Reminder: Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Meeting
- Q: Where do you get bluebonnet seeds?
A: Most nurseries will have transplants. Seeds available from Wildseed, Inc. of Eagle Lake, Texas. Sow in full sun in August.
- Q: How to start bluebonnet seeds?
A: The ideal location for planting seeds or plants is sunny. They will not perform well in an area which receives less than 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight. Bluebonnets will thrive in any type of soil that is well drained. In sticky soil, try building raised beds, 6 inches or more, and amending the soil with 3 or 4 inches of organic matter. Keep the soil slightly moist. Once established they become tough, drought-tolerant natives. The seed must be lightly covered or raked into the soil before it germinates. Plant in August.
- Q: When do bluebonnets bloom? Client planning to schedule a bus tour.
A: Peak bloom is in late March and early April; depends on the spring weather.
- Q. I understand there is now a bluebonnet named for former First Lady Barbara Bush. Can you tell me how it was developed?
- ‘Barbara Bush Lavender’ is a selection of natural variation that occurred in a native stand of Texas bluebonnet that was collected and improved through recurrent selection by Dr. Jerry Parsons, Texas Cooperative Extension, San Antonio. You can read more about this selection and see photographs in the accompanying document.
5 Q. Is there really a pink bluebonnet?
- Yes, the pink occurs very rarely in nature. Pink bluebonnets are the subject of a very interesting legend. Read about the legend of the pink bluebonnet.
- Q. While visiting the Texas A&M campus last spring I noted a bed of maroon flowers that resembled bluebonnets. Is there a maroon colored bluebonnet?
- Dr. Jerry Parsons has selected a line of bluebonnets that have a true Aggie maroon color. There were 2 or 3 evaluation plantings of this selection on the A&M campus in the Spring of 1995. This selection was developed using techniques similar to the ones described for the ‘Barbara Bush Lavender’ bluebonnet.
- Q. Last year I used the bluebonnet transplants. They bloomed beautifully! It is the first time that I have ever succeeded. I let the plants with seeds dry and shatter. Now I have bluebonnet plants sprouting in that location. What should I do to preserve these plants through the summer?
- Fear not! Nature preserves her species. That is why most of the bluebonnet seed did not sprout and will lay dormant until this fall when it is safe to sprout. Unfortunately, those seeds which were “fooled” by excessive moisture this spring and sprouted will not produce a plant which can survive the heat of the summer. There are still plenty of seed remaining to insure a bluebonnet population next fall and beautiful bloom next spring.
- Q. Please give instructions on how to plant bluebonnets in a bermuda grass lawn. Since my lawn doesn’t look to good after the drought, I thought I would plant it to bluebonnets.
- You must have a bermuda grass or zoysia lawn growing in an area which receives 8-10 hours of direct sun daily — St. Augustine lawns DO NOT qualify. St. Augustine lawns do not go dormant soon enough in the fall and they begin to regrow too soon in the spring. The overseeding procedure involves:
- Aerate the bermuda turf area no later than Thanksgiving with a soil plug-removing (rather than poking type) aerator available at rental stores. This is a good cultural practice for compacted bermuda lawns anyway.
- Immediately after plugging the lawn area, sow the scarified bluebonnet seed at the rate of one pound (17,000 seed) per 1000 square feet and rake the area with a lawn broom to evenly distribute the seed and to make sure some seed fall into the holes punched by the plugging machine. Not all seed has to be in the plugged holes since the turf grass surface will be “roughed” enough from the aerifing process to provide enough soil-seed contact to enable seed germination.
- After sowing the scarified seed, thoroughly water the area. Watering during the winter SHOULD ONLY OCCUR if monthly rainfall is not received. Fall fertilization can be applied as usual.
- Competing grassy winter weeds can be controlled by spraying the planting with fusilade-containing herbicides such as Ortho Grass-B-Gon. This herbicide can be sprayed onto bluebonnets and will kill surrounding grass AND NOT DAMAGE THE BLUEBONNETS which are not grass. If, however, other broadleaf bluebonnet-like weeds such as henbit or clover begins to over-shadow the state flower, you may have to intervene with a bit of weed pulling exercise — there is no herbicide which will kill other broadleaf weeds and not kill broad-leaved bluebonnets.
