Native Plant Day

Native Plant Day

Soaring water rates and scorching weather or deer keeping you from blooming where you're planted? Keep Cuero Beautiful offers some tried and proven suggestions for getting some color in your landscapes without breaking the bank or your back.

Native Planting Day is a Keep America Beautiful nation-wide incentive to get landscapers and gardeners to focus on plant that will thrive within the locale. While the Native Planting Day was September 8th, the idea is to encourage the planting of these plants, shrubs, and trees through November 30th. Local nursery people can inform customers about which plants to choose. In Cuero it's safe to by those plants that require less water and are heat tolerant. Thyrallis, a showy soft yellow blooming shrub can be kept waist high by trimming. Another good plant is the duranta, which blooms a deep purple or white. Butterflies adore them and in the late summer or early fall bushes tremble and quiver with Tiger and Black Swallowtails. Like the thyrallis, the durantas grow like Topsy and need to be snipped often.

The more they're snipped, the fuller they become. The Cuban Gold duranta does not bloom, but they grow fast and like other hardy plants they need haircuts to keep their greenish-golden shape round. In the right place Cuban Golds resemble cushiony tuffets worthy of Miss Muffet and her spiders. Esparanza or Yellow Bells are pretty summer color, and they look even more splendid when they are planted along side Pride of Barbados, the brilliant orange and yellow plants growing in the new beds at the Railroad on Esplanade. Pride of Barbados grow well from seeds. Flax lily is the plant resembling Aztec grass; both have variegated dark green spiked leaves with white edges. Flax lilies are larger plants and grow in full sun or partial shade. Periwinkles are hot weather plants and require less water than most flowering plants. The thyrallis, duranta, Pride of Barbados, periwinkles have done well in spite of a roaming deer population in Pebble Ridge. All these plants freeze but come back out after Valentine's Day. There's an extraordinary plant, candlestick or candelabra. We call it the "beanstalk". It begins with a few tiny fan shape leaves and becomes taller than the eaves of the house. Giant blooms of almost electric yellow take the shape of candelabras. They make spectacular cut flowers that last for several days. The bougainvilleas are equally brilliant and require almost no attention. Rosemary is a hardy evergreen that needs only occasional watering. The two roses we have had success with are Belinda's Dream, a rosy pink and Grandma Yellow. Both do well in spite of extreme heat. They freeze but once they are pruned February 14 to about 12-14 inches, they'll explode in bloom by spring. Roses and Indian Hawthorn are particular favorites of deer, so they must be within a fence if deer invite themselves over. Cuero is blessed with native oleanders and crape myrtles of various colors. If you decide to plant a crape myrtle, be sure it has an Indian name. The "back forty" at my house has several holly trees that the birds thoughtfully planted. Holly plants grow well but the deer have trimmed mine now and again. Remember if you plant trees, check to see if they do well in DeWitt County. Live oaks at one time did well here but have experienced hard times from oak wilt. It is best not to plant live oaks or red oaks as they are host to oak wilt. The DeWitt County Agent can suggest a list of desirable trees to plant. As a matter of design trees shouldn't be planted in a line and should never be planted near the curb or under electric lines. The tree in the five gallon bucket will get 30 feet tall or more. Don't plant shrubs or trees too close to the foundation of the house. Look for mature example to gauge how much space the plant will need. Recycle newspaper by using them a weed barrier. Remove the weeds from the bed; add some good potting soil, then cover the area with several sheets of newsprint. Cover that with a thick mulch and nutgrass will not be a problem. Gardening can be labor intensive but if it's done right to begin with there's a world of joy for years to come.

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