How To Identify (and get rid of) Mealybugs

Mealybugs thrive in warm/hot conditions on indoor and outdoor plants alike and spread quickly from plant to plant. This is THE time of year you will find them on a variety of plants. 

How do Mealybugs hurt my plants?

They suck juice from your plant and over time will cause leaf drop, stunted new growth, and eventually kill the plant. This pest’s waste causes mold growth on the plant which attracts other insects.

What do Mealybugs look like?

Kin to scale, they look like white fuzz on leaves or stems. The females lay up to 100 eggs in cotton-looking sacs you will see on the plant. The eggs will hatch in 6-14 days and the newly hatched mealys crawl to a spot on the plant, insert their “beak” into the plant and begin feeding.

How do I protect my plants?

1.   Keep your plants healthy. A hungry, weak, or stressed plant is more susceptible to mealybug infestation.

2.   Use a systemic insecticide as a preventative. By applying a systemic insecticide to your plant you are protecting it from future infestations. When a mealybug feeds on a plant that has been treated with a systemic insecticide it kills the mealybug. No eggs can be laid, your plant is protected.

3.   Inspect your plants for Mealybugs, look for them at the juncture of the stems and on new growth

4.   Spray your plant with an insecticide that kills mealybugs. This will require more than 1 treatment to make sure all have been killed.

5.   Use both a systemic for long term, future protection along with an insecticide spray if you see mealybugs on your plant. This 2-prong approach will kill the bugs on the plant and prevent mealybugs and other pests from harming your plant.

6.   On houseplants you can remove the individual Mealybugs with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. This would not be feasible for large infestations.

7.   Organic methods include the use of insecticidal soaps, Neem oil and other natural techniques.

How do I know if the mealybugs are dead?

If the mealybug is alive it is gooey, if it flakes off it is dead.

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Adding Orange In The Garden

Crossandra – Deep green, glossy leaves and upright, orange flowers that bloom non-stop through the summer.  Can grow to 2’ tall and wide.

Bells of Fire’ Esperanza – this is a compact esperanza that produces red-orange trumpet shaped blooms.  Will bloom from spring until frost and loves the heat. 

Profusion Zinnia – my ‘go to’ summer bloomer.  Mounds of blooms cover the entire plant.  Profuse bloomer from spring through first freeze.

Neon Orange Sunpatien – Bright, as in “you’ll need sunglasses!” bright.  This plant does best in morning sun and afternoon shade and needs to be watered daily – but it is worth the extra work!  Super, colorful plant.

Orange Impatien – shade loving plant that resembles a pillow of blossoms in bright orange color.  Can tolerate some morning sun and does well in the ground or in containers – best in well drained soil.

Marigold – Old standard that continues to produce orange flowers throughout the heat of the summer.  Solid orange color or orange mixed with darker shades.

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Heat-Loving Annuals

As David Bowie sang Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes – it’s time to change out your cool season annuals for those heat lovers of summer. 

I know – some of your plants may still look really good and it’s hard to dig them up.  Planting summer annuals now allows them to establish a good root system that is so important in our summer heat.

Here’s some of our favorites:

Sun


Vinca – Upright blooming plants in vivid colors that bloom non-stop.  Don’t overwater them and make sure they are in well drained soil and they won’t let you down.  Here’s a hint, if they get too tall and leggy you can cut them back by half their height, feed them with water soluble fertilizer (Schultz) and they will come back compact and blooming.

Profusion Zinnia – Aptly named they bloom profusely until our first frost.  Making mounds of blooms, these hardy plants are easy to care for.  Requiring no trimming or cleaning.  One of my favorites!

Bronze Leaf Begonia – The old standby.  Leathery leafed plants that can even make it all the way through a mild winter.  These grow in sun and shade so they are perfect for those “is it sun or is it shade” areas.  These short, round mounds of blooms are so versatile – bedding plants, hanging baskets and containers.

Annual Salvia – all colors and shapes of annual salvia.  Most are tall, upright plants with spikes of color blooming throughout the season.  Great to use in the back of beds to create height or as thrillers in containers.

Penta – Excellent butterfly and hummingbird attractors.  These plants are compact and bushier than most annuals and covered with clusters of red, pink, violet or white flowers.  Perfect for beds and containers.

