THIS IS A NEWLY DESIGNED HOME PAGE FOR SOUTHEAST TEXAS GARDENING.
TIPS, TIDBITS, AND TRIVIA|
the correct botanical names for your plants to the extent
possible. Common names cause confusion whereas
botanical names are based on scientific classification which
provides one unique identity for each plant. For help in
understanding botanical names, go to
Understanding Botanical Names, found on this site. Also,
botanical/horticultural terminology is used to describe plant
characteristics (e.g. leaf shapes and arrangements, flower
parts and arrangements, etc.). For charts depicting these
Click Here for foliage terminology, and
Click Here for floral terminology. Use botanical names
when researching plants on Google or any other search engine.
software to draw landscaping designs? Try Excel
- making column widths equal to row heights produces instant
graph paper. Create landscaping symbols using the drawing
toolbar on PowerPoint. Copy and paste into Excel. You
don't need special "landscaping" software to draw good
designs. Simple drawing tools and standard shapes will do.
For a sample using Excel,
Click Here. Requires Excel 5.O or later version .
you have an identified plant but are not certain about how to
care for it, do some research either in books or on the
Internet (using botanical, not common name) regarding its
origin or place where it grows in its natural environment. If
you can duplicate that environment or come as close to it as
possible in providing for the specific need of the plant in
it's natural environment, you will be able to grow it and
achieve it's ornamental potential.
plant cultivar can be discovered by any observant person.
If you see something unusual about a plant's growth
habit, leaf coloration, or shape, that characteristic might be
able to be preserved by asexual propagation to create a new
plant cultivar if the characteristic is stable through
successive propagation. For an example,
Variegated plants add color and interest
to your landscape when flower displays are not in
season. Most variegated plants grow much slower than their
green forms thereby reducing plant maintenance requirements.
Contrasting plant foliage colors can brighten up any garden.
Avoid using chemicals for pest and
disease control if at all possible. Runoff of chemical
fertilizers also hurts our environment. Examples of organic
methods: Aphids and soft bodied insects can be killed with a
sharp hose spray. Cooler weather weeds in St. Augustine grass
can be controlled by low mowing in spring to prevent seed
formation until the warm weather St. Augustine grass thickens
to choke out the weeds - then raise mowing height. Use of
toxic insecticides also kills the 90 percent of the insect
population that is beneficial to our gardens. Toxic
chemicals are just plain dangerous! Disease infected plants
should be dug and destroyed. Weakened plants attract disease
and insect attack. Occasionally, a chemical means is the
only solution that will work, but use only as a last resort
and to save not easily replaceable plants.
REMEMBER, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN
ENVIRONMENTAL SAFE PESTICIDE! (See alternative
Organic/Non-toxic recipes for pest
Herbicide: strong (10-20%) vinegar
blended with orange oil (2 oz. orange oil added to one gallon
vinegar - do not dilute). Spray directly on weeds.
1 one cup
milk per 9 cups water, spray on plant two times per week to
control powdery mildew.
Soda spray - one gallon water with 3 tbsp baking soda and 1
tsp dish soap. Remove infected leaves and spray rest, top and
bottom to control powdery mildew and other fungal diseases.
spray, 1 capful (3tbsp) of any liquid soap and 3 tbsp
vegetable oil to 1 gal. water. Mist lightly on aphids, mealy
bugs, spider mites, scale or any other soft bodied insect.
bodied insects can also be controlled with sharp hose spraying
on both sides of the leaves.
3. Club soda or warm vinegar kills fire ant mounds. The
fumes penetrate the burrows and kills the queen and all other
4. Alcohol, 1 cup to 1 qt. water) can be
wiped onto leaves infested with scale or other sucking insects
to rid them.
Plant Insect Repellant: 1 teaspoon hot
pepper or tabasco sauce with 4 cloves of garlic and 1 qt
water. blend and strain. Spray on foliage to repel insects
on your plants.
Plant Stimulant: Plants not feeling well?
Add one aspirin to one gallon water next time you water them.
This has been scientifically proven to improve plant health!
used nursery containers and the old potting soil they contain.
