BEAUTIFY YOUR GARDEN
Plant sale provides many choices for spring
March 08, 2015
By Marcia Kauffman/Victoria County Master Gardener
Edited by Charla Borchers Leon/Victoria County Master Gardener
PHOTOS BY MARCIA KAUFFMAN/VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER
This deep red coleus prefers filtered light but can tolerate more direct sun late in the day. It, along with other varieties planted together or elsewhere in the garden, can provide a burst of color that can last well into late summer. Look for various coleus at the sale.
The Buddha belly plant has a swollen base trunk with large maple-shaped leaves from which coral red-colored flowers appear. While intriguing in appearance and attractive to butterflies, all its parts are considered poisonous and require caution located near children and pets. Ask for it at the sale along with other succulents.
Desert rose grows from a recognizable swollen root base called a caudex. It is a succulent that can tolerate direct sun with water in the summer reaching 4 to 6 feet in height, has reddish-pink blooms and produces a sap that can be poisonous.
Victoria County Master Gardeners have spent several months propagating and caring for numerous plants in the greenhouse in preparation for the upcoming plant sale. Expect several thousand plants at very reasonable prices at the plant sale on March 21.
Every spring as a gardener, I anticipate what changes I can make in my garden.
The Victoria County Master Gardener spring plant sale provides a rich variety from which to make these choices.
Propagating in the greenhouse
In the greenhouse several months in advance of the sale, we carefully choose what plants we would like to propagate. Depending on the method of propagation of the plant, we plant seeds, divide plants or make cuttings.
Then using large tubs of carefully combined potting soil, we provide a medium in which these tiny plants thrive. Such care is taken with each plant, nurturing it along the way until it's time to make an appearance at the plant sale.
Plants from the greenhouse
Propagated in the Master Gardener greenhouse, the following plants will be moved to the Victoria Educational Gardens pavilion for the sale.
The colorful coleus, Solenostemon scutellarioide, is a plant grown in our greenhouse from seed or a piece can be broken off of an existing plant and placed in soil. These plants grow to a height of 10 to 12 inches, and they can range in color from orange to purple to green to red - and solid or with patterns or borders.
Coleus grow in a filtered light to a sunny location, but be aware too much sun can wash away their vibrant colors. Their soil preference is slightly alkaline. In my garden, I like to add numerous varieties of this plant for a burst of color.
The Buddha belly or Jatropha podagrica, named for its lower swollen trunk, typically stands 2 to 3 feet tall. Its broad leaves resembling maple leaves have coral red flowers that attract butterflies. During the spring and summer growing season, full sun is needed. Water well during this time, then let it dry out in between watering.
It lends itself well to xeriscapes because it is a drought-tolerant succulent. For propagation, allow the seed heads of this plant to dry before bagging them. Then remove the seeds and you are ready to propagate your own Buddha belly. This unique plant has one drawback to note: all its parts are poisonous. Caution is advised with children and pets.
The desert rose, Adenium obesum, also is a succulent that grows well in a sunny spot needing water in the spring and summer but little in the winter.
The height will reach as tall as 4 to 6 feet, growing from a caudex or base of exposed roots. The caudex gives it a swollen look at the base of the plant creating an almost bonsai-looking plant. This is where the plant stores water. It prefers temperatures above 50 degrees.
These easy-to-grow plants like a soil that is slightly acidic, such as one used for succulents and cacti. Propagation can be achieved by branch cuttings, but the best way to grow it is from seeds. As attractive as this plant is with its unique structure and pretty reddish-pink bloom, watch out for the sap as it is poisonous.
Coral bells, Heucheras sanguinea, are perennials that prefer a variety of sun conditions. The light green leaf variety likes the morning sun while the afternoon sun is preferable for the darker green leaves.
The soil needs to be amended into a consistency that is crumbly. This can be achieved by adding compost, manure or other organic materials. This will also provide food for the plants. These plants with blooms of red or pink make excellent border plants because of their size of 12 inches in height with a spread of 12 to 18 inches.
Visit Master Gardener plant sale
Come on out to the Master Gardener plant sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 21 at the Victoria Educational Gardens pavilion across from the control tower at Victoria Regional Airport.
When you are there, Master Gardeners will be roaming around readily available to answer questions.
Arrive with empty arms - and leave with many plants to beautify your garden. While you are at the sale, take time to wander around Victoria Educational Gardens to look for favorite plants and to enjoy their beauty.
Next week's article will focus on other nursery plants and items likely available at the sale. Be sure to look for it next Sunday.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• WHERE: Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center, Victoria
• COST: Free
• Bring your lunch
• TOPIC: Raised Beds: No Till Gardening, presented by Master Gardener Debbie Hopper
• ZZ plants
• Coral bells
• Buddha belly
• Desert rose
• Where: Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion, Victoria Regional Airport, across from control tower