Ask the Master Gardeners Nov. 2011
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AgriLife Extension Service
November 1, 2011 | 1832 views | Post a comment
Q: We are building a new house and would like shrubs out in front. We really like camellias. Will they do well in the Seguin area?
A: According to Dr. William Welch, an AgriLife horticulturist, camellias are best grown in the eastern third of Texas. There you get the best combination of acid soil, rainfall and temperature. Even there, camellias are likely to require more attention to watering, mulching and soil amendment than some gardeners are willing to provide. He suggests that if you really want camellias, grow them as container plants in a soil mix that is about 1/2 sphagnum peat moss, 1/4 sharp builder’s sand, and 1/4 compost. A friend of mine in Seguin does manage to grow a camellia on the north side of her house. We conjecture that the surrounding oak trees provide oak leaf mulch which helps acidify the soil. However, you are better off to plant shrubs that do well in this area such as Burford holly Earth Kind roses, cherry laurel, Texas mountain laurel, possumhaw, yaupon holly, and Texas sage or cenizo. You can research shrubs on the website aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu.
Texas Sage is valued for its outstanding gray-green to silver-gray foliage and purple-pink flowers. After that last rain we had, you can really spot the cenizo. Some shrubs are just covered with flowers. This semi-evergreen shrub is adapted to usage in much of the southern two thirds of Texas. Occasional pruning will enhance the canopy density. Be sure to plant cenizo in a well drained area because it is frequently killed by kindness (over irrigation). The aggie-horticulture website says the shrub tends to become leggy with age. My neighbor had good luck trimming his ten year old leggy cenizo. Another friend left her sage leggy and shaped it like a large bonsai. Both look fine. Cenizo has high heat tolerance, low water requirements, high pest resistance and low fertilizer requirements.
Burford holly is planted across my front windows. The shrubs have glossy, dark green foliage. Jerry Parsons describes the shrub as a very popular and widely used landscape holly which produces an excellent crop of berries each year. Burford holly grows quite large, often reaching 10 to 15 feet, which makes my husband unhappy as he has to prune frequently (this, of course, is an occasion where researching and preplanning the location would have been better). Plant out away from your house or plant a shorter variety.
Earth Kind roses and antique roses make popular shrubs. Many of the varieties such as Mutabilis (four to six feet high) look very nice as free-standing shrubs. The nice thing about Earth Kind roses and antique roses is the easy care and fewer insect or disease problems. Mine are almost care free except for deadheading and pruning.
If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is guadalupecountymastergardeners.org. The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, on the second floor of the Texas AgriLife Extension building, 210 East Live Oak in Seguin.