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Agriculture Today

Hummingbirds use Thyrallis

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South Texas Gardener
June 20, 2012 | 3,680 views | Post a comment

Q. What is the shrub I see blooming yellow in my neighborhood? I know esperanza and it is not that. The plant has small flowers on its multi-stems and is 3 feet tall. It also seems to be deer-proof.

A. Sounds like thyrallis. Thyrallis has small yellow flowers that cover its upright stems for most of the summer if the plant is grown in full sun. Thyrallis grows to 4 or 5 feet tall in a typical season after dying back to the roots in the winter. Hummingbirds utilize its flowers for nectar but deer seem to pass up its stems and foliage.

Q. My tomatoes look terrible. They had spider mites and when I sprayed the seaweed extract, I apparently mixed it too strong. The leaves burned. The fruit is full size. I am inclined to harvest the tomatoes now and pull the plants. What do you think?

A. Yes, your plan sounds like a good one. In addition to mixing two tablespoons of seaweed extract with one gallon of water it is best if the spray program begins early in the growing period. It is also important that the spray be applied in the morning or in the evening when it is cooler.

Q. My nurseryman tried to convince me that a new hybrid live oak is superior to the “regular” live oaks at the nursery. They are certainly more expensive! What is your opinion?

A. All live oaks are hybrids grown from acorns. It is possible to select the progeny of a fast growing live oak with the expectation that it will grow faster than other live oaks. Live oaks have also been selected with a more upright growth habit.

Q. My snapdragons are still blooming. Is that unusual?

A. Yes, snapdragons decline in the heat and most have been replaced with zinnias or vincas by now. It does happen, however, especially with plants that are not growing close to other snapdragons. The main hot weather killer is rust. The disease quickly spreads in a snapdragon bed.

Q. I thought cenizos bloomed before a rain? Those in my sister’s yard bloomed late last month and it hasn’t rained yet!

A. The cenizo blooming trigger may be humidity. They can bloom before or after a rain. Watch for the new selection Lowery Legacy. It is a Texas Superstar.Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s director of water resources. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, email him at reader@wcn-online.com.

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