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How’s It Growing?

Making new garden beds with solarization

There is one good thing about this crazy hot weather; it's a great time to solarize! 

If you've been thinking about turning your lawn into a garden bed, this is the perfect year to do it. Solarizing is an organic way to get rid of grass and weeds in large areas. It can also help reduce pathogens in the soil. To solarize a new garden bed, follow these steps:

Remove plants and debris. If there's grass, mow it as low as you possibly can and water thoroughly. You can also apply 20 % horticultural vinegar over the top to really make those weeds mad. 

Use sheets of 2-4 ml clear painters plastic to cover the area you want to solarize. Avoid black or white plastic-it will not let as much heat through. Use rocks or bricks to weigh it down and make a good seal around the edges.

Let the sun do its magic! The downside is, you'll have to wait. It will take 6-12 weeks to really get everything nice and cooked.

When time is up, remove the plastic and either turn over the soil or remove any dead leftovers. Put a good layer of compost down.

If you are battling grass, put down thick layers of newspaper or cardboard in any open spots that are not going to be planted immediately. Don't forget to top it off with a thick layer of mulch!

Well that was rough...

Mexican Flame Vine- post Snowpocalypse

Here's a pretty, cheerful Mexican Flame vine to warm you up after last week's snowpocalypse!

We know many of you are wondering, "is my plant dead?". With temperatures as low and long lasting as we had this February, the answer is-time will tell. Have patience!

Some things may seem pretty bad now, but give them 4-6 weeks or so to push off burnt leaves and start putting on new buds.

Trees and Shrubs

Shade trees like Monterrey Oaks should be okay. They were getting ready to drop leaves for spring growth anyway. Many shrubs like Xylosma will probably make it too.

Palms and Citrus

Sagos and other palms? It might be a while. Wait a bit before pruning them, maybe in a few weeks. If the trunk is not mushy, you may see new fronds forming after a trim. Citrus may have some burnt leaves and branches, but all is not lost! Give them until mid April or so to put any new growth on.


Your roses needed a good haircut anyway. Get rid of any branches that are dead, dinky, damaged or diseased. Also look for any branches that may start rubbing together and trim those back. Open up the center of the plant a little too for nice growth this spring.


It's time to chop back your perennials. Tender ones may not come back, but give Lantana, salvias and Esperanza some time.

The Scratch Test

An easy way to tell if your plant is dead or just sleeping is the scratch test. Take a small knife or your finger nail and scrape the skin of the branches. If it's green inside, HOORAY! it's still alive.

If it's brown, white, dry and brittle inside, well... that's not a good sign. But make sure to check all the way down near the base of the plant too. Also remember that some plants will die all the way down to the root ball and may try to come back from there!

Is it Over Yet?

Are all the freezes over this year? The last average freeze date for our area is around March 13th. Maybe don't put the freeze cloth away just yet. The good news is that spring is on the way and the likelihood of another snowstorm in San Antonio is pretty low for awhile.

Get ready to bust out the fertilizer in mid March! We hope you didn't lose too many of your babies, or any for that matter. Just remember that even the best gardeners lose plants sometimes. Ahh the joys of crazy Texas weather!

Brrr. It's a little chilly this week! It's that time of year where we have to play duck and cover with some of the plants here at the nursery. Okay, so it's not exactly nuclear explosions we're trying to protect the plants from. But freezing weather can cause lots of damage to tender plants!

Tuck and Cover!

Duck and cover is really more like tuck and cover. One of the best ways to protect your tender plants from freezes is to cover them up. Use an old bedsheet or light blanket. We also sell specialty freeze cloth here at the nursery. Whatever you use, don't wrap with plastic!


Plastic can trap condensation inside and burn leaf edges. Make sure you use something "breathable". Also, watch out for fabric that is too heavy. Smaller branches could break in high wind or if ice settles on top, it can add extra weight to the cover.

Tuck them in real good and make sure to read them a bedtime story. Seriously though, you want to make sure your cover reaches the ground as much as possible. Secure with clothespins and you're good to go!

Water You, Crazy?

But wait, there's more! Before you go wrapping everything up, make sure your plants are well watered. Why? Sounds crazy, but water actually acts like insulation for the root ball.

