Divide Agapanthus Now for Spring Blooms by Yvonne Schneider

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Divide Agapanthus Now

It can take four years or more for Agapanthus bulbs (Agapanthus africanus), to multiply or naturalize.

Large clump of Agapanthus that needs dividing

Agapanthus are best divided and transplanted in the fall for spring blooms.

Eventually you’ll want to tackle large bunches and divide Agapanthus to ensure your lilies continue to produce those lovely blue or white bloom clusters. In the Austin area, these lilies bloom in mid-to-late spring, typically around Mother’s Day. As these are also great container bulbs, you can pot extras to gift to family and friends, or to enjoy on your patio.

Easy Dividing Technique

Grab your gloves, a spade, a hand spade or knife, and a watering can or hose for this activity. The easiest way to divide Agapanthus is to lift the entire bunch with a spade, digging in a circle around the bunch approximately 8-12 inches beyond the foliage.

The lilies develop a large mass of white fleshy roots which often travel as much as 16 inches beyond the foliage tips, but it’s okay to cut the roots for easier lift and transplant. The root system is typically no more than a foot deep, which is also why the roots develop a tangled web extending out from the foliage.

Once you have the bunch extracted, shake off the soil to expose the roots. If not too tight, use your hands to gently divide the bulbs into single shoots by pulling apart. If tight, use a hand-spade or knife to separate the bulbs, while paying attention to maintain several roots per bulb. Don’t worry if you accidently sever some roots, a single root on a bulb will maintain the bulb’s life.

Agapanthus clump extracted and plants selected for dividing.

Extracted Agapanthus bunch.

Agapanthus separated and ready for transplanting

Separated Agapanthus bulb shoots.

Thinning Works Too

If you prefer to thin the plants rather than removing the entire bunch, look for a single or group of bulbs around the exterior and using a spade, make a slice in between the main grouping and that you’d like to remove. Remove as many bulbs or grouping of bulbs you’d like and then detangle into individual bulb shoots with your hands or by cutting with a spade or knife.

Bulbs Need Soil and Some Shade

Agapanthus grow in USDA zones 8-10 and require full sun to part shade while preferring well-prepared or composted soil. These bulbs can withstand a lot of water, but also do well with minimum incremental water during our times of drought. Agapanthus do best in our area with a little shade from the hot afternoon sun, such as the understory of a tree. For best blooming, ensure the bulb receives at least four hours of sunlight a day.

Once you’ve selected your spot, dig a hole twice as wide as the root system and only as deep as is necessary to sit the bulb so that the neck is slightly above the soil line. Build a small mound of soil underneath each bulb and spread the roots out in a circular fashion. After placing all the bulbs, fill in the soil and gently pat in place.

Replanted agapanthus with roots spread

Spread roots in a circular fashion.

Newly divided plants placed in soil

Keep bulb neck slightly above the soil line.

Water the entire area to give the roots sufficient moisture to recover from the shock of the transplant. Cut off damaged foliage so all the plants’ energy will focus on root development and sustaining the healthy foliage. With the cooler nights coming, add a layer of 1-2 inches of mulch around the bulbs to help protect the roots and to assist with moisture retention. Continue to water daily to every other day for the first week if no rain. After the first week, water every 3rd day for another week or two and then allow mother nature to take over.

Maintaining Agapanthus

In early spring, your bulbs will enjoy a little compost to help their continued development. Once the blooms have turned brown and the birds have enjoyed the seeds, cut the flower stalk off at the base. If desired, you can add a little bone meal or 5-10-5 fertilizer to help with the development of next year’s blooms. The strappy foliage is evergreen, so you will have the entire year to enjoy the mounds of greenery. New hybrids are being developed, producing bulbs with deeper purple blooms as well as new dwarf varieties reaching only 18 inches tall – so just another reason to enjoy an Agapanthus in a container or in-ground.

Additional Resources

Bulbs for Central Texas

October Gardening Checklist

Yvonne Schneider, guest blogger

Yvonne was a 35+year veteran in the computer and information technology industry when she retired and moved from Houston to the Austin area. In 2018, Yvonne certified as a Travis County Texas Master Gardener to follow her passion for gardening and volunteering within the community. She has spent 20+ years enjoying gardening and working with bulbs and perennials. She now tackles the challenges presented by the Austin area wildlife, drought, and limestone soil.

