The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office
9020 Airport Rd, Conroe
For Gardening questions call 936-539-7824
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Plant List will be available 4/15/21.
|The mission of the Montgomery County Master Gardener Association is to educate the community through fellowship and demonstration using research-based gardening information.
Plant of the Month
Picture by World of Succulents
by Elisabeth Castro, Master Gardener
Texas native, Hesperaloe parviflora is neither a yucca nor is the color of the inflorescence red, instead it is a soft coral or salmon shade. We call it Red Yucca, although Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center also calls it Coral Yucca and Hummingbird Yucca.
Originally, named “Yucca? Parviflora” question mark by J. Torrey in the “Report of the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey” in 1859 it was subsequently renamed Hesperaloe parviflora. Hesper for the Greek word hesperos meaning western and aloe as it resembled the aloe plant and parviflora for small flower in Latin. It is related to the century plant family.
It was originally discovered in the stony hills west of the Nueces river, Texas. Its native distribution is Central Texas to Coahuila in Northern Mexico. But it does equally well further east and south in Texas, if it is planted in well-draining soil, sandy loam and caliche type soils. Once established it is virtually maintenance free.
Red Yucca is a favorite landscape plant as it forms a clump of arching grass-like foliage, 2-3 ft long, and is evergreen throughout the year. The leaves, although stiff, do not have spines and the only maintenance required is the removal of the outer dead leaves. It is a slow grower as it takes a few years for the clump to widen to 4 ft. What makes this plant so remarkable is the flowering stalk, at least 4-5 ft tall, blooming from May to October. The salmon-colored bell-shaped flowers open from the bottom up and are a magnet for hummingbirds. There are no known disease and insect problems. The clump can be divided into sections. Red Yucca is hardy to 0°F.
A yellow flowering Texas Yucca as well as a dark red cultivar named ‘Brakelights’ and hybrid ‘Pink Parade’ are available but may be hard to find.
What to do in the Garden in April
by Bob Daily, Master Gardener
“One person’s weed is another person’s wildflower.” – Susan Wittig Albert
It’s true. I love pink oxalis. I’ve met a few gardeners who like it, but I’ve met many more who see it as a noxious weed. It’s part of the wood sorrel family, which is abundant on every continent except Antarctica.
But then there are other plants that, by consensus, are undesirable. Few of us want nutsedge in our garden beds or our lawns.
But wait! Don’t get the herbicides out yet. There are other, less intrusive ways to take care of pesky weeds.
First, make sure the soil in your planting beds is of good quality. You’ve heard the phrase “don’t put a $10 plant into a $1 hole.” Nutsedge and other weeds get into our gardens from poor-grade contaminated topsoil or poor quality turf.
Next, mow them weeds down, partner. Most weeds are annuals. They propagate themselves through seeds. But, if you cut the weeds before they create seed heads, guess what? You have denied the plant the ability to reproduce itself.
Hand pull weeds from the lawn, planting beds, and vegetable gardens. Using a hoe also works well. Use mulch (an excellent natural organic mulch).
If you thought the BIG FREEZE in late February would cut down the number of bugs…forget it. Mosquitoes will be back like a plague. Stinkbugs, aphids, mealy bugs, squash vine borers, and all sorts of hungry denizens will be ready and willing to eat your plants.
That doesn’t mean we have to stock up on pesticides. Emptying water-holding vessels in the yard will help keep mosquitoes down, as will mosquito dunks in rain barrels, birdbaths, and French drains (tie the dunk with a string to the French drain grate).
Deadhead and fertilize annuals. Now’s a great time of year to design and install new beds with those new plants you’ve wanted to buy. Water them regularly, and don’t forget the mulch.
Make use of the many tools available to you through the Montgomery County Master Gardener Association and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension. The Master Gardener website includes many articles on all aspects of gardening. Just look at the top of this page for blogs and publications. Go to montgomery.agrilife.org to find planting charts, suitable vegetable varieties for the county, and a lot of other information. Explore the site for a great deal of gardening information.
Don’t forget to fertilize your vegetables. Use the information mentioned above to find out when to plant, how long until harvest, and what vegetable varieties do well in Montgomery County.
Critter of the Month
Picture by Katy Jefferson from Pixabay
Hummingbirds in Texas
by Elisabeth Castro, Master Gardener
Texas has eight species of hummingbirds that are regulars and nine to ten other species that have been sighted in Texas at some point in time. In 1994 the Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPW) organization began a program called the Texas Hummingbird Round Up gathering data about the species of hummingbirds in Texas. Citizen Scientists from at least 200 counties in Texas participated initially in the program. From 1995 – 2015 TPW collected data about their sightings and gained a better understanding of their migratory patterns and paths, overwintering sites, and habitats.
Spring migration is from March through mid-May when hummingbirds begin their trek North from Mexico and Central America. Canada will see their first hummingbirds arrive in the first few weeks of May. In September and October, they start moving south in search of warmer weather and food sources.
The Ruby-throated and Black-chinned Hummingbirds are the most common ones found at feeders in southern and coastal areas of Texas. From early March through November these amazing tiny birds are in search of nectar-filled flowers, small insects such as spiders, and gnats, and feeders with fresh sugar water (ration 4:1, water to sugar).
Hummingbirds prefer habitats with trees, shrubs, vines, and wildflowers although they will visit feeders on balconies and patios. Once mating has been concluded the male hummingbird goes on in search of other females and the female hummingbird is in charge building the nest and feeding her young. She begins the nest building before courtship takes place and finishes it off after mating. Nests are built with plant down, lichen and moss held together with spider web silk. They are built in trees and shrubs and are the size of a walnut shell. Incubation lasts between 2 -3 weeks depending on the species and the young stay with their mother for about 3 weeks.
Some of the favorite plants frequented by hummingbirds are Turk’s Cap, Scarlet Salvia, Hummingbird or Firebush (Hamelia patens), Coral Honeysuckle, Flame Acanthus, Beardtongue, Cuphea spp., Red Yucca, and Texas Lantana.