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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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The Girls: All About Tulip Magnolias

The yellow flowers of Forsythia bushes are blooming now so the Saucer Magnolias (tulip trees) will be next.  The Saucer Magnolia blooms in early spring and can sometimes be damaged by frost, resulting in fewer blooms or no blooms.

‘Ann’ Tulip Magnolia

In 1955 Dr. Francis de Vos a geneticist with the U.S. National Arboretum and in 1956 horticulturist William Kosar developed 8 new shrubby type saucer magnolias that bloomed later in the season in hopes of lessening frost damage and increasing blooms. 

These were known as the “Little Girl” magnolias and are the ones you find in most nurseries today.  (Ann, Betty, Jane, Judy, Pinkie, Randy, Ricki and Susan) They are smaller and more shrub-like than the standard Saucer Magnolia which can reach 25’.

The “girls” only grow to 15 feet tall and since they don’t form a dominant leader they are best left as oval shaped shrubs instead of trying to prune into trees.   The four most popular are ‘Ann’ (deep purple-pink), ‘Betty’ (pink-purple), ‘Susan’ (red-purple), and ‘Jane’ (light pink-purple). 

They will flower best when planted in full sun but will tolerate light afternoon shade.  Due to their smaller size they are an excellent accent plant in flower beds or as anchor plants in a widened bed at the corners of a house.

Pruning should be done after blooming but not after mid-summer.  The best time to fertilize is in the spring.  Well-drained soil is preferred.  The girls are slow growers so don’t expect them to gain more than a foot per year. 

Their blooms are a welcomed sight each year and signal that spring is almost here.  Even after their showy blooms have faded away the shrub is an attractive addition to your landscape.   

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Pruning Trees + Shrubs Series: Hydrangeas

As Fall turns to Winter our trees and shrubs become dormant and we naturally think “it’s time to prune”.  CAUTION!  You are entering a DANGER ZONE!  Pruning improperly can destroy what nature has taken years to create. 
Cutting dead looking stems off shrubs can eliminate all flowers the following year.  Pruning the wrong branches from trees can negatively affect their structure, overall beauty and decrease fruit production.
Ask questions, do a bit of research before grabbing the clippers or pruning saw.
This is the first of several articles offering “easy to follow” suggestions on pruning popular shrubs and trees.  Following these instructions will reward you with healthy, blooming trees and shrubs for years to come.

Let’s talk Hydrangeas

These beautiful shrubs brighten up the shady spots in our yards with multiple blooms on each plant during the spring, summer and into fall.  But if pruned incorrectly they will flower very little or not at all.
First step is to identify what type of Hydrangea you have.  Most hydrangea varieties bloom on last year’s growth – stems or branches that grew this year, will bear flowers next year.  This is common for mophead, lacecap and oakleaf hydrangeas.
Mopheads are known for their round balls of either white, pink or blue blooms.
Lacecaps are a flatter, multi-blooming flower resembling flat caps with frilly edges. 
Oakleaf are recognized by their distinctive leaves shaped like those of an oak tree.
These 3 types should be pruned after blooming (late summer/early fall).  These bloom for several months so you may need to selectively prune shoots that have already bloomed while leaving others to finish blooming through the season. 
If you prune these types of hydrangeas back to the ground in winter, you will not have flowers the following year.
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Reblooming Varieties:  If your hydrangea is one of the newer reblooming varieties (Endless Summer series, Forever & Ever series) they bloom on both current season’s growth as well as previous years branches.  These varieties should not be cut to the ground either – this will delay blooms.

How to Prune

1. Start by removing dead or damaged stems first.
2. If the plant is too large, cut the oldest shoots to the ground, giving the younger, smaller shoots more room to grow.  This will shorten and thin out the plant.
3. Cut back stems to just above a pair of healthy buds.
4. Varieties that bloom on old wood should be pruned immediately after they flower
Tip:  We suggest planting hydrangeas with non-deciduous shrubs in your landscape.  This will allow the focus to shift from the hydrangeas to these other shrubs during the winter months. 
By pruning at the correct time of year and using the correct pruning methods your Hydrangeas should reward you with a bounty of colorful blooms from spring through early fall.
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Fall in Love with Perennials

Perennials plants are such a versatile group of plants.  Hardier than annuals they return year after year to give color to your landscape and containers.  They are a good investment – buy them once and enjoy them for years.

If you aren’t familiar with perennials here’s some info:

  • Some are large and shrub-like and will bloom throughout the summer and come back next year and do it all over again.
  • Others are evergreen and stay green year-round – never dying back.
  • There are those that are smaller, sturdy plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds with their vibrant flowers.
  • Some varieties are lower growing and make good ground covers.
  • Many perennials are drought hardy and love the sun and heat (even in Texas!)
  • There are shade perennials that brighten up those shady areas too.

By adding perennials to your landscape you can create different looks as the seasons image1.JPGchange.  You can do so with color transitions as the weather turns from the coolness of spring to the heat of summer.  Plant pastel color perennials that finish their bloom cycle as the brighter yellow, oranges and reds of summer begin to bloom.

