Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rock Rose

Rock Rose Pavonia lasiopetala  (2018)
I purchased one Rock Rose in early Spring of 2018. I loved its bubblegum pink flowers so much, that I purchased a second one to go on the other side of the front garden bed.

I usually don't do that, as I like to see how it winters over first, but Spring of 2019, and both are still alive.

I am not expecting to see a whole lot of growth from this plant in year one.  I also did not prune it, though I might clip off a few of the scraggly ends...

Notes pulled from online sources:
2ft x 3ft Small native shrub with 1.5" hibiscus-like blooms; more prone to powdery mildew in shade; very few blooms after spring; reseeds freely; attracts butterflies; cut back by 1/3 in late winter

The rock rose flower might remind you of the larger flowers of a hibiscus, and for good reason. They’re both in the same plant family: the Malvaceae, better known as the mallow family.

Pavonia thrives in the sun, but can be perfectly happy in part shade. And with just a little bit of supplemental irrigation, maybe once a week or so, during the driest of times, it keeps right on growing through our awful heat. It does tend to wilt during the day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it needs water. You’ll notice that it’s right back to its cheery self the next morning, without any irrigation at all.

Rock rose is also prone to powdery mildew, but just ignore it. The plant certainly does.

Prune it now and then to restore its shape and promote new growth. You can do a harder prune in late winter. If you want to move its offspring that seed nearby, do so in the cooler months.

Gregg's Mist Flower

Mist Flower, Gregg's  (2017)
I purchased a bunch of these plants two years ago.  After the first winter, only one of them came back.  The little guy grew and even bloomed last year, but this is really a plant that needs to be surrounded by friends.  And as much as I read from the notes (below) that this plant spreads quickly, I have seen no sign of it.  Let's see if year three brings about some growth and spreading.

(Note:  I guess this plan is so lackluster, that I have never even taken a photo of it.)

1ft x 2ft  Forms colonies, but easy to contain; tolerates poor soil; can take full sun but does best in morning sun or part shade; attracts butterflies; native to West Texas; cut back to 3" if needed after hard freeze

Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower is a perennial that’s root hardy to 0°. It thrives in partial shade, as long as it gets some sun, loves very low water, and tolerates clay soils. It usually stays one to two feet tall, but spreads easily in width by its roots. In fact, its exuberance may take over a bed in quick time. Consider it more of a “groundcover” than an upright perennial.

It flowers in spring and summer, but it is in fall that it puts on its most magnificent show, attracting Queen butterflies, migrating Monarchs, and many others.

It spreads quickly (good or bad, depending on what you want). It’s also easy to divide and move to a new area after the last frost. Just cut out a chunk, digging deep enough to grab the roots.

It may brown in winter. In early spring, clip it back to the ground or to green leaves to wrangle its spread and encourage new growth. In May, you may want to prune it back a little to control its height and encourage a more lush habit.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Flame Acanthus

Flame Acanthus Anisacanthus quadrifidus  (2015)
3ft x 3ft Medium-sized native shrub can be used as low hedge; From midsummer through frost, flame acanthus is covered with long, slender, red or orange blooms that hummingbirds love.; reseeds aggressively; if frost browns leaves, cut back by 1/3 to 1/2 before spring growth begins

Flame acanthus loves the heat and is extremely drought tolerant, but will produce more flowers if watered a little more during the hottest, driest times. It generally stays under 3′ tall and wide, but can get a little bigger.

My brand new Flame Acanthus in 2015.  Look how sweet it looks!
Personal Notes:   I purchased this plant in 2015 when I was first building the front bed. I didn't know much more than that it was drought tolerant.  

Four years later, I am trying to learn to re-love this plant.  

I made a mistake planting this in the front of my bed, so it frequently blocks the smaller plants behind it (Totally not its fault, I know).  Also, I was never sure whether I should prune this shrub back or not, so in addition to being too tall, it was very leggy, and honestly, ugly.  And, because it wasn't a favorite, I must admit, I didn't water it too much, focusing my attention on other plants instead. The flowers on this plant are understated; small red flowers at the end of the branches. So... it wasn't a favorite. But late last year, we changed our sprinkler system, and some of the water fell on this plant, and it bloomed pretty nicely. And I realized that it was a pretty hardy, nice plant... just not in a great location.

So this year, I am going to try and transplant the bush to a different location, where it will add, instead of detract, from the landscape... I am just not sure where that location is just yet. :o)

White Fragrant Mist Flower

Mist Flower, Fragrant, Shrubby Boneset   Ageratina havanensis(2015)
Evergreen, 4 ft x 3ft 

Rounded shape; grows in most soils; fragrant blooms in fall; attracts butterflies, moths and hummingbirds; 

Also called shrubby white boneset or Havana snakeroot.

This shrubby plant normally grows to about 2′ tall and wide, but may get up to 6′ tall. 

In the fall thru early winter, it is covered in highly fragrant, fuzzy white blooms.

