Blog posts categorized as: General Gardening

Killing Plants Like a Pro

Feb 26, 2016

Too often, noob gardeners and plant lovers are discouraged from further cultivating their green tendencies due to the killing: The killing of their plants. Guess what think you've got black thumbs? Puhlease. Let me assuage some of your plant-death guilt by telling you that as a professional horticulturist, I've killed way more plants than you ever will in your lifetime. EVER. And guess what else? That's ok and I'm going to keep doing it. With relish.

The world will not end and you get to try again. In fact, killing plants is the only way you really learn how to grow them the right way (good thing it doesn't work that way with puppies).

People get really touchy about this subject. Many, after killing only one plant, give up plant-keeping and gardening althogether; before they've really even gotten started. Is it sensitivity? Or Ego? Do we think we're entitled to get everything right, all the time, the first time? C'mon. Cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to enjoy both the fleeting joy and the wisdom you'll gain from killing a few plants now and again.

Same goes for cut flowers and blooming gift plants. Why must they be permanent? What do we think they owe us? C'mon. Surround yourself beauty. Even the fleeting kind. It's worth it.

OH, and the best part of killing plants? You get to buy more. I'm just sayin'.

So forgot to water the philodendron in your living room and overwaterd the echeveria, both to death. Show me your dead philodendron and I'll show you the 100 I've murdered.

Walk it off. Go buy more. Figure it out. I BELIEVE IN YOU.

Now, go get your garden on this weekend. No excuses. Toughen up cupcakes

Time to Prune Fruit Trees in Texas

Feb 4, 2016

It’s just about that time to prune your fruit trees, while they’re still dormant. Fruit trees are treated a bit differently than shade trees when it comes to pruning. While we never want to over-prune or over-thin our large shade trees, smaller fruit trees are often heavily pruned each year in order to produce the best yields of fruit. Timing your fruit tree pruning can be a bit tricky, especially with our fluctuating weather here in Dallas. Your goal is always to prune as late as possible, but before any bud break occurs on your tree. Some fruit trees will start blooming by mid-February, so now’s the time you need to start pulling out your pruning gear.

Each variety of fruit will bloom at a different time. The best approach to timing your pruning is to prune the later blooming trees first, followed by the earliest bloomers. That means you’ll  start with apples and pecans (although large pecans should be pruned by a professional tree care company). Peach and plum trees will follow, as they bloom the earliest here in Dallas.

Hard pruning of fruit trees should begin the first year they are in the ground. Hard pruning to properly shape the tree continues each winter for the next several years. As trees mature, you’ll perform lighter maintenance pruning. Depending on the type of tree, you’ll either train it using the central leader method, or the open center method.

Apples, pears and plums should be pruned using the central leader method. This means you allow the tree to grow a central main trunk that is tall than all the surrounding branches. The rest of the tree is shaped into a pyramidal form.

Heavier fruiting trees, such as peaches, nectarines, apricots and almonds, perform better when pruned using the open center method. By removing the central leader branch, you’ll create more of a vase shape to the tree. This allows more sunlight to reach all of the central branches and reduces branch breakage.

You’ll also need to do some “thinning” and “heading”.  When you thin branches, that means you’ll remove them at their base. This allows more light into the interior of the tree. “Heading” involves pruning off the tip of the branch in order to encourage more fruiting lateral branches.

If you have fruit trees and have fallen behind on necessary pruning, or you’re thinking about planting new fruit trees, now’s the time to pick up a fruit tree pruning book to learn the best techniques.

Haven’t planted fruit trees yet? Now’s the perfect time. Local garden centers should have a good stock of fruit trees that are appropriate for our climate and can give you a primer on pruning.

Originally published on D Home blog.

Heavy Rains Breed Mosquitoes

May 26, 2015

You may have noticed a bump in the mosquito population lately. I can't imagine why...Oh yeah, we've had about a million inches of rain! The continual and heavy rainfall has created the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. They're emerging in droves in the DFW area. NOW is the time to take preventative action if you don't want the city spraying chemicals around your property.

All it takes is a few handfuls of a natural larvicide to successfully prevent mosquitoes.

Bt (Bacillius thuriengensis var. israelensis) also known as Thuricide (liquid form) or Mosquito Bits, is my not so secret weapon to having no mosquito problems in my yard. This naturally occurring bacteria is fatal only to larvae and caterpillars. The species included in this product is particularly effective against mosquito larvae (and fungus gnats). All you have to do is sprinkle a few handfuls of the bits under your foundation shrubs, any landscape beds with automated irrigation or that you water regularly, drain boxes, low spots in the yard and even gutters.  Timing depends on the weather. If it's warm early, I'll put out my first application in April, if it's not then early May. Then again in June, July, August and September.  If you have ponds, birdbaths or live on a creek, purchase the floating dunk form and just pitch one, or a piece of one in the standing water.

