October Plant of the Month- Elaeagnus

October Plant of the Month

Elaeagnus

elaeagnus

Elaeagnus, also sometimes called Silverberry is our October pick for Plant of the Month. This plant may look plain at first glance, but read on to see why it’s so tough and versatile! There over 50 different varieties of this shrub; the most common variety that we carry is called Elaeagnus ebbingei. They are evergreen shrubs with an upright, spreading growth habit with dense, full foliage. Fast growing when young, they make an excellent choice for privacy screening.

A Closer Look

At first, Elaeagnus might look like any other shrub in the landscape. But a closer look reveals silvery, olive green foliage. One of the most notable characteristics are the silvery or  coppery brown dots on the leaves. These little dots reflect sunlight giving them a slight shimmer in the light. Those little dots also give it a rough, bumpy texture similar to sandpaper. Elaeagnus also makes small, but very fragrant bell-shaped white flowers in October or November. The flowers are followed by a small orange-red drupe fruit that ripens in spring. These little fruits are also edible!

Tough Stuff

This plant is extremely tough. It tolerates poor, rocky soil as well as our Texas heat. It’s also very drought tolerant once established and can even tolerate salt and wind for those who want to plant it near the coast.
Oh yeah, remember that rough, bumpy texture? The deer don’t like that and generally leave Elaeagnus alone. Relatively disease and pest free, it’s pretty easy to grow; although spider mite can sometimes get after it.

In the Landscape

Give Elaeagnus ebbingei plenty of space and plant in full sun or partial shade. It can grow to about 6′ tall and 4′ wide. Other varieties vary in size and some can reach 15′ tall! The silvery foliage of Elaeagnus looks especially nice against darker foliage plants like some of the dark purple Loropetalums, Magnolias or maybe a Leyland Cypress.

These shrubs can be espaliers, background or barrier plants and they are good for slopes and erosion control. While it can be clipped into a hedge, you may be fighting long unruly branches trying to poke out of that nice neat form you want. Generally it does better when left to its own devices. Also a good choice near the pool, exposure to chlorine won’t bother it one bit. You can even grow Elaeagnus in a container!

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September Plant of the Month- Turk’s Cap

September Plant of the Month

Turk’s Cap

turk's cap

If you want to plant it and forget it, Turk’s Cap is pretty close to perfect. These perennials are super tough, even in our Texas heat. In fact, you better make sure you reaaally like this one, before planting. It can be difficult to get rid of! Don’t let that scare you though, this is a fantastic plant.

Turk’s cap will grow in a shrub-like form to 4 or 5 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. Many times they will grow larger. It’s a perennial plant, so it will die down to the ground in winter, turk's capemerging again in the spring. The showy, bright red flowers bloom almost all season, spring through frost. The flowers never completely open and resemble a Turkish fez, or cap. The bright blooms are also a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies!

Turk’s Cap has few pest and disease problems. You may run into problems with mealy bug or powdery mildew every once in a while. Both problems are a relatively easy fix.

Where to Grow

Turk’s Cap is extremely versatile and can grow in a variety of soil types including rocky, clay, sandy, alkaline or acidic soils. This plant is drought tolerant once established, but can also grow in wet areas. Where do you want to plant it? Put it in deep shade, part shade, part sun or full sun! These perennials look great as a border or mixed with other perennials. Try it in a rock garden or even a whiskey barrel.

Did you know?

Turk’s Cap produces a small marble-size red fruit that is edible. It has a mealy taste, but birds and animals seem to like it. The flowers are also edible with a sweet taste. They can be used as garnish in salads or on cakes!

This plant has medicinal properties. Leaves have been used as an emmolient and flowers are used in a decoction to treat inflammation of the digestive tract. (Disclaimer: Don’t try this at home kids. Always consult a knowledgeable source before making your own magic potions!)

Red is the most widely known color for Turk’s Cap flowers, but shade of white and pink are also available.

This plant is a member of the mallow family, related to Hibiscus, Rock Rose Pavonia, okra and cotton.