Sun Coleus – Known for it’s bright foliage colors in all colors and shapes.  Another compact bushier annual that will handle the sun.  If it gets too tall you can cut it back and it will grow out a new top.  So many varieties to choose from – a go to plant of mine.

Shade


Impatiens – Mounds of flowers, forever blooming in so many colors.  Great as a stand alone or can be used as borders or planted as a ribbon of color throughout a bed.  Used in beds, hanging baskets and containers.  These plants don’t mind morning sun, but like the shade in the afternoon.

Torenia – 2 types available – an upright variety that has multiple blooms on each plant or a trailing variety that is good for hanging baskets or containers.  Either of these do well in shade and can tolerate some morning sun. 

Green Leaf Begonias – Cousins to the Bronze Leaf variety, but these will only do shade.  They have the same mounding characteristics and bloom colors.  Good in beds, baskets or containers.

Shade Coleus – Bright foliage that grows best in shade.  A newer variety, Kong Coleus, has been a great addition to our shade gardens.  The large, brightly colored leaves get your attention. Use in beds or containers.

Caladiums – Graceful and colorful these shade and part sun loving plants can be used in beds as mass plantings, as a border or plant several in a small cluster.  These are a great choice for container plantings also.

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How To Grow Beautiful Annual Vinca

Vinca like it sunny, hot and dryer than a lot of plants. The dark, glossy-green foliage and bright flowers add color to our flower beds and pots from April through the first hard freeze. They bloom consistently, and don’t require deadheading of their flowers.

What they don’t like is to be overwatered or to be planted in poor draining soil. If your vinca turns yellow, it’s too wet. Either too much water or the soil is too wet – one of these is the problem. They almost melt away (like the Wicked Witch who had water issues too) or rot from being too wet.

One solution is to plant them in a raised area that is higher than the surrounding ground level. This allows the water to drain away faster.  You can create this higher ground by adding soil to the area or form a berm to plant them on.

Feed them with a water soluble fertilizer like Schultz weekly to help them produce even more flowers.

TRAILING OR CASCADING VINCA


You will find these in many of the same colors as standard vinca. The difference is in their growth habit – they drape or cascade over the side of the container instead of growing upright. 

These are perfect in hanging baskets, they are nice and full, bloom nonstop and cascade as much as 12” over the side of the basket, Use them as a spiller (thriller, filler, spiller) in containers or create a carpet of flowers by planting in beds. Use water soluble fertilizer on them weekly to keep them healthy.

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Spring To-Do List

What to do now:

  • Plant shrubs, container roses, perennials and trees now.
  • Spread pre-emergent on your lawn and in your flower beds if you have not done so yet this spring.
  • You can lay sod in your yard.  It will not be green, but the roots will grow into your soil and the grass should begin to green up by the middle of April depending upon temperature.
  • You can fertilize your rose bushes once you begin to see new growth emerging.
  • Fertilize established shrubs in late March or early April, use an all purpose granular fertilizer (13-13-13) and make sure to water it in thoroughly.
  • Watch for aphids on plants this time of year.  They are small and come in a variety of colors and can be found on the new growth of your plant.  Treat with insecticide and prevent re-infestation with a systemic insecticide.
  • Finish up pruning any summer blooming shrubs by the end of March. 
  • Established perennials should be cleaned up (remove dead stems, leaves, etc.) and fertilized this month or in early April.  Use an all-purpose granular fertilizer (13-13-13) and water it in thoroughly. 
  • Fertilize seasonal color (annuals) with a water-soluble fertilizer to promote growth and flowering.
  • You can continue to prune deciduous trees during March.

What not to do yet:

  • Wait until mowing grass (not weeds) 2 times before fertilizing your lawn.
  • Wait until after your azaleas bloom to fertilize the plant.
  • The soil is not warm enough to plant warm season grass seed like Centipede, Bermuda or Zoysia.  Soil temperature must be over 65 degrees for the seed to germinate.  Wait until our night-time temps are at least 65 degrees consistently (mid April).
  • Do not prune pine trees in March – they tend to bleed more during this time of the year.
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6 Tips For The Prettiest Pansies

Pansies don’t do well in soil that stays wet – in fact they like it on the dry side.  So, here’s 6 tips on how to prevent this problem so you can enjoy beautiful blooming pansies throughout the winter months ahead.

