Blog posts categorized as: Waterwise

Daffodils Are On Their Way…

Mar 10, 2017

Daffodils are about to throw down in Dallas.

If you love daffodils like I do, then you might also be tapping your fingers on the window whilst repeating “open, open, open…”. Daffodils are just about to throw down in Dallas. You may have seen a handful pop open just before this last ice event. While it might be tough for some of those blooms to recover, there are plenty on the way that have yet to open. If you want to add daffodils to your garden this fall, now is the time to start paying attention to what’s blooming so you can pick your


Narcissus ‘Professor Einstein’ dressed smartly in orange.

Planting these easy-to-grow bulbs is one of the best things you can do to brighten up late-winter landscapes. With at least 25 different species of Narcissus spp., and more than 13,000 hybrids available, possibilities seem endless. Mail order catalogs offer the most variety when it comes to purchasing daffodil bulbs, but choosing the right ones can be like rolling the dice. While traditional yellow trumpet daffodils are the most recognized daffodils, they certainly aren’t the only choice for Texas gardens. In fact, many of of the trumpet daffodils can leave you disappointed if you were hoping to perennialize or naturalize your bulbs. Large-cupped, Small-cupped, Triandrus and Jonquil hybrids tend to perform better in our climate and soils.

Here are a few of my less traditional daffodil favorites:

‘Thalia’ (Triandrus daffodil) If you love white flowers then ‘Thalia’ should be at the top of your list. This tough and reliable perennial creates large clumps and features pure white flowers with a wonderful fragrance. Each stem produces clusters of 2 to 3 blooms. A late-bloomer, ‘Thalia’ will close out the daffodil season in April.


Narcissus ‘Thalia is stunning in white.

‘Professor Einstein’ (Large-cupped daffodil) I can’t resist a pop of bright orange in my garden, so ‘Professor Einstein’ is a must-have. The bright orange cups paired with pure white petals creates a showstopping combination.  This award-winner is a good perennializer in our climate.

‘Chromacolor’  (Large-cupped daffodil) I have a hard time resisting the peachy-pinked cupped daffodils as well…I’d have to say ‘Chromacolor’ is the best of them.  The huge flowers can reach 5-inches in diameter with an intense coral to pink cup.  One-of-a-kind and gorgeous.

Texas Sage Blooms Abound

Aug 2, 2016

When rainfall and humidity show up, so does a bounty of purple. You may have noticed a bevy of Texas sage blooms around town for off and on a few times this summer, in conjunction with some unexpected summer rains.

What makes them bloom?

Texas sage respond to a couple of different signals that tell them it’s time to bloom. High humidity or sudden soil moisture before and after rainfall will push plants to bloom; seemingly overnight. Texas sage plants are sometimes called “barometer bush” due to this effect. The recent unexpected humidity and rainfall we experienced last week was just what your Texas sage plants have been waiting for.


Texas Sage ‘Rio Bravo’ in full bloom.

Texas sage are one of the prettiest and toughest of Texas native shrubs. Plants are mostly evergreen and produce stunning silver foliage that perfectly complements the lavender to purple blooms. There are a number of varieties to choose from, most growing to an average of  5-feet tall and wide. If you need something smaller, keep your eyes peeled for dwarf varieties such as ‘Thunder Cloud’. If you want something a bit more expansive and impressive seek out ‘Rio Bravo’. It grows 5 to 6-feet tall and wide and is a heavy bloomer.

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Texas Sage thrives in full sun and well-drained alkaline soil. They will tolerate a bit of shade, but too much shade will result in leggy plants that don’t bloom heavily. Supplemental water in summer will help plants grow faster and bloom more, but over-watering or poor drainage will kill Texas sage quickly.

Crimes against horticulture

When it comes to certain shrubs, au natural is the way to go. Texas sage is one such shrub. One of the worse horticultural offenses committed here in Dallas is the constant shearing of Texas sage shrubs into what I can only describe are large caterpillars…or balls. WHY? Please don’t.


SO…so wrong. Don’t plant shrubs that are too large for the space and you won’t have to butcher them.

1. Continual shearing of Texas sage will weaken them…and kill them.

2. You lose all the blooms when you shear them (so why plant them in the first place?)

3. They look terrible. Just, terrible.

So pretty please, put the hedge shears away and let these beauties do their thing.

