Prepare Daylilies for a Spring through Summer Show

Daylily 'Fading Love'

Daylily ‘Fading Love’

My perennial garden bed is primarily composed of daylily (hemerocallis spp.) varieties. My daylily garden began in 1995, when I mail-ordered the first set of plants. After accumulating about 12 varieties, I stopped purchasing and began maintaining those already in the garden.

Over time, the daylilies form clumps that become more and more crowded — resulting in plants that produce few flowers and partially die back.

Daylily clumps should be periodically divided each year—not less than once every 3 years (depending on location and amount of growth) and then re-planted for optimum flowering and overall plant health.  Continue reading

Minor Flooding, Lush Greenery, and Calla Lilies!

Three terms I did not think I would be using to describe my gardens in mid October — flooding, Calla, and Lush.

One month ago, our rainfall values, combined with dry ground conditions, indicated early drought conditions. If the cool/cold fronts of Fall and Winter do not result in rainfall, the conditions worsen. Right now, it is drizzling, and we’ve already had 3 1/2 inches of rain in the last 36 hours –with more expected over the next 3 days. Continue reading

Passion Vine Flower Damage

Purple Passion Vine Flower Picture

Passion Vine Flower

We have been inundated with rain (no complaints here!) over the last three weeks — we received close to 6 inches of rain at our house. The temperatures have been cooler (relatively speaking), mid to upper 90’s for highs and low 70’s for lows—Spring-like for Texas. With rain and cooler temperatures, the insects appear.

Insect damage to plants can be as devastating as poor environments and microbes. Continue reading

Rose Mallow and Belinda’s Dream in August

The Rose Mallow (also called Hardy Hibiscus) was planted about 5 years ago next to Belinda’s Dream — an old garden shrub rose.  (This picture was taken with a cell phone and all elements have a slightly bluer appearance than the real-world view.)

Pink rose blooms and dark pink rose mallow bloom

Rose Mallow and Belinda’s Dream


Bloom sizes; Rose Mallow (6 inch diameter), Belinda’s dream (2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter); both plants are currently producing blooms.

Belinda’s Dream produces blooms from Spring through Fall; the largest and most abundant blooms are in the spring, reduced number and size throughout summer, and a few more larger blooms in the Fall.

The Rose Mallow begins blooming when the temperatures are consistently above 90 degrees and continues blooming through Summer and into the Fall; the largest blooms appear early in the blooming period (8 to 8 1/2 inches in diameter) and consistently reduce in size over the course of the summer (smallest about 4 inches in diameter).

The Rose Mallow blooms last a single day; they unfurl in the morning, are fully open by mid afternoon then shrivel and drop in the evening.

Belinda’s Dream blooms generally unfurl over the course of one day (by mid afternoon) and then slowly deteriorate over the course of 3 to 5 days (longer flower life in cooler weather).


Both plants have similar water needs and do well together on the same watering schedule (once a week by dripper hose). I use Miracle Grow fertilizer (blue crystals) to support vegetative (green) growth after the last frost. In rainy Spring seasons, I’ll use Miracle grow for roses (to encourage blooming) on both plants about a month to six weeks after the last frost.

Trim all roses on Valentine’s day (or the nearest Saturday following Valentine’s day–time permitting); Cut back all stems smaller than a pencil (average sized wooden pencil with lead) and cut just above a leaf bud location.

The rose mallow is self-sufficient, no trimming needed unless it becomes unruly (I don’t trim it because it will freeze down to the ground over winter).

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Easy Care, Ornamentals for a Small Garden

My small ornamental garden by the patio — and visible from a window — has several plants growing now; ferns, annuals and evergreens. Four plants from my window garden by the patio are identified in this blog entry; 1) red salvia, 2) fern, 3) purple “wandering jew” plant and 4) unknown lily that appears and blooms after rain.

red salvia blooms

red salvia blooms


Red Salvia.

The red salvia is a perenial that returns without my intervention and each year, there are more plants! Each Spring, smaller plants sprout  from seed or from roots of previous plants.

Because of its easy care and awesome attraction for hummingbirds — I keep it where I can view the show of hummingbird colors from my window. I’ve seen hummingbirds fight for these flowers!

It is  very heat resistant, but I water it weekly for best blooming. The purple leaves and stems of Trandescantial pallida (second picture below) are visible on the left side of the salvia, in this picture.

Holly Fern, new Frond growth

Holly Fern, August 28, 2013


Holly Fern.

The Holly fern thrives in the Spring until the temperatures are consistently above consistently above 90°. The higher temperatures burn the fronds and the dried material was removed prior to taking this picture. Although winter freezes and summer heat damage the fronds, fresh green foliage appears in spring, and again in late Summer and early Fall. Because of its consistent reappearance and new growth, the holly fern continues its residents among the other plants in the small garden.