Giant Sea Squill – a Fall Bulb to Try by Yvonne Schneider

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Late Summer Surprise

Last fall, I had seen bulbs called Giant Sea Squill (Urginea Maritima a syn. for  Drimia maritima) that were perfect for the desert/arid air areas that bloom in the fall and go dormant in the summer. The online description said they would grow in sand and prefer to grow in a dry area. The site also claims that all I have to do to is dig a hole, water it in, and walk away. Could that work in Travis County? Looking for more late fall/winter blooms, I decided to give this one a try.

Close up view of the flowering stalk of Urginea Maritima

Flowering stalk of Urginea Maritima.

Plant Giant Sea Squill in Shallow Hole

The bulbs are large – about 6 inches in length and width. Start with grabbing your gloves, a spade and a watering can. Locate a spot that doesn’t receive regular irrigation, as these bulbs are similar to other Mediterranean plants – they want dry roots most of the time.

Bulbs of Urginea Maritima are large

Bulbs of Urginea Maritima are large.

The bulbs tolerate limestone soils but need at least six inches for the hole. Luckily, these are the type of bulb where you leave the neck slightly exposed above the ground. After replacing the existing soil around the bulb, just water in well and walk away. Let mother nature takes its course.

Plant in Spring

The bulbs did not flower last winter as a fall blooming bulb is normally planted in the spring (off-season of bloom time). However, all the bulbs produced foliage, which emerges after the bloom. This year, much to my surprise, a flower stalk emerged right after our recent first cool spell. Having planted 6 of these, I can’t wait to see what the other bulbs will do, since they had a little more vertical soil beneath them before the bed of limestone. I wasn’t expecting to see a bloom for another month, so loved the nice surprise the first bulb has provided. This one really lived up to the product description!

More Information

Giant Sea Squill is native to the rocky coastal Mediterranean region and will not tolerate wet soils. It also exudes latex-like sap when cut which can be a skin irritant. The plant is considered toxic, so don’t place it in an area where pets and children may be tempted to eat or handle the flowers or foliage.

Giant Squill plant

Giant Squill can reach heights of 4 feet.

Giant Squill foliage starting to emerge in fall

Greenery just starting to emerge. The swirling leaves will last about 2 months.

Additional Resources

Bulbs for Central Texas

October Gardening Checklist

Yvonne Schneider, guest blogger

Yvonne was a 35+year veteran in the computer and information technology industry when she retired and moved from Houston to the Austin area. In 2018, Yvonne certified as a Travis County Texas Master Gardener to follow her passion for gardening and volunteering within the community. She has spent 20+ years enjoying gardening and working with bulbs and perennials. She now tackles the challenges presented by the Austin area wildlife, drought, and limestone soil.

Oxblood Lilies Require Patience by Yvonne Schneider

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Oxblood Lilies: Plant and Forget

I admit it, I am not patient. I couldn’t wait for the temperatures to dip so I could begin the fall gardening rituals. And then I saw a White (Fragrant) Mistflower just delivered to a local nursery and had to have it. I had the perfect spot – where I had planted three pink Oxblood lily (Rhodophiala bifida) bulbs in the spring, and nothing was materializing.

Pink Oxblood lily

Pink Oxblood lily, Rhodophiala bifida.

As lilies go, Oxblood bulbs are the ‘plant it and forget it’ type. And I truly had until I saw the foliage popping out for the red Oxblood lilies in my perennial flower bed. And then I remembered that when I planted the pink Oxbloods, a night prowler had dug them up and I had to replant a couple of times. When the red variety began showing signs of life, and nothing for the pinks, I decided that was a failed experiment. I happily began digging up the area to plant the mistflower, when to my surprise I dug up 3 sprouting bulbs – the pink Oxbloods! In fact, now there were 5 (2 offsets/babies) and I just disturbed their peace.

Manage the Light Requirements

What I didn’t take into account was this area only receives morning sun, whereas the area with the red Oxblood lilies receive all day sun, slightly shaded by the understory of a Red Oak. If I had waited a couple more weeks, the pink Oxblood bulbs would be sprouting their foliage. At this point, I had done the damage, so decided to quickly replant all 5 bulbs in another bed that receives slightly more sun, as Oxblood lilies prefer sun or part sun.