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Baby Ginger- August Plant of the Month

August Plant of the Month

Baby Ginger

baby ginger

Want to be able to eat what you grow? Our August Plant of the Month is one of our picks! Baby Ginger is a tropical looking plant with edible pink and cream colored rhizomes. But this ginger is a little different from the kind you get at the grocery store. Baby ginger is very tender and does not require peeling! It also doesn’t have the tough, fibrous center like in other ginger roots. You can use it fresh only for about 2 weeks, but works well when put in the freezer for later.

baby gingerHow to Grow

Baby Ginger will grow to 3 or 4 feet tall and wide with a clumping growth habit. Grow it in a shady spot, where it can get some morning sun. You can grow it in containers too, even indoors with a good light.

Ginger needs consistent watering, but does not like wet feet. Make sure your soil is well drained. This plant is easy to grow, with few pest or disease problems. Feed your ginger plant every 4 to 6 weeks to improve your crop. Try FoxFarm’s Happy Frog Fruit & Flower food or Medina Hasta Gro Plant formula.

How to Use it

The stalks can be used fresh or dried for tea or soup. The roots will be ready to harvest about 4-6 months after planting. Save some to replant the next season! You can overwinter it as a tender perennial or grow it in containers to bring it inside for winter.

We have a few of these Babies at The Garden Center ready to go home with you! Pick up a 3 gallon container for $29.99. Ready to make some tea? Here’s two ways to do it!

To make ginger tea from the leaves: Cut off the stalks about 2 inches above the root. Cut off the leaves and rinse, then blot dry with a towel. Cut the leaves into small pieces and put them on a paper towel to air dry. When the leaves are thoroughly dried, store them in a glass jar or plastic bag. You can also use the leaves as flavoring for soups!

To make ginger tea fresh from the roots: Cut two slices of ginger root about 1 or 2 inches long. Boil four cups of water, add the ginger and let simmer for 15 minutes. Strain out the ginger, pour into a cup and enjoy!

 

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Elephant Ears-July Plant of the Month

July Plant of the Month

Elephant Ears

elephant ears

Do you need a little paradise near the patio? Elephant ears are a refreshing sight in the landscape when it’s a billion degrees outside. They are grown for their bold, dramatic foliage, though some varieties sporadically make a cup shaped flower. Although they are tropical plants, they generally come back from winter year after year and are pretty easy to grow.

Way to Grow

There are many different varieties of Elephant Ear- Calocasia, Alocasia and Caldium are the most common. Their large leaves, resembling the ears of a well known pachyderm, can be a cool emerald green, nearly black, spotted or with white margins. Caladiums come in variations of pink, red and white. Depending on variety, their leaves may be pointed up like an arrow, or appear heart-shaped and sitting flat on their stems.

In San Antonio, these plants may stick around all year if we have a mild winter. After a freeze, their foliage will die back, but return in the spring. Don’t worry, they are fast growing and will get back up to their mature height in a short growing season.

Elephant Ears do best in moist but well-drained soil. Acidic soil is even better. Because of their rapid growth, they do need to be fertilized often. Use a slow release fertilizer at planting time and regularly thereafter. Plant these beauties in shade or part sun (morning sun). Planting in an area with lots of hot afternoon sun may get you some crispy leaves. You will also need to make sure you have enough space. Most varieties will get about 3 or 4 feet tall and wide, but some can get up to 9 feet tall!

Designing with Elephants

Elephant Ears look great planted poolside or used as a background plant for shorter perennials and annuals. Combine them with other tropicals like bananas, canna lily or coleus or use them as a centerpiece in your container gardens. Grow them along walls or fences to break up straight lines or add interest to bare walls. In addition, they can even be grown as houseplants! Whatever you choose, Elephant Ears are sure to grab attention. Come see our great selection at The Garden Center today!

