Hardy Survivors-The Plants for San Antonio

San Antonio Express News
Sunday, March 13, 2005

By Dr. Jerry Parsons

Have you ever heard the old expression, “The more things change, the more things remain the same.”? I was reminded of this recently when I visited with Mrs. Sterling Cavender and was shown the 1956 edition of the “DAYLILY PLANTING GUIDE” from the Gardeners of District VII of Texas Garden Clubs, Inc. Mrs. Cavender, Anne Schiller and I were sharing memories of another great San Antonio Gardener named Mrs. Margaret Kane. Mrs. Kane’s horticultural works will be preserved and shared at: http://www.plantanswers.com/margaret_kane.htm. The first two articles on perennials and annuals for this area have already been posted.

The article in the booklet which really intrigued me was, “A Garden With A Minimum of Care,” by Mrs. J. B. Little. The following is an excerpt:

“How much time do you have to give your garden? Do you ever have to be away two or three weeks at a time and have no one to care for your plants?” “There are many beautiful shrubs and flowers that can stand short periods of neglect and still be there when you get back, always assuming of course that they are planted in good soil, fertilized and mulched. Several that are especially hardy and colorful are:

HIBISCUS (mallow) should be planted in the spring. It is very easy to grow and will often bloom from seed the first year. After the blooming season is over the tops will usually die down and should be cut back. Bank leaves and soil over the roots and a new growth will start the next spring.

POINSETTIA may be started from cuttings from the mature wood. Plant the cuttings in pots for pot plants, in cans, or they may be planted permanently in the ground. When the tops are about eighteen inches high they may be pinched back to induce branching, but this should not be done after August. Feed in September to produce larger flowers. They may be had in colors of cream white, peach, pink or red.

ESPERANZA (Tecoma stans) is a very hardy evergreen shrub that grows about five feet tall. It has profuse foliage and yellow flowers, blooming during the summer. It does best in full sunlight.

CENTURY PLANT (Ceniza maguey) is so called because it took so long to bloom in the north. It is unusual since it is trunk less and has a flower stalk ten to forty feet high. The century plant will die down after blooming, but new plants will grow from the suckers around its base. The flowers are creamy white, resembling lilies.

OLEANDER is another fine flowering shrub that blooms during the summer and is very hardy. Since it blooms on new growth, it should be pruned in the fall and winter. The oleander is easily propagated from cuttings which often bloom the first year. After a severe freeze, cut back to green wood. Some varieties of flowers are very fragrant and its colors are white, red, yellow and varying shades of these colors.

Also try these for maximum results for a minimum of work:

TREES AND SHRUBS: Jasmine (Primrose) Abelia, Lantana, Althea, Mountain Laurel, Cassias, Pittosporum, Ceniza, Poinciana, Crepe Myrtle, Pomegranate, Esperanza, Retama, Hypericum, Santolina, Italian Jasmine, Turks Cap

VINES: Antigonon (Queen’s Wreath). Clematis Paniculata, Honeysuckle, Thunbergia, Wisteria, Lady Banksia Rose, Bougainvillea

PERENNIALS: Amaryllis, Aspidistra, Daisies (Michaelmas), Daylilies, Geraniums, Iris (Bearded), Ophiopogon (or Lily Turf “Mondo”), Plumbago, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Shrimp Plant

ANNUALS: Acalypha, Celosia (Cockscomb), Four O’Clocks, Larkspur, Marigolds, Nicotiana, Petunias, Poppies, Portulaca, Queen Anne’s Lace, Zinnias”

You may not find this listing very impressive but I certainly do. The reason is that included in this listing are 90 percent of all the plants horticulture writers have “discovered” in the last 30 years. The majority of plants which have been tagged as Texas SuperStars and listed at: http://www.plantanswers.com/ superstar_listing.htm are also on this list. Improved selections of these plants have been made, but the core of all recommended plant materials is contained in this article written 50 years ago. “The more things change, the more things remain the same!”

This article was written by Dr. Jerry Parsons, Extension Horticulturist (Vegetables) with Texas Cooperative Extension in Bexar County.


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