More often, the holly fern just found growing in hanging baskets and parts located in the shade of a large porch. This fern is also grown as a houseplant in warmer temperatures (and I suspect, much colder temperatures).

“Wandering Jew” plant (Trandescantial pallida)

purple leaves and stems of the "wandering jew" plant

“wandering jew” plant

This evergreen (or ever”purple”?) creeping plant readily repreduces from cuttings. In fact, the plant is rather fragile and breaks apart with little effort—a cat walking though the bed can occasionally snap a stem. Each time the stems break, a new plant is formed — it can root without any assistance, and thereby spreads rapidly in a tropical type environment. It will freeze back slightly each each, but completely refreshes over Spring.

I added this plant to my small window view-able garden about 10 years ago, and this year it has made quite an appearance.

In this picture, rain droplets are still visible on some leaves and the tiny pink flowers have appeared.

Unknown Lily Variety 

An unknown pink/purple lily blooms

Unknown Lily–August blooms after rain

The unknown lily (right) is tiny (leaves are 4 inches to 8 inches long, and the beautiful pink blooms that appear after rain are about 4 inches across. this is a garden favorite that I forget about until after it rains and the lily appears. I’ve got this lily planted in 4 or 5 locations around the house. The entire lily dies back to the ground after the blooms appear — depending on the temperature because the plant stays around during cooler, moist time periods.

I do not know the identity of this Lily as it was given to me by a friend who received it from another friend and did not know the name either. At any rate, it is a great addition to my relatively “carefree” garden.

Passion Vine

Passion vine flower with purple petals

Passion Vine Flower

The passion vine grows in zones 7-10 and is a native plant in the United States. There are a number of colors, mine is purple but I’d love to find one of the reds!

This one was planted recently, a gift from my sister-in-law, JoAnn’s garden—her vine dies back in the winter (but not completely) and it is grown in partial shade. JoAnn found several seedlings near the mature vine, so it’s probably not a hybrid and I plan to try growing it from seed next Spring.

I’ve got this one growing near the house on the East side and so far it has defied the heat with about 2 feet of growth and 4 flowers so far–there were an additional 6 flower buds when I checked this morning. The Flowers last a day each, so it’s good to see additional buds.

I’ll keep watch on this one to share more growing tips.

Star of Texas—Cypress Vine

The pink blooms of the Star of Texas (Cypress) vine are abundant in summer.

“Star of Texas” (Cypress Vine) Aug.10, 2013

This plant is a cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) but is often called Star of Texas.

It’s my favorite vine for several reasons.

First, it grows quickly and can fill a large area in a matter of weeks, but freezes to the ground in the winter. So, it puts on a flashy eye-catching show in late summer (when most other things die back from consecutive days of temperatures 100 or greater.  I don’t like vines that take over and damage structures — something that easily happens in our mild winters! So this is an ideal vine to fill a trellis or fence—-without destroying.

Second, the flowers attract hummingbirds—a good food source for the hummingbirds, and an interesting show for people to watch! By late summer, there are few plants blooming and producing nectar for the hummingbirds, so once they find this plant, the hummingbirds will return!

The Star of Texas vine blooms profusely in the heat of summer. In fact, this vine will not even grow very well until the high temperatures are above 90 degrees and low temperatures are above 70 degrees. The blooms are about the size of a dime, can be found in pink, red or white, and behave like daylily flowers — open in the morning and last a single day.

Texas Star Vine

Texas Star

Third, it is EASY to propagate! It returns year after year without much effort on my part and I have shared both seeds and small plants with friends and family.

I first started growing this vine from a few small plants given to me by my sister-in-law —– Debbie S. In fact, the plants can be pulled up and transplanted during the heat — just put them in a pot and keep them watered.

Finally—this vine gives a beautiful show up to the first freeze—so it’s blooms and green foliage can last well into October and, occasionally, November.

Shrimp Plant

The Shrimp Plant is native to Mexico so it will grow in hot, dry environments. In my garden, it really adds blooms as the temperature rises. This plant is one of the few in my garden that is in bloom during the “dog days” of summer — it bloomed during the drought as well.

Salmon pink and white flowers bloom throughout summer heat.

Shrimp Plant, July 27, 2013

Before 2010, I had not grown this plant so when I found it, I was curious. I purchased a plant that had a discounted price due to it’s poor condition (Of course, I saw this as a challenge!). With minimal care, this jewel returns each year and never complains about the heat–the height of it’s blooming season.   The plant is located where it receives full sun from morning until about 2:00 p.m. and is then shaded. When we fall into high temperatures no more than 90 degrees, I’m going to try to make a few cuttings so I can put additional plants elsewhere to brighten up my garden in summer!

With cool temperatures and considerable rain this spring, this plant suffered so it doesn’t like water sitting on the roots. I’ve had no other problems with it.