When cold air hits dry ground, it also gets to the roots of plants. Since there's moisture in the roots, guess what? The roots freeze. It actually causes the cells inside to pop. If you water beforehand, the cold air will hit the water around those roots first. The frozen water then acts like a barrier, preventing the cold air from getting all the way to the roots. Neat, huh?


If you have plants in containers, putting them close to the house is a good idea if possible. This keeps them out of the wind and radiant heat from the house will help!

Do All Plants Need a Blankie?

Isn't this a lot of work? Well, a little. But remember, you don't need to wrap your entire garden. You also don't have to worry about most plants freezing until we get into the mid and low thirties. Here are some things you do and don't need to cover!

Tuck and cover:

  • Bougainvilleas, Mandevilla, Allamanda and other tropical vines
  • Young citrus trees-small ones that still have a lot of green on the trunk
  • Tomatoes and peppers-they can easily get nipped in early spring!
  • Tropical Hibiscus and Bird of Paradise
  • Houseplants-wait, what are they doing outside still?! Bring those babies in!
  • Young Sago Palms and other cold sensitive palms

Don't worry about:

  • Shade trees and stone fruit like apples, peaches or pears
  • Perennials-they might look bad after a freeze, but they will generally come back next spring
  • Winter annuals like pansies, snapdragons, cyclamen and stock
  • Magnolias or Redbuds
  • Evergreen shrubs like Loropetalum, Boxwood, Euonymus or hollies

Need More Help?

There's always a chance that even if you do everything right, it might just get too cold. Even the best gardeners lose plants sometimes!

Not sure if your plant should be covered, watered brought inside or read a bedtime story? Give us a call at the nursery and we can help. Also remember that plants are just one of the 3 P's when it comes to freezing weather-don't forget the pipes and pets!

indoor plants

Are you ready to bring the great outdoors inside? Maybe you have an empty corner to decorate. Or maybe you have some tender potted tropicals to bring in for winter. Either way, having indoor plants is rewarding in many ways. They add life and dimension to almost any room with the right care!

While it may seem as simple as finding the perfect pot and pretty plant, there are some key things to know about caring for your indoor friends. Some things to consider are the type of plant, light, water and even air!

Types of Indoor Plants

Let's talk about different types of plants first. Lots of different things can be grown indoors under the right conditions. Most people think of leafy tropicals right away. But did you know that you can also grow succulents, cactus and even some flowering shrubs and fruit trees?

You'll need to know what type of plant you have in order to get some of the other stuff right. Succulents and cactus for instance, have thick fleshy leaves that store water easily. This means they won't need as much water as a something with thinner leaves like Peace Lily or a Gardenia. Keep your plant tags so you can refer back to it later!

Proper Lighting

Next let's talk about light. Most indoor plants are going to need a good sunny area to be happy. They prefer bright indirect light. Steer clear of direct light in a hot window.

There are a few houseplants that will tolerate low light like ZZ Plant or Philodendrons. If you have a bathroom with no windows, please go to Hobby Lobby and find some nice silk plants. It's difficult to grow plants in a spot like this and you will spend a lot less money experimenting! UNLESS, you can have a good lamp with bright light that can be on during daylight hours.

How Much to Water?

Okay, now here's one of the most important things to get right: water! All of your indoor plants are in containers, right? Outdoor containers need water every day or at least a couple of times a week, right? So that must mean that indoor plants need the same amount of water, right? NOPE. One of the biggest mistakes people new to indoor plants make is over watering!

Indoor plants are going to need much less water than outdoor plants. Leafy, tropical things like bananas, Schefflera, Monstera and Peace Lily will need water once every 7-10 days. 7 to 10! Wow, a big change from outdoors.

If you're growing succulents like Crested Coral Cactus, Haworthia or Elephant Bush, they're going to need even less. Maybe check on them every couple of weeks. If they start to look wrinkled and pruny, it's time. Just don't forget about them!

Your mileage may vary. Again, it's good to get to know each plant individually. Some will do better with frequent misting or watering from the bottom with a tray. Keep your plant tags and pop the name into a search engine online. There's tons of info out there!

Extra Tidbits

Air and Circulation

When growing plants indoors, especially in winter, you'll want to keep them away from drafty doors and windows. Make sure to keep plants away from space heaters and fireplaces. Not just for safety's sake, that hot air can really stress and dry out foliage! Cactus and succulents may not mind as much.

