The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office at 9020 Airport Road in Conroe is open for normal business hours. For gardening questions call (936)539-7824.
|The mission of the Montgomery County Master Gardener Association is to educate the community through fellowship and demonstration using research-based gardening information.|
All Gardening Classes are cancelled until further notice
Plant of the Month
White Mist Flower
By Elisabeth Castro, Master Gardener
White mistflower (Ageratina havanensis) also known as Shrubby Boneset or White Shrub Mistflower explodes in blooms in late Fall. Although it blooms sporadically throughout the summer months nothing compares to the spectacle of hundreds of Butterflies, Bees, Moths, and other insects that are attracted to the nectar the ageratum-like clusters of white flowers provide in October and November.
The round shrub, 3-6 ft tall becomes bushier when cut back severely in late winter. It blooms on new wood so shearing it back will provide increased blooms in fall.
Much taller than its cousin, also called White Mistflower, (Ageratina wrightii), both share similar characteristics in bloom time, size, drought tolerance and soil requirements. Although, A. wrightii is said to be more drought tolerant than A. havanensis, summer watering is preferable to keep the plants healthy for fall blooms. The clusters of white flowers carry a fragrance that for some is reminiscence of vanilla and others claim is overpowering.
Native to the Edwards Plateau in Texas to Northern Mexico it does equally well in suburban gardens in loamy and clay soils.
White mistflower is the host plant for the Rawsons Metalmark butterfly, a tiny butterfly with a wingspan measuring only ¾”-1 1/8” with a beautiful brown color.
Propagation is easily done from softwood and semi-hardwood cuttings in Spring, Summer, and Fall. Propagation from seeds is also easily done when fresh seeds are used.
November in the Garden
By Bob Dailey, Master Gardener
La Nina is messing with our weather again. The National Weather Service reports above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation in our area and most of the U.S. for November, December, and January. Being forewarned is being forearmed. You might want to consider installing drip irrigation for your vegetables and your ornamental beds.
Now’s the time to plant Brassicae (or cole crops as we call them here). This includes cabbage, kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Remember to mulch around the plants to keep in moisture and keep out weeds. Cole crops need water (1 to 2 inches per week) and are heavy feeders so make sure you fertilize them regularly. See Cole Crops for more information.
You can also plant lettuce, arugula, mesclun mixed greens, beets, carrots, turnips, and radishes, but make sure you protect them from very cold weather. Cold weather herbs like parsley and cilantro are also excellent additions to your ornamental gardens.
Dianthus, cyclamen, alyssum, dianthus are ideal additions for winter color. You might even try some ornamental vegetables like cabbage and kale. Don’t forget to water them in and use a water-soluble fertilizer when you plant and keep fertilizing every week.
Also, plant spring-blooming bulbs now, as well as wildflower seeds such as bluebonnets.
November is late fall, and is the best time to plant trees, shrubs, and vines. This gives the plant time to build a good root system before spring. A great place to start is the Texas A&M Forest Service Tree Planting Guide.
Although we recommend fertilizing in October, if you didn’t, then think about spreading ½ inch of organic compost across your lawn. Rain will bring the compost down into the soil, inhibiting the growth of weeds and providing nutrients throughout the winter.
Now’s the time to collect fallen leaves and compost them. If you prefer, run them over with a mower and leave the shredded leaves on the lawn. They will also provide carbohydrates to turf grass. If you think that is too unsightly, rake them and compost them. Since about 70% of a tree’s nutrients are in the leaves, they will disintegrate in compost adding to its richness.
You’re probably seeing cool season weeds now in your lawn. There are two ways to deal with them. One is to apply a post-emergence herbicide. The other way is to mow them down before they can produce seed heads. Since most of these weeds are annuals, and spread by seed, you will be nipping them in the bud, so to speak.
Critter of the Month
Lantana Lace Bug
By Elisabeth Castro, Master Gardener
It’s summer. The heat is on and the Lantanas are taking a turn for the worse. The culprit is most often a lace bug, identified as the Lantana Lace Bug, Teleonemia scrupulosa.
Native to parts of Florida and Texas the lace bug has been introduced to parts of the world to assist in the control of Lantana, where the plant is considered a noxious weed.
Intense summer heat with temperatures of 90°F and above bring on populations of this lace bug (there are at least 14 species in the U.S. with 3 species that feed on Lantana in Florida) where it develops underneath the leaves of Lantana. Adults are small, about 1/8 to ¼ inch long, grayish brown, with conspicuous, dark athenea and lace like wings.
The female adult lace bug inserts eggs in bunches of 10 to 30 underneath the leaves alongside the midrib and secretes a brownish substance that secures the eggs to the leaves. The Lantana Lace Bug undergoes an incomplete metamorphosis where the life cycle consists of three life forms, egg, nymph, and adult.
About a week later the tiny nymphs hatch and begin to feed on the underside of the leaves. The damage is very visible on the upper side of the leaves as speckles of white similar to mite damage. Lace bugs also feed on flower buds and severe infestations stop blooms altogether.
Spiders, lacewing larvae, assassin bugs, and predaceous mites are natural controls. If cultural controls, such as planting resistant varieties, Dallas Red, Gold Mound and cultivars of Lantana montevidensis don’t work check with your Extension Office which pesticides are least harmful to pollinators and other beneficial insects to combat an infestation of the Lantana Lace Bug.