Waiting to Plant Tomatoes in Texas?

April 19, 2021

Tomato Planting Times in Texas

You Probably Waited too Long...

Waiting for just the right time to plant 🍅 tomatoes in Texas?

This time of year (April), there are lots of posts going around telling you to wait to plant your tomatoes. But remember, GARDENING IS LOCAL! Timing that works in Michigan or East Coast or Canada, doesn’t always work for Texas gardens. ESPECIALLY TOMATOES.

Texas is big, so there are also different planting schedules as you move south through the state. The further south you move, the earlier you can plant. Where I am in Dallas - North Texas - the best time to plant 4” tomato transplants was early to mid-March.

A long-time tomato grower, I typically hedge my bets and plant the third week of February, and never later than March 10th. I just keep frost cloth on hand. When I ran retail garden center, I never left 4” tomatoes out for sale on the tables past April 1st. Why you ask? Even if the weather is cool late, that doesn’t delay the onset of extreme summer heat. While tomatoes are tropical plants, they don’t produce fruit well in extreme heat, specifically a hot day/night average temperature. They’ll go into heat delay. They might continue making flowers, but don’t set fruit. The earlier you can manage to plant your tomato transplants, the better; with enough time to mature and set fruit before it gets too hot.

Cherry tomato types are a bit more heat tolerant, so you can often get away with planting them a little later. There are also some heat tolerate slicing varieties. However most are still more suceptible to heat delay. If your’e just now hoping to plant your 4” tomato transplants, I must warn you to modify your harvest expectations.

If you can find some larger 6”-2-gal plants, then go for it. The later it gets in the spring tomato season here, the larger the plant you should buy. Or go for some patio type tomatoes already potted up into larger containers.


Right after the deep freeze passed here was ideal planting time.


In Texas we have TWO tomato planting seasons. If you missed ideal spring planting window, you can try again with a summer planting, typically July 4th for fall harvest. Summer planted tomatoes can benefit from a bit of shading (using floating row cover or lightweight shade cloth) for a few weeks until they become acclimated to the heat.

2020 Plantgeek Gift Guide!

November 9, 2020

Planty Gifts for Gardening Geeks

I think we are ALL ready to get on to happier times and activities, so I figured why not go ahead and share some of my favorite plants and gardening finds with you so you can start tackling holiday shopping? I have eclectic tastes but I love items for my indoor and outdoor garden - and home - that combine form and function. From itty bitty planters to planty candles, here are a few of the favorites on my shopping list this year.

Please know, none of these are sponsored items. Just things I've purchased, like, or plan to buy for others. No strings attached baby!

Meyer Lemon Tree

Citrus are one of the 'it' plants to add to the indoor jungle. And since we're hitting citrus season (which means I will be making a LOT of lemon curd here soon), I thought lemon trees should be first on my shopping list. 'Meyer' lemons can be kept as indoor plants with bright indoor lighting. Plus, they are the perfect container patio containers plants with winter protection. The flowers perfume the air with the sweetest smelling blossoms.

This cute mini version from Plants.com comes in a cheerful yellow pot along with a 30 day guarantee. If your goal is to reduce "stuff" and gift more green, you can never go wrong with gifting plants.

Take note, you can't ship citrus to states with citrus quarantine rules, so make sure to check shipping restrictions before you order.

Tiny Plants Book Pre-order

My new upcoming book, Tiny Plants: Discover the joys of growing and collecting itty bitty houseplants, will be released in March, 2021. Now is the perfect time to pre-order it for your favorite #plantnerd friend!

Tiny Plant Pottery

When you are addicted to collecting tiny plants...you need tiny pots. I love handmade pottery and these tiny planters are the epitome of cuteness! They are handmade by a ceramic artist in Portland, Oregon - JayeAtelier - & quickly sell out on Etsy. Your tiny plants will stand out from the crowd as no two planters are alike - each individual work of art is unique!

