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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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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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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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What Do The Numbers On A Bag Of Fertilizer Mean?

Fertilizers have 3 numbers listed on their container known as N-P-K

N = Nitrogen which makes your plant grow and makes it greener.

P = Phosphorus makes it bloom, fruit and build good roots

K = Potassium heat and cold hardiness

Hang in there – we’re going to talk numbers, but I’ll keep it simple.  The NPK numbers tell you how much of each item is in the fertilizer.  Knowing what the NPK does will help you choose the fertilizer for your need.

General Lawn fertilizers – look for a larger 1st number.  (29-0-4)

To increase blooms or fruiting – look for a larger 2nd number (12-24-12)

For all purpose fertilizing – look for a balanced number (13-13-13)

For you Geeks, if you add up the numbers of the NPK it totals the amount of fertilizer in the bag.  For example, the total fertilizer in a bag of 13-13-13 equals 39.  So, 39% of the material in the bag is fertilizer and 61% is filler which helps in spreading the fertilizer.

Fillers can include sand, limestone, sawdust, clean or sterile dirt, peat moss, sphagnum, ground corn cobs or other similar fillers.

You may have noticed that organic fertilizers show much lower N-P-K numbers than a synthetic fertilizer.  By law, the ratio can only list nutrients that are immediately available to a plant. Many organic fertilizers contain slow-release nutrients that are available over time instead of immediately and therefore cannot be counted in the N-P-K numbers.  However, they will continue to fertilize a plant longer than a synthetic fertilizer. 

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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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A Little Bit About Grass Seed Planting

I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about the best type of grass seed to plant. My answer is two part –

1) the ground temp is still a bit cool to germinate all of the seed, so I’d suggest waiting a couple of weeks;

2) are you planting in sun or shade?

Common Bermuda is the most economical grass to plant and the most forgiving. It germinates in 5-10 days and grows in most soil conditions and is drought resistant. It will spread and cover your yard quickly. It does best in sun and does not do well in shade.

Centipede Grass germinates slower than Bermuda – up to 30 days. It also prefers sun but will tolerate shade. It is an aggressive grower when healthy and will choke out weeds and other grasses. Being heat tolerant and low-maintenance it is a favorite in East Texas.

Zoysia Grass is a dense turf and once established creates a thick lawn that also chokes out weeds. However, getting it established from seed can take a long time. Germination is 21 days, but its growth rate is so slow most people choose to plant with plugs or sod. It prefers sun but tolerates more shade than Bermuda.

Methods for planting warm season grass seed can be spreading seed directly with a seed spreader or through hydromulching. This is a method of mixing a slurry of water, mulch, seed and fertilizer and spraying it on your soil through a hydroseeding machine.

There is no warm season grass seed that performs well in the shade in our area. The best grass for shade is St. Augustine but can only be planted from plugs or sod.

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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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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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