April Plant of the Month
Pineapple Guava is one of those plants you may have overlooked in the nurseries or the landscape through much of the season, but just look at them now! These tropical evergreens grow just fine here in south Texas with gorgeous flowers, edible fruit and gray green foliage year-round.
In the Landscape
Pineapple Guava make an excellent privacy screen, growing to about 12 or 15 feet without trimming. You can also keep them sheared back as a hedge or shape it into a topiary tree. Their thick gray green leaves give them a dense form. Grow them in well drained soil amended with some compost or soil conditioner. They'll thank ya. You can also grow these in large containers.
While Pineapple Guava can be planted in full sun and is considered drought tolerant once established; it may still struggle a bit with our hot summer sun. If it starts to drop leaves, there's your warning that it's too dry. Regular watering though summer and providing some shade in the afternoon will help 'em out quite a bit. Now here's a bit of good news: these shrubs can tolerate winter temperatures down to 10º!
Blooms and Fruit
Now let's get to the fun part. Fragrant Pineapple Guava blooms appear in early May with thick pink petals and red stamens. Hungry? Pick the petals for a sweet, crunchy snack. It will still set fruit if you're careful about plucking. The flowers can also be used as a nice edible garnish. Bees and butterflies love them too!
The small green fruit will start to ripen in the fall. To get the best crop, fertilize and water regularly during the summer. They are reported to taste the best when you let them ripen until they fall off the plant. If you pick them early, put them on a sunny windowsill like a tomato to let them ripen. The fruits have a minty-pineapple flavor, but some people say strawberry! Cut them in half and scoop out the pulp with a spoon or quarter them and take a bite. Pineapple Guava fruits can be made into jelly, jam, used as pastry filling and more!
One of the best things about this plant? It's virtually pest free! Even the deer aren't interested in this plant. Those thick leaves just aren't very appetizing to them. Ready to plant some of these in your landscape? Come on by The Garden Center, we have them in several sizes!
January Plant of the Month
We've had some pretty darn cold temperatures as of late, but that's not stopping Nandinas any. Vibrant green all summer, evergreen Nandina plants turn shades of peach, red and purple in winter. There are lots of different types of Nandina, reaching different sizes.
For this article, we'll talk about Compact Nandina also known as Nandina domestica 'Compacta' also also known as Dwarf Heavenly Bamboo. But it's not related to bamboo. To make it just a little more complicated, there are also different varieties of Compact Nandina like "Gulf Stream", "Moon Bay" or "Nana". Yeahhh, for now let's just talk about the regular one.
Compact Nandina will grow about 4 or 5 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide. As the name suggests; you guessed it, it has a compact shape. Full and bushy, this plant is a great filler for empty spots, but small enough to fit into any landscape. Over time, it will spread by underground rhizomes, giving it a clumping appearance. You could even plant it in containers!
'Compacta' has interest in the garden year-round. In spring, you can expect new growth to have a copper hue before maturing to bright green. The foliage has a soft, lacy or feathery appearance. Delicate looking small white flowers will also appear in late spring to summer. Red-orange berries follow in late summer through winter. A plus for bird watchers! Winter foliage turns to shades of scarlet and burgundy.
This plant is easy to maintain and has few pests or disease problems. Compact Nandina will tolerate a variety of soil types as long as its not too boggy or too sandy. Like many of the plants we carry at The Garden Center, it's drought tolerant once established and deer resistant. One of the great things about Nandina is that you can plant in sun, shade or anywhere in between!
October Plant of the Month
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!
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!
Sea Green Juniper
January Plant of the Month
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
Use 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.