When Should I Take Down My Hummingbird Feeder?

When Should I Take Down My Hummingbird Feeder?

This is a question that has 2 very different and distinct answers:

  1. Take the feeders down by mid-September
  2. Leave the feeders up until 2 weeks after you have seen the last hummer in the Fall.

Which is right? That is for you to decide for yourself, but here is the thinking behind each one.

Take the feeders down by mid-September so the hummers will leave on their migration and not stay too long because there is still an adequate food source. 

This theory is based around the birds leaving due to a dwindling food source. When the summer flowers begin to wane and there is less nectar for them to eat it triggers them to start their migration. 

If feeders are left out, this continues to give them a food source that they will rely on too long resulting in a late start to migration or worse yet not migrating at all. Birds who stay don’t make it through the winter since there is no natural food source for them.

Leave the feeders up until 2 weeks after you have seen the last hummer in the Fall so migrating birds can stop and refuel on their migration.

Scientists say that the birds leave not because of a lack of food source but because of their internal biological calendar. The shortening length of daylight in autumn triggers the hormones that cause hummingbirds to migrate. The birds become restless and the urge to migrate becomes too strong to ignore.

By leaving out feeders through September it gives them “refueling stops” on the way south.What to do? That depends upon who you talk to and what makes the most sense to you. Weigh in on your perspective, send us your thoughts by replying to the email.

13 GREAT Groundcovers

13 GREAT Groundcovers

Do you have bare spots in your yard where grass won’t grow?   Under a large tree that is too shady for grass?  A slope or steep area?  If you’ve answered “YES!” to any of these questions, you may need a groundcover to solve your issue.

What is a groundcover? The definitive answer would be “Any one of a group of low-lying plants with a creeping, spreading habit that are used to cover sections of ground with minimal maintenance.”

Groundcovers can be used in so many ways:   

  • mass plantings in your actual landscape,
  • adding color to a rock garden,
  • use in skinny walkway beds,
  • introducing new colors and textures to your garden beds,  
  • erosion area

Ajuga

Also known as ‘Bugleweed’

This evergreen perennial (stays green all year) has a ground-hugging habit of growth. Ajuga sends up beautiful electric blue blooms that rise above its foliage from mid to late spring. It attracts butterflies but not deer. Ajuga loves to spread, plant in part-shade, and watch her thrive!

Japanese Ardisia

Also known as ‘Maleberry’

Japanese Ardisia shows off a rich, green color and dainty clusters of pink star-shaped flowers at the ends of its branches during spring, and red berries in mid fall. This multi-stemmed evergreen shrub is perfect for areas that are shaded, moist and cool. Reaching a spread of 3 feet, this part-shade to full shade lover makes for an excellent groundcover (and an excellent houseplant!).

Sedge

Also known as ‘Carex’

Sedge is a vigorous, mound-forming evergreen with striking, grassy foliage. The gracefully arching stems of this plant bring a fine and delicate addition to any garden. This groundcover is relatively low-maintenance, and does well in partial shade or full shade, and spreads up to 16 inches. Many native varieties of Sedge cultivar are right here among us in East Texas! Sedge makes a great border edging, mass planting, and also works well in mixed containers.

Coral Bells

Also known as ‘Heuchera’

Coral Bells is an evergreen perennial with tall flower stalks held atop a low mound of foliage. These tiny, delicate flowers come in as many colors as its foliage does, from lime green to purple! This low-growing plant is relatively low-maintenance and a good choice for attracting butterflies. Coral Bells are perfect for containers, mass plantings, borders and rock gardens. This evergreen can take full sun or full shade and can spread up to 18 inches.

Japanese Pachysandra

Showing out in a rich, emerald color, Pachysandra is an evergreen that looks amazing year-round. Spreading up to 1 ½ feet at maturity, this perennial does best in part shade to morning sun. The bold, dark green leaves make for a fantastic groundcover, or border for walkways. Small, bright white flowers appear in early spring – though not particularly showy, the flowers offer an ornate addition against the green background.

‘Blue Rug’ Juniper

This ground-hugging Juniper features silvery-blue foliage that takes on a nearly purple tinge during winter and produces blue berries from late spring to late winter. A dense, multi-stemmed evergreen, ‘Blue Rug’ Juniper is extremely adaptable and hardy – making for a great groundcover or border, or even trailing over walls. A lover of full sun to part shade, this Juniper can reach a spread of up to 7 feet!

Creeping Phlox

Also known as ‘Moss Phlox’

Creeping Phlox puts on a show of bright, cherry red, blue or white star-shaped flowers at the ends of the stems from early to late spring. It’s tiny, needle-like leaves remain green in color throughout the year. This evergreen blanket of flowers does best in full sun to part-shade, which makes it perfect for border edging, mass planting or general ground cover. At maturity, Creeping Phlox can spread up to 18 inches.