It is native to rocky, limestone areas where the soil holds very little water so it prefers good drainage, but it also easily tolerates poorly drained soils, as long you don’t overwater it. It will also tolerate shady areas, but will perform better and bloom more profusely in the full, bright sun.

This plant requires very little water once established and is a great addition to any Central Texas landscape if you want a trouble-free shrub to attract lots of pollinators!

Pruning:  Cut back by 1/2 in winter before new growth begins, if needed to maintain compactness.  Once blooming starts to slow down with the onset of winter, give it a good, heavy shearing to encourage denser new growth in the spring and more profuse blooms next fall. If you don’t shear the plant, blooming will be very sparse, since boneset/white mistflower only produces flowers on new wood.

Personal Notes:  These grow abundantly in the undeveloped back portion of our property.  I purchased one from the Natural Gardener in 2015, without realizing they were the same plant found all around the property.  A year later, I transplanted a second one next to the first one, to fill out the area... only to realize that I planted them too close together. 

I must admit, I sort of forget about this plant for most of the year.  It is super tough, can take very dry conditions and crappy soil.  It needs no love or attention - so I frequently give it none. And then in the fall, for a few weeks, it bursts into flower, and becomes a total butterfly magnet, with literally dozens of butterflies feasting on its nectar. And then I feel bad for neglecting it all year :o)

In March 2019, I did a deep pruning on the bush for the first time, cutting it back to around 1 1/2 feet tall and wide.  We will see how that goes as the year progresses.

Marigold, Mexican Mint Mexican Tarragon

Marigold, Mexican Mint Mexican Tarragon (2018) Tagetes lucida

1 1/2 ft x 1 1/2 ft Tarragon-flavored culinary herb; spreads over time; nectar source for butterflies; shear in early summer to encourage compactness

Give it full sun to part sun and water regularly until it’s established.  In summer, give it a weekly deep watering.

Getting only about 18” tall and wide, this compact perennial is perfect in small spaces. In fall, bright yellow marigold-like flowers attract migrating butterflies and other pollinators.

Usually it freezes to the ground in winter. Whether it does or not, shear back to the ground in late winter or early spring. Only the harshest of winters will kill it to the roots.

If flowers are left to seed, it can reseed but doesn’t go too far afield, making this repopulating characteristic a positive quality for most gardeners.

Mexican mint marigold’s leaves can be used for a variety of purposes. They make a wonderful licorishy tea when the leaves are steeped in hot water. Also use leaves to add an exotic taste to salads, sauces, fish and chicken dishes, vinegars, cookies, spice cakes, salad dressings, and ciders. 

Notes:  I purchased three of these in September 2018, so they are brand new. I did get a few surprising small blooms in late Otcober. In late March 2019, I am seeing some small leaves from one, a few green sprouts from another, and nothing from my third.  These are still only about 6 inches by 6 inches. I don't expect them to grow much this year, as they are still getting their roots established.

Firecracker Fern

Fern, Fire Cracker Russelia equisetiformis  (2017)
3ft x 3ft Needs moderately rich, well-drained soils; not a true fern; attracts hummingbirds; prune spent flower stalks

It produces new growth from the roots and spreads to about 3′ wide. When young, the plants have small, almost round leaves tucked in tightly along the thin green stems. As the plant matures, these leaves become insignificant, most of them dropping off, leaving the stem to conduct photosynthesis and feed the plant.

Shearing back the stems once flowers are spent will encourage more blooming, and a heavier shearing in late winter, back to about six inches or all the way to the ground if there was complete winter dieback, will thoroughly reinvigorate this aggressive grower.

Notes: Purchased my first fern in 2017 and my second in 2018.  In its first year, the firecracker fern did not grow much.  I remember last year (2018), it was one of the last plants to bud with tiny green shoots appearing in mid-march.  March 2019, I see no sign of it, but with that late freeze, I am hoping that it is still hanging on, and I will see some shoots in the next few weeks.

The 2017 purchase grew a little last year, and actually bloomed for a little bit.  But it has yet to get more than a foot in size.

Grape Hyacinth

Naturalizing bulbs multiply and return year after year. You can divide them in late spring after the foliage is brown but you can still see where they are.

Plant in sunny spots. It’s okay to plant under deciduous trees since bulbs will have plenty of light in winter.

Avoid over watering. If you lose bulbs, it could be that your irrigation system drowned them.

When planting: you can use bulb fertilizers, bone meal, or soft rock phosphate. William likes to spray with liquid seaweed and roll them in the fertilizer before planting.

Planting depth isn’t critical since the bulb will find it’s own center of gravity. We don’t experience frozen ground, so plant to cover with an inch or two of soil on top. It’s better not to go too deep, especially in heavy soils. Plant with the basal plate (you may see some tiny roots) on the bottom; pointed end on top. If you get them upside down, generally they’ll figure it out.

After flowering, let the foliage totally brown before you cut it off. Photosynthesis allows the bulb to gather nutrition for next year’s cycle.

Notes:  I don't remember when I received this, but it was one year as a housewarming gifts. I always take them and plant them somewhere in the garden and then forget about them.