Air conditioning vents and fans can also play a part for some picky plants like Croton. Once you find a good spot for your new household friend, try not to move them around too much. A change of scenery can sometimes make leaves drop!

Winter Migration

If you're moving your plants inside for winter time, start early. Don't wait until a freeze is in the forecast. It's better to acclimate them slowly when the temperature outside is closer to the temperature inside your home.


Many houseplants don't need lots of fertilizer. Some like it once a month. Some twice a year! Most only need it during the active growing season. Some houseplants like orchids and African violets like acidic food. Gotta do your homework!

One of the easiest ways to feed your houseplants is with a liquid you can mix with water. Some to try are Medina Hasta-Gro or FoxFarm's Grow Big, both available at The Garden Center.

Again, it's best to get to know each plant and see what they like. Keep your plant tags and don't over water. If you're ready to try some, you're in luck. We just a big order of indoor tropical foliage! Below are some links to help you get started:

Easy Houseplants for Beginners
Houseplants for Low Light
Pet Friendly Houseplants
Growing Fruit Trees Indoors

January Plant of the Month 2020

Well, it's winter time. Maybe you wished you had planted something green to look at over the next few months? Plant Confederate Jasmine now for some greenery and it will reward you with lush growth and flowers this spring!


Growth habit and features

This vine is also known as Star Jasmine and is related to Asian Jasmine, a ground cover with far fewer flowers. Like many vines, it's vigorous and fast growing. It climbs by twining, so a little bit of training is needed to get it started, but soon enough it will start finding its own way. It's average span is about 12' long, although reports of 40' are possible if left unchecked!

Confederate Jasmine features leathery, oval green leaves with a point on each end. Small pinwheel-shaped fragrant white flowers appear in abundance in spring and summer. Sometimes they will have a little burst of blooms in the fall as well. All of those fragrant blooms mean you'll have plenty of visits from bees, butterflies and hummingbirds too. Deer seldom bother this plant and if they do, well, it will grow back pretty quick.


How to grow

While Confederate Jasmine is a spectacular choice for fences, trellises and arbors, it can also be grown as a ground cover. Grown in this fashion you can expect a carpet about 12-24" thick and spreading. It could even be grown in containers, hanging baskets or indoors. Wow, imagine that scent filling up your home!

Grow Confederate Jasmine in full sun or shade (You'll get more blooms with more sun). It is not picky about soil type either. Clay, sand, rocky, alkaline? No worries. It does prefer slightly moist soil, but once established can tolerate some drought.

Confederate Jasmine is available almost any time at The Garden Center. Since it is green all year, as long as it is available to us, it's available to you. Come by and see our 1 and 5 gallon containers available now!

You may not have bluebonnets on the brain right now, but you should if you want them in your garden this spring. Here's how you can have our state flower in your own backyard!


We Texans love our bluebonnets. Low growing clumps of palmate leaves explode with royal blue flower spikes in spring. They attract beautiful butterflies and other pollinators. Maybe you've tried bluebonnets before with no luck. If that's the case, check out these pointers!

If starting bluebonnets from seed, you've missed the window for planting time. Sorry, folks. Seed should be sown in October or November at the latest. Bluebonnet plants need cold weather to produce strong root systems. BUT- transplants CAN be planted from November until early February. Hooray! The plants will have enough time to grow and be ready for spring blooms.


Now, you'll need to select a sunny spot for your new plants. At least 8-10 hours of sun is best. Otherwise you may end up with scraggly plants and few blooms. Avoid planting transplants too deeply to avoid rotting of the crown. Make sure the soil is well drained and plants are kept moist but not wet. Remember, they're Texas tough, and are great at surviving drought!

One of the best things about bluebonnets? No fertilizer required. Or wanted. Leave 'em alone. You think TxDOT runs around fertilizing bluebonnets on the highway? Fertilizing may actually decrease blooming and give you leggy plants!

Bluebonnets look great en masse, along sidewalks or in containers. If you can't wait for spring color, mix in some pansies, snapdragons and dusty miller while waiting for your blue blooms.

Once flowering is over, plants will begin to brown. They will then be ready to mow down, scattering dried seed pods for the next season! They can also be collected and stored, if desired.

