The perennial purple heart survives San Antonio winters

The perennial purple heart survives San Antonio winters

Purpleheart has proven its winter hardiness in San Antonio.

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Q: I’ve never grown a purple heart before, but it’s been very good for me this year. I was told that it is winter resistant. Will he return in the spring? My other wandering Jewish plants never did that.

a: It is the only species of this group that tolerates winter. It will freeze to the ground (it has already happened in some parts of the state), but if you leave it undisturbed, it will sprout again in the spring. Your planting should get thicker and thicker during that time. It is a wonderful perennial that many of us have fallen in love with.

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Question: Last summer, my magnolia tree was battered by extreme heat. What precautions can I take so that I don’t lose it next time? I watered it every day.

a: Water is only one key to a magnolia tree’s survival – I’ll assure you it’s an important key, but there are other things too. Don’t ignore the importance of regular feeding before times of new growth. Apply full nitrogen fertilizer on March 1 and repeat on May 1. If we have a relatively cool and wet spring (which we also hope for!), a third application done on June 1st would be appropriate.

Texas sage cineza shows signs of winter damage.

Texas sage cineza shows signs of winter damage.

Courtesy photo

One of the most important things is to ensure that there is not any type of herbicide included in the fertilizer. I have seen literally hundreds of beautiful southern magnolia plants killed or maimed due to the use of lawn and feed fertilizers containing atrazine. Although labeled for use on St. Augustine grass, atrazine causes magnolia leaves to turn yellow, roll, fold, and die.

You mentioned watering every day. For a new tree less than two or three years old in your landscape, this will be fine, but as any tree gets older, watering less but more often each time is key. Soak the soil deeply enough so that it does not need additional watering for a week or so.

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Texas sagebrush, especially in the northern part of Texas, has not recovered from the February 2021 cold snap.

Texas sagebrush, especially in the northern part of Texas, has not recovered from the February 2021 cold snap.

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Q: A friend has Texas sage plants in her native plant landscape in Wichita Falls. Large sections of many of them have been dying for some time. It has been fairly well watered, both from rain and irrigation. What might cause them to die in parts?

a: Poor drainage could be to blame if they’re kept too wet for long periods, but most of the ones I’ve seen suffering in the northern half of the state over the past two years or so were suffering from residual damage from a severe cold spell. In February 2021. They were infected and never recovered.

Question: Our beautiful daisy plant went from gorgeous to a complete wreck overnight. What is the pest in my photo and what do I do with the plant and insects?

a: These are spotted cucumber beetles (they look like long green beetles), and you are right that they have destroyed your mothers.

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Cut your plants back to within an inch of the soil line (which you should do at the end of the flowering season anyway). Treat the top of the ground with Sevin or permethrin to kill existing insects, and then again in the spring if you see any signs of more beetles emerging. Don’t let them get out of control, and treat them before they can feed on the flowers.

Q: Are there any types of tree leaves we should not use in our compost pile? We primarily have elm trees in our yard, but I collected over 20 bags from the neighbors, and I’m ready to grind them up and put them in our compost.

a: great work! It’s a great way to build organic material for your garden, and it also saves a lot of landfill space.

Some people will tell you that some species (oak, pecan, walnut, cedar, etc.) contain oils that are not good for plant growth, but this is greatly exaggerated, in my opinion. In fact, oak and pecans make up the bulk of the compost at our house, and much of our landscape is under eastern red cedar trees (which grow through years of cast needles). The key is to use these things sparingly and give them time to rot before you start planting them.

Elm leaves will be a great combination with oak leaves and pecans. Shred them all to speed up the decomposition process, and mix them into an inch of topsoil or mature compost to introduce the microorganisms needed to get it all started. You will be in good shape.

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Q: We have a seemingly endless supply of brown beetles flying inside our house. What are these annoyances and how can we get rid of them? Or will they leave on their own?

a: These are multi-colored Asian beetles (beetles). They were released by the USDA 30 to 40 years ago in an attempt to control aphids and scale insects. However, they are attracted to bright light and light-colored walls. They collect in the warmth of attics, walls, and crawl spaces, and can emit a foul odor.

University entomologists recommend sealing cracks where they could enter. Once they have invaded, it is recommended that they be vacuumed to remove them. Try not to handle it, but when you have to, wash your hands immediately. They can cause allergic sinus irritation.

It is not usually recommended to use pesticides to control them indoors, especially when this means the death of large numbers of them in large quantities.

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    (tags for translation) USDA 

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