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.
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.
We suggest cleaning up your perennials in the fall or late
winter to prepare them for their debut in spring. Doing so prior to new growth appearing will ensure
the plants look and perform their best.
Many perennials die back after the first hard freeze and
seem to just disappear. (Day lilies, Canas, etc.) Other varieties that are more woody based may
only partially die back and if not pruned become rangy and unattractive as new
growth appears. (Lantana, Salvia Greggii)
Ornamental grass needs trimming yearly before the growing
season begins. Liriope and some vining
ground covers will also require trimming.
How to trim:
The softer, tender perennials that died down
after the first freeze shouldn’t require trimming, just a clean up of the
Those woody based perennials should be cut back
to 6-10 inches high. They will grow
fuller and become more compact plants without all of the old woody growth.
Cut back your liriope and mondo grass to 2-3
inches tall. You can use your lawn mower
set on a high setting or a weed eater to make the job easier. Make sure to do this early – late trimming
will cause ragged tips on the new foliage.
The toughest job is trimming ornamental grasses
and this is covered in a separate article
This is also the best time to divide summer and fall blooming perennials. Dig the clumps and use a sharp knife to cut them into sections for replanting in the garden at the same depth they were growing.
Late winter is also a good time to move perennials to a new
location. If a plant is in the wrong
spot due to needing more or less sun/shade or requires better draining soil or
grows to large for the area, then move it.
As the perennials begin to grow in spring, give them some
fertilizer. This will boost their growth
and increase blooms.
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!
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
‘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.
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.
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
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.
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
Use different varieties of Dianthus to create a full
container – pair with a neutral pot to really show off the bold colors.
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
Strawberry Jar Planters can be used in more ways than one!
Plant Violas in different shades for an incredible ‘spill’ effect.
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!
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!
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.
Do you have bare spots in your yard where grass won’t grow? Under a large tree that is too shady for
grass? A slope or steep area? If you’ve answered “YES!” to any of these
questions, you may need a groundcover to solve your issue.
What is a groundcover? The definitive answer would be
“Any one of a group of low-lying plants with a creeping, spreading habit that
are used to cover sections of ground with minimal maintenance.”
Groundcovers can be used in so many ways:
mass plantings in your actual landscape,
adding color to a rock garden,
use in skinny walkway beds,
introducing new colors and textures to your
Also known as ‘Bugleweed’
This evergreen perennial (stays green all year) has a ground-hugging habit of growth. Ajuga sends up beautiful electric blue blooms that rise above its foliage from mid to late spring. It attracts butterflies but not deer. Ajuga loves to spread, plant in part-shade, and watch her thrive!
Also known as ‘Maleberry’
Japanese Ardisia shows off a rich, green color and dainty
clusters of pink star-shaped flowers at the ends of its branches during spring,
and red berries in mid fall. This multi-stemmed evergreen shrub is perfect for
areas that are shaded, moist and cool. Reaching a spread of 3 feet, this
part-shade to full shade lover makes for an excellent groundcover (and an
Also known as ‘Carex’
Sedge is a vigorous, mound-forming evergreen with striking,
grassy foliage. The gracefully arching stems of this plant bring a fine and
delicate addition to any garden. This groundcover is relatively
low-maintenance, and does well in partial shade or full shade, and spreads up
to 16 inches. Many native varieties of Sedge cultivar are right here among us
in East Texas! Sedge makes a great border edging, mass planting, and also works
well in mixed containers.
Also known as ‘Heuchera’
Coral Bells is an evergreen perennial with tall flower stalks
held atop a low mound of foliage. These tiny, delicate flowers come in as many
colors as its foliage does, from lime green to purple! This low-growing plant
is relatively low-maintenance and a good choice for attracting butterflies.
Coral Bells are perfect for containers, mass plantings, borders and rock
gardens. This evergreen can take full sun or full shade and can spread up to 18
Showing out in a rich, emerald color, Pachysandra is an
evergreen that looks amazing year-round. Spreading up to 1 ½ feet at maturity,
this perennial does best in part shade to morning sun. The bold, dark green
leaves make for a fantastic groundcover, or border for walkways. Small, bright
white flowers appear in early spring – though not particularly showy, the
flowers offer an ornate addition against the green background.
