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 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:

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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.

Mighty Mint: All About This Old-Fashioned Favorite

Mighty Mint: All About This Old-Fashioned Favorite

Mint, or mentha, is grown practically everywhere in the world; therefore, it makes appearances in almost every cuisine. This versatile culinary herb is delicious both dried and fresh.

So, why do people hate growing mint? Bring up the topic of mint with many a 2019-8-7 13.36.57.658gardener, and you’ll be greeted with a resounding, “Don’t plant mint! It will take over your yard!” With thoughtful preparation and placement, however, mint can be a wonderful and containable addition to your culinary garden.

Perennial or Annual?

Mint is a hardy perennial that is one of the first to arrive each spring. It also retains its potency of flavor over the years.

How to Plant Mint

  • Where: Mint performs its best in full sun if the soil is kept moist, but it also thrives in partial shade. Mint is considered an invasive plant, since it sends out “runners” and spreads vigorously. Don’t let that fact deter you from enjoying fresh mint in your garden. Opt to grow mint in containers or, if you want to plant mint in the ground, submerge it in a large container and leave about two inches of the rim exposed above the soil to prevent spreading.mint_PNG24
  • When: Plant mint at any time. Mint is sturdy and resilient. Don’t waste your time starting mint from seed.

How to Cultivate Mint

  • Soil: Mint thrives in moist, rich soil. To keep the soil moist, cover the soil with a little mulch.
  • Sun: Mint can grow in sun or part shade. If you are planting mint indoors, where it also performs well, make sure you place your container near a sunny window.
  • Water: Regular watering is really the only maintenance mint needs. Always keep the soil moist.

How to Harvest Mint

Mint is another herb that is easy to harvest, and can be harvested at any time. In fact, regular harvesting is encouraged, in order to prevent legginess. You may opt to harvest most of the plant at once, clipping away up to 2/3 of the length of the stems, or you may clip away only what you need.

Use these tips and you’ll be feeling MINTY-FRESH! 

Top 5 Shrubs to Use for Screening Purposes

Top 5 Shrubs to Use for Screening Purposes

  1. Elaeagnus – terrible name, great plant!  The silver-green leaf color gives you great contrast in your landscape.  Highly drought tolerant once established and can
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    Elaeagnus

    handle almost any soil conditions.  They grow quickly to a 8’x8’ and taller and thrive in full sun or part sun.  They are DEER RESISTANT too!!

  2. Southern Wax Myrtle – Olive-green aromatic foliage makes this plant stand out along with the bluish berries
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    Wax Myrtle

    produced by the female plants. The standard size will reach 15 feet tall while the dwarf species reaches 6-8 feet tall.  It is drought tolerant once established and grows well in both moist and dry soil conditions.  n full sun or part shade.  They are DEER RESISTANT too!!

  3. Pineapple Guava – Beautiful, exotic red and white flowers bloom on this large shrub in the spring, followed by guava fruit in the fall. The leaves are light green,
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    Pineapple Guava

    leathery with soft gray undersides.  It will grow to about 15’ – 20’ tall in full sun or partial sun.  Deer do not seem to bother these plants.

  4. Nellie R Stevens Holly – Very attractive holly with dark green, leathery foliage. Dense branching
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    ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ Holly

    makes it an excellent hedge screen.  It produces large, bright orange-red berries in late Fall.  Fast growing tree/shrub reaching heights of 15’- 25’.  Grows well in sun or partial sun in both dry and moist soil conditions.

  5. Leyland Cypress – A fast-growing coniferous evergreen tree – up to 3’ of growth per year. Has a natural Christmas tree shape but
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    Leyland Cypress

    can be grown close together and trimmed as hedges.  Prefers full sun for best performance.  This tree can reach 50+ feet if left untrimmed.

The Benefits of Bird Baths

The Benefits of Bird Baths

Do you enjoy watching birds in your yard?

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Here’s something you might not know.  You can attract other species of birds that won’t visit your feeder for seeds but will come for a steady source of water.

Install a bird bath and maintain it properly and you will see a marked increase in the species of birds visiting your yard.  Here’s some tips on birdbaths that will help you attract the most birds.

