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Mexican Flowering Plum

March Plant of the Month

flowering plum

There's nothing like blooms on fruit trees in early spring! Mexican Flowering Plum might not be the first tree you think of when planting a fruit tree, but don't overlook it. This native plum is a great ornamental/fruit/flowering tree.

Probably the most notable thing about these trees are their white blooms in early spring. They are fragrant and a good source of food for bees and other pollinators. Dark red/purple fruit appears soon after and ripens in the fall. The fruit is loved by birds, but you'll like it too. That is, if you like making jams or pies. The skin of these plums is very thick, so it's not as easy to eat fresh like other plums.

Mexican Flowering Plums are relatively small trees with a single trunk. Growing 15-30 feet tall and about 25 feet wide at maturity, it can fit into most yards. It's also considered slow growing, so it will take a while to use up the space. Their branches are thin and spreading and when mature, the blue-gray bark starts to peel and almost appears striped. Watch out, the branches are also a little bit thorny!

In summer, this tree will have olive green, thick, sand papery leaves. In fall you can expect a yellow to orange color before they drop. Mexican Plums are easy to grow and have very few pest or disease problems.

Plant in full sun to part shade. These can be used as an understory tree as well.  Mexican Flowering Plum can tolerate a variety of soils from acidic to alkaline, clay to well drained. Once established, these native trees are drought tolerant. Hurry in to The Garden Center and grab yours this spring, we only have a handful available!

November Plant of the Month

Snapdragons

snapdragons

Snapdragons are one of our favorite annual flowers here at The Garden Center. We like to call 'em Snaps for short. Their arrival means that cooler weather is on the way! Snapdragons are named because of their resemblance to the face of a dragon that opens and closes its mouth when squeezed from the sides. They come in almost every color except blue, making it easy to match any garden color scheme.

snapdragons
Snapdragon seed pods

Technically these plants are tender perennials, but most folks around here grow them like an annual. They often just don't bloom like they did on the first go round, even with pinching back and fertilizing. Sometimes it's just easier to start with a fresh plant each season.

Snapdragons prefer cooler weather and start becoming available around the end of September. They typically will bloom and flourish until about April when it starts to get too hot for 'em. Sometimes they will reseed on their own, or you could collect the seeds and sow them yourself. Have you ever seen the seedpods? They look like creepy little skulls!

There are many different varieties of Snapdragons that grow to different heights. Some of the more popular types that we carry include Snapshot Dwarf, Liberty (taller) and Rocket(tallest!). Plant your Snaps in full sun to part sun, too much shade and they won't bloom as well.

snapdragons  snapdragons snapdragons

You can plant Snapdragons just about anywhere. Plant them in the ground or in containers. Try shorter growing varieties as a border, taller ones as a background for other lower growing winter annuals. Water, deadhead and fertilize regularly for the best color and healthy plants. You'll have gorgeous color all season long!

 

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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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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

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

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!

July Plant of the Month

Shrimp Plant

shrimp plantLooks good enough to eat, huh? Shrimp Plant's not for eating unless your a hummingbird, but it's sure to fill your garden with vibrant pops of color. The more common color you'll see is a salmon or bronze-pink, but there are other varieties like this yellow Lollypop (left).

Expect lots of blooms summer through fall. Although they do well with bright indirect light, a hot afternoon in full sun can be a bit too much for Shrimp Plant. Morning sun or light shade is best. They make great container plants and can even grow indoors with good light.

Shrimp Plant can get a bit wild without regular pruning. Pinching back growth will not only keep its branches under control, it will promote more of its delicious blooms. This tropical plant thrives in heat and humidity but does not tolerate freezes. It will die back to ground level and most times, reappear the following spring. Plant with Hibiscus, Jatropha, Canna Lily or Tibochina for a beautiful, tropical shrimp cocktail!

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Stock

stockStock up on Stock! Get it? Huh? Bad joke. Sorry. Here is an annual that we see in early spring and late fall at The Garden Center.

As you can see from the photo, it blooms repeatedly when it's cooler. This annual blooms in pink, white and shades of purple. The blooms are also fragrant!

It also tolerates a light frost and has few pest problems. Plant it in full sun to part shade with well draining soil.

Keep the flowers going by deadheading often. Fertilizing every 4 to 6 weeks will also keep the blooms coming! This colorful plant makes a great filler plant in beds or containers and can be used as a border.

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