‘Blue Rug’ Juniper
This ground-hugging Juniper features silvery-blue foliage
that takes on a nearly purple tinge during winter and produces blue berries
from late spring to late winter. A dense, multi-stemmed evergreen, ‘Blue Rug’
Juniper is extremely adaptable and hardy – making for a great groundcover or
border, or even trailing over walls. A lover of full sun to part shade, this
Juniper can reach a spread of up to 7 feet!
Also known as ‘Moss Phlox’
Creeping Phlox puts on a show of bright, cherry red, blue or
white star-shaped flowers at the ends of the stems from early to late spring.
It’s tiny, needle-like leaves remain green in color throughout the year. This
evergreen blanket of flowers does best in full sun to part-shade, which makes
it perfect for border edging, mass planting or general ground cover. At
maturity, Creeping Phlox can spread up to 18 inches.
Ground cover sedums are a form of succulents that are winter
hardy and stay green throughout the year.
These are heat loving plants that grow well in full sun or partial sun
and are drought tolerant! They come in a variety of colors, some have
variegated leaves and bloom in late Summer through Fall. Use in rock gardens, as ground cover in
landscape beds, as spillers in containers or in hanging baskets.
Also known as ‘Ice Plant’
This is a multi-purpose plant with succulent type foliage. It blooms in bright colors from Spring
through Fall, stays green throughout the winter, loves full sun and heat but
will also perform in partial sun. Good
for rock gardens, a spiller in containers, and in hanging baskets.
Standard Mondo Grass
This old standby is an evergreen perennial with grass like
stems and small purple flower spikes which bloom throughout the Spring and
Summer. It is slow growing and spreads
through runners. It can be easily divided
and moved to other areas and requires minimal care once established. Mass plantings are striking – giving the
appearance of a deep green lawn. Plant
in shade or part shade.
This woody stemmed favorite grows well in a variety of soils
and conditions. It is a great erosion
control on slopes and on the side of creeks or ditches. It can be cut with a weedeater or even with a
mower set on the highest setting if it becomes too tall for the area. Plant in partial sun to full sun.
Another shade loving groundcover which keeps its dark green
color year-round. This plant runs along
the ground and sets roots along the stem.
It can become invasive and grow up into trees if not contained.
Evergreen flowering herb that is covered with a blanket of
pink-purple blossoms in the Spring. It
can handle some light foot traffic and reaches a height of 3”. Grows in full sun to partial shade.
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.
Mint, or mentha, is grown practically everywhere in the world; therefore, it makes appearances in almost every cuisine. This versatile culinary herb is delicious both dried and fresh.
So, why do people hate growing mint? Bring up the topic of mint with many a gardener, and you’ll be greeted with a resounding, “Don’t plant mint! It will take over your yard!” With thoughtful preparation and placement, however, mint can be a wonderful and containable addition to your culinary garden.
Perennial or Annual?
Mint is a hardy perennial that is one of the first to arrive each spring. It also retains its potency of flavor over the years.
How to Plant Mint
Where: Mint performs its best in full sun if the soil is kept moist, but it also thrives in partial shade. Mint is considered an invasive plant, since it sends out “runners” and spreads vigorously. Don’t let that fact deter you from enjoying fresh mint in your garden. Opt to grow mint in containers or, if you want to plant mint in the ground, submerge it in a large container and leave about two inches of the rim exposed above the soil to prevent spreading.
When: Plant mint at any time. Mint is sturdy and resilient. Don’t waste your time starting mint from seed.
How to Cultivate Mint
Soil: Mint thrives in moist, rich soil. To keep the soil moist, cover the soil with a little mulch.
Sun: Mint can grow in sun or part shade. If you are planting mint indoors, where it also performs well, make sure you place your container near a sunny window.
Water: Regular watering is really the only maintenance mint needs. Always keep the soil moist.
How to Harvest Mint
Mint is another herb that is easy to harvest, and can be harvested at any time. In fact, regular harvesting is encouraged, in order to prevent legginess. You may opt to harvest most of the plant at once, clipping away up to 2/3 of the length of the stems, or you may clip away only what you need.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Killer 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!