Planting Tips

Oxblood Lily

Oxblood lilies, Rhodophiala bifida, are fall bloomers.

To plant, you need is a pair of gloves, spade, and a watering can. Oxblood lilies are planted with their top slightly exposed above the ground. Most bulbs sold are 5-7 cm (2-4 inches) in diameter. Set the bulbs in the pattern desired (it’s aesthetically pleasing to plant a grouping in odd numbers).

As with all bulbs, you can add a little bone meal or 5-10-5 fertilizer to the hole, but if you do, be sure to cover with soil prior to placing the bulb. Then replace the existing soil around the bulb, water well, and mulch around the area. If you’d like, add a stake or other indicator to remind you where the bulbs have been planted. Their necks should be slightly exposed, but if you have other plants also growing, a stake is a helpful reminder. Then let mother nature do her thing to supply required water. The Oxbloods will reward you year after year with exquisite beauty just as the summer is winding down.

Hoping for Forgiveness

Only time will tell if those pink Oxbloods will reward me for finding them a new home. Patience, I keep telling myself.

Additional Resources

October Gardening Checklist

Bulbs for Central Texas

Yvonne Schneider, guest blogger

 

 

 

Yvonne was a 35+year veteran in the computer and information technology industry when she retired and moved from Houston to the Austin area. In 2018, Yvonne certified as a Travis County Texas Master Gardener to follow her passion for gardening and volunteering within the community. She has spent 20+ years enjoying gardening and working with bulbs and perennials. She now tackles the challenges presented by the Austin area wildlife, drought, and limestone soil.

In the Fall Vegetable Garden by Patty Leander

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October is for Establishing the Fall Vegetable Garden

By October the fall vegetable garden should be rocking and rolling!

Colorful mustards, kale and chard are attractive additions to the fall landscape.

Colorful mustards, kale and chard are attractive additions to the fall landscape.

The arrival of fall in Central Texas brings cooler temperatures and the potential for more dependable precipitation, both of which revive the pleasure of vegetable gardening. This is the best month to get cool season vegetables in the ground and growing vigorously before cold weather sets in. Remember that vegetables need sunlight to thrive. Lettuce, arugula and other leafy greens may produce adequately in less than full sun conditions but generally the more sun the better as we move into fall with shorter days and less intense sunlight.

Plant Cool Season Crops

Kohlrabi is a versatile fall vegetable

Kohlrabi is a versatile vegetable that is good raw or cooked.

If you haven’t planted any cool season crops for your fall vegetable garden, now is the time. Transplants of Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Asian greens should be available for purchase at local garden centers. Directly seed turnips, radishes, kohlrabi, beets and carrots right in your planting beds. They make good candidates for a square foot garden, raised bed culture, or container gardening. Kohlrabi can be quite ornamental in the garden and a conversation starter for those who are unfamiliar with it. Grow it for its bulb-like enlarged stem that develops just above the soil and is ready for harvest about 2 months after planting. It is a versatile vegetable for roasting, mashing, sauté or thinly sliced for salad or slaw. Cook the edible leaves just like collards.

Watch Out for Hungry Caterpillars

Cabbage loopers and other caterpillars can damage fall vegetable crops

Inspect plants regularly for caterpillars that can severely damage leaves of cole crops. Use row cover or netting to protect plants from egg-laying moths.

Be on the lookout for cabbage loopers and cross-striped cabbage worms on broccoli, cabbage and other brassicas. That little brown and beige moth that flits around your newly planted cole crops is the mama. These ravenous caterpillars can devour a leaf (or leaves) in no time and they start out so tiny you hardly notice them. Carefully inspect the underside of leaves and hand-pick or treat with products containing Bt or spinosad. These are persistent pests so regular monitoring is necessary.

Vegetable Gardener Checklist for October:

Here is the vegetable gardener’s checklist for October (for more gardening chores, see the Monthly Gardening Calendar.)