As your perennials age they can be divided into smaller plants – thus giving you FREE plants to use in your landscape and containers or to share with friends.  Who doesn’t love FREE plants!  Most divisions need to be done in the fall after the plant has completed its growing cycle for the year.

Perennials can be planted in groupings in your landscape or used as lower growing plants in front of your taller shrubbery to create depth in your flower beds.

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Use perennials in containers along with annual flowers to create more interesting plant combinations.  These showy plants can also be planted alone in containers – group these containers together and move them around to create different looks for your deck, patio and even in your landscape beds.

Many perennials are deer resistant which in our area is an added bonus!  They also attract butterflies and hummingbirds and are definitely pollinator friendly.

Perennials, with all of their uses, should be high on your “must have” list.  If you have questions about where and how to use them in your landscape we’d be happy to make suggestions.

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Hummingbirds are back! Tips & Tricks to take care of your special visitors!

Every year they arrive in areas all over the Lone Star State. Hummingbirds, on their way from their wintertime stay in Mexico to breeding grounds across the United States, pass hummerthrough Texas every spring and then return south in the fall. Texas offers a chance to spot more than a dozen hummingbird species, you just have to know when and where to look!

Most hummingbirds arrive in Texas between mid-March and early May, and these spring months offer great opportunities to spot hummingbirds across the state! Many hummingbirds stay in Texas to nest during summer, while others continue to areas farther north. The southward migration that takes place in August to September offers some of the best opportunities to see these birds as they return to their winter homes in great numbers. Only a handful of hummingbirds stay in Texas year-round, but an occasional winter sighting is possible.

ruby-throated-hummingbird-male.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smartRuby-throated hummingbirds are the most commonly-seen in Texas along with the black-chinned hummingbird, both nesting in Texas before returning to Mexico.

Ready to see some of these beautiful, humming beauties in your yard this year?

  1. By far, the BEST way to see these little birds is by adding plants to your containers and beds that will attract and feed them! We have many hummingbird-friendly plants at our Garden Center!
  2. Hang a hummingbird feeder on your porch or on a nearby tree and fill with sugar water or hummingbird syrup – remember to empty out the old solution and replace with new, as leaving old liquid in their feeder can make them sick!
  3. Place a birdbath near the feeder for them to use as well.  
  4. Get them used to getting close to you and your family by wearing sunglasses (hummingbirds aren’t fans of our eyes) so use sunglasses and a handheld feeder to get close!

Got bullies? Add more feeders in a clump! If you have one male hummingbird that is dominating your feeder to the exclusion of all others, there are two ways to afford your other hummingbirds a drink.

  • One is to put up other feeders on opposite sides of your house, or out of sight of Mr. Bully. Of course, this may simply mean that you are setting up other fiefdoms for other male bullies.
  • Perhaps a better solution is to add two or three more feeders in the vicinity of the first feeder. This will attract multiple hummingbirds, which will quickly cure your bully of his territoriality. He will not be physically able to fight off all the other hummingbirds, so he will give up trying.

Still unsure or have questions on how to get started? Don’t worry! We have plenty of feeders and hummingbird-friendly plants at The Home & Garden Center. Follow these tips and get humming!

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Getting Ready for Spring!

Here are some things you can do now to help your lawn and garden look it’s best this coming Spring!highyieldnewmain_1000
1. Get Your Tools Ready
The right tool for the job can make the difference between a job taking an hour, or taking all day.
The tools you need will depend on what you are wanting to accomplish in your garden but here are some of the basics:

*Large and/or small clippers for trimming large branches and
​      pruning small plants
*Gardening gloves
*Shovel (and wheelbarrow if needed for moving larger objects
and soil)
*Hand trowel for smaller holes, and for loosening and spreading
soil
*Large rake and/or hand rake, both are needed to clear your
garden loosen soil and clean plant beds
*Knee pads so you can garden, for longer, more comfortably

2. Prepare your soil
You might not be able to plant that veggie garden, or those gerber daisies you’re looking forward to, but you can prepare for them! Soil can make the difference between a thriving garden and a struggling one.

3. Clear Your Lawn and Garden
Better to do this now than pushing it off till spring. Rake your lawn and garden clear of the debris and dead plants from winter and add it to your compost.

4. Prep Your Perennials
If you didn’t already do so in the fall, prune the perennials that need it. If you have questions of whether it needs trimming, email us a picture at email@thgc.net.

5. Weed
Weed while topsoil is still damp, not because it’s easier, but to get to the weeds before they seed other parts of your lawn. Do not add weeds to your compost though, because then you’ll just be re-feeding the weeds back into your garden! Also, make sure to put out a pre-emergent! This will kill the weeds before they even sprout!

6. Mulch Mulch Mulch
Mulch is like a multivitamin for your garden. You can live without it, but everything blossoms better and has more vitality with mulch. It not only conserves water, but cools plant roots, feeds the soil over time and helps smother weeds.

7. Finishing Edge
An often overlooked step, edging your garden is like a trim between haircuts. It just makes things look much more polished and put together. A good edge, especially on borders and between flower beds and lawn, is that finishing touch that will elevate your garden’s look and appeal.

Now that everything’s ready, all that’s left to do is just wait for that moment when you can plunge your hands back into the soil!

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