Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Trimming Topiaries

Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Trimming Topiaries

The #1 question I’m asked about a topiary – “Is it hard to maintain them?”  The answer is not at all IF you don’t let it grow too much before giving it a trim. 

Let’s talk Juniper topiaries – spirals, pom-poms, poodles and patio trees.  Since junipers grow so slowly they are perfect for topiary designs.  Under normal conditions 2 trimmings per year will keep a juniper topiary looking neat.

Examine your topiary

Look for the original shape of the topiary and decide how much of the new growth needs to be cut off.  Do you want to trim the plant back to its original size and remove all new growth?  Would you like to increase the plants size?  If so, you will cut off less of the new growth but follow the pattern of the original shape.

Get to trimming

Start trimming your Juniper topiary from the top down.  Until you become comfortable with your cutting ability start with a light trim in a small section.  “More is not better“ when learning to trim.  It’s better to trim less and cut a second time to attain the look you envision rather than to cut too much off. Once you’re satisfied then trim the same amount off the rest of the plant.

If you accidentally cut too much, don’t worry.  Trimming a plant causes new growth to occur so it will fill in quickly.  Just like a not so good haircut – it grows out and you fix it.

What to trim with

I prefer using a bypass hand pruner or handheld clipping shears – with sharp blades.  Hedge trimmers or hedge shears are difficult to maneuver and make it difficult to cut properly from all angles.

Other topiary plants (except pines)

The same techniques will work on other species of plants used as topiaries.  Boxwood, Ligustrum, Fig Ivy, Rosemary, Holly, etc.  Keep your trimmers sharp, follow the lines of the original topiary shape, start at the top and work your way down and you can successfully trim any topiary.

6 Tips For The Prettiest Pansies

6 Tips For The Prettiest Pansies

Pansies don’t do well in soil that stays wet – in fact they like it on the dry side.  So, here’s 6 tips on how to prevent this problem so you can enjoy beautiful blooming pansies throughout the winter months ahead.

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1. Don’t over water    

Sounds simple, but we all have a tendency to just water without checking.  Check your pots prior to watering to make sure they are dry and need watering.  If your pansies are planted in the ground, make sure they need watering.  Plants in the ground and in containers don’t require frequent watering in the fall and winter like they do during the summer. 

2. Reset your sprinkler System    

If you haven’t reset your sprinkler system from the summer setting, now is the time to do so.  As the weather cools off lawn and flower beds don’t require as much water as they do in the hotter summer months.  Set your sprinklers to water less frequently during the fall and winter.

3. Get your hands dirty or use a moisture meter     

We can look at the surface of a pot and tell if it looks dry, but how much moisture is down at the root zone.  The only way to tell is to either stick your finger in the dirt and see how wet it is or use a moisture meter that will instantly tell you if it is wet or dry.  Use one of these methods to determine if your pansies are in need of water.

4. Planting in poor draining areas    

If the area does not drain well you can create a raised bed in which to plant, thus ensuring the  plants are planted above the wet area.  This can be achieved very easily by creating a mound or longer berm out of garden soil (not potting soil) and plant into this raised area.  Cover with mulch to match the rest of your bed and your poor draining area is solved.

5. Install drainage solutions into your landscape    

You may have a drainage problem that needs a drainage solution such as a French drain or piping downspouts out of your flower beds.  Feel free to call our store with photos so we can try and give you the best method to resolve drainage issues.

6. Make sure your pots and planters drain well    

Planting pansies in pots and planters around your home gives you winter color in a variety of areas.  Make sure that they have adequate drain holes in the bottom so excess water can drain out of the pot.  If the pot is sitting on a solid surface the drain holes may not be able to drain.  Place the pot on pot toes or small blocks of wood that enables the pot to be slightly raised from the surface it is sitting on so water is able to escape out the drain holes.  Also, use the finger test or moisture meter to test if the pot needs watering.

These are just a few of the ways you can turn a wet, poor draining situation into one that is dry enough for pansies and other plants to bloom beautifully. 
If you have questions about how to solve a specific problem please give us a call at (903) 753-2223.  You can text a pic to (903)-339-0922 and we can help determine a solution to a problem or answer your questions. 
Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Abelias

Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Abelias

Abelia are known for their gracefully arching branches that are covered with flowers from June to October.  Pruning abelia plants isn’t a necessity – you can allow them to grow freely.  However, pruning will keep your plant compact and neat looking.  Although there are many different varieties available there is no difference in pruning techniques.