Dump the used potting soil on your outdoor beds and take used
containers to local nurseries, most of whom will gladly accept
used nursery containers of all sizes (1-20 gal.) for reuse. It
saves them money and is is environmentally friendly - they
don't end up in a landfill as non-biodegradable waste.
labeling is always a problem. Here's a
tip for long lasting plant labels. If you have an old
aluminum mini blind - don't discard it. Cut the blades into 4
to 8 inch strips with scissors. Use #2 pencil, or a fine
tipped acrylic paint pen available at most craft stores in
colors, and poke them in your pots or in the ground for
durable, long lasting plant labeling. These labels can be
reused by erasing the pencil or paint using a mild scrubbing
agent, eg. Soft Scrub.
The best place to shop for unusual or
new varieties of plants at value prices are special
plant sales, either conducted by arboreta, botanical gardens,
or horticultural associations, or private plant sales
conducted by plant collectors who sell plants from private
overgrown collections. You'll always find something exciting
that you'll never find at the local nurseries and get expert
advice about the plants you buy. Try trading with other plant
collectors or gardening enthusiasts. Your surplus can result
in the opportunity to try and grow new varieties of plants.
best place to get sound honest advice on plant selection or
landscape designing may not be commercial sources. Try
independent advice from non-commercial , knowledgeable sources
like hobby plant enthusiasts and specialists who love to share
and give you the benefit of their experience so you can learn
to make good choices.
native plants to the extent possible to avoid
maintenance problems. These plants are very adaptive to local
conditions, disease and pest resistant, and have been time
tested to perform well in your area. Native plants generally
need less care, watering, no fertilizing, etc.
tips: Prune trees and shrubs minimally and only as
necessary to remove dead or diseased wood, shape, or eliminate
undesirable growth.. Pruning opens cuts and wounds that can
be an avenue for disease or insect infestation. (Elmer's
glue makes a great wound and cut sealer!) Never
prune more than one-third of a plant at a time. Spring
flowering plants bloom on old wood so prune only after their
blooming period. Plants that bloom on new wood should be
pruned during winter or very early spring. (Note:
Encore varieties of azaleas bloom on new wood, whereas all
other azaleas varieties are spring only bloomers)
you DON'T fertilize: Ferns, Cacti
and Succulents, and Bromeliads. Ferns need only decayed
organic matter for their nutrient needs, Cacti and succulents
can over-accumulate minerals causing toxicity, and Bromeliads
will never bloom when fertilized. Only fertilize bromeliads
at half strength when encouraging new pups after blooming or
to stimulate pups to faster maturity.
In maintaining your
landscape, here are the top things to avoid: (Landscape
Service's are particularly guilty)
murder: Crepe Myrtles don't need to be pruned except to
promote reblooming in one season or to gently shape or remove
dead wood. Do not prune these plants back severely - (see
pruning tips above)
tree and shrub burial: Do not stack mulch or soil around a
tree higher than natural ground level. Since most of the
feeder roots are within 2' of the surface, this causes them
to grow above ground level which is detrimental to the tree.
Always keep mounded mulch 12" away from the trunks.
Border all plants in open lawn areas to protect them from weed
eater/lawn trimmer damage and girdling (which will kill a
shrub or tree).
When plants go dormant, so should gardeners. Dormancy
is not only winter but includes summer when temperatures
exceed 95 degrees. During this time, stop fertilizing, stop
pruning, stop any new planting, don't increase watering to
compensate and water deeply only in mornings, and stop
mowing. The reason is simple. While plants are in stress,
you don't want to encourage new growth or add to the stressful
for Mailing Plants:
(If you trade or sell plants that require shipment, the
following tips should be useful to you)
Succulents: bare root, wrapped in newspaper
Herbaceous rooted plants
non-dormant perennials and ferns: wrap roots with
minimal amount of dampened sterile soil or sphagnum moss
with clear wrap and tie around stem with twisty. Insert
entire plant into plastic zip lock bag with dampened paper
towel to maintain moisture around foliage
Woody rooted plants: Same
method as herbaceous but not necessary to place in moistened
plastic bag. After securing roots and sterile soil in clear
wrap, wrap the entire plant in newspaper.
Bromeliads and Orchids:
bare root enclosed in moistened zip lock bag.
Bulbs: bare root wrapped
Dormant perennials: wrap
roots in minimal amount of sterile soil or sphagnum moss and
place in zip lock plastic bag.
