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!
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!
July Plant of the Month
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!
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 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!
September Plant of the Month
Calamondin Orange is a cross between a Mandarin Orange and a Kumquat. It produces a small acidic orange that tastes similar to a lemon or lime. The juice can be used to flavor beverages, fish or soups, and can be made into sauces. Even if you don't care to eat the fruit, this citrus tree is still attractive as an ornamental plant. Before setting fruit, this citrus tree produces white fragrant blooms that appear year round!
These plants can be grown in containers or in the ground. Some say they bring good luck when planted near the front door! Calamondin Oranges can be grown indoors with a good light source. When grown outside, give them full to partial sun. Calamondin can reach 10-20 feet in height, but can easily be pruned back to maintain s smaller size. Like other citrus trees, protect this plant in winter by watering and covering before a hard freeze.