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Agriculture Today

Awaiting a variety of hummingbirds

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South Texas Gardener
October 16, 2013 | 3,710 views | Post a comment

Q: We have put firebush on our patio and have several sugar water feeders. We expect to see ruby-throated, rufous and black-chinned hummingbirds this fall as usual. We were surprised, however, by seeing what we think are buff-breasted hummingbirds. Is that possible?

A: Yes, last year there were several buff-breasted hummingbirds identified in this period of hummingbird movement.

Q: Why isn’t there more use of winter rye with buffalo grass lawns? Seems like a perfect combination?

A: Unfortunately buffalo grass does not seem to survive if there is a winter cover of rye or fescue planted. The moisture at soil level and high humidity within the winter cover results in dieback of the buffalo grass.

Q: Are the hybrid live oaks advertised at some nurseries superior to regular live oak?

A: All live oaks are hybrids. The advertised live oak hybrids have been selected from parentage that grows more upright and at a faster rate than other live oaks. If you want those characteristics, the advertised “hybrid” can be described as superior.

Q: What is the difference between turnips and rutabagas?

A: There is not much of a difference. It is the same genus and species. Rutabagas take longer to mature and end up generally larger. Turnip foliage is often eaten. We assume it has a milder flavor.

Q: When can we plant cyclamen and pansies? It seems to me, you had us wait until November last year?

A: November is a good time to plant them because both are sensitive to hot spells. If they are planted earlier and we have a heat wave, expect them to decline instead of providing color through the winter.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the director of the Water Conservation and Technology Center at Texas A&M-San Antonio. 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

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