Planting

      • Plant garlic now for harvest next June. Separate cloves and plant each one pointy side up, 2” deep and 6” apart. ‘Texas White’ and ‘California Early’ are softneck varieties that do well in Central Texas.
      • Plant lettuce and spinach, either from seed or transplant. When seeding directly in the garden use a thermometer to check the temperature a few inches below the soil; seeds germinate best when soil temperature is below 75°. For seeding directly into the garden press seeds into moist soil and barely cover. Thin to the proper spacing after they emerge and enjoy the thinnings in a salad.

        Grow your own tasty mesclun for salads in the fall vegetable garden

        Grow your own tasty mesclun for salads.

      • Grow your own mesclun in the garden or in a container right outside the back door. Purchase seeds mixes or make your own by combining seeds of different lettuce varieties with similar days to harvest. Scatter the seeds over moist soil and press lightly. They will germinate in 6-10 days and tiny leaves will be ready to harvest about a month later. Plant a small section every couple of weeks for a continual harvest over the winter.

Additional Resources

Recommended Vegetable Varieties for Travis County

Vegetable Seed Sources

Vegetable Gardening in Austin

In the Vegetable Garden with Patty G. Leander

 

 

Patty G. Leander is a contributing editor for Texas Gardener magazine and an active member of the Travis County Master Gardener Association with an Advanced Master Gardener specialty in vegetables. She has been growing vegetables year-round in her Austin garden for over 20 years, encouraging the use of sound, horticultural principles that will lead to a bountiful harvest.

Iris Dividing Time by Yvonne Schneider

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Iris Dividing is Easy

Iris in full bloom

Iris may need dividing every 2 to 3 years

Now that temperatures are out of the 100+ category, it’s time to get out there and begin dividing iris. Irises have no issues with being divided, making them the perfect plant to spread around your yard or share with neighbors. Here is how to divide overcrowded clumps. You’ll need a pair of gloves, a digging fork, a spade, hand pruners, and a bucket to store your extra rhizomes.

How to Identify Overcrowding

Iris clump ready for dividing

You may need a knife or pruners to separate rhizomes.

You can tell that your irises are crowded when the larger rhizomes start to push above the ground in search of more space. Use a digging fork or spade to remove the entire clump. You’ll be able to untangle many of the rhizomes with your hands, but if they are especially tight, use a pair of hand pruners or a knife to separate them.

As you separate, inspect the rhizomes, eliminating any that are decaying or soft. Cut back the foliage to 4-6 inches from the rhizome to promote focus on setting roots, rather than sustaining the foliage. New foliage will emerge in the spring, so don’t worry! Use a bucket to store the keepers.

Crowded iris clump pushing up rhizomes

Overcrowded rhizomes push above ground.

Trim foliage back to about six inches

Trim foliage back to about six inches.

Don’t Plant too Deep

Plant iris on top of soil and then cover with 1/4 inches of mulch.

Plant iris on top of soil and then cover with 1/4 inches of mulch.

Central Texas summer heat can be hard on the rhizomes, so it’s generally recommended that you plant them about ¼ inch below the surface of the soil. Alternatively, you can plant them directly on top of soil and add about ¼ inch of mulch. Don’t plant them too deep. Iris need light on their rhizomes to set blooms for the next year.

It’s not necessary to add any fertilizer as irises don’t require much support other than from mother nature. But, if your soil tests show the need, you can add a little bone meal or a small amount of 5-10-5 fertilizer to the bottom of the hole and cover with about an inch of soil. Avoid placing a rhizome directly on top of the fertilizer.

Somewhat Deer Resistant

I can attest that the deer and other wildlife steer clear of these beauties. The deer might nibble on the first bloom stalk, but after that they leave everything alone for our enjoyment. These make great cut flowers to enjoy indoors as well as outdoors. Once the buds start to open, cut them in the morning and bring them in the house. The flower will continue to open and are fairly long lasting in the vase. And the best thing about irises? I do nothing to support them but once every two to five years. How easy is that?

Additional Resources

September Gardening Checklist

Bulbs for Central Texas

Yvonne Schneider, guest blogger

 

 

 

Yvonne was a 35+year veteran in the computer and information technology industry when she retired and moved from Houston to the Austin area. In 2018, Yvonne certified as a Travis County Texas Master Gardener to follow her passion for gardening and volunteering within the community. Having spent 20+ years enjoying gardening and working with bulbs and perennials, she is now tackling the challenges presented by the Austin area wildlife, drought, and limestone soil.