Pansies-Header

1. Don’t over water    

Sounds simple, but we all have a tendency to just water without checking.  Check your pots prior to watering to make sure they are dry and need watering.  If your pansies are planted in the ground, make sure they need watering.  Plants in the ground and in containers don’t require frequent watering in the fall and winter like they do during the summer. 

2. Reset your sprinkler System    

If you haven’t reset your sprinkler system from the summer setting, now is the time to do so.  As the weather cools off lawn and flower beds don’t require as much water as they do in the hotter summer months.  Set your sprinklers to water less frequently during the fall and winter.

3. Get your hands dirty or use a moisture meter     

We can look at the surface of a pot and tell if it looks dry, but how much moisture is down at the root zone.  The only way to tell is to either stick your finger in the dirt and see how wet it is or use a moisture meter that will instantly tell you if it is wet or dry.  Use one of these methods to determine if your pansies are in need of water.

4. Planting in poor draining areas    

If the area does not drain well you can create a raised bed in which to plant, thus ensuring the  plants are planted above the wet area.  This can be achieved very easily by creating a mound or longer berm out of garden soil (not potting soil) and plant into this raised area.  Cover with mulch to match the rest of your bed and your poor draining area is solved.

5. Install drainage solutions into your landscape    

You may have a drainage problem that needs a drainage solution such as a French drain or piping downspouts out of your flower beds.  Feel free to call our store with photos so we can try and give you the best method to resolve drainage issues.

6. Make sure your pots and planters drain well    

Planting pansies in pots and planters around your home gives you winter color in a variety of areas.  Make sure that they have adequate drain holes in the bottom so excess water can drain out of the pot.  If the pot is sitting on a solid surface the drain holes may not be able to drain.  Place the pot on pot toes or small blocks of wood that enables the pot to be slightly raised from the surface it is sitting on so water is able to escape out the drain holes.  Also, use the finger test or moisture meter to test if the pot needs watering.

These are just a few of the ways you can turn a wet, poor draining situation into one that is dry enough for pansies and other plants to bloom beautifully. 
If you have questions about how to solve a specific problem please give us a call at (903) 753-2223.  You can text a pic to (903)-339-0922 and we can help determine a solution to a problem or answer your questions. 
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Houseplant Care Series: All About Light & Sun

While all plants need light, the amount of the light they each need varies. This depends on where the plant originally came from, for example, most houseplants are natives of the jungle floor that have evolved to thrive on filtered light (like the light that makes its way through jungle canopies).  Light-sensitive houseplants may develop scorched leaves in bright light.

East- and west-facing windows generally receive partial sun and work well for plants that don’t need as much light. Darker locations that face north are best for low-light plants or closet plants.

Here are some key ways to tell if your plant is getting too much, or too little sunlight:

Too LITTLE Sunlight

  • The plant dramatically starts to lean towards the light.
  • Lower and/or interior leaves on the plants simply fall off.
  • Leaves curl upwards.
  • New growth is much smaller than original leaves and may have less color.
  • Plants grow spindly with elongated stems.
  • Flowering plants stop producing blooms.

Too MUCH Sunlight

  • The plant develops brown or sunburned spots on its leaves.
  • Leaves begin to yellow and fall.
  • Plants with colorful foliage will begin to fade.
  • The entire plant looks scorched.
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Fall Container Ideas

Fall is an excellent time to show off your seasonal favorites like mums, pansies, violas, and flowering kale or cabbage. Play with colorful and dynamic combos of perennials, annuals and grasses to create stunning containers.

Photo Credit: Southern Living
Photo Credit: Southern Living

Use solid colored Pansies in orange and velvety black to make the perfect Hallow’s Eve arrangement. Place in a black or silver container for a super spooky addition to your front porch Jack O’Lanterns.

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Use a variety of colorful Pansies as a filler against an evergreen, like an Arborvitae or a Blue Point Juniper, with a classical ivy, like English Ivy for a formal arrangement.

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Use different varieties of Dianthus to create a full container – pair with a neutral pot to really show off the bold colors.

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Make a MUM-KIN! Cut out the top of a pumpkin and plant your favorite fall Mum. Use orange or yellow for a consistent color scheme or add pink or purple for a deep contrast against the orange of your pumpkin!