Cuttings: Soak cuttings
in water until turgid, then wrap cuttings in dampened paper
towels and place in zip lock bag.
Aquatic and bog plants:
Wrap in damp to wet paper towel, insert in zip lock bag.
Seed: Place seed in dry
zip lock bag. If seed is crushable, place bubble wrap around
nature into your yard. We can't and shouldn't try to
control every natural intruder (plant or animal). Examples
include mushrooms and other fungi, (which are indicators of
a healthy soil and environment), squirrels and other animals
trying to survive due to our destruction of their
habitat, and spider webs we run into occasionally (spiders
control insect populations). Many critter life cycles are
so short that temporary damage they cause to plants can be
tolerated. Fungi (not often pleasant to look at) decay
organic materials that enrich our soils. Nature benefits us
in most cases and we need to be less "sterile" in
maintaining our yards and more accepting of the diversity in
our natural environment.
9 Plant Substitutes: Have you
moved to Zone 9 from other areas of the country and miss
certain plants that you can't grow along the Gulf Coast?
Here are some 'almost look alike" substitutes you can plant
Plants I used to grow
in other climate areas
Try this as a
Dogwood (Cornus florida)
Mock Orange (Philadelphus spp)
English Yew (Taxus spp)
Cephalotaxus or Podocarpus
Pachysandra (ground cover)
Witch Hazel (blooms)
Harland Boxwood (B. harlandii) or
Yaupon Holly (I. vomitoria)
Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata)
Buxus microphylla (Korean Boxwood)
SORRY, WISH WE HAD ONE - any suggestions?
Blue Rug Juniper
Bald/Pond/or Montezuma Cypress
In England, the
Dandelion has been declared an endangered wildflower!
Also in England,
garden thievery has grown to such extraordinary proportions
that Scotland Yard has officers specialized in plant theft!
A watermelon is
botanically classified (by fruit type) as a berry!
When you eat a fig,
you are eating a flower, not a fruit!
bromeliads, so is Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) seen
hanging from trees throughout the south - strange relatives!
Vanilla comes from a
vining orchid (Vanilla planifolia).
The edible ginger is
zerumbet officinalis. All other gingers are not edible.
The oldest existing
living plants in the world include a stunted white fir in
Sweden over 9,550 yrs old, a Bristlecone pine in Utah over
4,880 years old,. The stoutest living trees are a Montezuma
Cypress in Oxaca Mexico at 38.1 ft diameter and a giant
Sequoia in CA at 29 ft diameter. Visit "The
Oldest and Stoutest Trees in the World"
Living fossil plants
you can grow today include cycads, dawn redwood, tree ferns,
Gingko biloba, horsetails, club mosses, to name a few.
These go back to when dinosaurs roamed.
Here's something you
always wanted to know but were afraid to ask!! What does pH
stand for? The "p" (always written in lower case) is a
chemical mathematics symbol for "the negative logrithm of".
The "H" is the chemical symbol for hydrogen. So "pH" is the
negative logrithm of the concentration of hydrogen ions in a
soil or water solution. Now - do you wish you never asked!!
Did you know plants
are becoming extinct at a rate 1,000 times faster than at
any other time in history!! In our lifetimes, we may lose
10% of all known plant species.
Did you know that the
spines on a cactus are really modified leaves.
There are ferns that
grow only in the desert or desert like dry environments?
The plant with the
largest leaves & largest seed is a palm - The Coco de mer (Lodoicea
maldivica) in the Seychelles. The leaves are 30+ft
long, up to 15 ft wide and the seed weights up to 45 lbs and
takes 6 years to germinate.
The oldest fossil
record of a flowering plant is Archaefructus liaonigensis,
dated to 140 million years ago during the Cretaceous
period. The closest living relatives to the earliest
flowering plants include the Dutchman's Pipe and Root Beer
plant. Dragon flies, the oldest known insects still living
today were instrumental in early flower development by
Welwitschia mirabilis is the wierdest and most most
extremely adaptable plant in the world. It is so strange,
it just can't be adequately described!
The most recent
botanical find of an ancient plant long thought to be
extinct is the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis) found in a remote..
canyon 65 miles from Sydney Australia.