What Do Trees, Edible Landscape Plants and Aquaponics Have in Common?

Colorful tree

Credit: Chinese Pistache Tree              (CC BY-NC 2.0)

You’ll learn about them all at our upcoming Urban Horticulture and Landscape Conference on Friday, September 30th. Our program will cover selecting and planting trees in your landscape and fall lawn care. We will also discuss the best plants for an edible landscape and show you how to prepare your own home aquaponics system. A combination of field activities and classroom sessions will provide you with practical information leading to success with your own urban oasis.

The conference is from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center. Lunch is included with your $35.00 registration fee. Space is limited so please register by September 28th. For further information and to register, call Texas A&M AgriLife Extension at 771-2354 or register at the website.

The Fall Lawn Fertilizing Deadline is Fast Approaching!   by Doc Stalker, El Paso Master Gardener  

leaf on lawn

Credit: First Leaf of Autumn by Eric Sonstroem              (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Summer’s temperatures are finally starting to drop, and the school zone caution lights are flashing again throughout El Paso County. That means the deadline for the most important fertilizer application of the year is right around the corner.

A final application of fertilizer each fall helps warm season grasses store up extra energy before going dormant over the winter months. That stored energy is critical for lawns to ‘green up’ next spring as soon as the weather is warm again. Mid-September is usually the ideal time for fall fertilization of warm season grass lawns, but don’t risk applying any fertilizer to those lawns after October 1st.

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Is the “Mystery Tree” a Siberian Elm and What’s Eating Its Leaves?  by Doc Stalker, El Paso Master Gardener


Credit: Diseased Siberian Elm by Jeffrey Beall (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Homeowners and gardeners around El Paso often find ‘mystery trees’ popping up in flower beds, inside shrubs, and under the eaves of houses or garden sheds.  Allowed to grow, the trees quickly become small to medium sized trees. While happy to have a free shade tree, property owners may soon notice that something decimates the leaves on their volunteer tree every year. Chances are that ‘mystery tree’ could be a Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila L.): a hardy, quick-growing tree found throughout the Southwest that can reach heights of 50 to 70 feet under the right conditions.   

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Buzz Off! Prevent Mosquitoes to Reduce Disease

standing water

Mosquito conducive conditions,
Credit: NYSIPM Gallery

Mosquito-transmitted diseases are on our radar now more than ever. The bite of an infected mosquito can spread West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue, and Zika. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s “Mosquito Safari” is an interactive audio-visual website that takes you around a house and neighborhood to learn where mosquitoes will breed so they can be eliminated.

Below, there’s a collection of new fact sheets from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to answer some of the more common Zika questions. Read them to learn how to protect yourself from mosquitoes and prevent their spreading.


  • Buzz Off! 4 Ways to Prevent Mosquito Bites – A short reminder of the 4-Ds, the four ways to avoid mosquito bites.  A quick safety reminder.
  • What Texans Need to Know about Zika Virus – General information about Zika, what causes it, whether you should be worried, and how to stop it.
  • Zika Precautions for Women – A new publication outlining the most important steps women can take to protect themselves and their unborn children from Zika.
    DIY Backyard Mosquito Control – An overview of all the mosquito control options available to consumers, including hiring a professional.  Advantages and disadvantages of each option are listed, including what we know and don’t know about the many products out there.  (Spoiler alert: don’t buy bug zappers for mosquito control–they don’t kill many mosquitoes)

Learn from El Paso Master Gardeners

As we wind up the summer, the El Paso Master Gardeners’ Speakers Bureau will be bringing you informative talks at various El Paso library locations and at the Farmers’ Market in Sunland Park, NM. The remaining “Sow.Grow.ReapEat.” workshops in September will be at three city libraries so check to see if one is convenient for you. See our Events pages for more information. Each “Sow.Grow.ReapEat” workshop requires a separate registration.  

SowGrowReapEat logoSow.Grow.ReapEat
Library Workshops

Sept. 15, 17, 20

Click here for
more dates and info.