In the Vegetable Garden by Patty Leander

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Time for the Fall Vegetable Garden!

Another triple degree summer is thankfully coming to an end which means it’s time to get the fall vegetable garden underway.

Swiss chard can be grown from seed or transplants and does well in a container or in the ground.

Swiss chard can be grown from seed or transplants and does well in a container or in the ground.

There may still be a few scorchers ahead but at some point this month we’ll see a slight shift in the weather as nighttime temperatures g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y start to cool off making it more feasible to plant seeds and transplants, especially if you provide some type of shade cover for new plantings. The average first frost in Central Texas can be expected around the first week of December which gives us approximately three months of good growing weather for cold sensitive plants such as green beans, cucumbers and squash. Plant seeds of these vegetables as soon as you can and choose quick-growing varieties that produce in 50-60 days.

Plants that prefer cool weather, including broccoli, cabbage, kale, beets, carrots, radishes and peas can be planted later in the month. They are very hardy once established in the garden and can withstand light freezes. Even if you don’t have the space for an in-ground garden many fall vegetables and herbs are well suited for growing in containers that can be placed in a sunny location near the house for easy access.

September Vegetable Garden Checklist

Here is the vegetable gardener’s checklist for September (for more gardening chores, see the Monthly Gardening Calendar.)

What to Plant

  • Always plant seeds and transplants into moist soil for improved germination and establishment.

    Transplants being soaked before planting

    Give transplants a good soaking before planting in the ground.

  • Gradually expose vegetable transplants to outdoor conditions before moving them to the garden, especially if they have been grown in a cool indoor environment.
  • Plant bush beans, summer squash or cucumbers; seeds of these quick-growing crops will germinate in less than a week and most varieties start producing in less than 60 days.
    Seed packets with days to harvest date

    When growing beans, cucumbers or squash in the fall choose varieties that have the shortest ‘Days to Harvest’ to ensure production before cold weather arrives.

    Check the seed packet and choose varieties that have the shortest ‘Days to Harvest’ to ensure production before cold weather arrives.

  • Transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, arugula, kohlrabi, Swiss chard and Asian greens can be planted this month. Pay attention to the weather forecast and try to plant when we have a slight break from the hottest temperatures. Provide shade for new plantings during the first couple of weeks to make the transition easier.
Window screen providing shade for transplants

Shade helps plants transition to their outdoor environment. Use shade cloth, old window screens, bed sheets or burlap to fashion a temporary shade covering for new transplants.

    • Plant seeds of sugar snap, snow peas and/or English peas during the latter part of the month. They will start producing in about 2 months, just in time for Thanksgiving, and hopefully will keep producing right up until Christmas.
    • Root crops – carrots, beets, radishes and turnips – can be planted from seed this month. Plant a small section every 10-14 days to ensure a continuous harvest.
    • Wait to plant lettuce and spinach – they grow best in cooler weather. Start seeds in small pots now for transplanting to the garden next month.
    • Fall herbs that can be planted this month include cilantro, dill, fennel, oregano and mint. Transplants should start showing up in nurseries soon.

      Fennel ready to be transplanted into the vegetable garden

      Cool season herbs that can be planted this month include dill, cilantro, oregano, fennel, thyme and sage.

  • Add some colorful blooms to the vegetable garden with plantings of alyssum, calendula, petunias, snapdragon and nasturtiums.

When to Fertilize

  • Feed vegetables with a water-soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks for fast and vigorous growth.

Other Maintenance

  • Remove plants that are past their prime or no longer producing. Revive the soil with a layer of compost and mulch before the next round of planting.
  • Prepare one or more compost bins to collect leaves, grass, kitchen waste and landscape trimmings.
  • Don’t be intimidated by forecasts of 100° days; remember that is only the high and it takes all day to get there. If your schedule allows (and your yard is not infested with mosquitoes) early morning is the best time for fall gardening!
  • Order garlic for planting in October. Many online sources sell out quickly so order early for the best selection.
  • Mulch planting areas to conserve moisture, moderate soil temperature and limit weed growth.

 

In the Vegetable Garden with Patty G. LeanderPatty G. Leander is a contributing editor for Texas Gardener magazine and an active member of the Travis County Master Gardener Association with an Advanced Master Gardener specialty in vegetables. She has been growing vegetables year-round in her Austin garden for over 20 years, encouraging the use of sound, horticultural principles that will lead to a bountiful harvest.