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Strawberry Jar Planters can be used in more ways than one! Plant Violas in different shades for an incredible ‘spill’ effect.

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Create a sunny disposition, even in fall! Plant yellow Pansies (with and without a ‘face’) to create a trio of gold on your porch. Add a fountain grass for a ‘thriller’ to really draw attention!

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Have stairs leading up to your home? Create a stair-step quattro of planters with Violas. Use different style pots with the same variety of Violas to create a stunning look on your stairs!

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Have fun with Succulents in fall too! Just like our Mum-kin (pictured above) plant succulents in pumpkins and spray paint the pumpkins in neutral tones to make these desert gems stand out.

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Monarch Migration

We touched on the monarch arrival back in our last newsletter, as this annual migration is a unique and amazing phenomenon in North America. The monarch butterfly is the ONLY butterfly known to make a two-way migration like birds do! Some fly as far as 3,000 miles to reach their wintertime home.

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Where are they headed, anyway? Monarchs in Eastern North America have a second home in the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico. These monarchs fly south using several different flyways, and then merge into one HUGE single flyway in Central Texas. It is truly amazing that these monarchs know the way to the overwintering sites even though this migrating generation has never been to Mexico!

As for those worried about the monarch population size – don’t fret! Chip Taylor of www.monarchwatch.org says that they are expecting a reasonably robust population to migrate south this fall. To aid in this effort of protecting and ensuring a successful trip, monarch waystations have been set up along the migration route – 25,131 waystations to be exact – with Texas holding the number one spot with 2,110 monarch waystations! These waystations hold a variety of milkweeds and nectar sources for these travelers to feast on.

Want to track the monarchs?

It’s super easy! Just visit journeynorth.org to see a live map of Adult Monarch Sightings throughout the country. Here’s what the sightings look like as we write this article:

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Amazing, isn’t it?

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6 Mistakes Homeowners Make

That Landscapers HATE to Fix

Overplanting

While more MAY be better in some cases, it’s not better to have more in your landscape. Not spacing out your plants and over-filling them may offer instant gratification for the first year your new plants are in the ground, but in two years, your plants will begin to die because they’re fighting for space and nutrients. This common mistake is a HUGE WASTE of time and money.

HINT: Fill in empty spots with annual flowers until your shrubs mature!

Not Knowing Your Landscape’s Needs

You’ll want to have an idea of what your yard requires and then choose plants that fit those requirements. How much direct sunlight does your yard get daily? Is your soil clay-based, sandy, or rocky? Are there any water restrictions? Are there drainage issues? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you make the best choices for your landscape. There is NO REASON not to research and learn more about the plants you are putting in your landscape. Planting shade plants in sun, or sun plants in shade is an inexcusable snafu in any landscape.

Starting Without A Plan

Don’t go to a Garden Center with a “my heart will guide me” mentality. This will lead to over purchasing and a major loss of money. You’ll also run into issues during your landscape install that could’ve been solved by planning ahead.

Not Paying Attention To The Style Of Your House

Your landscape should complement your home and increase your curb appeal! Different landscape styles work better aesthetically, so always use the look and structure of your house when deciding on garden bed shapes (i.e. A farmhouse-style home won’t work with a formal landscape). Unsure where to start?

HINT: Use a garden hose to help aid in the process of figuring out the shape of each bed; lay out the hose on the ground and use it as your guide, it’s soft and can follow the curves of your house, leading to perfect garden bed shapes.

Planting Too Close To Your Home

When planting, you must bear in mind that bushes, trees and plants WILL get bigger! Where you plant them is SO important – typically, leaving a minimum of 1-3 feet between your plants and your house. Ignoring how large a tree or bush will get can lead to walkway, sidewalk and foundation damage – or, even worse, it can rot your siding, allowing moisture and bugs to creep into your home. Not cool.

Relying On Pinterest To Do Your Landscape

It is SO EASY to get excited and jump into a project when you scroll through Pinterest. HOWEVER, you need to keep in mind the time, resources, and money that go into the ‘simple’ photos you see online. While it can be helpful for ideas, you have to get real about where you and your yard are located zone-wise and how much the project will cost overall.

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