect the new foliage by spraying with a product labeled for lacebugs. Come consult our knowledgeable nursery staff for recommendations on appropriate fertilizers and insecticides. Spots on the back of Lantana leaves caused by lacebugs. Lacebugs on the back of lantana leaves. [...]

By |2017-08-01T14:06:08+00:00August 1st, 2017|Insects|

Don’t Overlook Ornamental Grasses

A balanced landscape requires many elements, and ornamental grasses are a great choice to fill the need for a structural variation in foliage. While everyone loves the plants that give us color, we also need to “break up” the landscape to avoid monotony, and give texture to our plantings. We have a wonderful selection of native ornamental grasses available to us, and not only do they fill a design void, but they are often quite heat and drought tolerant as well. Wait until late February to cut these grasses back, [...]

By |2017-07-12T13:27:36+00:00July 12th, 2017|Plants|

Tomato Variety Sheet

TOMATO VARIETY CHEAT SHEET Variety Days to Maturity Determinate/Indeterminate Fruit Type Notes Beefmaster 70 Determinate Large, 18-32oz VFN Beefsteak 96 Indeterminate Large, 16-32oz Better Boy 78 Indeterminate Large, 16oz VFN Better Bush 72 Determinate Medium, 8oz BHN 444 75 Determinate Large , 10oz Indeterminate Large, 16-20oz Big Boy 78 Indeterminate Large, 16-20oz Big Beef 73 Indeterminate Large, 12-16oz VFNT Black Krim* 65-90 Indeterminate Large, 10-12oz Red/Black, Very Sweet Brandywine* 88 Indeterminate Large, 12oz Bush Celebrity 67 Determinate Medium, 8oz Bush Early Girl 63 Determinate Medium, 6oz Caspian Pink* 80 Indeterminate [...]

By |2017-07-06T14:04:44+00:00July 6th, 2017|Vegetable Gardening|

My Crape Myrtles Aren’t Blooming!

Every year I get several inquiries about why someone’s Crape Myrtle is not blooming. There are several conditions that might affect a Crape Myrtle’s bloom period. Read the causes below to help figure out why yours aren't blooming. -Different varieties begin blooming at different times. Natchez (white blooms) is usually one of the first to begin blooming. Some varieties may not begin blooming until late June. - Crape Myrtles require at least 8 hours of direct sun to bloom. If your crape Myrtle receives too much shade, it will not [...]

By |2017-06-28T13:04:47+00:00June 28th, 2017|Trees|

How to Choose a Crape Myrtle

It may seem kind of silly to write about “Choosing a Crape Myrtle”. Don’t you just decide what color you like and buy that one? Well, maybe. But there are other factors to consider as well. We now have a plethora of varieties to choose from, some with dark colored leaves, different colors of exfoliating bark, brilliant fall colors from red to orange, and a myriad of flower colors.  While all of these are important, remember to first identify the mature height of Crape Myrtle that would be appropriate for the [...]

By |2017-06-21T14:51:21+00:00June 21st, 2017|Trees|

June Gardening Checklist

Annuals and Perennials: Some of the best heat-loving annuals are ready to be planted now! Vinca, Angelonia, Penta, Sweet Potato Vine, Coleus, Wax Begonias, Purslane and Portulaca will easily make it through our hot summer with attentive watering and monthly fertilization. Even Geraniums, when moved to dappled shade or part sun will produce abundant blooms all summer if dead-headed and fertilized monthly. Perennials should be establishing well if planted in the spring. If planting now, continue hand-watering daily for at least a few weeks. Watering deeply once or twice a [...]

By |2017-06-07T12:42:32+00:00June 7th, 2017|Lawn Care, Vegetable Gardening|

Crape Myrtle Aphids

It’s funny, we don’t always get the question “How do I control aphids on my Crape Myrtles?” More often, we are asked, “Why are my Crape Myrtle leaves black?” or, “What is dripping on my car from the Crape Myrtle trees?”  Both of these questions refer to an infestation of an insect called a Crape Myrtle aphid. Yes, they actually are named after the tree. That, in itself, tells us something. It is one of the most common pests of Crape Myrtles in the United States. Apparently it was introduce [...]

By |2017-05-30T14:36:26+00:00May 30th, 2017|Insects|

Insects in the Vegetable Garden

Do You Have Insects in the Vegetable Garden? As the temperatures warm, insects become more of problem in the home garden. We are seeing stink bugs hatching from their eggs, spider mites sucking sap from plant cells, and caterpillars munching on our crops! Stink bugs are most easily controlled when they have just hatched and are in the “nymph” stage. Actually, they are most easily controlled when they are eggs, and you can simply pick them off the leaf and place in a can of soapy water! The eggs are [...]

By |2017-07-17T08:22:54+00:00May 25th, 2017|Insects, Uncategorized|