The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office at 9020 Airport Road in Conroe is closed until April 13th. For gardening questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will respond as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
|The mission of the Montgomery County Master Gardener Association is to educate the community through fellowship and demonstration using research-based gardening information.|
MCMGA Gardening Class Schedule
Plant of the Month
by Cliff Blackerby
April is fortunate to have two flowers designated as birth month flowers – the daisy and sweet pea. While the sweet pea is a wonderful little flower and has many great qualities, this article is about the daisies. The Horticultural Society recognizes five varieties of daisies with colors from white to pink with bright yellow centers. Daisies are among the easiest perennials to grow. While they prefer moist, well drained soil established plants can tolerate periods of drought. A favorite is the Shasta Daisy, a beautiful and cheerful flower.
The Shasta is prized for its beauty and long flowering period. The plant flowers from spring to early fall and returns each season. Deadheading the plant will extend the flowering season. While the plant will reseed, the resulting plants won’t always be true to the parent; the preferred method of propagation is dividing the plants every second year. This helps keep the plants vigorous and healthy. Divide the plants in early spring or immediately after flowering.
Apply a granular fertilizer monthly and if desired use a liquid fertilizer weekly. Generally, it’s not necessary to stake the plants unless the flower starts bending the stalk. Grouping a bunch of plants together using garden Velcro strips will normally be sufficient.
Shasta Daisies are perfect in large gardens, small gardens and even containers. Planting them in groups not only provides your garden with beautiful flowers, Daisies have added benefits in that they:
- attract butterflies
- is deer and rabbit resistant
- is drought tolerant
- has few insect or disease problems
April is here, but it is not too late to include these gorgeous flowers in your gardens.
April in the Garden
By Bob Dailey
April is always something of a problem for many gardeners. There’s so much to do and not enough time to do it. But if you want a little guidance, here it is.
If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, now’s a great time to check it. Make sure that all the sprinkler heads function correctly and unbroken. Lawnmowers and foot traffic are the most significant causes of damage to sprinkler systems. Prepare for possible pests and diseases and how to control them from this website: https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/publications/
View an informative YouTube video from https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/publications/, to learn about an easy-to-install, inexpensive way to provide water to your plants. Drip also works exceptionally well for potted plants and ornamental areas.
Many fruit trees do quite well in containers. Citrus, peaches, plums, apples, and pears not only provide food but also add color and fragrance. Drip irrigation systems are an easy way to provide water to the planters. Here is a great resource for fruit and nut trees: https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut/fact-sheets/
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has an exhaustive list of plants and techniques on growing them. The website also includes topics on garden planning, soil prep, fertilization, insect control, and methods for dealing with diseases. https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/browse/featured-solutions/gardening-landscaping/
Although much of our soil here tends to be relatively rich in minerals and nutrients, most plants will need some fertilizer to enhance their growth and production. It’s important to know what nutrients and how much of each is required. That’s why Montgomery County Master Gardeners advise that gardeners do a soil test to determine what nutrients are lacking. For information on a soil test, checkout this website: http://soiltesting.tamu.edu/
Record your efforts
Keep a garden journal. Record what plants you put in the ground, how they flowered or produced fruit, magazine clippings and articles, and even photos of the plants taken with your digital camera. If you have a computer, you may want to keep your log and journal on it.
Finally, enjoy this month – the smells, the colors, the growth of plants, the sounds, and the feelings it all brings.
Critter of the Month
by Elisabeth Castro
In early Spring – March for us in this part of Texas – Milkweed is coming out of dormancy and the first leaves are starting to grow just in time for the Monarch’s North migration through Texas. In short order Milkweed Bugs appear on milkweed plants.
There are two species of Milkweed Bugs in North America. The small Milkweed Bug (Lygaeus kalmii) has markings in the form of an X on its wings, whereas the Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) has markings that form a band, also on its wings.
Small Milkweed Bug
Large Milkweed Bug
Milkweed bugs do not have mouths for chewing instead they feed on milkweed leaves and seedpods by injecting salivary enzymes to break down the cells and sucking up the resulting liquid with a tube called a proboscis.
The Small Milkweed Bug is also known as a scavenger and predator and has been reported to feed on honeybees, Monarch caterpillars and beetles.
The Large Milkweed Bug feeds on milkweed and dogbane in the wild and nectar from a variety of flowers. As the name implies, they are larger than the Small Milkweed Bug and can measure up to 5/8.”
Adults overwinter in the Southern Atlantic and Gulf Coast States as they cannot survive cold winters, but Small Milkweed Bugs overwinter in the Northern States. The female milkweed bug generally lays her eggs on the underside of a leaf in clusters of 20-30 eggs which hatch in 6-7 days. In her lifespan of one month she can lay approximately 2000 eggs. Milkweed bugs go through simple (incomplete) metamorphosis; from egg to nymph to adult with the nymphs going through 5 instars before becoming adults.
Although, milkweed bugs do little damage to the milkweed plant, a heavy infestation will probably not allow the seedpods to develop completely and few seeds will be viable as new plants. To get rid of the bugs try spraying with a blast of water or a spray bottle filled with soapy water.
Step Into Our Gardens….
By Pat Sheridan, Master Gardener
A garden organized around a unifying theme is a theme garden. Ideas for theme gardens are limitless. There are Japanese gardens, butterfly gardens, rose gardens, and vegetable gardens, to name just a few. Here at the AgriLife Extension, we have several examples of theme gardens: the children’s discovery garden, the square foot garden, the fairy garden, and the culinary herb garden, and more.
Checkout the Shakespeare Garden…
Within the Herb Area lies the Shakespeare Garden:
“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows…” A Midsummer Night’s Dream
“Rosemary, that’s for remembrance…” Ophelia
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose…” Romeo and Juliet
Did you know that herbs and other plants were frequently mentioned in the plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare? It seems that he was very knowledgeable of the characteristics and uses of many plants. In his day (the 1600s), plants had symbolic significance. Every mention is thought to be important to the story. His writings speak about more than 30 different herbs and flowers and the settings were sometimes in gardens.
Our Shakespeare garden features bronze fennel, creeping thyme, chamomile, yarrow, rosemary, bay laurel, tansy, rue, the red rose, but plants may vary with the season and weather conditions. We even have a bust of old Will himself to watch over the plants in his garden.
Some well- known public gardens in America that contain areas dedicated to Shakespeare are located in Central Park in New York City, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and on the Folger Shakespeare Library grounds, Washington, D.C. Closer to home, Festival Hill and Mercer Botanical Gardens are worth a visit.