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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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Your Guide to Container Gardening

It’s time to create colorful plantings in your favorite pots or in new containers. Let’s up our game with Thriller, Filler, Spiller  2.0 by adding different textures or placing the plants in a non-traditional way in the container.

A quick review: Thriller is the focal point of the pot, the “wow” factor.  Filler is the plants that compliment the Thriller and fill in the rest of the space.  Spiller is a plant that drapes over the side of the container.

Switch it up and plant your Thriller in the back of the pot leaving room in front for layers of Filler plants ending with the Spiller cascading over the side of the container.  This creates more interest in the pot and accents different plants from different viewing angles.    

Using plants with different textures – flowing grasses, spiky leaves, small or large leaves – turns ho-hum into spectacular.  Use succulents and sedums in low bowls and place them on tables or ground level for an eclectic, clean look.

Keeping it Simple: A list of Thriller, Filler, Spiller plant suggestions for sun or shade containers is located in our Color House for your convenience.  

Below are 2 examples of large container plant-o-grams to get you started.

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5 Succulents That Are Hardy to East Texas

With winter coming up quickly, most succulents will need some sort of protection against the chilly air, or just brought inside where temperatures aren’t so low. However, these 5 succulents are ‘cool’ with the cool air and will be just fine when Jack Frost pays East Texas a visit!


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Euphorbia

With colorful pink, green, or white modified leaves (that look like flowers!) and its blue-green foliage, this low-maintenance perennial is perfect for your beds, borders, or containers. Euphorbia is tough and offers outstanding heat and drought resistance. Instead of showy flower petals, euphorbia has modified leaves, called bracts. This plant is a vigorous grower, reaching 1-3 feet in height and 2 feet in width at maturity, so it can quickly fill a garden space.


Hens & Chicks

Sempervivum are succulent, rosette forming plants belonging to the Crassulaceae family. They are commonly known as Hens & Chicks, and are called this because of the high number of offspring they produce — thus, a Hen and all her Chicks! The main attraction of these plants is their colorful rosettes of leaves. The rosettes are most striking in the spring and summer but even in the winter when growth stops, many varieties remain attractively colored.


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‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum

Sedums have become one of the most popular hardy plants in our area. What’s not to like? They are easy to grow; their thick, succulent leaves make them drought tolerant and they grow in full sun to light shade. Tall, upright sedums form clumps of foliage with massive flower heads which develop in summer and bloom in the fall and then provide food for the birds during the winter.


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Delosperma (Also known as Ice Plant)

Best grown in FULL SUN, Delosperma is an easy-to-grow herbaceous perennial. It can tolerate dry soil, shallow-rocky soil, and even full-on droughts. Glossy red-purple flowers bloom continuously from early summer until fall, and stand out against its fleshy, emerald-green leaves. The bright flower color paired with the long-blooming season and evergreen foliage makes ‘Ice Plant’ an easy choice as a groundcover or for a rock garden. A vigorous grower, Delosperma can reach 3-6 inches in height and a spread of 24 inches (or more!) at maturity.


‘Ogon’ Stonecrop Sedum

A small mass of brilliant, evergreen, solid yellow-gold, succulent foliage flushed with pink provides a bold color accent in rock gardens, along rock walls, or in mixed succulent containers. Makes an excellent pathway filler or ground cover. Does BEST in partial sun, reaching a spread of 8-12 inches at maturity.


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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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How to Use Bat Guano

Bat guano, or dung, has a long history of use as a soil enricher. It is obtained from only fruit and insect-feeding species of bats. Bat guano makes an excellent fertilizer; it’s fast-acting, has little odor, and can be worked into the soil prior to planting or during active growth.bat-guano-400x266

What Do They Use Bat Guano For?
There are several uses for bat guano. It can be used as a soil conditioner, enriching the soil and improving drainage and texture, and a suitable fertilizer for plants and lawns, making them healthy and green. It can be used as a natural fungicide and controls nematodes in the soil as well. In addition, bat guano makes an acceptable compost activator, speeding up the decomposition process. With so many uses, why would you not use bat guano?!

How to Use Bat Guano as a Fertilizer
As a fertilizer, bat guano can be used as top dressing or worked into the soil and can be use fresh or dried. Typically, this fertilizer is applied in smaller quantities than other types of manure.