  1. Most birdbaths are too deep. Birds don’t like more than 2” of water.  If your bird bath is too deep, add flat stones to help turn it into a shallower bird bath.
  2. Place the birdbath where you will be able to watch the birds. Also, keep in mind that it needs to be cleaned, so make sure it is easily accessible for this task.
  3. Birds need cover close to the bird bath – but not too close to hide predators. They need to be able to fly to safety quickly if threatened.
  4. Place a wooden branch close to the birdbath, but not over the bath. This branch will be used to perch on when coming and going and for preening after their bath.
  5. Birds enjoy cool water, so it is important that the birdbath is in the shade. The sun can quickly warm the shallow water too much to attract birds in the warmer months.
  6. Keep your birdbath clean. More birds will frequent a clean birdbath that a dirty, algae filled one.  If you rinse it out with the hose every other day it will help prevent algae buildup.  Use a brush or scrubber sponge to give it a good cleaning once a week.

Combine a birdbath with feeders and you will see an increase in the number and species of birds.  Add a birdbath, maintain it well and enjoy the antics of your feathered friends.

Build Your Own Succulent Garden

Build Your Own Succulent Garden

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https://www.theeasttexasweekend.com/build-your-own-succulent-garden/

One of the newest crazes taking over is building your own succulent garden. Our friends at The Home & Garden Center in Longview are here to showcase two types of plants that are super important when building your own succulent garden, and they’re unique and low maintenance.

The first are succulents and the second is tillandsia, which are also known as air plants.
Both of these can be considered house plants or even be outside most of the year just as long as they’re brought inside during the winter.
“One thing you need to consider when choosing their location is how much light they can handle,” says Michelle Westbrook. “Succulents can take quite a bit of direct sunlight, while air plants do best in indirect light. We’re going to walk you through a really need and different way of showcasing both of these.”

Here’s what you need to build your own Succulent Garden:
• A container– When picking a container to plant in, drainage is one of the most important things to consider. It’s recommended to drill at least two holes into the bottom of your preferred container. If it still doesn’t drain well you can drill extra holes into the bottom and add a small layer of pea gravel before adding your soil.
• Cactus/Succulent Soil– When working with succulents you definitely want to use a potting mix that’s designed for cactus and succulents. It drains a lot faster than normal, and succulents are very susceptible to root rot of the soil they’re planted in stays too wet.
• Pea Gravel– The pea gravel has two purposes. First, it can be used on the bottom of your container before adding soil to help with drainage. And it can also be used on the top of the garden to help cover the bare soil and add some texture to your final product.
• Succulents– These are the star of the show! There are hundreds of varieties, so choose a variety of textures and colors to really make your garden pop.
• Air Plants– Now probably because of their name there is a misconception out there that air plants live off of air. But that is not the cast. Out in the wild they grow off trees and live on rainwater so they do need to be either spritzed or soaked depending on the conditions they’re in, and what variety they are.
• Glue– Make sure it’s non-toxic. A hot-glue gun is also acceptable.

• A few decorative rocks
When building your garden it’s always a good rule of thumb to remember the Thriller, Filler and Spiller rules.
-A thriller is something tall that’s normally showcased. In the above demonstration it’s the piece of cedar that’s placed in the center of the garden. There are also a few taller succulents behind the cedar to add to the thriller affect.
-A filler is something shorter that helps fill the container. So this will be your succulents.
-A spiller is something that will spill over the edge. For this purpose, it was the Sedum.

Now let’s get started:
1. Drill two holes with the bottom of your container
If using a large thriller like cedar, place it in the container before the following two steps
2. Fill container with a thin layer of Pea Gravel.
3. Add a layer of soil on top of the gravel.
Now, your larger thriller should be secured in place
4. Start adding your succulents to the soil around your thriller
When working with succulents it doesn’t hurt to pull some of the soil away to help them fit the pot you’re putting them in, just as long as you don’t damage the roots.
5. Add your spiller, and other plants you want to include
6. To add your air plants, simply use non-toxic glue to make them stick to your favorite spot
7. Fill bare soil spots with more Pea Gravel
8. Admire your succulent garden!

When planting, you’re only limited by the scope of your imagination. And for those of you whose imagination isn’t there yet, that’s what The Home & Garden Center in Longview is here for.