Ask a Master

Visit a Master Gardener
Information Table

Next Info Tables:
Sept.  24

Click here for
more dates and info.

pencil in a bookBack-to-School Shopping Made Easy  

Please support the El Paso County Master Gardener Association by starting your shopping at AmazonSmile.

Let’s Save the Rain!

Since El Paso’s monsoon season is (hopefully) fast-approaching, check out our article on rainwater harvesting. You’ll learn the benefits of passive and active forms as well as follow links to informative “how-to” articles. There’s also a link to a “Good to Grow” radio show with KTEP host Norma Martinez and Texas Master Gardener Rainwater Harvesting Specialist, Doc Stalker.

Help Desk for Plant and Gardening Questions

Do you have a question about your plants, gardens or yards? Call the El Paso Master Gardener Help Desk (915-771-2354) to talk with a volunteer. You’ll get help with your gardening questions during the hours given below:

ask us pictureMonday 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Wednesday 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

If a Master Gardener is not available when you call, please leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible. Or, you may complete the Ask the Help Desk form which accepts photos and gives the option to receive an answer by phone or email.

Monthly Gardening Tips


In September, sow seeds of snapdragons, dianthus, pansies, and other winter flowers in flats for planting outdoors during October.

Plant leaf and root vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, spinach, and lettuce late in the month.

This month or early next month, sow seeds of wildflowers into weed-free, well-tilled soil.

Applying fertilizer to warm season turf grasses in the fall is the most important application of the year. Use water soluble fertilizer high in nitrogen and potassium and low in phosphorus during the last two weeks of September.

Sow or over-seed cool season grasses such as fescue and rye, but remember, if you apply any pre-emergent weed killers to your lawn, newly applied grass seed will not germinate.

Rejuvenate heat-stressed flowering annuals, perennials and roses for the fall season by lightly pruning and fertilizing them. This includes (but is not limited to) geraniums, petunias, begonias, chrysanthemums, lantanas, verbenas, roses and salvias.

Credit: Helen Abresch, El Paso Master Gardener

Credit: Helen Abresch, El Paso Master Gardener

Continue to dig and divide spring flowering bulbs and perennials such as daffodil, iris, daylily, ajuga, liriope, and canna.

Prepare beds for spring flowering bulbs as soon as possible.  Incorporate organic matter to improve drainage to prevent bulbs from rotting when planted.

Prune out dead or diseased wood from trees and shrubs.  Hold off on major pruning until mid-winter.  Pruning now will stimulate tender growth that may be damaged by frost.

Root prune established trees and shrubs that you intend to move this winter.  This allows them to establish new roots within the zone of soil that will eventually be moved with them.  Do not cut any taproots at this time.

Don’t allow plants with green fruit or berries to suffer from lack of moisture.  Hollies will frequently drop their fruit under drought conditions.

Adjust watering schedule as daytime high temperatures decrease. Water to the same depth, less frequently.

Three Wins for El Paso Master Gardeners!

JanPetrzelka_IndivMG of Yr2015

  Jan Petrzelka

We continued our winning streak by bringing home three awards from the Texas Master Gardener Conference in McKinney, TX. Immediate Past-President Jan Petrzelka won 1st Place for “Outstanding Individual Master Gardener”.

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Who We Are

The El Paso County Master Gardeners Association, as a member of the Texas Master Gardeners Association, is a non-profit educational and charitable organization supporting the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in providing quality, relevant outreach and continuing education programs and services to the people of El PasoCounty. Our local volunteers receive extensive training and experience in a wide range of subjects before certification as Master Gardeners. 

In collaboration with the County A&M AgriLife Horticultural Agent, we conduct community educational projects through workshops and demonstration gardens. Members of the Master Gardeners Speakers Bureau, Help Desk, and Information Table committees provide information, education, and recommendations on horticultural topics to all residents of El Paso County.

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