Bat guano provides a high concentration of nutrients to plants and the surrounding soil. According to the NPK of bat guano, its concentration ingredients are 10-3-1. This NPK fertilizer analysis translates to 10 percent nitrogen (N), 3 percent phosphorus (P), and 1 percent potassium or potash (K). The higher nitrogen levels are responsible for fast, green growth. Phosphorus aids with root and flower development while potassium provides for the plant’s overall health.

Note: You may also find bat guano with higher phosphorus ratios, such as 3-10-1. Why? Some types are processed this way. It’s also believed that the diet of some bat species may have an effect. For example, those feeding strictly on insects produce higher nitrogen content, whereas fruit-eating bats result in a high phosphorus guano.

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How to Rid yourself of Snails!

We all know the joy of plants can come at a price, whether it be a plant disease, fungus, or pest. We love growing and caring for our vegetables, shrubs and indoor houseplants, but one snail can ruin a plant in a very short span of time. If you’re not sure if you have a snail problem, or how to fix it, you’re in the right place.snAil

With snails, most of the damage happens at night, when they emerge to feed. They prefer clipping tender, young shoots, but may chew irregular holes through leaves and flowers or feed on soft fruits and the bark of young plants. As they move around, snails leave a slimy trail that dries to a silvery film by morning.

Control of snails is a major problem in all habitats. There are many things that can be done to reduce the potential of a problem occurring. Eliminate (as much as you can), items that are sitting on the ground (as they are possible resting places for these slimy pests) such as boards, boxes, stones, debris, weeds, plants in pots that have runners on the ground or any other items that provide shelter. Reducing hiding places decreases snail survival.121.png

A few options are available to kill the snails. You can treat for snails organically with Diatomaceous Earth or you can also rid yourself of snails chemically. Using a dust or solution that contains spinosad + iron phosphate can lure snails from their hiding spots. Bonide Slug & Bug bugandslugKiller contains both of these chemicals AND prevents those disgusting slime trails! Just spread the pellets around your garden, landscape, or in your indoor plants and start to enjoy your greenery again!

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Building Curb Appeal

15 Seconds……………

That’s about how long you have to create a good impression when a buyer first views your home. The moment they pull up, even before the car door opens, they’ve formed an opinion and you had better be sure it’s a good one!

“Because today’s buyers have much more to choose from in the way of inventory, any home for sale must make a positive first impression,” according to the National Association of Realtors.®

But the good news is, you can shape your prospective buyer’s opinion by maximizing your home’s curb appeal – and it’s not going to cost you a fortune.  Here are some ideas of how you can quickly improve the appeal of your home so that it doesn’t stagnate on the market and fetches the best possible price.   These same ideas work for those of you who just purchased a new home and wish to improve upon your existing curb appeal.

  • Eliminate Weeds

Kill them, pull them, dig them – whatever method you choose is up to you, but      get them out of your flower beds, sidewalks, driveways, and paths.

  • Prune or Trim existing plants and trees

Overgrown beds hide the beauty of your home.  Trim back overgrown shrubs,       prune branches from trees, thin out overgrown areas in your flower beds.  If you      are unsure how to properly trim or prune your shrubs and trees look on the internet for advice.  Neaten up any overgrown beds.

  • Plant Rye Grass (if selling in the fall / winter)

Make your yard stand out by having a bright, cheery, green lawn all through the    fall and winter.  It is simple and inexpensive to over-seed your existing lawn with           rye grass.  Just make sure you have not applied a pre-emergent to your lawn – it will prevent the rye seed from germinating.

  • Apply Pre-Emergent

If you are not going to over-seed with rye grass then apply a pre-emergent on your lawn.  This will prevent any cool season weed seeds from germinating and growing into weeds.  Your lawn won’t be green, but it won’t have weeds either.

  • Freshen Mulch

Spread a thin coat of mulch in your existing flower beds and it will make the bed   look much cleaner and new.

  • Replace Dead Plants

            If you have dead plants in existing landscapes then replace them with healthy       plants.  Dead plants give the appearance of neglect and a potential buyer will     wonder what else hasn’t been tended to other than just the plants.

  • Create an instant garden

Container gardens add a welcoming feel and colorful appeal to any home exterior — quickly and affordably. You can buy ready-made containers or create    your own with your favorite plants.

