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Meet The Peggy Martin Rose

I am fascinated with the stories surrounding plants and the Peggy Martin rose story is one of the best.  Also known as the Hurricane Katrina rose, she is a vigorous, thornless climber with clusters of pink flowers and is extremely easy to grow.  Blooming in the spring and again in the fall (even in our Texas heat) this rose is resilient in many ways.



The story begins in 1989 in New Orleans when Peggy Martin was given cuttings from a thornless climbing rose.  Very active in the New Orleans Old Garden Rose Society she showed it to Dr. William Welch of Texas A&M in 2003 who was most impressed by the rose.  He left with cuttings but little hope that it would survive in the hot, dry Texas climate.

Survive it did, quickly covering his 15-foot fence and blooming both in the spring and fall after the second year.  He was most impressed with this “un-named rose”. 



In 2005 Peggy’s home was under 20-feet of salt water for 2 weeks following hurricane Katrina.  When she was finally able to visit her property she found the rose bush still alive and flourishing. Dr. Welch reconnected with Peggy a couple of months after the hurricane and learned of the survival of the rose bush.  He had already been convinced that this rose deserved to be marketed and used funds from a Horticulture Restoration Fund to make it happen.

He came up with the idea to name it the Peggy Martin rose and to also use it as a fund raiser with a $1.00 per plant donation going to the Garden Restoration Fund.  Several rose growers got on board to help grow and market this unique rose. This rose has become a beautiful symbol of survival and a testament of resiliency.

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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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The Number Two Reason Newly Planted Trees Die

Planting a tree too deeply in the ground is the number two reason we see newly planted trees die (Number one is underwatering). If you can’t see where the trunk starts to flare out at the base of the tree then you are planting the tree too deep.

The first picture correctly shows the trunk flare and the largest few roots exposed above the soil level. Sometimes, it is necessary to remove dirt from the rootball to expose the root flare properly. This is the correct depth to plant a tree.

CORRECT

INCORRECT

The second tree is planted too deeply. You see only straight trunk, no flare at the bottom. This tree is doomed unless it is “lifted” and planted correctly.

So why does planting too deeply kill a tree? 

Tree roots require oxygen and when covered with too much dirt the surface roots suffocate.

We suggest digging your hole no deeper than the bottom of the rootball to the trunk flare. Make sure the flare of the tree is at or slightly above the soil line. You should dig the hole wider than the rootball – at least 6” wider and up to 2 times the width of the rootball.

What if my tree is planted too deeply? 

Depending on the length of time it has been planted will depend on the solution.

Feel free to text us pictures at (903) 339-0922 along with your call back number so we can contact you with answers.

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Keeping Your Re-Bloom Azaleas Beautiful

Re-Blooming Azaleas (those that bloom 3-4 times per year) are one of the most versatile flowering shrubs available. But, maybe yours aren’t doing as well as you hoped they would.


Here’s 5 reasons why they may not be blooming and how to fix that (info provided by Encore Azaleas)


1. They need 6 hours of light per day – 

morning sun is better than afternoon, and bright dappled light is OK. Without enough light they will be thin and lanky and will not bloom much. Either transplant them to a sunnier spot (at the appropriate time of the year) or prune trees to allow more sunlight through.


2. Bad weather – 

an early season freeze prior to the plant hardening off through fall can damage buds and keep them from blooming. A late freeze in spring can have the same affect on blooms. Unfortunately, there isn’t a remedy for Mother Nature.


3. Pruning improperly – 

If you prune at the wrong time and remove buds you will have no blooms. The best time to prune is immediately after blooming in the spring.


4. Lack of Water – 

Once established they need 1” of water per week in mild climates and more than that here during our summer heat festival. Mulch 2-3” deep to help cool off the roots and retain moisture in the soil around your shrubs.


5. Using the wrong fertilizer – 

Use a fertilizer specifically for azaleas and acid loving plants. Don’t use a lawn fertilizer since it has too much nitrogen (1st number listed) and this will cause the plant to grow leaves instead of flowers.

I am going to add 2 more tips to the list:

6. Don’t plant too deeply – 

dig your hole only as deep as the size of the root ball. You don’t want the plant to settle and be in a bowl that will hold water. Some suggest leaving an inch or so of the rootball above ground level and then cover with mulch.

7. Plant in well-drained soil – 

azaleas do not want to be in soil that does not drain well. They prefer soil that will dry out between watering. Too much water will make the plant weak, and eventually branches and sections will begin to die. Yellowing leaves is a sign that your plant is getting too much water.

Follow these suggestions and enjoy the beauty of reblooming azaleas year round.

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All About Panicle Hydrangeas

These hydrangeas are so easy to grow and their blooms are stunning – both in size and in color. Proven Winners even calls them the “black thumb hydrangea” because of their ease of growing. The blooms are larger than other hydrangeas and shaped like a football. They all start out pure white and change to pink and reds as fall approaches.  


They bloom later in the summer on new wood – meaning they leaf out in the spring and then set their flower buds. This means you can prune the plant in the fall or in early spring without negatively affecting the blooms. (Goof Proof!)

Notes:

  • They like morning sun and afternoon shade – too much shade will result in fewer blooms.
  • Don’t amend the soil – plant them directly into your soil – super simple!  
  • They grow in different soils (even clay) if the soil is well-drained. Soils that are too wet lead to root rot, so make sure the soil does not stay wet for any length of time.
  • Their color cannot be changed to blue by adjusting the pH level of your soil – the blooms start out white and will naturally change to pink or red as the bloom matures.
  • You can prune in fall or spring. Prune off about 1/3 of the plant. You may find it easier to prune in the spring after new growth appears. Cut the stem above where healthy buds are emerging, this is usually about ½ or 1/3rd down the stem.  
  • The blooms make excellent cut flowers but the color they are when you cut them is the color they will keep. They will not change from white to pink/red after cutting, so if you want pink/red wait until they are pink/red to cut them.