Indoor Plant Trellis

If you have run out of space for more new plants, it's time to start investing in plant accessories! These fun trellises are handmade by Honing the Green Thumb in Atlanta, GA & are inspired by plant leaves like palm, cactus, and monstera. The trellis laser cut from a 1/4" thick wood sheet, stained using a walnut stain and sealed with a varnish for protection against moisture. The stakes that holds the trellis in the ground are coated with rubber to protect from decomposing. So pretty.

Tomato Leaf Candles

My favorite candle scent? TOMATO LEAF! Who would have thought...but it's just the best. I just purchased a few of these tomato leaf candles and had to share them with you. The scent is amazing. These small batch candles made in a Seattle workshop - Kent and Co. Handmade - and come in some of the best botanical scents. Soy candles burn cleaner than traditional paraffin candles and come in 4, 9, or 16 ounce sizes.

Handmade Glass Wardian Case

For the extra special plant parent in your life, check out these gorgeous Art Deco Wardian cases from Leadhead Glass. They are handmade out of old sash Detroit glass windows & reclaimed wood & are a perfect display case for your small or tiny high-humidity plants. The makers use the traditional stained glass techniques of copper foiling and hand soldering creating a truly one of a kind piece.

Wall-mount Grow Frame

Take your plant-keeping to the walls & frame your babies like a work of art. The Growframe from Modern Sprout comes in multiple sizes & colors to coordinate with your decor & plant collection. The frame includes full-spectrum, 4000k LEDs that are dimmable, on a timer & rated for 25,000 hours of usage. I have several Modern Sprout Grow Bar grow lights that are keeping many of my tiny plants quite happy right now. This wall plant frame and grow lamp will definitely up your botanical style!

Plant Parent Apparel

I gotta throw my plant lady friend Maria Failla some love by including her comfy plant parent apparel and gear. If you're looking to broadcast your identity as a plant lover, you can suit up over at her Bloom and Grow Radio Shop! And while you're there, be sure to swing by the podcast page where you can listen to my episodes with Maria about plant light, propagation, plant roots, and more!

Tiny Plant Accessories & Supports

If you have tiny plants, you need tiny plant accessories!

Botanopia has created a whole line of tiny plant accessories from a tree house to birdhouse, to an entire camping scene. They are made of brass with a protective coating & can be used both indoors & outdoors. Eventually, the accessories will develop that trademark brass patina, but can be kept bright by polishing.

Have larger, climbing plants? I also have, and love, the brass climbing chain perfect for modern plant owners of pothos, ivy or monstera. The stylish brass chain is over 6' long and easy to hang.

My Book Bundle

Want signed copies of BOTH my books, "Gardening Under Lights" and "Plant Parenting"? Grab this special for one signed copy of each book when you buy them together. You'll save $15 bucks off the regular cover prices!

Be sure to let us know how you'd like them signed!


Want some plantable furniture? BloomingTables' patent pending design allows users to grow a wide range a plant species. Whether you are growing herbs, cultivating micro greens, or enjoying the beauty of succulents indoors - BloomingTables will make a beautiful addition to any home or office. I love mine!

The Gift of Green

I hope these favorites of mine help you get started on spreading some love and green cheer this year. I usually update my gardener's gift guide towards the end of November with new finds, so look for an update notification via my monthly E-newsletter.

How Much Sunlight for Salad Greens?

November 7, 2020

I get a lot of questions about how much direct sunlight different types of vegetables need in the garden. I always recommend your flowering/fruiting crops get a good 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.

Root crops such as turnips, beets, carrots etc. are good in that range as well but can perform nicely in the 5-6 hour sun range.

Leafy greens can get by on part sun/part shade - 3-4 hours of direct sun is best. Here is a great example from my garden. The photos above are of mixed leafy greens all direct seeded into my garden on the same day (probably about 5 weeks ago) in a perimeter bed that receives varying degrees of direct sun..or none. The photo at the top is in a spot that receives about 3-4 or so hours of directly sun. Clockwise at bottom right is a spot that recives about an hour or two of direct sun/shade the rest of the day. The bottom left photo receives no direct sun and is shaded all day. So even with leafy greens where you don’t need to produce flowers & fruit, light volume makes a huge difference in productivity.