I actually vaguely recall planting my new Spirea in 2018 and finding the bulbs. I figured they were dead, and just planted around them.  I was very surprised in spring of 2019 to see a purple bloom poking up between a rock and the spirea. So this year, I might just pull the bulbs out and replant them in their own spot.  Some notes I find say that they should be pulled out and put in the fridge for six weeks in the winter.  but I have done nothing with these bulbs and they bloomed...

Peter's Purple Bee Balm

BeeBalm, Peter's Purple  (2017)
4ft x 2ft Like its relatives in the mint family, Peter’s Purple creeps easily into surrounding areas of the garden, so be prepared to dig and divide it yearly to keep it in bounds. It isn’t hard to dig up, and transplants easily, so it’s a great pass-along plant.

From late spring through late summer, Peter’s Purple will be covered in gorgeous light purple blooms that are irresistible to hummingbirds. Bees also go crazy for this plant, hence the common name: bee balm.

It loves the heat and full sun, but can take light shade, and is very drought tolerant, as well as tolerant of both well-drained and clay soils. It needs a little supplemental irrigation during the hottest, driest times of the year, otherwise, be careful not to overwater.

Notes:  I first purchased one small pot of this plant in 2017. It did not bloom that first year. After year one, I realized that I should have purchased many more of them, because this is a flower that looks good en masse.  In year two, it had spread to around five plants (must be from underground runners, as it never bloomed).  Now in year three (2019), I am amazed at how much this plant has spread!  It now covers a three foot swath of my garden. I am excited to see what it looks like this spring!

Winter:  It goes dormant in the winter. In 2019, we did not have a deep freeze, and I don't remember this plant dying off. In early March, it was already obvious that the plant has really spread. Notes say to prune it, but so much of it is new growth, I am not even sure where the original plant is.

Artemisia, Powis Castle

Artemisia, Powis Castle (2017)
Evergreen 1ft x 4ft Aromatic, lace-like; low water use and low maintenance;

It spreads by underground stems, so it can creep a little bit in your gardens. It does require well-drained soil so make sure you have well-drained soil for this plant. It’s very drought tolerant and low water use, but regular watering will keep it healthier. But don’t overdo that watering. If it does up and die very quickly on you, the cause is most likely from root rot from overwatering. It’s very heat tolerant and it tolerates full sun to light shade.

Winter:  stays green but gets very leggy, with the bottom branches turning black.  

Notes:  I have purchased two batches of Artemisia that both died in their first year.  I do not remember what variety they were, but they were not Powis Castle. If I recall, they just couldn't take the hot dry summer. Then in 2017 I found five of Powis Castle for a dollar and decided to give this variety (the one recommended for Central Texas) a go. They did fine during the heat in the summers, and two years later, are doing well. I did almost lose one, not sure why. When I pruned them back, I found one significantly smaller than the others.

Pruning:  Notes say to cut the Artemisia back to 4 inches in the winter. I have to admit, I have not had the guts to do this, as that would leave just a bunch of sticks with no leaves. I even watched a youtube video showing a guy really cutting his back.  But still... Early March 2019, I pruned one of my five plants back to about six inches, leaving a few green stalks on top.  I left the other four Artemisia untouched. The pruned Artemisia started developing lots of growth on the bottom "sticks" two weeks later, while the others did not. I then pruned back the others.

Growth: Notes indicate the plant should be 1ft x 4ft.  They have definitely reached their one foot height, but after two years, are still only about one foot wide. I pruned them back a lot this year (2019), so we will see how they do.

American Beautyberry Notes

Beautyberry, American Callicarpa americana  (2013, 2018)
Deciduous, 5 ft x 6ft Great native understory shrub;prefers dependable moisture and deep soil, so not suited to rain gardens; attractive berries in fall and winter; wildlife food; graceful structure does not need pruning

It’s best to prune American Beautyberry shrubs in late winter or very early spring. There are two methods of pruning. The simplest is to cut the entire shrub back to 6 inches above the ground. It grows back with a neat, rounded shape. This method keeps the shrub small and compact. Beautyberry doesn’t need pruning every year if you use this system.

Growth: Looking back at my notes, I planted my first Beautyberry in 2013. In a 2015 post, I noted that it had not grown much. But by 2019, it has reached its full height of 6 feet.

Winter:  It loses its leaves after the first frost. The first two years that I purchased it, it died down to the ground, and small green sprouts appeared from the ground in early April. Now that it is established, it grows back from existing branches. Buds start appearing in early to mid-March. 

Pruning: I have never pruned my first Beautyberry (back corner bed by the bird bath).  It keeps getting taller, and is very leggy, but drapes nicely over the bath. In 2018, I purchased a second Beautyberry and put it in a "new" bed on the east side fence. I also purchased an Amethyst Beautyberry in 2018. I pruned this one in its first year, as it doesn't have as much room to grow as the other Beautyberries

Flowers:  I can't remember when this blooms, but it has very small, nondescript white blooms, if I recall.  Notes show that in late August it starts developing its beautiful purple berries.
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