- Remember, YOU MUST REMOVE (shred and mow) the large bluebonnet plants IMMEDIATELY after they bloom next April or you can and will damage the bermuda grass turf. You MUST realize that this is a new and sophisticated technique of beautifying a dull, brown bermuda grass lawn — NOT a technique of insuring a bluebonnet planting for eternity by allowing plants to remain dying and ugly until seed are mature in June. Overseeding will occur every fall so that designs and colors can be altered and bermuda grass turf will not be damaged (summer green-up of grass will be delayed). This will also alleviate the necessity of neighborhood petitions to force you to clean up your “weed” infested lawn!
Article taken from Aggie Horticulturehttps://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/flowers/BLUBONET.html#:~:text=In%20sticky%20soil%2C%20try%20building,the%20soil%20before%20it%20germinates.
Galveston County Master Gardener
Class of 2000
We all enjoy the state flower of Texas blooming the spring. It is a wildflower that germinates in the fall, develops a massive root system throughout the winter with inconspicuous tops, and produces the vibrant color in April and May.
The first requirement for bluebonnets is a minimum of 8 hours of direct sunlight. Next you need well drained soil which may mean building a raised bed (6 inches or more) and adding 3 or 3 inches of organic matter. Use scarified (chemically treated) seeds to ensure success. Only 20% of non-scarified seeds germinate. Seedlings will need to be protected from pillbugs by placing bait around the plants weekly during the first month after planting. Also, too much water can kill the plants. Bluebonnets are very drought tolerant.
To avoid germination problems transplants may also be used. With older plants handling and spacing are easier. They also reduce the chances of damping-off, a fungal disease that causes stem rotting. But be careful not to plant them too deep. The sooner in the fall (beginning in September) the seeds and transplants are planted the larger the blooms and plants will be in the spring.
To keep bluebonnets blooming longer, remove old blooms. This will encourage side shoots as well as delay the seed production which stops the blooming.
If a lawn display of bluebonnets is desired, you will need bermuda grass or zoysia grass. St. Augustine lawns do not go dormant early enough in the fall and grow back too early in the spring. Aerate your lawn no later than Thanksgiving with a plug type aerator. Sow the scarified seeds and rake with a lawn broom to insure some of the seeds end up in the aerator holes. Water your lawn thoroughly. Competing winter seeds can be controlled with Ortho Grass-B-Gon without harming the bluebonnet plants. After the blooming is over, you can wait until the plants go to seed in June or you can remove the plants right away and replant in the fall.
FREE Brown Bag Lecture: “Be a drip–Water Conservation Practices”
Date: Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Time: Noon – 1:00pm
Location: 892 Airport Road, Rockport
Event description: Certified Irrigation Specialist, Richard Snyder will discuss garden irrigation methods and benefits. Water conservation is becoming very important as its use increases and supply decreases in Texas.
The presentation, and POP-up plant sale, are free and open to the public and held at the Aransas County office of AgriLife Extension, 892 Airport Rd in Rockport. Call 790-0103 for information. It is not necessary to sign up, just show up. Brown Bags are held the 3rd Tuesday of each month (except December). Each is followed by a POP-up plant sale onsite in our Coastal Oaks Garden. JOIN US!
TIME TO PLANT SQUASH
by Martha Habluetzel, Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener
Release date: March 30, 2022
With summer and winter squash selling for about $1.25 per pound in the grocery stores, coastal residents are encouraged to plant a couple of seeds or transplants to have fresh, homegrown squash. Squash plants dislike the cold and thrive on warm sunny days, and since the fear of frost has finally passed, now is the time to plant.
All squash are in the cucurbit family. Other cucurbits include melons, cucumbers, zucchini, and gourds. All require moist, well-draining soil, and more importantly need lots of room to grow. Ample nutrients added to the soil are also a must. Direct sow summer squash seeds in the garden right now until the end of April, and in about 45 to 60 days they will be ready to harvest. Winter squash takes up to 120 days to harvest; they have a hard skin that isn’t consumed.
