Tips for keeping Mexican petunias, nutgrass in check

Could you tell me how to kill the roots of Mexican petunias?

[...] I also find both the tall and compact forms extremely vigorous.

Without a gardener’s watchful eye, these prolific reseeding, root-expanding perennials quickly can outgrow their welcome in the landscape.

If you’re weary of digging up this pest, organic gardeners, including the Dirt Doctor Howard Garrett, recommend molasses to control nutgrass.

Drench troublesome areas with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of liquid horticultural molasses per gallon of water.

The shrubs are more than 5 years old, and I keep them trimmed like a hedge along the backyard (full sun) flower beds.

Is it possible these shrubs have only a few years that we would enjoy those beautiful blooms and they stop after a certain number of years?

Loropetalum sets buds in summer that become late-winter to early-spring blooms. …read more

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Bananas plentiful after mild winters

Bananas plentiful after mild winters

[...] the past two winters have been mild, and gardeners report their plants have an abundance of bananas.

Let the fruit remain until the ridges on the bananas begin to round off and there is a hint of yellow.

There are various herbicides that can help, including the organic Agralawn Crabgrass Killer and chemical products such as GreenLight Wipeout and Fertilome Weed Out.

[...] try to encourage a healthy St. Augustine lawn with proper mowing, watering and fertilizing. …read more

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List of gardening events in the Houston area

List of gardening events in the Houston area

Fall vegetable gardening, landscape design, plant sale, other activities. 9 a.m.-noon at Brazoria Environmental Education Station, 585 CR 443, Angleton; bcmg.org/brazoria.

Gardening in Small Spaces: with Harris County extension horticulturist Skip Richter. 10 a.m. at the Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-746-6320, arborgate.com.

A Passion for Plumeria: with Galveston County Master Gardener Loretta Osteen. 1-3 p.m. at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, 4102 Main, La Marque; 281-534-3413, email reservations to galvcountymgs@gmail.com, aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston.

Bee Forum: with Angela Chandler of the Garden Academy and Matt and Kelly Brantley of BZ Honey. 11 a.m. at the Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-746-6320, arborgate.com.

Petal Pushers Garden Club’s Welcome Back Social: 7 p.m. at Burgess Recreation Center, 4200 Kalwick, Deer Park; 281-479-1223. …read more

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Good drainage essential for healthy pittosporums

Root rot or another fungal disease could be the problem, especially given the heavy rains the past year and a half.

[...] good drainage is essential, as these shrubs don’t tolerate extended periods of wet roots.

Note that soils along house foundations often go unimproved, leading to poor drainage and in turn, poor root health.

Several fungi can trigger dieback, a fungal problem that causes browning leaves and branches to die from the tip back.

Prune these infected areas out, sterilize your clippers with a bleach solution between cuts.

With good drainage, a healthy soil and adequate sun, your shrubs may rebound.

Some treat dieback with a fungicide, but many experts say that’s not worth your time and advise focusing on improved culture.

Is there an organic treatment that is safe for birds, earthworms, toads, butterflies and dogs?

The moths lay their eggs on grass, and once hatched, the larva/caterpillars live in silken tunnels built in the thatch of the grass.

Gather the clippings during infestation as the moths lay their eggs on the grass blades.

The exotic spider lily and the oxblood lily share the common name hurricane lily because both bloom at the height of storm season.

Check the drainage to make sure the crape roots are not struggling in an oxygen-depleted, soggy soil. …read more

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Sweet gum may be under too much stress

[...] I’ve been deep-watering since the leaf drop, and the tree appears to have stabilized, with leaves at the top of the tree still mostly green and new buds forming on lower branches.

Plant roots that struggled in soggy, oxygen-depleted soil were suddenly forced to adapt to another extreme.

Mulching the root zone will help conserve soil moisture and moderate soil temperatures.

Trees with roots that extend into lawns and flower beds will pick up any fertilizer applied in those areas.

[...] if needed, apply an organic fertilizer around your tree in fall and/or early spring to boost soil nutrients.

While the tree always has produced abundant fruit, the color of the leaves has never been very good.

The pale foliage could be the result of inadequate nitrogen, which you can improve by applying a brand-name organic nitrogen fertilizer or cottonseed meal. …read more

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What’s blooming? Gardeners share what they are growing in and around Houston

Summer has arrived. Gardeners are busy adding heat-tolerant plants to the garden as our spring bloomers wilt.
We asked gardeners to show us how their garden grows. Here’s what has been blooming around town in our neighbors’ gardens.
Send photos of your best blooms and gardening tips to melissa.aguilar@chron.com …read more

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Bromeliads have a passionate following

Pineapples and Spanish moss illustrate the wide spectrum of varieties that make up this plant family, with some species looking hard and spiky like yuccas while others look like leafy grasses. “Once we saw his collection and acquired a few plants of our own, we were hooked,” says Rick Richtmyer. [...] we’ve become very involved and have a collection numbering in the thousands. In many ways, they are the perfect plant for beginner gardeners, or for those who want plants in their home or office but don’t have time for anything very complicated or needy. Bromeliads come in three main types: terrestrial plants grow in soil; saxicolous plants grow on rocks and cliffs; and epiphytic species, like Spanish moss, which grow on other plants, such as trees or shrubs. Bromeliads generally grow in a spiral-leaf pattern, or rosette, and the leaves in some varieties overlap to create a small water reservoir, or tank, in the center of the plant. Epiphytic plants should be watered, too, either by watering into the tank, watering the leaves or even by soaking the plant (and whatever it’s connected to) if conditions are very dry. The bloom may be single or multiple, depending on the variety, and it may come with leaflike appendages that are as colorful as the blooms.

…read more

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When it rains, let it pour – straight into a rain barrel

Most of that water will run off houses, streets and parking lots and into storm drains, where it will flow through pipes, ponds and creeks until it hits Galveston Bay.

Sarah Cunningham, water quality outreach coordinator for the foundation, said the group’s rain-barrel education program began in 2013 to help conserve water, reduce runoff and prevent bacteria from reaching Galveston Bay through storm drains.

[...] the foundation has put 1,100 rain barrels in the community, potentially cutting 1.9 million gallons of runoff a year.

[...] rain barrels also can help reduce flooding in your yard, which, given our recent weather, can be a huge benefit.

The foundation’s rain barrels, donated by the Coca-Cola Co., are food-grade barrels that make a “closed system” rain barrel.

Simply use one of the several nontoxic mosquito dunks, or pour a tablespoon of vegetable oil into the water to create a seal on the surface that mosquitoes can’t penetrate. …read more

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