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Gardening Q&A


Ask the Master Gardeners April 2012




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Disclaimer:
Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.

March 29, 2012 | 7,513 views | Post a comment

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.

Q: I would like to fertilize my gardenia. What should I use?

A: I looked all around various Aggie-horticulture Internet sites. One suggestion was to excavate some soil from the planting bed and replace it with a mix of two-thirds sphagnum peat moss and one-third washed Builders sand or potting mix. Be sure that this planting location receives morning sun and afternoon shade to insure success. Water with an acid-based water-soluble fertilizer (such as Miracid, Miracle Grow or Peters 20-20-20) every week. Another suggestion was to use cottonseed meal which is frequently used for fertilizing acid loving plants such as azaleas and gardenias. According to one source, as a fertilizer, cottonseed meal is slightly acid in reaction. Formulas vary slightly, but generally contain 6 percent nitrogen, 3 percent phosphorus, and 2 percent potash. Nutrients in cottonseed meal are more readily available to plants in warm soils, and there is little danger of burn. Mulch the plant with compost containing manure and pine needles which will help maintain the acidity in the soil as the compost breaks down.

Q: What are some fragrant vines for this area?

A: The Confederate jasmine is one of my favorites. When it is blooming, the smell is almost overpowering. We had one by the front door and really enjoyed its spring bloom. Two climbing roses are suggested for Texas landscapes: the Mermaid rose (Rosa x bractaeta) and Rosa x fortuniana. According to the Antique Rose Emporium, Mermaid is a species; it has repeated blooming (instead of once in the spring), and has been around since 1918.

Q: Last year I had grass burs in my lawn. How do I get rid of them this year?

A: If you did not use a pre emergent herbicide, then you should be prepared to hand pull. After five years, our lawn is practically grass bur free. I can walk across it in my bare feet. Keeping your lawn fertilized, watered and mowed regularly will encourage a high quality lawn in which grass burs do not really like to grow. What has worked for my husband and me is for me to flag each grass bur plant. Then my husband comes along with a weed puller and removes the plant. I seem to be able to spot the plants better.

Q: What is the right height for my grass?

A: Keep your St. Augustine grass around 3 to 4 inches and your Bermuda grass around 2 to 3 inches.

Q: What is the most important thing to do this month that you can suggest?

A: If you haven’t put drip irrigation into your vegetable garden and your flower beds, do it now. Another important item is to put a rain barrel underneath your downspout. My husband is revising my downspout to include a cleaning feature so that the water going into the rain barrel will not have roof gravel.

Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with the Texas AgriLife Extension.
 
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