My favorite summer squash is zucchini because it is so versatile. No need to peel them when they are 6-9″ long, just chop them up and eat raw in a salad or cooked in pasta dishes or soups. You can stuff them with sausage or cheese. You can make zucchini bread. Very large zucchini can be cut in half, stuffed with a meatloaf stuffing, and baked.
My favorite winter squash is the spaghetti squash. Its stringy strands are a fabulous alternative to pasta. You can bake it, bar-b-que it, steam it, and can even microwave it. I personally prefer to steam it. You can add sauces like you would on pasta, with or without meat. Spaghetti squash with chicken alfredo sauce is a must-have dish.
Squash does best when planted by seeds, but seedlings are okay. The last date to plant squash seeds this spring is April 10th. With this being April already, purchasing and planting squash transplants that are available will have your plants producing fruit before it gets too hot. Plant squash seeds of varieties that you can’t find transplants of, like spaghetti or acorn.
Most planting instructions on seed packets will tell you to plant three to six seeds to a “hill” and then thin to two or three plants. If you have good drainage, the “hills” do not need to be raised. Squash needs at least six hours of sunlight, but some – especially afternoon light – can be diffused light. Squash may stress when the temperature is above 85 degrees, so keep it well watered in the summer.
Squash are heavy feeders, like teenage boys with hollow legs. They grow best in rich soil enriched with composted chicken or cattle manure. Never use fresh manure or it will burn your plants, only use composed manure. As they grow, continue feeding them with compost or with two tablespoons of fertilizer, preferably all-purpose 10-10-10, per set (“hill”) of two or three plants; work the fertilizer into the top three inches of a two-foot diameter circle and fertilize once every three weeks after the plants have four leaves.
Squash needs ample room to grow. Bush plants sprawl out to a three-foot diameter circle. Vining squash puts out “tentacles” eight to twenty feet. They put down a tap root about 36” deep and can grow in raised gardens, provided there’s room for the taproot to grow downwards.
Squash are thirsty critters, but they do not like to be sitting in water. Keep the soil moist, which might mean watering every other day during dry spells. Water anytime a plant starts to wilt.
Common pests of squash are squash vine borer, squash bugs, aphids, cucumber beetles, and cutworms. Companion planting of onions, garlic, nasturtiums, and radishes will reduce the pest threat. I break up 20 bulbs of garlic into individual cloves and plant all around my squash and other plants. Watching your plants for bugs and eggs, especially on the underneath side is still necessary. Spray with neem oil per bottle directions to control the bugs.
Look for the following varieties of squash and other cucurbits that A&M Horticulture recommends for our unique climate and soil conditions: Cucumbers: (pickling) Crispy, Carolina, Liberty; (slicer) Burpless, Dasher II, Sweet Slice and Sweet Success; (dill) Bouquet and Long Island Mammoth. Squash, Summer Yellow: Multipik and Dixie. Squash, Summer Green: Zucco, Elite, Senator. Squash, Summer White: Patty Pan, St Pat Scallop. Cantaloupe: Ambrosia, Magnum 45, Mission, Perlita, TAM Dew, TAM, Uvalde, and Laguna. Watermelon: Tri-x Seedless, Royal Peacock, Allsweet, Black Diamond, Mirage, Charleston, Crimson Sweet, Dixielee, Royal Charleston, Jubilee, Royal Sweet, Calhoun Gray and Yellow Tender-sweet.
For more information about growing squash, go to https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/browse/featured-solutions/gardening-landscaping/squash/.
Master Gardeners is a non-profit program of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Be sure to visit our Coast Oaks Demonstration Garden: 892 Airport Rd., Rockport. Contact us: MG Helpline: 361-790-0103 ♦ Email: email@example.com ♦ Website: http://aspmastergardeners.org/ ♦ Facebook: facebook.com/aspmastergardeners ♦ Online Plant Store: https://aspmgstore.org/