So if you are trying to veggie garden in dappled shade all day or or full shade, understand you’ll need to manage your expectations and stick to the most shade tolerant of leafy greens. Or, do some gardening under lights indoors!

Gardening Under Lights: Light for Propagating & Growing Tiny Plants

September 20, 2020

Tiny Terrariums Under Grow Lights

How much light for tiny plants?

I have many different grow light set ups around my home. Here is one of my vegetative propagation and new transplant areas under lights- I use a 4-lamp T5 fixture with only one HOT5 fluorescent lamp inserted, for lower light cuttings and species that are rooting in. New vegetative cuttings do not need as much light as actively rooted and growing plants.

Directly under the lamp the plants with some active root growth are getting a DLI of about 5 umol/m2/day (measured with quantum flux meter and PPFD), which puts the output in a shade/heavy shade low-light category - which is perfect for cuttings or other low light species that are transitioning.

At the edge of the fixture and the lamp, it’s about a 2.5-3 umol/m2/day DLI for cuttings with no roots yet. Lamps is on for 12-hrs. Some of the species here include sinningia, begonia, masdevallia, peperomia, etc. and some new barefoot lithops just potted up (which should be in a shaded area for a week or two).

In the Garden: Zipper Spiders

September 18, 2020

Zipper Spiders

Beneficial & Beautiful Spiders

SPIDER SCORE! Sadly, in spite of the wealth of wildlife habitat and food plants in my garden - which is usually overflowing with insects and lizards - we’ve noticed a SIGNIFICANT decrease in insect life this year. Sounds about right for 2020 😢

So I was elated to finally see a large beautiful zipper spider (Argiope aurantia) out in the front garden, who had taken up residence on a Salvia ‘Amistad’. Smart move because this salvia variety is a magnet for pollinators. I'd say she's about the size of the palm of my hand or a bit larger.

Although I’m not super happy about her catching the honeybees - there are lots of grasshoppers out right now that I’d prefer she work on...but nature is nature.

Any cool spiders in your garden this year? Or have you also noticeda big decline in insects?

Are Zipper Spiders Poisonous?

Many people will really freak out when they see spiders this large in their garden. But rest assured, these spiders are NOT interested in you. Zippers spiders are not aggressive by nature, but if you poke and prod at them and they feel threatened, they can bite. If you are bitten, and are a healthy adult, you may have some stinging and swelling, but otherwise be fine. That said, you could have an allergic reaction, which are rare. Just leave these beauties be and you'll both be fine.

Botanical Nomenclature: How do I Correctly Write a Plant Species Name?

September 16, 2020

Botanical Latin

How to correctly write a plant species name

A quick 101 today on botanical nomenclature (plant names), because I see so many new plant retailers, social media influences, and plant communities online are using it incorrectly. The point of botanical Latin is to make sure we are all talking about exactly the same plant - universally - no matter our native language. So, that means accuracy is important. With more new plant parents interested in botany and correct plant ID, I thought a quick primer was in order!

What is a plant species?

A plant species is a group of plants in which two individuals can produce fertile offspring. Plants are given a binomial species name that includes a genus and a specific epithet; for example, Pilea peperomioides (the species name for Chinese money plant).

The species name is always written in italics or underlined. The genus is capitalized and the specific epithet is lower case. It used to be that if a specific epithet was a proper name it was also capitalized – this is no longer the case.

Subspecies (subsp.) are also italicized: Crassula pubescens subsp. radicans

Naturally occurring varieties of a species are also lower case italicized with the abbreviation var. in front of the variety name: Cornus florida var. rubra

When you are referring generally to multiple species of the same genus, you can do so as Peperomia spp. (in writing the genus would be italicized, but not the spp.) – or a singular species as Peperomia sp. If you are referring to several different identified species of the same genus, you can spell out the genus for the first species reference, Peperomia rubella and then refer to the following species as P. fraseri, P. caperata.

