Q: It pains me to see so many crape myrtles chopped down to ugly stubs. I see it everywhere, with properly pruned myrtles almost outnumbered by crape “murdered” trees. Will you provide pruning advice?
Betty Pritchett, Houston
A: The annual “crape myrtle murder” discussion has begun, so here are guidelines to prune these low-maintenance flowering trees.
Crapes do not need to be pruned to bloom. However, a tree can benefit from late-winter pruning to remove dead, weak or crossing branches and suckers at the base. But avoid mutilation.
Trim to maintain or restore a natural shape. Remove branches 2 inches or less in diameter, if necessary. Don’t top the trees. …read more
A seed packet may be small, but it speaks volumes.
While seed catalogs promote thousands of types of plants, seed packets tell gardeners how to grow one. All the information is printed on the back of a paper pouch slightly larger than the size of your wallet, and at prices that won’t empty it.
Although the cost of seeds has risen over the past few years, they’re still an economical way to garden, said Elsa Sanchez, a commercial vegetable crops specialist at Penn State University Extension.
“The other option would be to buy transplants, which is generally more expensive,” Sanchez said. “You also find a lot more options for types and cultivars when you start from seed. …read more
Winter and early spring are lean times for honeybees as they emerge from their hives, where food supplies are dwindling, to forage. Adding clusters of winter-blooming plants around the yard will give them much needed nourishment.
Bees take in carbohydrates from floral nectar and protein from floral pollen. Being aware of bloom times and providing flowers that overlap the seasons are important for beekeepers who want to successfully overwinter their colonies.
Some bees, including many wild varieties, begin searching for food when sunny days push temperatures up to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or more. …read more
Santa at the Enchanted Forest: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 10611 FM 2759, Richmond; 281-937-9449, myenchanted.com. Free.
Trees and Stars Winter Celebration: with the Houston Astronomical Society. 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, 4501 Woodway; 713-681-8433, register at houstonarboretum.org. $30 members, $45 nonmembers, $15 children ages 5-12.
Weekend Market: 9 a.m.-5 Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Another Place in Time, 1102 Tulane; 713-864-9717. Free.
Weekend Market: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 17 at Another Place in Time, 1102 Tulane; 713-864-9717. Free.
Critters’ Christmas: edible decorating for wildlife. 10 a.m. at Jesse H. …read more
Q: I am moving to Indiana in late spring, and I’d like your advice on taking some of my Houston plants.
I want to move some scadoxus from the ground to pots. When should I do this? I also have potted lycoris. What will their blooming behavior be in zone 5?
I’d like to pot up a small Rangoon creeper. How should I overwinter it, and how large must a potted creeper be in order to bloom?
Dave Sherron, Houston
A: Divide and transplant/pot the scadoxus, or blood lily, when the foliage has yellowed and is dying down, as the South African bulb goes dormant for the winter.
Blood lily produces softball-size orange-red blooms on tall stems in spring in Houston-area gardens. The lance-shaped foliage appears after the flowers. …read more
Fifty or so inches of rain in just a few days is enough to turn any lawn into a soggy mess. And if poor drainage has left puddles where there ought to be tufts of grass, you might just have a new outdoor project on your hands.
Never mind that grass isn’t meant to live under water for days on end. It’s also not meant to be a filter for all kinds of toxins – hydrocarbon contamination or even sewage – that floated in with floodwaters.
Zach Buchanan, operations manager at Buchanan’s Native Plants, said Hurricane Harvey’s heavy rains and floodwaters will stress virtually every lawn and landscape. How they react to that stress will vary.
So keep an eye on your yard, document when changes happen and how quickly they spread. …read more