Sedum

Ground cover sedums are a form of succulents that are winter hardy and stay green throughout the year.  These are heat loving plants that grow well in full sun or partial sun and are drought tolerant! They come in a variety of colors, some have variegated leaves and bloom in late Summer through Fall.  Use in rock gardens, as ground cover in landscape beds, as spillers in containers or in hanging baskets. 

Delosperma

Also known as ‘Ice Plant’

This is a multi-purpose plant with succulent type foliage.  It blooms in bright colors from Spring through Fall, stays green throughout the winter, loves full sun and heat but will also perform in partial sun.  Good for rock gardens, a spiller in containers, and in hanging baskets.

Standard Mondo Grass

This old standby is an evergreen perennial with grass like stems and small purple flower spikes which bloom throughout the Spring and Summer.  It is slow growing and spreads through runners.  It can be easily divided and moved to other areas and requires minimal care once established.   Mass plantings are striking – giving the appearance of a deep green lawn.  Plant in shade or part shade.

Asian Jasmine

This woody stemmed favorite grows well in a variety of soils and conditions.  It is a great erosion control on slopes and on the side of creeks or ditches.  It can be cut with a weedeater or even with a mower set on the highest setting if it becomes too tall for the area.  Plant in partial sun to full sun.

English Ivy

Another shade loving groundcover which keeps its dark green color year-round.  This plant runs along the ground and sets roots along the stem.  It can become invasive and grow up into trees if not contained. 

Creeping Thyme

Evergreen flowering herb that is covered with a blanket of pink-purple blossoms in the Spring.  It can handle some light foot traffic and reaches a height of 3”.  Grows in full sun to partial shade.

6 Mistakes Homeowners Make

6 Mistakes Homeowners Make

That Landscapers HATE to Fix

Overplanting

While more MAY be better in some cases, it’s not better to have more in your landscape. Not spacing out your plants and over-filling them may offer instant gratification for the first year your new plants are in the ground, but in two years, your plants will begin to die because they’re fighting for space and nutrients. This common mistake is a HUGE WASTE of time and money.

HINT: Fill in empty spots with annual flowers until your shrubs mature!

Not Knowing Your Landscape’s Needs

You’ll want to have an idea of what your yard requires and then choose plants that fit those requirements. How much direct sunlight does your yard get daily? Is your soil clay-based, sandy, or rocky? Are there any water restrictions? Are there drainage issues? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you make the best choices for your landscape. There is NO REASON not to research and learn more about the plants you are putting in your landscape. Planting shade plants in sun, or sun plants in shade is an inexcusable snafu in any landscape.

Starting Without A Plan

Don’t go to a Garden Center with a “my heart will guide me” mentality. This will lead to over purchasing and a major loss of money. You’ll also run into issues during your landscape install that could’ve been solved by planning ahead.

Not Paying Attention To The Style Of Your House

Your landscape should complement your home and increase your curb appeal! Different landscape styles work better aesthetically, so always use the look and structure of your house when deciding on garden bed shapes (i.e. A farmhouse-style home won’t work with a formal landscape). Unsure where to start?

HINT: Use a garden hose to help aid in the process of figuring out the shape of each bed; lay out the hose on the ground and use it as your guide, it’s soft and can follow the curves of your house, leading to perfect garden bed shapes.

Planting Too Close To Your Home

When planting, you must bear in mind that bushes, trees and plants WILL get bigger! Where you plant them is SO important – typically, leaving a minimum of 1-3 feet between your plants and your house. Ignoring how large a tree or bush will get can lead to walkway, sidewalk and foundation damage – or, even worse, it can rot your siding, allowing moisture and bugs to creep into your home. Not cool.

Relying On Pinterest To Do Your Landscape

It is SO EASY to get excited and jump into a project when you scroll through Pinterest. HOWEVER, you need to keep in mind the time, resources, and money that go into the ‘simple’ photos you see online. While it can be helpful for ideas, you have to get real about where you and your yard are located zone-wise and how much the project will cost overall.

Monarch Migration

Monarch Migration

We touched on the monarch arrival back in our last newsletter, as this annual migration is a unique and amazing phenomenon in North America. The monarch butterfly is the ONLY butterfly known to make a two-way migration like birds do! Some fly as far as 3,000 miles to reach their wintertime home.

1Where are they headed, anyway? Monarchs in Eastern North America have a second home in the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico. These monarchs fly south using several different flyways, and then merge into one HUGE single flyway in Central Texas. It is truly amazing that these monarchs know the way to the overwintering sites even though this migrating generation has never been to Mexico!