Watering is important. If you see your plant wilt it can be caused by too much water or not enough water. 


Here’s how you can tell the difference:

  • Overwatered hydrangeas drooping foliage feels soft and limp and the flowers often wilt. 
  • Underwatered hydrangeas drooping leaves feel dry and crispy, can have light brown spots around the leaf edges or look dusty in color. Unless they are exceptionally under-watered the flowers usually won’t be wilted.

If you have a spot in your yard that gets morning sun and afternoon shade, plant one of these lovely ladies. Their showy blooms, flower color transition and ease of care makes this a much sought after plant.

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How To Change The Color Of Your Hydrangea

The pH level of your soil dictates what color your hydrangea will be.  Here’s the cool part – you can change the pH level of your soil. 

First test the pH level of your soil to determine if you have alkaline or acidic soil.  Alkaline soil (7.0 or higher) creates pink hydrangeas blooms and Acidic soil (lower than 6.0) creates blue blooms.

Add lime to the soil to create an Alkaline soil condition and pink blooms.

Add aluminum sulfate to the soil to create an Acid soil condition and blue blooms.

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All About The Endless Summer Hydrangea

This brightly-colored hydrangea revolutionized the way hydrangeas are used in landscapes. ‘Endless Summer’ was the first hydrangea discovered that blooms on the previous year’s woody stems and the new season’s growth.

A whole series of Endless Summer Hydrangeas followed “the Original”.  There are now 5 varieties:

The Original – Large, mop-head blooms in either blue or pink depending upon your soil’s pH level. It grows to 3 x 5 feet tall and wide and is a rounded shaped plant.

Twist-n-Shout – was the first re-blooming lacecap hydrangea in deep pink or periwinkle blue (depending on soil pH).  The stems are red which ad even more interest to the plant and it grows to 3-5’ tall and 3-4’ wide.

BloomStruck – Depending on the pH or your soil, it blooms rose-pink or purple flowers.  It has red/purple stems and red veins on the leaves and grows to 3-4’ tall and 4-5’ wide.

Blushing Bride – has white semi-double florets, which change to blush pink or Carolina blue depending on the pH of your soil.  It grows to 3-6’ tall and 3-6’ wide.

Summer Crush – the newest addition to the family this has bright, raspberry red or neon purple blooms, again dependent upon the pH or your soil.  It is very bright!.  It is smaller growing 18-36” hight to 18-36” wide.  Great in containers or in the ground.

Plant these in a shady spot and be prepared to water daily – especially once we reach 90+ degrees.  This series will not disappoint if you do your part. 

Disease-resistant and hardy, this hydrangea offers color from spring until fall.  Versatile and beautiful, the ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea is a great addition to almost any landscape.

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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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Fight Fire Blight On Pear Trees NOW!

You’ve seen fire blight on ornamental and fruiting pear trees – brown to black leaves, twigs and branches appearing as if scorched by fire.

There is no cure for fire blight once a tree is infected.  It is caused by bacteria and is destructive and highly infectious and therefore a widespread disease.  

The disease enters a tree through natural openings, especially flowers in spring.  It moves from the new growth to older growth quickly and can be spread from diseased to healthy plants by rain, wind and pruning tools.

You can help prevent the disease by spraying your pear tree with Ferti-lome Fire Blight Spray when the tree starts flowering during spring.  This helps prevent the disease from entering through the blooms.

Once the tree starts showing signs of blight it is too late to spray the tree.  You can prune off infected branches but avoiding the disease all together is best. 

Wild pears are blooming now and the fruiting and ornamental pears will be doing so very soon. Be pro-active and spray your tree while blooming and avoid this destructive disease from attacking your tree(s).

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Grafting: What is it? Why is it done?

Most are familiar with the term grafting, but do you know why most fruit trees, roses, camellias and countless other plants are grafted?  Without getting all scientific, I’ll not only explain why and what but also what to watch for in your grafted plants.

What is grafting?  It is the joining of 2 plants into one.  A grafted plant uses the roots and the bottom portion of one plant (called the rootstock) and the top part from another plant (called the scion).  All the top growth of a grafted plant comes from the scion.

The graft is easy to see on many plants – it can appear as a knot at the base of a rose bush or a crook in the trunk near ground level of an immature fruit tree. 

Why graft?  The grafting union allows the combining of characteristics of both plants to form a superior plant.  Rootstocks can contribute traits to improve yield, cold or drought hardiness and disease resistance.  The scion is usually a young shoot or bud from a plant with great flavor, color or disease resistance. 

It also is a reliable method of reproducing plants that do not grow true to type from seed. 

What to watch for: 

  • Suckers from the rootstock or roots.  They will appear below the graft and need to be removed.  They are not grown from the scion and will not perform the same way – bloom color could be different, growth rate is usually accelerated.
  • Don’t bury the graft joint underground.  The rootstock will grow its own plant and the scion will grow its own roots.  The plant will not be the same once this occurs.
  • If the scion dies the root stock can still be alive and will send up shoots (suckers).  This growth is not from the scion and will perform very differently.

Grafting dates back over 4000 years and there are many methods of grafting and all have their specific uses.  New strains of plants are developed this way and the benefits are many. 

If you want to try grafting yourself, watch a few YouTube videos, follow along and graft away.  It’s a great project to do with the kiddos, they can help and watch the new plant grow.

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