Plant Cultivars

Albuca spiralis 'Frizzle Sizzle'

Cultivated hybrid names -as well as cultivated selected varieties -are included after the species name in single ‘’ quote marks or noted with cv. in front of the name, and are capitalized: Albuca spiralis 'Frizzle Sizzle'

You can get away with noting it as Albuca 'Frizzle Sizzle'.

DO NOT use double quote marks " " for plant cultivar/variety names!

Trade names that are made up after a formal cultivar or variety has been assigned/registered to a plant - specifically for marketing purposes - does not have single quotes around it, but you may see a trademark or registered mark next to the name (this means that the plant is formally registered with a different cultivar/variety name, which can make plant ID confusing).

If the plant is registered with a patent using the formal cultivar or variety name that will also be used in marketing, you may also see a TM or R mark after a cultivar name that is in quotes (this part gets a bit sticky!).

Plant Common Names

Common names are the names we make up for plants, so we can refer to them without knowing the species name. Common names don’t need to be capitalized, but if it is a proper noun you may capitalize it.

Sometimes the common name for a plant is simply the genus. When using a genus as a general common name you may see the genus used in lower case roman, such as cosmos. However if you are using the genus botanically, make sure to capitalize and italicize, Cosmos bipinnatus.

Know that common names vary widely depending on where you live – so most plants can have several different common names, or share common names with other unrelated species.

Problems with Botanical Latin on Social Media

Unfortunately, most social media platforms do not allow us to italicize or underline text, but make sure you always do so where you can and in writing – such as on your blog, plant website, articles, etc. -and at least use proper upper case on the species names, as well as correct cultivar or variety designation, when on social media.

Now, I could definitely dive deeper into this topic, as there are other botanical nomenclature rules to consider, but this 101 should get you started in the right direction!

Plant Parenting: Seed Pellets Make Seeding Easy

July 8, 2020

You don’t have to use loose potting soil to grow your seeds or cuttings. There are many options for preformed plugs, both natural and synthetic, that can make propagation easy and tidy, while providing a good environment for your cuttings and seeds.

Dry compressed coir pellet plugs in a watertight seed-starting tray.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Compressed soilless plug pellets, also known as seed plugs, are one easy option. These are compressed dry disks of peat or coir, plus a small amount of fertilizer, wrapped in a biodegradable film. Often, seed plugs are sold with small seed-germinating greenhouse kits or you can buy them separately.

This arugula is ready to transplant.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

When using seed plugs, it's easy to see when you should transplant your plant to a larger size. Once roots reach the edges of the plug, it's ready to go into a larger pot or even straight to outside!

Plant Parenting: Germination Inhibitors

July 8, 2020

Chemical inhibitors prevent the seed from germinating under the wrong environmental conditions. Otherwise, seeds would germinate at the wrong time, out of season, or in the wrong location and die. Inhibitors also make it possible for seeds to travel some distance away from the parent plant, which helps plant species spread geographically and improve genetic diversity.

Sometimes, chemical germination inhibitors break down and a seed will germinate too early. Have you ever seen a seed sprout inside a tomato fruit?

The germination inhibitors inside this decaying tomato have broken down and the seeds inside have begun to germinate.   By the way, don’t eat those tiny tomato sprouts if you find them in your tomato fruit—tomatoes are in the nightshade family and the stems and leaves contain toxins.

The germination inhibitors inside this decaying tomato have broken down and the seeds inside have begun to germinate. By the way, don’t eat those tiny tomato sprouts if you find them in your tomato fruit—tomatoes are in the nightshade family and the stems and leaves contain toxins.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

This type of germination is called precocious germination, or vivipary. It happens when the hormones that regulate seed development & degrade, causing seeds to germinate- even under the wrong environmental conditions.

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

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