The Bt attacks the mosquito larvae and kills them before they even have a chance to hatch. This bacteria is safe for children, pets, birds and fish. It's the most non-toxic and most effective treatment for dealing with mosquitoes.

Hopefully, you haven't been contributing to the moisture problem by running your sprinkler systems. The rain we've been getting is more than any landscape could hope to absorb.

If neighbors, or neighborhoods, got together on prevention we could make a huge dent in the city's mosquito population. Make a deal with your neighbors...if you live on a creek, each one of you should get together and buy a 4 or 6 pack of the mosquito dunks. Once per month from April through September, simply pitch one out the back door into the creek. You'll be amazed by the results. Do you have a housebound or elderly neighbor? How about buying a pack for them and dropping it off, or better yet, apply the bits or dunks in their yard/creek for them.

Bt is inexpensive and easy to apply. If you haven't picked up your Mosquito Bits yet, don't delay.

How Can You Not Love Bonsai?

Mar 15, 2015

Ah, it's that time of year when gardening is in the air...the perfect time to reignite particular plant passions (ok obssessions). If you're a plant geek, you've probably circulated through a number of plant-obsession phases, be it orchids, succulents or bonsai. If you've been thinking about getting back into bonsai, or are a bonsai newb (and you live in Dallas), head on over to North Haven Gardens today to check out the last day of the annual Bonsai Society of Dallas exhibit. There are some serious beauties on display.

Like thi 600 year old western juniper...yowzah.

or this mind blowing cedar elm...

They also have some seriously cool handmade pottery that can be used for specialty bonsai...

And some nice little starter plants...

Maybe once I get the piles of plants still in pots sitting around my yard into the ground, I'll delve back into zen of bonsai.

Cascabela: A Tropical Texas Beauty!

Sep 17, 2014

I spent some time in South Texas this month and loved being surrounded by all the beautiful tropicals that grow in the area. My favorite? This less-than-common apricot form of Cascabela thevetia. Such a beauty! This plant is related to Oleanders and has similar toxcitiy in all parts of the no munching...

Gardening Myth: It’s just too much work!

May 7, 2014

As a certified, and certifyable, plant geek and obsessed gardener, it's often difficult for me to understand why other people choose not to garden at all. The most common explaination for the lack of a garden? "Gardening is just too much work."

Too much work...too much work? What? Yes, I work in the horticulture industry. But I've never felt my own gardening activities were "work". Gardening is my refuge, my therapy and my sanity. When I need to destress I head out to my garden. Watering my plant babies is the most soothing of "tasks". Pulling weeds is strangely gratifying. Feeling my toes and fingers in the soil brings me back to a much needed earthly connection. AND I don't have to talk to anyone. ANYONE. Sure, after a day spent turning soil, planting, weeding and pruning, my muscles might be a bit sore. But does that make it work? No way! I actually feel sorry for folks that have never really gardened because they assume it's just too much work.

So I thought I'd ask some of my fellow professionals in the business to tell me why they don't feel like gardening is work to them.

First up? Helen Yoast of "Gardening with Confidence". Helen says " I garden one day a week, on Sundays. It is my time to connect with the plants, wildlife, and nature. I grow a dense half acre habitat that is the anticipation of my week. My kids and husband know exactly where to find me."

Helen Yoast's Garden

1/2 an acre sounds like a lot of garden to maintain, eh? Doesn't sound like Helen considers it work, but rather a refuge. This is the big secret those of us hortiholics are here to reveal: Gardening isn't work. Gardening is discovery, inspiration, connection, beauty, rewarding and good for you. You don't even need to have 1/2 an acre to garden. You can garden in a few planters on a balcony or patio. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting more quotes from hort-heads about what gardening means to them.

So, why is gardening not too much work for you?

Your Home Address in Succulents

Feb 7, 2014

I'm pretty sure everyone needs to have their home address displayed like THIS! Would that be fantastic? A mixture of Echeveriaand Joseph's coat are the perfect combo for such a gardening feat.

Succulent address sm

This photo was taken at a public garden I visited in Vancouver, Canada.

Foliage: The foundation of a garden

Feb 3, 2014

If you ever wondered whether foliage in a landscape was that important, I offer you a shot of the quarry at Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, B.C. Sure, there are a ton of flowers there. But look at this photo! Wow. Fabulous foliage is not only the skeleton of the garden, it's the muscle. Beautiful. So don't over-focus on flowers when you're crafting your garden. Foliage is fabulous!

Butchart sm

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