Growing Potatoes

The old-timers always said to get your potatoes in the ground by Washington’s Birthday. Well, now that Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays have been combined, I guess we’ll have to say to get them in by “President’s Day”! Plan ahead by getting your seed potatoes about 5-7 days before planting. You will want to cut them into pieces with each containing an “eye”, and put them in a paper bag with some dusting sulfur to help prevent disease problems. Shake the pieces around in the bag until they are coated with [...]

By | 2018-02-14T11:47:48+00:00 February 14th, 2018|Plants|

February Gardening

VEGETABLES:             All the crops mentioned in January may be planted in February as well.  Onions should be planted before mid-month.  Seed Swiss chard, carrots, turnips and radishes directly into the garden. Cover seedlings during hard freezes. The cool-season greens, lettuce, spinach, mesclun greens and mustard greens should be planted early in the month from seed. Potatoes are usually planted around President’s Day.  Choose varieties such as Kennebec, Red Lasoda or Pontiac.  Cut seed potatoes into sections with at least one “eye” per section. Lay them out to dry in [...]

By | 2018-01-29T16:43:50+00:00 January 29th, 2018|Lawn Care, Plants|

Remediating Freeze Damage in Plants

It is a “given” in Central Texas that certain popular varieties of plant material will sustain a freeze, eventually, that will cause extensive damage or even death. I receive many questions, daily, following an unusually cold period, about how to deal with plants that appear to have frozen and what to do with them. Here are a few that may have experienced damage, and some suggestions on how to deal with them. Little John Bottlebrush: Although this plant is rated for Zone 9, it is used extensively in this area, [...]

By | 2018-01-22T17:22:25+00:00 January 22nd, 2018|Plants|

Poinsettia Care after Christmas

With any luck, your Poinsettias have made it through the holidays unscathed, and you are wondering what to do with them now. Many people treat them as a “seasonal” florist plant, discarding them and replacing them next year with new ones. However, if you hate throwing perfectly good plants away, you might be interested in learning how to keep your Poinsettia growing until next Christmas, and how to make it bloom again. Here are some steps to help you succeed: Locate a sunny window to grow your Poinsettia in until [...]

By | 2017-12-26T13:36:01+00:00 December 26th, 2017|Plants|

WINTER FLOWERS? Yes! CAMELLIAS!

Central Texas has very few plants which bloom in the winter. Azaleas bloom spring and fall, with some new varieties blooming all summer. Loropetalum blooms in February, as does Texas Scarlet Flowering Quince and Texas Redbud. But what about winter bloomers? Camellias come to us from eastern and southern Asia. One species, Camellia sinensis, is the plant from which our tea leaves come. The ornamental Camellias which do well in our area are Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica) and Sasanqua Camellia (Camellia sasanqua). The most familiar of the camellias is the [...]

By | 2017-12-18T14:52:44+00:00 December 18th, 2017|Plants|

What Makes Onions Bulb?

Have you ever planted onions, only to be disappointed in the size of bulb produced, or even have no bulbs produce at all? Here are some guidelines to ensure bulb production of onions in your garden. Choose the right variety: onions are characterized by the length of day required for them to produce bulbs. “Long-day” varieties will quit forming leaves and begin forming bulbs when day length reaches 14-16 hours. These varieties do better in the NORTHERN STATES. They are often the little onion “sets” you find at the box [...]

By | 2017-12-11T10:53:43+00:00 December 11th, 2017|Plants|

Protecting Your Plants in the Winter

Do you have a plan for keeping your tender plants alive this winter?  Are you wondering which plants will need protection? The first thing you need to know is what hardiness zone your plant is classified in. Is it zone 10, like the Bougainvillea? Or zone 9, like Lemon Grass? The hardiness zone determines the minimum cold temperatures that a plant will tolerate. It is just a guideline, however, as other factors will also need to be considered. A tender plant that is well established going into the winter will [...]

By | 2017-12-04T17:31:45+00:00 December 4th, 2017|Plants|

Caring For Your Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus is a tropical plant native to South and Central America. They are not actually a cactus. They grow in similar environments as epiphytic orchids, in the forks of tree limbs, where they grow in decayed leaves and other natural debris that accumulates there. When you bring your Christmas cactus home, it will most likely be in bud and bloom. To prevent bud drop, locate the plant in a humid environment, or place water in a saucer with gravel under the plant to increase humidity. Do not place them [...]

By | 2017-11-27T16:44:27+00:00 November 27th, 2017|Plants|

Poinsettia Care

Poinsettias are such a symbol of the Holidays, and can be kept fresh-looking longer with just a few easy care instructions. Locate your Poinsettia close to a bright window if possible. The bracts will continue to “color up” with sufficient light. If you are satisfied with the color, you may display the plant in a darker area, but be aware that the color may fade. Check the soil daily for water. When the surface of the soil is dry to the touch, or if the pot feels light, remove the [...]

By | 2017-11-21T17:14:43+00:00 November 21st, 2017|Plants|

October Gardening Check List

The best tree and shrub planting season continues now through mid-March. Root systems will continue to grow all winter long, giving you a fairly well-established plant by the time the real heat sets in. A better established root system conserves water and is more drought resistant next year. (It is also easier on YOU,  as you will be watering less often in the winter!) Try planting some spring-flowering trees and shrubs such as azaleas, redbuds, Mexican plums, anacacho orchid trees, and Texas scarlet flowering quince. -Don’t miss the fall fertilization [...]

By | 2017-10-05T14:55:30+00:00 October 5th, 2017|Lawn Care, Plants, Vegetable Gardening|

Cool Season Color

Pansies are one of the most rewarding plants for cool-season planting. They require 6-8 hours of sun, and a soil enriched with compost. Remember that winter is their season, and that they are HEAVY feeders. Fertilize monthly with NutriStar Color Star time-release fertilizer, and the blooms will never stop. I have had them bloom in an ice storm! Dead-head the fading flowers when possible to encourage more blooms, and you will be greatly rewarded. Violas are one of my favorite winter bloomers. They will tolerate part sun (even dappled shade) [...]

By | 2017-09-26T15:23:30+00:00 September 26th, 2017|Plants|

Mum’s the Word

Most of us think of mums as a fall flower to welcome in the cooler weather in a pot by the front door. They certainly pair well with pumpkins as a fall decoration! When grown in a container, mums do not need additional fertilizer. Regular watering is a must, as wilting shortens the life of the flowers. Be sure to soak the soil thoroughly, and do not let water stand in a saucer beneath the pot. Daily soaking is often required. Water the soil, not the plant. Water on the [...]

By | 2017-09-20T16:16:55+00:00 September 20th, 2017|Plants|