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Agriculture Today

Yaupon holly for use in landscapes

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January 19, 2011 | 3,092 views | Post a comment

Q.Tell me about yaupon holly. Is it a good choice for a landscape plant in our area?

A. Yaupon holly is an excellent plant for area landscapes. Select the dwarf yaupon for a small (3 feet) globe-shaped shrub that can be used in sun or shade without pruning.

The standard yaupon holly is the most versatile choice. It will grow 25 feet tall to make a small tree or can be pruned to various shapes, including espalier and sculptures. Standard yaupon holly makes a good tall hedge. It can be pruned to make a hedge 12 feet tall and only 2 feet wide if space is limited. Most standard yaupons sold at area nurseries are females, so they produce berries every winter. The berries are decorative and a favorite of area birds.

Yaupon holly has a deciduous version called “possumhaw” holly. It is very showy as a specimen plant in full sun, because the berries are thickly arranged on the horizontal stems. In my neighborhood, deer do not seem to eat the standard and dwarf yaupon holly, but they do eat the “possumhaw” plants.

Q.What insecticide can we use for cabbage loopers that does not prevent us from using the cabbage and collards?

A. There are a number of choices. Bt products like Dipel, Thuricide, and BioWorm Control work well. Spinosad is another organic control that takes care of loopers. Sevin is not organic, but the label allows use of the vegetables 48 hours after spraying.

Whatever you use, read and follow the label and always wash the vegetables before use.

Q.Sand burs about did us in this year. They are still attaching themselves to our dogs. We understand that there is a way to use pre-emergent herbicides to control them. What is the secret?

A. Apply the pre-emergents Amaze, XL, or a similar product in two separate applications beginning with the first application on March 1 and the second application on May 15. To insure an effective effort, follow the label instructions closely.

Q.When should we seed tomatoes to have transplants ready for the garden by April 1? What is the tomato variety that is resistant to the yellow leaf tomato virus that was so bad last year?

A. Plant your seed six weeks before the targeted planting date. For April 1, that would mean Feb. 15. The tomato is “Tycoon.” It will be the San Antonio Rodeo tomato for 2011.

Q.Was the rain during Christmas and New Year’s week enough for a good wildflower crop?

A. It depends on what happens the rest of the year. If you got a good rain between Christmas and New Year, you still need another rain in early spring to make a good crop.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s project director of regional initiatives and special projects. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, e-mail him at

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