A staggered, asymmetrical arrangement of 3 to 5 pots creates a dynamic setting or flank both sides of the door with single matching pots.  Choose bold colors to add the “wow” to the neutral color of most homes.  The current trend is to combine several different type of plants into your pots designs – small shrubs, ornamental grasses along with an area for seasonal color.  The best part is you can take them with you if you are selling your home.

  • Add Outdoor Fountain to cover road noise

If you happen to be on a busy street and road noise is an issue in your outdoor     seating area you can minimize it with the sounds of falling water from a water           feature.  Offered in a variety of sizes and styles (ornate, contemporary, earthy) let the burbling sounds of falling water take the place of the sound of cars rushing by. Place fountains on level ground in optimum hearing and sight vantage points.

  • Add Seasonal Annual Color to Existing Beds

            Colorful annuals planted in groupings can make a statement that is easily seen     from the road.  These pops of color brighten up the yard and can help draw            attention to them and away from another area of the yard that you might want to          de-emphasize.

  • Create a new planting bed

Add contrast and color to your home with a new planting bed. Prime spots are at the front corners of the yard, along driveways or walkways, and immediately in         front of the house. When creating a new bed, choose features that will frame your home rather than obscure it.  Take advantage of our  “Plant by Number” design program – we design it and you plant it.  Best of all it’s free.

  • Outdoor Lighting

Low-voltage landscape lighting makes a huge impact on your home’s curb            appeal while also providing safety and security. Fixtures can add accent lighting to trees or the house or can illuminate a walking path. If you aren’t able to use lights that require wiring, install solar fixtures (but understand that their light levels are not as bright or as reliable).

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Are You Planting Shrubs Too Close Together?

It’s easy to do – planting small plants too close together.  It’s hard to believe that 12” plant will be 4-5’ tall and wide within a few years.  You might try pruning to maintain them for a while, but that gets really tiring and the plant doesn’t look right when it isn’t allowed to grow to its preferred size.

BROWNIE

INCORRECTLY SPACED PLANTS

We all want instant gratification so here’s some tips on how to create a fuller looking landscape while waiting on your shrubs to reach maturity:

  • Plant small annual flowers in groupings of 3s to fill gaps between your shrubs and edge of the bed.  This will also add a pop of color to your landscape.
  • Plant small annual flowers in front of your shrubs to form a colorful border.
  • Use liriope as accent plants – either as a border or in groupings.
  • Plant larger annuals (coleus, penta, dusty miller) which can grow to 1’ tall and wide in the bed to take up empty space.
  • Mulch your bed, besides helping retain moisture and block out weeds it gives the bed a finished look.
BROWNIE 4

CORRECTLY SPACED PLANTS

When setting out your plants in your flowerbed read the plant tag and plan on the plant reaching the largest size.  We have a long growing season and most plants will reach their full maturity size in our area.

Choose plants that will not require frequent pruning to “fit” into your space.  There are so many different species of plants in all textures and sizes to choose from.  Make sure and ask questions when choosing your plants.

A word of caution – the plant tag gives general information about the plant.  The same tag is used nationally and the plant can perform differently depending upon the climate of the area.  Not all plants like our Texas summer heat but this will not be listed on the plant tag.  Again, ask questions if you are unsure if a plant is right for a specific area.

To summarize – make sure to measure when planting your shrubs and plan for their growth.  Use the tips to make the bed look fuller until the shrubs mature.  Ask questions and ask for help when making your plant choices.  Follow these steps and you will have a beautiful landscape you can enjoy for years to come.

 

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Grab & Go: Trendy Planters Without the Effort

Ever wish you could have planters like those in trendy magazines full of beautiful plants grabandgofor each season.  You see them on decks, porches, patios, by the front door, or poolside.  Not everyone has the time or know-how needed to create containers that will last, but now you don’t have to.  Grab & Go containers from The Home & Garden Center are the answer.

What is a Grab & Go container?  It’s a pre-planted container in various size and price ranges enabling you to grab it and go with it to your home where you can either use it “as is” or drop the pot into your favorite container.  Either way, it gives you instant, professionally designed and planted containers like those magazine photos.

Custom Grab & Go containers are available also.  Choose the plants and container yourself or give us a color pallet and leave the rest to us.

We are planting spring and summer Grab & Go containers daily to keep up with the demand.

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