 

 

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Muhly Grass- Plant of the Month June 2017

Muhly Grass

Plant of the Month 2017

muhly

Ornamental grasses are a great way to add texture and variety to your landscape and Muhly Grass is one of our favorites! The long verticle lines of grasses are a nice addition and contrast to all of the typical broad leaf plants in the garden. They also add movement and life to the landscape when the wind blows!

muhlyMuhly grass is a good choice for areas where larger ornamental grasses (like Pampas Grass) would not fit. It will grow to about 2-4 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. Its thin grass blades are blue green in color and grow in an upright fashion.

In late summer or early fall, delicate, wispy flower plumes appear. Depending on the variety of Muhly grass they can be light pink to purple. These look spectacular if planted in the east or west; the rising or setting sun will shine through the flower plumes, really lighting them up!

Muhly grass is also very versatile and can be planted in full sun or part sun. It looks especially nice when planted in large groups. Probably the best part is that this grass tolerates heat, drought and poor soil. It’s great for dry spots that don’t get a lot of maintenance. Plus deer tend to overlook ornamental grasses because of their tough texture and lack of moisture.muhly

Another great thing about this grass? It’s on sale! Now through August 31st one gallon size  (#1) Muhly grass is only $5.95 (regularly $9.99). We also have lots of other plants included in this summer special. Check out the full sales list here!

 

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Frog Fruit Verbena- May Plant of the Month

Frog Fruit Verbena

frog fruitFunny name, serious ground cover. Frog Fruit is a fast growing Texas native ground cover with many names. You may have heard of it as Creeping Lipia, Mat Grass, Cape Weed or Turkey Tangle Fogfruit. Say that one three times fast.

Frog Fruit Verbena forms a dense mat that can take the place of traditional turf. You can even mow it like a lawn! It’s an evergreen perennial with gray green foliage. In winter the foliage sometimes turns a purplish hue from cold temperatures.

This tough little plant is perfect for areas with heavy foot traffic, including dogs and the kiddos. It grows 3-4 inches tall, about 3 feet across and does best in full sun. Although it may not bloom as much, it will also tolerate part shade.

frog fruit frog fruitTiny white to lavender-pink flowers appear in spring and continue through fall. Because the flowers are rich in nectar , they attract bees and butterflies. Frog Fruit is also a host plant to the Common Buckeye, Phaon Crescent and White Peacock butterfly.

In addition, Frog Fruit Verbena is heat and drought tolerant. It also tolerates poor soil and is deer resistant. HOORAY! This plant super tough and is great for walkways, used as a filler for large open spaces and trouble spots. You can even grow it in containers and it looks great in rock gardens and xeriscapes.

Pick up this versatile ground cover at The Garden Center today! We have plenty on hand in 1 gallon containers for $7.99. See ya soon!

 

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Salvia Greggii- April Plant of the Month 2017

Salvia Greggii

April Plant of the Month

salvia greggiiSalvia greggii is one of our favorite perennials! Also called Autumn Sage, this shrubby plant comes in almost every color you can think of. Salvia greggii is native to Central, West and South Texas as well as Mexico. This is great news not only for your water bill, but for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds too!

Autumn Sage is a perennial, but will sometimes stay green through a mild winter. The oval shaped, olive green leaves grow on long woody stems. These plants can have an upright, bushy or even sprawling growth habit depending on variety.

The flowers of Salvia greggii resemble lips, with the top having a hood shape and the bottom which is wider. Colors can vary from pale yellow to soft pink, hot pink, magenta, coral, red, violet to almost blue! There’s also the popular variety, Hot Lips, a bicolor flower of red and white.

One of the best things about these perennials is the blooming season. Expect blooms from spring until the first frost! Removing spent flower stalks and pruning back on occasion will encourage new blooms and a tidy look. All of those flowers will also attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds! It seems like lots of critters love Salvia greggii, but fortunately, deer are not one of them. While nothing is deer proof, this plant is not their favorite.

Autumn Sage will grow between 12 inches to about 3 feet tall and wide. Your mileage may vary. Plant it in full sun or part sun. A shadier spot may work okay, but you may not get as many blooms. Salvia greggii thrives in rocky, well drained soil and can be planted just about anywhere. It looks great in whiskey barrels or used as a border. Salvia greggii is also drought tolerant once established.