The best time to prune Abelias is in late winter or early spring.  Their flowers are formed on new growth (newly grown branches), so you don’t have to worry about losing blooms by cutting branches at the correct time of the year. 

If you have an older abelia that needs rejuvenating, you can prune it to the ground or prune 1/3 of the oldest stems to the ground each year before spring growth begins.  Choose the tallest branches on the interior of the plant and continue pruning stems in a random pattern to keep the shrub natural-looking.  This will promote new, compact growth.

How and What to Prune

– Prune dead stems to the ground.

– If only part of the branch is dead, cut below the dead wood and just above a lateral branch or bud.

– Long, leggy stems called water spouts (we prefer crazy arms) can be pruned to the ground any time.

– Prune the tips of all branches to maintain an even look.

– Use hand pruners for stems less than ½” in diameter and lopping shears for larger branches.

After the threat of frost has passed apply a good granular fertilizer to your abelia making sure to water it in thoroughly.  This will promote new growth for later spring and into summer.

If we have a scorcher of a summer and your abelia looks “tired” in August or September, prune the tips of all the branches.  Once the temps drop out of the high 90s you will begin to see new growth appear and a happy, healthy plant full of new blooms that will last until the first frost. 

Fall is for PLANTING!

Fall is for PLANTING!

NOW is the best time to plant trees, shrubs and vines.  Winter is the second best – so get to digging!

Summer’s heat is over, the soil is still warm – actually warmer than in the spring – and the soaking rains of winter will soon arrive.  This means deep root growth will occur quickly on shrubs and trees planted in the cooler months of the year.

Why is deep root growth important? 

Roots gather nutrients and water for plants and trees, so the better the root system the more nutrients and water the plant receives – thus appearing lusher and healthier.   Plants planted now get a head start since they are able to concentrate their energy mostly on root growth during the cooler months.

Healthier plants are the result of planting in the fall.

The same plant planted in spring gets a slower start due to spending energy on both root growth, foliage and flower growth. Also, the cool weather planted plants are better established when summer arrives and can better deal with the heat, largely due to the well-established root system.

5 Succulents That Are Hardy to East Texas

5 Succulents That Are Hardy to East Texas

With winter coming up quickly, most succulents will need some sort of protection against the chilly air, or just brought inside where temperatures aren’t so low. However, these 5 succulents are ‘cool’ with the cool air and will be just fine when Jack Frost pays East Texas a visit!


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Euphorbia

With colorful pink, green, or white modified leaves (that look like flowers!) and its blue-green foliage, this low-maintenance perennial is perfect for your beds, borders, or containers. Euphorbia is tough and offers outstanding heat and drought resistance. Instead of showy flower petals, euphorbia has modified leaves, called bracts. This plant is a vigorous grower, reaching 1-3 feet in height and 2 feet in width at maturity, so it can quickly fill a garden space.


Hens & Chicks

Sempervivum are succulent, rosette forming plants belonging to the Crassulaceae family. They are commonly known as Hens & Chicks, and are called this because of the high number of offspring they produce — thus, a Hen and all her Chicks! The main attraction of these plants is their colorful rosettes of leaves. The rosettes are most striking in the spring and summer but even in the winter when growth stops, many varieties remain attractively colored.


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‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum

Sedums have become one of the most popular hardy plants in our area. What’s not to like? They are easy to grow; their thick, succulent leaves make them drought tolerant and they grow in full sun to light shade. Tall, upright sedums form clumps of foliage with massive flower heads which develop in summer and bloom in the fall and then provide food for the birds during the winter.


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Delosperma (Also known as Ice Plant)

Best grown in FULL SUN, Delosperma is an easy-to-grow herbaceous perennial. It can tolerate dry soil, shallow-rocky soil, and even full-on droughts. Glossy red-purple flowers bloom continuously from early summer until fall, and stand out against its fleshy, emerald-green leaves. The bright flower color paired with the long-blooming season and evergreen foliage makes ‘Ice Plant’ an easy choice as a groundcover or for a rock garden. A vigorous grower, Delosperma can reach 3-6 inches in height and a spread of 24 inches (or more!) at maturity.


