The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office at 9020 Airport Road in Conroe is open for business.
For gardening questions call (936)539-7824.
To Register for the Gardening on the Gulf Coast Classes Click Here
On-Line Herb and Vegetable Sale – has been rescheduled for March 16 and 17th.
For purchasing on-line on March 16 at 8 am click here
or access this link Home | Montgomery County Master Gardener Association (square.site)
Pick-up will be Saturday, March 20th
|The mission of the Montgomery County Master Gardener Association is to educate the community through fellowship and demonstration using research-based gardening information.
Upcoming Gardening Classes
March 13, 2021
April 10, 2021
Texas Department of State Health Services link to COVID 19 information
Plant of the Month
By: Elisabeth Castro, Master Gardener
Heartleaf Hibiscus, Hibiscus martianus, is a lovely Texas native. In Mexico it is called Tulipan del Monte (Mountain Tulip) where it grows in the Chihuahuan Desert near Saltillo. Although from the same family, malvaceae, as other mallow hibiscus and okra, it is quite different in that it stays relatively small, 2-3 ft, and is drought tolerant once established. The striking crimson red flowers grow at the tip of branches and measure 2-3 inches across with 5 petals. Equally striking are the velvety soft heartleaf shaped leaves. Seen en masse Heartleaf Hibiscus can create a beautiful focal point.
In its native distribution of the Edwards plateau and South Texas; the Trans-Pecos Region and Rio Grande Plains, it can be found growing in chalky and rocky soils, in pastures, hillsides, among boulders, and hillsides. It grows equally well in well-drained soils except heavy clay soils, in full sun or partial shade. In mild winters, this perennial hibiscus blooms almost non-stop, including during the hottest summer months when other plants take a rest. It is hardy to 20°F and when mulched will come back in Spring. If it does not die back in winter it will become leggy and woody at the base. A light shearing in July promotes new growth and blooms in no time.
According to Jill Nokes in “How To Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest” propagation from seeds produces better results than cuttings. Seeds should be soaked in sulfuric acid for 15 minutes. Alternatively, pouring boiling water over the seeds and letting them soak overnight will also break dormancy and induce germination. Seeds need warm temperatures to germinate.
Not only is Heartleaf Hibiscus a jewel in the garden due to its long flowering period, heat and drought tolerance, it is also an important nectar source for butterflies and food source for the caterpillars of the Gray Hairstreak and Mallow-Scrub Hairstreak butterflies.
What to do in the garden in March
by: Bob Dailey, Master Gardener
The unbelievable polar front that descended on us in Montgomery County has not deterred determined gardeners. Most of us are already in the garden doing what we can to save some of our frost-bitten plants, hoping that a few survive.
What’s dead and what’s not
You can cut many plants back to the ground, mainly most herbaceous perennials. Some may not have survived the freeze, but many of the herbaceous perennials are surprisingly sturdy. Butterfly bush, lantana, salvia, coreopsis, and many other natives are hardy and probably survived the freeze. Roses are also robust. Although Valentine’s Day is the traditional time to prune roses, you can do it now as well. There are some great pruning videos on YouTube. Just go to YouTube and type Pruning Roses in the search box. There’s one excellent video from Jackson and Perkins, a well-known grower of roses.
For other plants, mainly shrubs, you can begin cutting them back until you see the green “phloem.” The phloem is the part of the plant that acts as the circulatory system, carrying nutrients throughout the plant. Sometimes the phloem evidence will be very close to the ground but maybe higher up the plant. So cut back cautiously until you reach the phloem.
Some of us less cautious souls (I include myself in that category) are planting tomato seedlings at the end of the first week of this month. Remember that the spring growing season is not as long as the fall growing season. When the soil reaches 95 degrees, which will be around late May or early June, tomatoes will stop producing. Please don’t wait until April to plant them. And don’t think about starting tomatoes from seed now. Gardeners need to start tomato seeds at least six weeks before they are ready to go in the ground.
You can, however, sow pole beans now through mid-April. From the second week of March through early June, you can plant snap and lima beans. Plant watermelon and cantaloupe from mid-March through July.
The grass is beginning to grow, as are weeds. Mow once to cut off the flower heads of the weeds so they won’t produce seed. Not counting that cut, mow twice according to your usual mowing schedule, then you can apply fertilizer. My choice is a slow-release organic fertilizer, but you may want to use chemical fertilizers. Just follow the directions on the package carefully.
If you notice brown or yellow patches in your lawn now, a fungal infection could very well be the cause. These organisms live in the soil. Too much water and too much fertilizer can activate them. If it happens to your lawn, turf experts (like Michael Potter, our Montgomery County Horticulturist) suggests that a layer of peat moss -perhaps ½ inch thick- over the infected spots can help control these eyesores. Good organic compost works as well. Also, you’ll want to curtail your watering and fertilizing next fall since that’s what encouraged the infections to take hold.
Critter of the Month
Green Lacewing Eggs
Picture by Washington State University