Thursday, October 27, 2016
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Gardening Q&A

Working with native plants and preparing for summer watering

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Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

June 1, 2016 | 848 views | Post a comment

Q: The city of Seguin has complained about my yard of native plants because the curbside plants are over 12 inches. What can I do?

A: Luckily, there are a number of low-growing native plants and grasses. I have started growing buffalo grass. This grass grows from three to inches tall and you don’t need to mow. It does like full sun, but can take a little shade. It can be mowed and kept at about six inches. Plants that remain low include Blackfoot daisy, winecup, skullcap, calylophus and verbena.

Blackfoot daisy or (Melampodium leucanthum) is a lovely little plant that blooms with white flowers from March to November. According to the Wasowskis’ Native Texas Plants, with compost and watering the plant will grow to one foot tall and eighteen inches wide. In the wild, it stays around four inches tall and six inches wide. It has a wild honey scent. Don’t water too much. The winecup (or Callirhoe involucrate) grows from six to eight inches tall and has a wine-red flower. It only blooms from February to June. Make sure you have it planted with something else because after it blooms, the plant shrinks back down to small rosettes. Skullcap (Scutellaria) grows from six to eight inches tall and blooms from March to frost with a dark blue flower. It is very drought tolerant. Calylophus is a plant that you have seen along the roadside. As a massed planting in your garden, however, it is striking. Depending on the amount of water you give it, the plant will grow from twelve inches to eighteen inches. The yellow flowers open at sunset and are pollinated by moths. They stay open all of the next day and close shortly before new flowers open. My neighbor has it, and gave me a pot full. Verbena (Verbena bipinnatifida) is a short-lived perennial. However, it reseeds easily. The plant grows from six to twelve inches high with purple blooms. It likes full sun but a little shade is fine. Make sure you have good drainage.

Q: With all the rain we got in May, it seems a little weird to worry about drought and summer watering. What can I do to prepare?

A: First of all, you need to increase the height of your mower blades. Bermuda grass should be two inches tall, St. Augustine grass should be four inches, and Buffalo grass six inches tall. Keeping it this height decreases lawn water use and increases drought tolerance. Remember to water between sundown and sunrise when the wind and temperature are lower. When you water your lawn, apply one inch of water. I mention every year that a tuna fish or cat food can placed on the lawn when you sprinkle can help you determine the one inch of watering. Also, make sure that you mulch your shrubs and beds to help them retain water.

Q: What are the choices for colorful heat tolerant flowers for my garden this month?

A: In the butterfly garden, Calvin Finch says zinnias and plumbagos are June bloomers. Other June bloomers are periwinkles, portulaca, purslane, petunias, phlox, and salvias.

Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. 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 The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, at 210 East Live Oak Street in Seguin.
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