September Plant of the Month
Cape Honeysuckle might have a misleading name, but this plant won't do you wrong! Not a true honeysuckle, it's actually related to trumpet vine, desert willow and jacaranda. It gets its name from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa where it is a native plant. Yup, South Africa, where it gets nice and hot and dry. It does just as well here as it does there!
The average size of this beauty is about 6-8 tall and wide, though it depends on how you prune it. It can be grown as a shrub or trained as a vine. As a shrub, it will have a loose, open vase shaped growth habit. As a vine, it can grow 15' or more. It's also a fast grower and if left to its own devices, will shoot up runners far from the main plant-just clip 'em if they get outta hand.
Cape honeysuckle can be recognized by its glossy dark green, diamond shaped leaves. This plant will get covered in vibrant red-orange honeysuckle-like blooms year round. This no doubt attracts lots of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
Cape honeysuckle is considered a tropical evergreen, but around here it tends to be a semi-evergreen or perennial. Most years it will not freeze back, but if it does, it comes back every spring.
Grow Cape Honeysuckle in containers or in the ground. It grows best in full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. Pair it with perennials like Esperanza and Plumbago for explosive color!
Nellie R. Stevens Holly
December Plant of the Month
Nothing says December Plant of the Month like a good 'ol holly plant. Nellie R. Stevens is a favorite variety for many reasons, its most noteworthy being its showy red-orange berries!
What's in a Name?
Nellie R. Stevens is a hybrid between English holly and Chinese holly. The garden that the original hybrid plant was produced in belonged to Nellie Robinson Stevens, a teacher and avid gardener. "Miss Nellie" collected the seeds of the hybrid, hence the name.
Growth Habits and Use in the Landscape
A large evergreen shrub, Nellie Stevens forms a pyramidal shape with dense branching. The leaves are dark green and glossy, oblong and prickly, making them a good choice for security barriers. Deer don't care for the texture much either. Vigorous and fast growing, this holly can be used as a small tree, or planted in groups for screens or windbreaks. Give Nellie plenty of room, she grows to about 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide, sometimes larger.
Small white blooms will appear in spring. In fall you'll start to see large red-orange berries. This holly is one of the few that does not require a pollinator to set fruit. However, like fruit trees, it will produce even more berries if you are able to find a male Edward J. Stevens Holly.
Where to Put it?
Nellie R. Stevens hollies have pretty good heat tolerance and are drought tolerant once established. They prefer well drained soil and while rich acidic soil is a plus, it's not absolutely necessary for these hollies to grow. One of the great things about this variety is that it's low maintenance and keeps its shape even without pruning. If needed, prune in winter. Plant your Nellie R. Stevens holly in full sun to part shade and enjoy interest in your garden year-round!
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!
Frog Fruit Verbena
Funny 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.
Tiny 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!
October Plant of the Month
The autumn leaaaaves...drift by my windooowww...
If you want some autumn leaves too, you'll like Mexican Sycamore, our Plant of the Month for October! They are a deciduous shade tree, with huge maple-like leaves. Around this time of year they start to turn shades of olive gold and brown from their normal green with silvery undersides. You'll also start to see attractive, round bumpy seed pods. It's not just the foliage that's attractive though, Mexican Sycamores are also prized for their smooth, silvery-gray bark.
This fast growing shade tree tolerates poor soil and reflected heat. Although it is drought tolerant once established, it does best with deep hand watering in the summer. When planting Mexican Sycamore, give them plenty of room. Although they are smaller than their cousin the American Sycamore, they will still reach heights of 40 or 50 feet! Even with an upright shape, these trees will have a canopy about 30 feet across over time.
October is the perfect month to plant, come see our selection of Mexican Sycamores and other shade trees now at The Garden Center, before all of those autumn leaves are gone!
August Plant of the Month
This bee loves Almond Verbena and we bet you will too. Those slender spikes of tiny white flowers have plenty of pollen for the bees and lots of fragrance for us to enjoy. Their fragrance is strong and sweet, but that's not all. This is is one tough plant! It is heat and drought tolerant once established and tolerates San Antonio soil (or lack thereof).
Almond Verbena has a sprawling, bushy appearance making it something you'll want to plant as a backdrop to other perennials. and away from paths. The foliage is coarse and scratchy; plant away from pathways. Almond Verbena is great to plant near a deck or patio where the scent of summer flowers will come up to greet you!
This thing grows fast too. You'll want to give it plenty of room, as it can reach 10-15 feet tall and 6-10 feet wide. The downside? It may not survive a very hard winter. Most years though, it will freeze to ground level and come back the following spring. If winters are mild enough, you may even be able to maintain Almond Verbena as a small tree. By the way, we have a TON of these available now at The Garden Center! Come pick up yours today!