Bluebonnet transplants are available now at The Garden Center in small 6 packs. Traditional blue AND maroon! Want more info on all things bluebonnets? Check out these links for even more on our beautiful state flower:

Magnificent- no really, that's its name!

Let's show our houseplants some love, huh? Here's one of our favorites. Crotons are known for their vibrant, colorful foliage. While they are show stoppers, they can also be a bit dramatic. Read on to learn how to properly care for these beautiful plants!

Crotons are tropical evergreens grown for their colorful foliage- green, orange, red, nearly black and yellow, all at once! Leaves can be ovate, slender and elongated or even curly. While they do flower, the event is rare, especially indoors. They have an upright growth habit of 3-5' tall and wide with a moderate to fast growth rate.

Crotons are best grown in containers. If you plant them in the ground, they will be unhappy once temperature dip down into the 50's. They may start to drop leaves and are only cold hardy to 30º. Keeping them in containers means they can easily be moved indoors for winter. Or just leave them there!

Give these tropicals bright, indirect light. If your Croton's leaves aren't as colorful as you had hoped, or start to fall off, your plant may need more light. Be careful about moving these guys all around trying to find the right spot, however. They don't do well with change and may drop their leaves. Drama queens. Don't worry, they are also resilient and with some love, they'll forgive you.

When watering Crotons, water evenly and let the soil dry out in between drinks. Too much or too little water and they will let you know by (guess what?) dropping their leaves. They love humidity, keep a misting bottle of water handy to spray around the foliage. Wiping the leaves down with a damp cloth from time to time will keep the leaves looking nice and dust free. It can also help deter pests such as mealybugs, spider mites or scale.

Petra & Mamey

Crotons should be fertilized in spring and summer and don't need much else. Unless you want to. If you're crazy about fertilizing, feed Mr. Croton about once a month until dormancy in winter. Use a balanced formula for houseplants like a 10-10-10 or triple 20.

So, maaaaybe these houseplants are not the best for beginners. But if you're willing to experiment and take some time to get to know your friend the Croton, it will reward you with gorgeous color for years to come! Ready to try it? We have them now at The Garden Center. Choose from Franklin, Petra, Mamey or Magnificent!

Boston Ivy

Leaves of three, let it be? Hah! Fooled ya. While this vine is sometimes mistaken for Poison Ivy, don't let it scare you. They're not even related. In fact, Boston Ivy is from the grape family. Read on to see why this plant makes a beautiful addition to the landscape!

Characteristics & Growth Habit

Boston Ivy is a deciduous perennial vine that can grow up to 30' tall. It has varying leaf shapes, often starting out like small hearts, then forming lobed compound leaves or 3 separate leaves. There are also many varieties of this vine, including some that are variegated!

Friend or foe?

You can tell this vine apart from its irritating lookalike by the way it attaches to a surface. While Poison Ivy attaches by aerial rootlets, Boston uses sticky disks called tendrils. They kind of look like little frog feet! These strong tendrils make it easy for them to climb without a support (more on that later).

Boston Ivy

Probably the most notable characteristic of Boston Ivy is its beautiful fall color. The leaves will turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red and purple before dropping in late winter. It makes a small flower in spring, but nothing to write home about. Bluish black berries appear soon after, a treat for the birds!

Did you know?

A vigorous grower, you may have seen it covering large brick buildings; especially in the New England area. You know why they're called Ivy League schools? It refers to the Boston Ivy growing all over Yale, Dartmouth and Harvard! You might think that since this vine grows so well there, it may not be as hardy here. But Boston Ivy is very adaptable and grows in most all parts of Texas.

In the Landscape

While the idea of a vine covered house may be romantic, you'll need to think carefully before adding this plant to your landscape. It can be a chore to remove if you change your mind. Boston Ivy is known for being somewhat gentler on the surfaces it grows on, but over time it can deteriorate wood or stucco. It is best suited to grow on stone, brick or chain linked fences. Otherwise, building a support a few inches away from the side of the house may be an option. You could even grow this as a ground cover on slopes to help with erosion!

Boston Ivy

Another thing to consider is, what will you plant at the base? Over time, most of the foliage will be at the top of the plant. So a nice foundation hedge underneath may be in order. Elaeagnus or Encore Azalea might be a good compliment!