As we head into fall, it’s a great time to start refreshing the landscape and adding new shrubs and trees such as Texas sage.

Lots of Rain equals Lots of Pests!

Jun 20, 2016

I think most of us are still surprised by the amount of rain we're getting this spring, especially considering last year's downpours and flooding.  While rain is usually more than welcome around these parts, the excess spring rain has created some ral challenges this year. Rain yet to come will perpetuate them.


Be sure your rain barrels are covered to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

Some of the issues you may be having in your garden as a result of all the extra moisture include increased insect and disease populations. Fungal diseases are especially happy right now. Black spot on roses, sooty mold on ligustrum, entomosporium leaf spot on photinias and Indian hawthorn to name a few.  Brown patch, gray leaf spot and take all root-rot are in just about every St. Augustine lawn in town. Reduce the frequency with which you’re watering and limit any supplemental watering to the early morning. Night watering breeds lots of fungus. If it’s rained in the last week, do not run your sprinklers.

Insects that have been a problem this spring include slugs, pill bugs and tent caterpillars. Slugs can be treated with Sluggo, a natural product, pill bugs can be knocked out with Spinosad and caterpillars treated with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).  Mosquito populations are also booming due to the consistent moisture. Mosquito larvae can also be killed using the granular form of Bt, available in both bits and dunks. This is the best method (besides eliminating standing water) to prevent mosquito infestations. Visit your favorite local garden center for great tips on how to handle these diseases, pests and treatments.

Remember that your established landscape (trees, shrubs, turf) only needs an average of 1” worth of rainfall per week; be it from actual rainfall or your irrigation system. Water-wise and drought tolerant plants need less. So as long as the rainfall continues, keep those irrigation systems turned off. Once the rain subsides, you can add back in a weekly watering if you feel your plants are beginning to show signs of stress; as well as watering your foundation. Twice-per-week lawn watering is typically only ever needed in late-July and August when temperatures soar to the 100s. Even then, healthy lawns with a deep root system won’t need watering that often. New plantings will require additional waterings until they root-in and become established. Remember that Dallas watering restrictions are permanent and are still in place despite the recent rains.

Even if you see our expansive clay soil cracking after heavy rains, realize that there is probably still a fair amount of moisture in the soil beneath those cracks. Those cracks are a result of the clay soil quickly shrinking at the surface as temperatures rise after heavy saturation.  Over-watering your lawns and landscapes will only lead to more root rot diseases and overblown insect problems.

Texas Sage: Who wore it best?

Aug 31, 2015

If there is one landscaping practice I simply won't succumb to it's formal boxed (and boring) foundation shrubs. I prefer to pick plants that will grow to the size I want them, where I want them, and then let them do their thing. Of course a little tip pruning is required for any foundation shrubs now and then, but overall I like my foundation beds much more natural.  In order to bring foliage and bloom interest (and bee food) into my #frontscape I've incorpoated a number of Texas sage plants.

Some sort of wet stuff came down from the sky in Dallas the other day. After an intensly hot and dry summer, a bump in humidity and a bit of rainfall has sent my Texas sage shrubs into a blooming frenzy. Ok, some of them. Not every Texas sage performs the same; there are several species and a number of cultivars available. So, which one do you think is wearing it best right now?

You'll see Texas sage 'Silverado' on the left...and Texas sage 'Rio Bravo' on the right. It's an easy choice, no? The 'Rio Bravo' is so heavily loaded with blooms that some of the branches are bending under the weight. It's a glorious sight to behold and the entire shrub is vibrating with overjoyed honeybees. It looks like this every time it blooms.

While there are some blooms on the 'Silverado', it never blooms as intensely as my 'Rio Bravo'. Now to be fair, the 'Silverado' gets a tad more cast shade from the house. My other 'Silverado' on the opposite side of the house do get a bit more direct sun and thus will bloom a bit heavier. But even they can't match the profusion of blooms on the 'Rio Bravo'.

You'll notice that the foliage on the 'Rio Bravo' is more green than silver, so even though the 'Silverado' doesn't bloom as heavily, it does provide me with the intense silver foliage I want in the bed. So either way, it's a win/win.

Anyhoo, couldn't resist showing you a "who wore it best" from the garden.

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.

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