‘Ogon’ Stonecrop Sedum

A small mass of brilliant, evergreen, solid yellow-gold, succulent foliage flushed with pink provides a bold color accent in rock gardens, along rock walls, or in mixed succulent containers. Makes an excellent pathway filler or ground cover. Does BEST in partial sun, reaching a spread of 8-12 inches at maturity.


Houseplant Care Series: Water & Humidity

Houseplant Care Series: Water & Humidity

While MOST indoor plants need water about once a week, it can vary depending on how old the plant’s root system is, what kind of container/pot it is in, where the plant is placed in your home (and how much sunlight/heat it gets), and also what variety of houseplant it is. Plants placed in a window will get dry faster than those exposed to less direct sunlight.

How do I know my plants need watering? 

Check to see if the soil looks dry, then stick your finger into the soil just about an inch (or to the first joint of your finger) to see if the soil feels moist. While plants should become a little dry between watering, don’t let the plant wilt, that’s way too dry!

Don’t want to get dirt under your fingernails? 

Use a moisture meter to check the moisture level of your plant.  This handy gadget immediately tells you if your soil is dry, moist or wet.  Click here to see how easy and simple it is to tell when your plants need watering.

How do I water my plants?

Use a long-spout watering can to reach all sides of your pot with ease (and to avoid spills). Saturate the soil around each plant with water and continue adding until it begins to run out the drainage hole on the bottom of the pot. Let the plant drain, then dump the excess water from the saucer.

Quick Tip: If the potting mix you use dries out too much, it won’t hold water properly, so the moisture immediately runs out the drainage hole and is not absorbed. If this happens, add the water slowly, giving the potting mix a chance to absorb the moisture.

Benefits of misting my plants?

Because so many houseplants originated from jungles and areas with moist air, they do best when the humidity level is between 30-40% humidity – enough to make your hair frizz! For plants that really need a little extra moisture, misting can be a great way to provide that extra water.

Using tepid (not hot, but not cold) water, mist your humidity-loving houseplants in the morning – so the leaves can dry out during the day. You’ll want to mist on the tops and undersides of the leaves, leaving a ‘dewy’ look to them when you’re done. Some plants can be misted daily, while others only need it once or twice a week. Make sure to research your new houseplant addition to find out what schedule applies to you!

Increasing Humidity for your plant. 

MOST plants thrive in high humidity environments; however, most homes are usually VERY dry in comparison to the outside air.

Here’s the best way to combat this: Place a tray or saucer under your houseplants and fill it with pebbles. Then, add water until the water line is just below the top of the pebbles (not more than this, you don’t want to keep the plant’s ‘feet’ wet) As the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity level around the plant.

Fall Container Ideas

Fall Container Ideas

Fall is an excellent time to show off your seasonal favorites like mums, pansies, violas, and flowering kale or cabbage. Play with colorful and dynamic combos of perennials, annuals and grasses to create stunning containers.

Photo Credit: Southern Living
Photo Credit: Southern Living

Use solid colored Pansies in orange and velvety black to make the perfect Hallow’s Eve arrangement. Place in a black or silver container for a super spooky addition to your front porch Jack O’Lanterns.

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Use a variety of colorful Pansies as a filler against an evergreen, like an Arborvitae or a Blue Point Juniper, with a classical ivy, like English Ivy for a formal arrangement.

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Use different varieties of Dianthus to create a full container – pair with a neutral pot to really show off the bold colors.

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Make a MUM-KIN! Cut out the top of a pumpkin and plant your favorite fall Mum. Use orange or yellow for a consistent color scheme or add pink or purple for a deep contrast against the orange of your pumpkin!

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Strawberry Jar Planters can be used in more ways than one! Plant Violas in different shades for an incredible ‘spill’ effect.

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Create a sunny disposition, even in fall! Plant yellow Pansies (with and without a ‘face’) to create a trio of gold on your porch. Add a fountain grass for a ‘thriller’ to really draw attention!

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Have stairs leading up to your home? Create a stair-step quattro of planters with Violas. Use different style pots with the same variety of Violas to create a stunning look on your stairs!

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Have fun with Succulents in fall too! Just like our Mum-kin (pictured above) plant succulents in pumpkins and spray paint the pumpkins in neutral tones to make these desert gems stand out.