Don’t Plant Unidentified Seeds – Mystery Seeds Arriving Through the Mail

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Over the last several days, residents have been receiving packages of unidentified seeds that they did not order. They arrive from China labeled as jewelry or other items.  The USDA is investigating and is asking everyone for help tracking packages. It’s also important that you don’t plant unidentified seeds, no matter what the source.

Do This if You Get This Package

If you receive one of these packages, or knows of someone who does, please do the following:

  1. Do not open or plant the contents. Keep contents contained in their original sealed package.
  2. Report it via email to: Carol Motloch USDA-APHIS-PPQ State Operations Coordinator, carol.m.motloch@usda.gov
  3. Your email should include your email and phone number, a description of the package contents, and label, and photos of the contents, package, and label if you can.
  4. Put the seed and packing materials in a ziploc bag to safeguard the items. You will be contacted by USDA and given further instructions about collection.

More Information

The reason the packages are sent and how they are getting names and addresses is unknown. The real concern with unidentified seeds is that they may be invasive. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller issued a warning on the unsolicited seeds July 27.  Dr. Kevin Ong, the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory Director for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has also posted information via YouTube on the matter. Dr. Ong’s video has photos of the packaging so that you can see what they may look like.

Best Practice for Handling Unidentified Seed – Don’t Plant It!

No matter what the source, don’t plant unidentified seeds because you don’t know if they are invasive or not. An “invasive species” is a non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. The term can apply to plants, insects or animals. You can read more on which species are considered invasive for Texas at TexasInvasives.org. You can get help identifying mystery plants by contacting the Master Gardener Help Desk or Ask the Agents.

More Resources

Visit the Travis County Horticulture page to get help with vegetable gardening, ornamental plants, pests, and more.

Travis County AgriLife Extension Goes Virtual – All Staff Teleworking

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The office is closed, but we’re still here!

In order to protect the health and safety of our employees and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhart issued an order directing Travis County Executives, Elected Officials, and Appointed Officials to implement temporary teleworking arrangements for employees whose job duties are conducive to working from home. That includes all Extension staff and volunteers for both Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M University Extension Programs. In addition to this, all face to face AgriLife educational programs have been suspended.

But even though we aren’t in the office, we can still help.

How to Contact Us

Gardening Questions:

Email

   Phone message

travismg@ag.tamu.edu

   512.710.7098

Online:

Ask The Agents

Fill out the online form and either a Master Gardener or an Extension Agent will respond.

All Other Programs:

Travis County Extension Staff

Find the email of the person you are trying to reach and he/she/they will respond when able.

Limited Phone Service (messages only):

512-854-9600

Available weekdays from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Our office manager has routed the calls to her home. She will help you locate the email address or phone number of the person you are trying to reach.

 

Check the Event Calendar for Program Status

We’ll update our event calendar as things get back to normal. Cancellations are noted.

Stay Safe!

Help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your bent elbow or tissue
  • wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • don’t touch your face with unwashed hands
  • stay home when you are sick

We’ll see you soon.

It’s Time to Garden in Austin!

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Spring has Sprung in Travis County

Peggy Martin Rose in full bloom at the Earth-Kind Demonstration Garden on Smith Road

Peggy Martin Rose in full bloom outside the AgriLife office in the Earth-Kind Demonstration Garden on Smith Road

St. Valentine’s Day is the first day of spring for many gardeners in Travis County. February 14th is usually the start of milder weather and with any luck, the hard freezes are over. Now is the time to garden: prune your roses, start your spring vegetable garden, restart your compost, and get a jump on weeds these few weeks before warmer air arrives in April.

Get Expert Advice from Master Gardeners at These Events

Travis County Master Gardeners are out and about all through the month of March, giving you a great opportunity to get your questions answered and receive expert advice from gardeners who have experienced many of your same challenges. There are several Plant Clinics and a seminar that you can attend.

Most noteworthy on April 4th is the the 14th Annual East Austin Garden Fair. There are over 60 booths on gardening and healthy living, which include DIY projects and kids activities.