It’s no wonder that Salvia greggii is so popular. That’s why we decided to put it on this year’s spring sales list. Right now at The Garden Center, you can get any variety of Salvia greggi in a one gallon container for only $4.95! Prices are good through May 31st. While you’re at it check out all of our other favorites on the list by clicking here!salvia greggii

 

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Canna Lilies-March Plant of the Month 2017

canna lilies

Canna Lilies have arrived!

Canna lilies have arrived at The Garden Center! These beauties are a great way to add a tropical look to your landscape. They are easy to recognize by their large leaves and vibrant blooms. They almost look like banana plants. Cannas come in many colors including red, pink, salmon, orange, yellow, white and bicolor. Hummingbirds love the flowers too. Some varieties even have variegated or colorful foliage.

Canna Care

Canna lilies are perennial plants that will bloom spring through fall. Removing dead flower stalks at the base will also encourage more flowers. Plant Cannas where they can get at least half a day of sun. They don’t perform well in the shade. Although Canna lilies are heat and drought tolerant once established, they can also grow in wet, boggy areas. These plants will grow 2 to 5 feet tall and should be spaced 1 to 2 feet apart. Plant cannas in containers, along foundations or use as a background plant.

Canna Get a Amen?

Canna’s are easy to grow, bloom all season and can take our Texas heat! What more could you ask for? Well, in case of zombie apocalypse, you could also eat the tubers like a potato. But also, we have them at a great price! Grab a 2 gallon container for only $14.99 or a 2 gallon specialty Tropicana Canna for $24.99. Come by and see ’em!

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February Plant of the Month- Bush Cherry

February Plant of the Month

Bush Cherry

bush cherryBush Cherry are blooming now, adding some brightness to wintry gray days! They bloom only once in the spring, but boy, do they put on a show. The stems are densely covered with dark pink flowers. These are a nice alternative to cherry blossom trees, which don’t perform well here in San Antonio.

The Bush Cherry is just what it sounds like. It is a bush form of ornamental cherry growing only 4-6 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. Growing in an upright form, you can easily tuck it away just about anywhere in the landscape.

It’s perfect for foundation planting, mass planting or as a hedge. It could also be used as an accent plant and looks especially pretty near water gardens. After blooming, you’ll see bright green foliage tinged with red on reddish bark. In fall, Bush Cherry will get a nice yellow color before dropping its leaves.

Bush Cherry can also take our Texas heat and different soil types as long as it’s got good drainage. Plant them in full to part sun to make them happy. Want one? Better hurry! The Garden Center has a limited number of these babies right now. Pick up a five gallon container for $29.99. See ya soon!

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Sea Green Juniper Plant of the Month

Sea Green Juniper

January Plant of the Month

sea green juniper

January is for Juniper!

Juniper shrubs are evergreen and come in many different varieties. Sea Green Juniper is one of our favorites for its unique shape. It’s arching branches form an upright, vase-like form and is easy to grow. It has very few insect or disease problems. YAY! The deep blue-green, aromatic foliage and rough texture is not a favorite of deer. Double YAY! In addition, you’ll see waxy, light blue ornamental berries from time to time.

In the Landscape

sea green juniperUse this juniper almost anywhere in the landscape! Sea Green Juniper will get about 4 feet tall and wide, easily fitting into any part of your garden that needs some year-round green. They look great as a stand alone specimen plant or group them together as an informal hedge. These are also great for foundation plantings. They’re wonderful for rock gardens or use them as a ground cover. You could even grow it in a container surrounded by some bright annual color!

How to Grow

Another great feature of Sea Green Juniper is that it’s also low maintenance! Most important to the success of this plant is to find a spot in full sun with well draining soil. While this shrub does need moisture, wet feet will make it unhappy. Once established however, this juniper is drought tolerant. Finally, prune it every so often to keep it compact.

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