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Agriculture Today

Choosing groundcovers

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June 8, 2011 | 3,043 views | Post a comment

Q. Why would someone choose a groundcover like Asiatic jasmine instead of a lawn?

A. Once established, groundcovers such as Asiatic jasmine, dwarf ruellia, monkey grass, liriope, blueshade ruellia, and spreading lantana require less water than lawn grass to stay green. When it is very hot, your lawn grass requires irrigation weekly to stay green. Groundcovers often do not receive any supplemental irrigation. A deep watering every month in the hottest part of the summer keeps them looking good and even blooming, in the case of lantana and ruellia.

Mowing is another weekly task that is unnecessary with groundcovers. Asiatic jasmine benefits by a string-mower trim every five or six weeks if you would like a manicured look, but most groundcovers do not require any mowing attention.

Insects, diseases, and fertilization are less likely with groundcover. They rarely are attacked by pests that require as much activity as chinch bugs, grubs, and brown patch do on the lawn.

Q.What is the formula for mixing sugar for the hummingbird feeder?

A. Four parts water and one part sugar by volume.

Q.My “Katy Road” rose came through our tough freezes and put on an incredible show in late March and through April. It was literally covered with blooms. In the last couple of weeks, however, it has all but stopped blooming and has few buds. I regularly dead-head the blooms, deep water about every 10 days, feed with a very diluted Medina fertilizer roughly twice a month, and feed it coffee grounds in between. It is over 5 feet tall and very full. I thought these were supposed to bloom through the summer and fall.

What am I doing wrong?

A.All my tough roses, including “Katy Road,” have been cyclical bloomers this year as well. I expect mine to enter another blooming period soon. It would help if we received more rain. You may also want to use a more potent fertilizer, such as slow-release lawn fertilizer, 19-5-9.

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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