Hope springs eternal in Brenda's Garden!
by Brenda Beust Smith
Monday, March 01, 2010
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always To be Blest." -- Alexander Pope
Has there ever been a more fitting quote for this spring? The questions never stop ...
"Will my hibiscus/lantana/oleander/bougainvillea/palm/etc. come back?"
Here's what I suggest. Since both that 'hog up north and our local alligator forecaster say we'll have more winter, wait until mid-March at the earliest to start cutting things back.
Why? Because pruning triggers new growth. If you trigger new growth and we have another hard freeze, you might end up killing a plant that would have survived otherwise.
If you've already cut things back, well, not much you can do about it now. You may luck out and those of us who waited will be sad we had to look at the mess longer than necessary.
Around mid-March, start cutting off that dead wood. Do it slowly, stopping after every cut to check for green growth. Stop when you see green.
But even if you get all the way to the bottom, don't assume the plant is dead.
Our soil did not freeze. Shrubs over 3-4 years old should have good strong root systems. If they are strong enough, they may send out new green shoots from the root system.
My recommendation: go ahead and cut the plant all the way to the ground (if you don't see any green at all).
Then fill in around that plant with all the wonderful flowering annuals now available in nurseries. They have fantastic selections right now of alyssum, dusty miller, fuschias, snapdragons and other spring annuals that will probably die when it gets hot.
Don't touch your old shrubs until you see these flowers starting to fade in early summer. If your shrub hasn't returned by then, it's gone. Move on.
But at least this way the spot will be pretty and you won't get so depressed everytime you look at that stump!
DEAR BRENDA. I'm curious. What survived wnter in your garden? G.M.
DEAR G.M. Come to the Galveston Home & Garden Show!
I'll be doing a presentation Saturday, March 13, on "What Survived in the Lazy Gardener's Garden?" and I'll bring cuttings of these "survivors" to share with those who attend.
I can tell you right now I'll probably have some Louisiana iris tubers, crinum bulbs and shrimp, duranta and swamp sunflower cuttings.
Hope you'll stop by and say hi.
P.S. Don't miss new posts. Make the Lazy Gardener blog your home page.
Brenda Beust Smith
www.guidrynews.com (Features > Brenda's Garden)
Email Brenda for list of area gardening/environmental speakers ($5) andlist of her topics for garden club presentations ($250-$300)
"THE LAZY GARDENER'S GUIDE ON CD" — a gardening book on CD offers gardening tips plus 12 pre-designed gardens for butterflies, hummers, sun, shade and more. Monthly what-to-do reminders for Greater Houston/Gulf Coast gardens. $20 each. Make checks payable to Brenda B. Smith & mail to: Lazy Gardener's Guide on CD, 14011 Greenranch,
Houston, TX 77039-2103.
(http://www.vrbo.com/261373 — Gorgeous view condo in Galveston for rent/lease)