Blog posts from December 2011

December in Texas…what to plant now.

Dec 22, 2011

Some of you may be wondering what, if anything, you can plant right now in Texas. You  might be surprised at your options! The standard answer is...LOTS.

While some areas of Texas are colder than others right now, the main factor to take into account is whether or not your soil freezes in the winter. Generally, ours does not. That means you can continue planting all trees, fruit trees, shrubs, roses, perennials, perennial groundcover and cool season annuals and veggies. You can also continue planting cool-season color such as pansies, violas, snapdragons, Gerbera daisies (yes..I'm looking at some gorgeous ones on the nursery table as I type). The plants are far more protected from winter temps in the ground than they are in if they are out on the nursery table unprotected and still look great, well then you don't have much to worry about.

Best advice on what to plant when? Go to a real garden center. Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart are not real garden centers. A good garden center will have in-stock what you should be planting, at any given time during a season. They will also have expert staff that can teach you how to grow successfully.

Here is a list of what you can plant right now (it is not by any means comprehensive, but just a basic guide)

  • Pre-chilled Tulip bulbs, Daffodils, Dutch Iris, Crocus, Iris, Hyacinth, Leucojum, Spanish Bluebells and more.
  • Very cold hardy veggie transplants such as Kale, Broccoli, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Pak Choi (you can also seed spinach outdoors), Cardoon.
  • Cool season and perennial herbs - Cilantro, Dill, Parsley, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, Curry, Mint and more.
  • Perennials such as Salvias, Turk's cap, Scabiosa, Rudbeckia, Hellebore, Evergreen ferns, Leopard plant, Heuchera and much more.
  • Pansies, Violas, Iceland poppy, Snapdragons, Alyssum, Gerber daisy, Dianthus, Cyclamen, Primrose
  • Roses, Hollies, Indian Hawthorne, Nandina, Mahonia, Camellia, Yew,Passion vine, Carolina Jessamine, Cross Vine...much more.
  • (Any container grown tree) Italian Stone pine, Atlas cedar, fruit trees (all), Japanese maples, Flowering trees (Mexican Plum, ornamental cherry, peach, etc) Shade trees (Maples, Oaks, Pistache, etc.)           

There are many other plants that can go in the ground right now, but hopefully this will give you a place to start if you're hesitant about planting. And btw...get this material in the ground now, and you'll have a much easier time getting it through next summer. It can take a good year or two for new plantings to get established. The larger the plant material, the longer that new establishment period (a 2" caliper tree, will need about 2 years to root in...a 3" caliper tree will need 3 years, etc. Shrubs, roses, perennials, etc. need a good year-2 years).

Have some frost cloth on hand to protect newly planted herbaceous plants if we're going to have a hard freeze.

Live in Texas? Plant in Fall and Winter…reap the benefits next Summer.

Dec 19, 2011

Seriously folks, I know it's like pulling teeth to get most of you to follow this advice that us expert horticulturists are always trying to get you to follow. But it's for your own good. Really.

  Prunus Mexicana, Mexican Plum. Texas Native, drought tolerant, fragrant spring blooms and tons of tasty plums!

I realize that many of you that have transplanted from up North just aren't used to planting in Fall and Winter. You plant in April and May. That's the only time you plant. But I'm hoping that after this last brutal summer, you'll finally realize why it's the better choice than planting in spring. I'm talking trees, shrubs, groundcovers and perennials here.

Especially with water restrictions most likely to be in place for our long-term future, you're really setting yourself up for much more summer success if you'll plant your high-dollar or larger specimens now. Yes, you can plant trees and shrubs when they are completely dormant. Our soil doesn't freeze here, so you can plant year-round. When you plant now, your beauties will have many months to start putting down roots and start getting established before they have to suffer through the heat of summer. Our fall and winter weather is mild, we usually get a decent amount of rainfall, such that you only have to water minimally. The sun isn't nearly as intense as it is in summer so plants get a much needed break when newly planted.

Plant now, and it will be much easier for you to get your plantings through next summer. Plant those trees and shrubs in May...and you'll struggle continuously to get them established in the heat. You may end up having to replace them because they just don't get consistent enough moisture due to the environmental conditions. Why waste the time and money? No one likes having to start over, much less spend more money on replacement plants.

Good nurseries will still have a good selection of fruit trees (because now is the best time to plant them), shade trees, Japanese maples, hardy foundation shrubs, groundcovers and drought-hardy perennials.

So...get planting! I do all my major landscaping in fall and winter...I have some new beds I'll be putting in very soon. Photos to come!

Camellia ‘Setsugekka’

Dec 15, 2011

What a winter lovely...


This is Camellia sasanqua 'Setsugekka', a lovely doublish white blooming Camellia. I planted two of these in large ceramic containers on either side of my front door. They make for a wonderful homecoming each day as they are highly fragrant, something we often forget about certain Camellia varieties.

I'm partial to the C. sasanqua hybrids because they often perform better in our climate and soils and are a very sturdy upright specimens. This particular variety grows to about 10' tall, but can be kept shorter. A perfect evergreen for containers. Will bloom through December into January.

Sometimes Camellia flower buds can be nipped in a hard freeze, so I do use frost cloth or Plankets to cover my Camellia in pots while they are in bud. The plants themselves generally don't need protecting, but you don't want to lose your flower buds.

Just thought you might enjoy some flower shots on this dreary day...

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