As for those worried about the monarch population size – don’t fret! Chip Taylor of www.monarchwatch.org says that they are expecting a reasonably robust population to migrate south this fall. To aid in this effort of protecting and ensuring a successful trip, monarch waystations have been set up along the migration route – 25,131 waystations to be exact – with Texas holding the number one spot with 2,110 monarch waystations! These waystations hold a variety of milkweeds and nectar sources for these travelers to feast on.

Want to track the monarchs?

It’s super easy! Just visit journeynorth.org to see a live map of Adult Monarch Sightings throughout the country. Here’s what the sightings look like as we write this article:

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Amazing, isn’t it?

How To Plant In Red Clay Soil

How To Plant In Red Clay Soil

So many people in the South have red clay soil.

This stuff is mushy and disgusting when it is wet; but when it is dry, it takes on a form almost like concrete. Worst of all? It’s completely nutrient deficient.

Red clay soon becomes waterlogged during rainy weather. When soil stays wet, the water can cut off the air supply to roots, as well as to microorganisms in soil that are important to your plant’s well being. Root rot, suffocation, and many other diseases can occur.

Adding to the plant’s misery, when clay soil finally does dry out, roots struggle to spread through the hard soil. How can a poor plant survive?

Don’t give up! While you need good drainage for plants to survive, having red clay soil and nice plants in your landscape isn’t impossible!

With a little prep and TLC, you can grow beautiful shrubs, just by enhancing the texture and drainage of your soil.

Below is a drawing, courtesy of Encore® Azaleas of how to prep and plant shrubs in clay soil!

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How to Find and Treat Spider Mites

How to Find and Treat Spider Mites

Sometimes big problems come in teeny tiny sizes.

Spider mites are tiny web-spinning bugs that eat sap from the bottom of leaves.  They are super hard to see, because they’re only about the size of a grain of pepper! As tiny as they are, it’s amazing the HUGE amount of damage they can cause. If leaves of your plants look yellowed and have tiny webbing between them, you might have spider mites.

Since spider mites are so itty-bitty, you really have to make sure that they’re the main culprits for your plant problems.  Here’s the best way to find out if these tiny terrors are holding your plant hostage:

  • Hold a sheet of white paper under an unhealthy branch
  • Hit the branch and see what comes out
  • If tiny red, yellow, green, brown, red, or black specs fall on your paper and begin to crawl around, you have spider mites

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Spider Mites like dry, dusty conditions. Spraying your plants’ leaves or needles with water or hosing down garden walkways and other dry, dusty spots will make these small monsters unhappy! Thus, making them relocate. You’ll also want to clean up any extra debris around trees and plants, all the extra material makes spider mites feel right at home. If you pick it up, you’ll remove some of the conditions they favor.

Treatment of spider mites will usually require 2 treatments, 10 days apart using 2 different products.  Spray Acephate and Orthene on your plants and you should end your spider mite problem.  Rotation of products is important in the success of treating spider mite infestations.

 

Low Growing Shrubs for Almost Any Area!

Low Growing Shrubs for Almost Any Area!

Keeping with the theme of low growing shrubs here are two groups – those for shady spots and for sunny to partial sun areas.

Shade:

mojopittosporum

 

Mojo Pittosporum – Evergreen, low mounding shrub with light green and cream  variegated leaves.  It is salt tolerant, deer resistant, and has orange smelling blossoms in the Spring.

 

 

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Soft Caress Mahonia –  This airy plant has bamboo-like foliage and bright yellow flowers at the top of the plant that bloom in early winter.

 

 

 

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Carex or Sedge –  Mounding, grass like plant that can be used as accents or planted in multiples to give year round color to a shady garden.  Most varieties offer variegated or striped leaves.

 

 

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Wheelers Dwarf Pittosporum  Dark green, glossy leafed, mounding shrub that requires almost no trimming.

 

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Dwarf Hydrangea – Enjoy beautiful Hydrangea blossoms on smaller plant varieties   available now.  In blue, pink, or white, they will brighten up your garden.

Sun to Partial Sun:

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Little John Bottlebrush – The bright red flowers which resemble a bottle cleaning brush is where this plant gets its name.  It blooms intermittently throughout the Spring and into the Fall.  The foliage is narrow and blue green and is deer resistant.

 

 

 

 

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Multi-Blooming Azaleas – multiple colors (red, white, pinks, and purple) are available in plants 2’ – 3’ tall.  They will bloom 3-4 times during the year bringing color to your landscape or containers.

 

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Dwarf Spirea – Several varieties are available with different leaf color – dark green, lime green, golden yellow – with blooms during Spring and Summer.

 

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Drift Roses – One of the most popular shrubs.  They bloom from Spring to late Fall in a variety of colors – red, peach, apricot, white and pink.

 

 

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Dwarf Abelia – Evergreen foliage in either variegated or solid green colors.   Cluster of small, fragrant, white flowers bloom from late Spring to early Fall.