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2017-12-06 / Blogs

Planting Rose of Sharon

Clara Mae Marcotte
Guadalupe County Master Gardeners

2017-12-5

Q: Can I grow Rose of Sharon in Guadalupe County?

A: Although that name can apply to several types of plants, around here we know it as an althea, or a Hibiscus syriacus.  This is an introduced deciduous shrub that is a native from China to India. This member of the hibiscus family blooms from June to October and does grow here in this county. I have one that always grows to above the edge of my roof each year and must be kept trimmed. Otherwise it is low maintenance (if you like to trim), requires medium water, and attracts butterflies.  When I checked the Missouri Botanical Garden site for invasive locations in the U.S., I found Georgia and Tennessee and a few spots in East Texas. Since I am always finding babies around my plant, you probably need to keep close watch.

Q: What can I plant along my front sidewalk by the front door that is perennial and blooms?

A: One of my favorite plants is the dwarf Barbados cherry or Malpighia glabra. It is not really too dwarf (can grow to 9 feet), but if trimmed, makes a perfectly lovely low hedge. Texas A&M-Kingsville had the plant as a hedge lining many of the sidewalks around the University. This perennial likes full to partial sun, flowers from spring to fall with pink blooms, and has red berries.  Aggie Horticulture says it has very high heat tolerance and grows in alkaline soil. The fruit is edible. Of course, deer, birds, raccoons and coyotes also like the fruit. My Barbados cherry stays right at five feet without trimming, and, in spite of the fact that it is native to south Texas and parts south, has never frozen.

Barbados cherry has many other common names including wild crape myrtle, acerola, manzanita and xocatatl. It attracts and is a larval host to many butterflies including brown banded skipper, white-patched skipper, Florida Duskywing, and cassius blue according to Wildflower.org.

Q: I would like to take cuttings of some of my neighbor’s plants. Assuming he says yes, when can I do this?

A: According to Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac, active stems from perennial and annual flowers and young stems of shrubs and trees can be rooted anytime during the growing season. This time of year, our growing season is slowing down or is over. However, dormant woody stems of shrubs, perennials and trees are best rooted right now. It is important to get the stems well rooted before spring with its first spring growth, and before the heat of summer hits.

Speaking of shrubs, as you think about your spring garden, plan to put in some Texas native plants instead of the exotics that have dominated our landscapes for so long.  Welsh’s list for our area includes Texas natives Dwarf Yaupon Holly, Rosemary, Agarita, Cenizo or Texas Sage, Cherry Laurel, Possumhaw Holly, Texas Mountain Laurel, Texas Persimmon, Wax Myrtle, and Yaupon Holly. Looking at the list, I see that I am growing seven out of the ten. Now where can I put those other three plants?

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 guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.  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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