May 2009: Around Your Garden - Texas Edition

Our Texas expert offers tips and ideas for you.
William C. Welch

Bright Color
Think tropical for the coming season. The bold foliage of bananas, caladiums, cannas, elephant’s ears, and Persian shields make them all good choices. They feature nonstop production of colorful leaves from now till late fall. Bananas are available in dwarf forms (3 feet tall), some having wine-colored blotches on the bold green leaves. Caladiums can provide quick color in pots or borders. Purchase transplants in 6-inch pots for an instant effect. Foliage colors range from almost pure white to variations of rose and red. Try ‘Thai Beauty.’ Cannas such as ‘Bengal Tiger’ and ‘Tropicanna’ offer brilliant striped leaves that will light up any garden.

Entire State
Editor’s pick―
Trugs are handy for any gardener. Lightweight and flexible, they can be used for chores such as weeding, gathering vegetables, deadheading, mixing soil, and even watering. Look for them at your local garden center or hardware store, or buy them online from one of our favorite sources, Gardener’s Supply Company.

North and East
Pruning―
Cut and shape spring-blooming shrubs such as azaleas, forsythias, quinces, and spiraeas after they finish their flowering cycles. As soon as climbing roses have completed their peak bloom, they can be pruned. Begin by removing dead and weak canes.

Panhandle
Dazzling daylilies―
These are great perennials for your yard. Deciduous types (foliage goes dormant in winter) are better adapted to Panhandle conditions than the evergreen kinds. Try ‘Hyperion’ (yellow and fragrant), ‘Kwanso’ (orange double; pictured), and ‘Stella de Oro’ (small, golden, and chalice-like).

Central, West, and South
Succulents―
Brighten dry, hot areas with pots or mass plantings. One of the most successful and frost-resistant is ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense). Many sedums do well in containers or in areas off the beaten path. ‘Angelina’ sedum (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’) offers chartreuse foliage that will brighten any spot. ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum and ‘Brilliant’ showy sedum flower in the fall.

South
Small flowering trees―
Texas mountain laurels (Sophora secundiflora) are evergreens and have purple flowers in early spring that smell like grape Kool-Aid. Texas olive (Cordia boissieri) is a drought-tolerant native with white, petunia-like flowers all during the warm season. Try anacua (Ehretia anacua). White spring flowers; yellow fruit; and dark green, sandpaper-like foliage make it an attractive choice.