Tips & tricks

This vine is tough and can grow in full to part sun. However, it will do best planted on the east side of the yard to avoid leaf scorch in the summer. Want the best fall color? While very drought tolerant once established, plenty of rain will give you the best leaf show. HAHA. Get out the water hose, regular watering is more reliable!

Because it grows so well here, you will have to do some occasional maintenance on it. There are stories of neglected vines creeping into window sills or clogging gutters. Yikes! Not to worry, it can be pruned any time of year and with regular care won't be a problem.

Give it a try!

Planting vines takes some planning, but the good outweighs the bad for this variety. Boston Ivy has very few pest or disease problems. Birds like it, deer don't. Adding a deciduous vine to the side of your building can also help keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter! Except for a haircut and a drink every once in a while, they don't need much. Plus it's gorgeous! Ready to give it a try? We have a few of these hidden gems right now at The Garden Center in one gallon containers. Get growin'!

September 2019


What's the name of that plant? It's green...and has a weird name...Xylophone? No. Xylograph? Nah. Xena Warrior Princess? Nope. You're thinking of Xylosma!

Shape, Size and Color

Xylosma (pronounced z-eye-las-mah or z-eye-lohs-mah) may have a funny name, but has lots of value in the landscape. This evergreen shrub features beautiful reddish bronze new growth that matures to a shiny, bright green. The tear drop shaped leaves grow on long arching branches giving it a shrubby form.

It will grow to about 10 or 12 feet tall and wide, making it an excellent choice for privacy hedges, foundation plantings, windbreaks and backgrounds. Left to its own devices, Xylosma has a loose, open growth habit, but can also be easily sheared back into neat, tidy hedges. With some training, it can even be shaped into a small tree.

But, Not Just Green

While this shrub does make a flower, you might not notice much. The honey bees will, however! The flower is small and yellowish-green and is then followed by small, black ornamental fruit which attracts birds.

Now, where to put it?

Plant this beauty in full or partial sun. Though it prefers regular watering, it doesn't mind summer sun or heat once it gets established. It is cold hardy to 10º, rarely has pest or disease problems and is deer resistant. Xylosma is also a fast grower!

This plant looks fantastic alongside crape myrtles, lantana or shrub roses. But truly, it looks great with just about anything! Xylosma is available at The Garden Center regularly throughout the year. Right now, we have plenty of them in 5 or 7 gallon containers. Come by and see us!

August Plant of the Month 2019

What in the world could be blooming in August in San Antonio you ask? The answer is Coneflower! While other plants may be taking a break from our summer heat, Coneflower is thriving.

Double Scoop Cranberry Coneflower

When talking about Echinacea the first image that may come to mind might be a purple daisy-like flower, but there are 9 different species and over 60 different varieties! Many of the new types have double blooms or unusual petals. Pictured here are Double Scoop Cranberry and Cheyenne Spirit. Coneflowers are easy to grow and are native to North America.

How it Grows

While some native varieties can reach up to 5' tall, most hybridized varieties will stay a tidy, compact 1-3' tall and wide. This clumping perennial can be easily identified by its rough textured, dark green lanceolate or ovate leaves, with its trademark long petalled flower and protruding cone atop a tall, thick stem.

Coneflowers' long lasting blooms appear in late spring and continue through summer. They can be deadheaded if desired, but can also add fall & winter interest if allowed to dry on the plant. You may even get some fine feathered visitors looking for delicious seeds to eat!

Coneflower makes a good cut flower for arrangements, attracts butterflies and bees. It's also well known for its use in herbal remedies for toothaches, sore throats, infections and strengthening the immune system. Don't try this at home, kids. Always do your homework before ingesting anything in the landscape!

How to Grow it!

Grow Echinacea in full sun or part shade. It prefers moist, well-drained soil, but can handle poor soil as well. They look great in borders or naturalized areas.

These plants tolerate high heat and humidity and are somewhat drought tolerant. There are conflicting reports of its resistance to deer. Maybe keep the repellant handy, just in case.

Right now at The Garden Center, you can pick up Double Scoop Cranberry, Cheyenne Spirit, Red Sombrero or Now Cheesier coneflowers in a 1 gallon container for color all summer!