Fall Plant Sale is October 5th
|The mission of the Montgomery County Master Gardener Association is to educate the community through fellowship and demonstration using research-based gardening information.|
Critter of the Month
Are you having problems similar to the picture above? You could have one of over 250 varieties of aphids, or “plant lice”. Aphids feed on agricultural and horticultural plants around the world and we have our share of problems with them here in Texas. Many of our ornamental and vegetable plants are perfect hosts for aphids. Plants can become infested with aphids quickly because the aphid is the most prolific reproducing insect in nature.
Aphids are small insects, ranging from 1/16 to 1/8 inch in length. Aphids are soft bodied and vary in shape and color. Their bodies may be pear-shaped, oval, or elongated. Aphids may look black, grey, red, orange, yellow, green, brown, white or waxed covered. A single species of aphids may include several colors and shapes. Aphids may or may not have wings.
Scientific name: Aphidoidea
The best way to get rid of Aphids is to catch them early. At first sighting, spray the plant with a strong steam of water from a hose. Insecticidal soap can be used if the infestation is not too severe, being careful to spray the underside of leaves. If these measures do not work there are some organic pesticides that can be used on most plants. Check labels of all solutions sprayed on the plants.
For more information on Aphids check out https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/…/aphids-in-texas-landscapes
Things To Do in the Garden In September
- Fall is coming…eventually! Refresh your container gardens with snapdragons, dianthus, mums, petunias, lobelia, crotons and more.
- Maintain watering on any newly planted seeds and transplants. Use a rain wand to avoid disturbing plants with small root systems.
- Reduce watering on caladiums toward the end of the month. Bulbs will start to go dormant.
- Migrating hummingbirds should be at your feeders and natural nectar sources. Keeping your feeders clean, filled and in a shady area will encourage hummingbirds to visit.
- Get your vegetable transplants into your fall vegetable garden. Early September is your last chance to get tomatoes and peppers into the ground. Cool-season vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, mustard, lettuce, and kohlrabi can be planted in September through January.
- Mulching keeps plant roots cooler, weed seeds from sprouting and conserves water. Mulch, mulch, mulch.
- Blast off sucking insects (aphids, mealybugs, etc.) with water and/or spray with insecticidal soap. Insects such as chinch bugs and fungal diseases on lawns are two things to watch out for in your lawn. Organic treatment products can be found in most garden centers.
- Plant wildflower seeds in raised beds as soon as it starts getting cooler. Dance around on those beds after you’ve scattered the seeds. This will help the seeds make contact with the soil.
- Brown patch, caused by Rhizoctonia solon, rears its ugly head with cooler nighttime temperatures. While brown patch will not kill the grass, it does weaken it.
High-nitrogen fertilizers, poor drainage and extended rainy periods or over-irrigating the lawn can contribute to brown patch. With cooler temperatures, reduce the amount of watering done on the lawn.
Switch to a slow release organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers not only help prevent over fertilization, but promote the growth of beneficial soil microorganisms that help fight brown patch.
Fertilize lawns mid-October. Using fungicide is only a temporary fix. Decrease brown patch with the use of organic practices and correct irrigation usage.
- Mid-September , fertilize all garden beds with organic fertilizer such as Microlife, Soil Food or Texas Tea, Cottenseed meal can also be used.
* In late September, plant flowers from seed or transplants of alyssum, calendula, cornflower, larkspur, hollyhock, lobelia, petunia, snapdragon and stock.
Flower(s) of the Month
Purple Coneflower of Another Color
By Linda Crum, Master Gardener
All of us are familiar with the beautiful pink ray flowers and orange cone that makes up the disc flowers of the purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea. It is one of our most beautiful native perennial wildflowers that provides nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. Echinacea is a very popular herb with medicinal properties, and people commonly take it to help combat flu and colds. … Promoters of Echinacea say that the herb encourages the immune system and reduces many of the symptoms of colds, flu and some other illnesses, infections, and conditions.
Well, the plant breeders are always tweaking the genes of plants to produce something different. That is how cultivars are developed. The floral garden volunteers of Montgomery County Texas AgriLife Extension are testing some of the cultivars of Echinacea purpurea. Three are showing promise of doing well in our area.
Two cultivars, ‘Tiki Torch’, an orange colored flower, and ‘Fragrant Angel’, a white flower are in their second year of testing.
Both of these cultivars are stunning and bloom from spring to fall.
Another cultivar, ‘Firebird’, is in its first year of testing, but has been very impressive. The color in the ray flowers is hard to describe. At first glance, you might think pink, but on further inspection, there are several hues of pink in those petals. A photo does not do it justice. Within one month after planting, some of the ‘Firebird’ cultivars were blooming.
The jury is still out on Echinacea purpurea ‘Mama Mia.’ Some of the transplants did not survive. The ones that did survive were very slow-growing and slow to bloom. If you are willing to give a little more TLC to ‘Mama Mia’ she might do very well. I’m withholding my opinion of her until next year.
Echinacea purpurea is a great pollinator plant. It provides a platform that the butterflies and bees like. Nectar and pollen are abundant in the species. Sometimes when cultivars are developed, they lack the nectar and pollen needed for our pollinators. We have evaluated the plants on how well they grow and bloom in our area. We have not made a point to observe them for visits from pollinators. Bees have been noted on ‘Firebird.’
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.