Monthly Gardening To-Do List

For even more great advice, check out our monthly gardening calendar. Your to-do-list for March should include the following activities to make the most of your time to garden:

  • Test your soil then use the results to apply fertilizer to blooming shrubs and the vegetable garden. Hold off on fertilizing your lawn until April.
  • Make sure to irrigate if your soil is dry, and water deeply if frost is predicted.
  • Add compost and water it in well to establish good soil contact.
  • Stay on top of weeds so they don’t go to seed.

Call or Email For More Help

We’re here to help. Please call, email, or stop by the AgriLife office and one of our volunteer Master Gardeners will assist.

Leaf Landscape Supply Rescues Pfluger Bridge Demonstration Garden

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Duranta erecta donated by Leaf Landscape Supply

Brazilian Sky Flower, Duranta erecta, showing off winter berries.

Pfluger Bridge Plants Replaced – Thank you Leaf Landscape Supply!

Leaf Landscape Supply

Last month someone stole several plants from our adopted bed on the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge. Sadly, these sort of things happen in public gardening spaces.

When Cathy, the Manager of Leaf Landscape Supply North, heard the story, she arranged for Leaf to donate several plants as replacements. The new plants went into the planting bed over President’s Day weekend.

Texas Superstar® Plants and “Bling”

Penny Series Pansy being used for pops of color in the planting bed

Penny™ Series Pansy gives pops of color in the planting bed.

Leaf’s donation includes several Texas Superstar® plants and a few flats of annuals to give the bed a pop of color. You can see the entire list here. The Brazilian Sky Flower, Duranta erecta, steals the show with its small orange berries. Birds love these berries as tasty snacks so it’s a treat to see them still hanging on the plant.

Two flats of Viola cornuta ‘Penny™’ will keep blooming until the heat arrives and provide for a little “bling” among the greenery. The Penny™ Pansy series is especially suitable for southern gardens because its vigorous roots allow it to tolerate a little heat and thwart the occasional cold snap. We’ll probably leave them in the bed until they can be replaced with a summer annual.

The creeping phlox, Phlox subulata ‘Scarlet Flame’ adds even more color. Phlox can be a great addition to the garden if it receives enough irrigation. It’s growing amid the Silver Ponyfoot, Dichondra argentea. The bright pink blooms provide a nice contrast to the Silver foliage of the ponyfoot.

Trailing Lantana, a Texas Superstar Plant, growing at the Pfluger Bridge demonstration garden after being donated by Leaf Landscape Supply

Texas Superstar® Trailing Lantana, Lantana montevidensis, growing at the Pfluger Bridge demonstration garden

Another Texas Superstar® plant, Trailing Lantana, Lantana montevidensis, adds delicate lavender blooms to the planting bed. These pair nicely with the blues from the remaining ‘Mystic Spires’ and the three ‘Indigo Spires’ that Leaf Landscape Nursery donated. Both of these saliva are varieties of Salvia longispicata x farinacea. They are tender perennials in the Austin Area and require more irrigation than some other salvias. We’re testing them at Pfluger Bridge to see if the waterway creates a microclimate to protect them from cold.

Euphoribia rigida added to the demonstration garden at Pfluger Bridge

Gopher spurge, Euphoribia rigida, displaying sulfur yellow bracts.

Handling Spurge Comes With Risk

Three Euphoribia rigida, sometimes called Gopher Spurge, complement the existing plants. This spurge is native to the Mediterranean region. It grows upright two feet tall with blue-green leaves spiraling down the stem. Sulfur yellow bracts surround the tiny green spring flowers. In the late fall the foliage may bronze in cooler weather. The stems exude a milky sap when cut or bruised which can irritate skin and eyes. Our plant thief must know this.

Meet the Team

Travis Master Gardeners tending the demonstration garden at Pfluger Bridge

Travis Master Gardeners tending the demonstration garden at Pfluger Bridge

It’s a dirty job but these Travis County Master Gardeners are up for it. The new plants donated by Leaf Landscape Supply found new homes thanks to Wendi, Linda, and Shanna. They and eleven more gardeners share duties to tend the garden bed all year. In addition to taking care of plants, they also take time to answer gardening questions and explain what they are doing. If you have gardening questions of your own, feel free to reach out to our Master Gardener Help Desk.