Shade Shrubs For You

This week, Round Rock Garden Center is focusing on some of the most beautiful and versatile shrubs we carry. The Mahonia Indigo, Azalea, Gardenia, Elephant Ear, and Leopard Plant. These plants can be placed by your house, underneath trees, or anywhere in your yard that is completely covered in shade. However, the Mahonia Indigo breaks the stereotype of a SHADE shrub.

Mahonia Indigo’s can survive in 100% shade, but they can also survive in 100% sun, which makes them very easy to take care of. The Mahonia Indigo also produces a beautiful purple bloom that emerges during the late winter. Mahonia also comes in yellow, with green/ yellow-green leaves that look great by the pool. The Mahonia’s glossy evergreen leaves will keep your garden lush all year long, even if you choose to plant it in full sun.

Another lush shrub to add to your garden is the Azalea. It produces big colorful blooms that last all spring long. It’s best to plant the Azalea in complete shade and you’ll have blooms from mid-March- May. They’re one of the south’s favorite plants. However, you don’t want to plant an Azalea anywhere around your pets, because the leaves are poisonous if they’re ingested.

A beautiful shrub that isn’t toxic to animals, and similar to the Azalea, is the Gardenia. Add this plant if you’re looking for big blooms and fragrant smells. Chances are you’ve smelled gardenia before and fell in love. If you’re a fan of the gardenia smell, you should try planting this shrub instead of an Azalea. Their blooms last much longer, (from spring and into the fall,) so you’ll get to enjoy their perfume majority of the year. If you find yourself sitting or entertaining outside often, a Gardenia will suit your garden quite nicely.

If you like being outdoors, but you prefer a shade shrub that doesn’t bloom, you might prefer the Elephant Ear plant. Long green stems and widespread leaves are the perfect accent plant for a shady or sunny spot around the pool. If you are choosing to have your Elephant Ears in the sun, make sure they get some shade during the hottest part of the day and up to 3 inches of water per week.

Another aquatic and tropical looking shade shrub is the Leopard Plant. If you want a colorful plant to put by your pool, (shade specifically,) choose the Leopard Plant. They flourish in deep shade, but they will survive in partial shade. They have green waxy leaves, and they differ from many plants because of their yellow spots. During the fall, the Leopard Plant sends little yellow flowers to the top of its stalks, making them perfect for a shaded flower bed.

There are so many shrubs to choose from at Round Rock Garden Center, but with this Texas heat lingering around, we want you to walk away with a beautiful shade shrub. Come to pick out your favorite shrub, take it home, plant it, and kick back and relax in the shade.

FOXFARM Ocean Forest Potting Soil

Foxfarm Soil and Fertilizer Company is a highly recommended brand at Round Rock Garden Center. It was founded in America as an environmentally friendly brand that caters to the needs of you and your planting needs.

In 1984 the founder of Foxfarm, Willy, started a line of fertilizers and soils from Humboldt County, California, with a mission to take care of our planet and help our plants flourish. By investing in Foxfarm, you are investing in an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical produced garden products

Foxfarm carries a variety of products for your soil; Happy Frog Potting Soil, Happy Frog Soil Conditioner, Strawberry Fields Potting Soil for vegetables and fruits, and our favorite- Foxfarm Ocean Forest.

The ingredients in Foxfarm Ocean Forest include a blend of Pacific Northwest Sea-Going fish, crab meal, shrimp meal, earthworm castings, peat mosses, and bat guano.

The above ingredients are perfect if you’re trying to grow seeds and seedlings. If you have a container garden, houseplant, or need a light texture soil that retains moisture. One of the coolest things about Foxfarm Ocean Forest is the live earthworm castings. This enriches and conditions the soil to provide a better environment for your plants.

Foxfarm Ocean Forest holds more moisture than other soils and keeps the soil packed tight to the roots because of the peat mosses. It’s important to have a soil that retains water and keeps the roots packed, to keep the plant well moisturized.

The beautiful location of Humboldt County is home to canyons, rivers, coastlines, and forests. A place with nutrient-rich soil. Willy wants gardeners to get as much as they possibly can from their soil, just like the plants in Humboldt County, and that’s why he created Foxfarm. Stop by Round Rock Garden Center this weekend and browse the Foxfarm products we carry. Go home and try it in your garden and let us know how you like it.

Plant of the Week- Salvia (June 15, 2018)

It comes as no surprise to Texas dwellers, that June is when things start heating up around here. Are you searching for a beautiful and durable plant that will sustain the Texas sun, and help you keep your landscape looking beautiful year round? We have the solution.

This week’s plant of the week is Salvia. There are many different species of Salvia, 900 to be exact, and they flower in multiple colors; red, white, pink, violet, and blue. Salvia is native to Central and South America, Central Asia, and the Mediterranean. These regions experience hot dry summers and cool wet winters, similar to Texas. Their native climate allows them to flourish in our area.

Salvia  Most Salvia plants require 6 hours of direct sunlight. However, their are some species of Salvia that prefer a partly shaded area. Be sure to ask a staff member how much sun your Salvia plant prefers before you checkout.

Planting should be done after the threat of frost and cold weather disappears, (usually the late spring or early summer.) You can expect your Salvia plant to stay in bloom through the fall, and then it will become dormant during winter. The end of February is the most ideal time to prune your Salvia plant to get it ready for the upcoming spring buds and summer/fall blossoms.

The watering pattern for most Salvia is light. Since they come from hot dry regions, they don’t need more than 1/2 an inch of water per watering period, and they prefer to dry out before they are watered again.

We love a beautiful, hardy, drought-resistant perennial- and thats why we chose to make Salvia our plant of the week. If you’re thinking about taking home a Salvia plant, be sure to stop by Round Rock Garden Center, we have a variety of Salvia to choose from and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

See you soon,

Round Rock Garden Center

Growing Ginger

This week we opened our blog topic up to our Round Rock Gardeners, and the winner of this week’s blog topic is “growing ginger.”

Ginger is most commonly known for aromatherapy and its spicy flavor. It also has anti-inflammatory compounds that are great for people experiencing arthritis. Whatever your reason for growing ginger may be, we want to help you grow it.

If you buy your ginger from a grocery store, soak it for 12 hours to get rid of any growth retardant it may have. Cut it into 1-1.5 inch pieces. (These are called rhizomes.) Your rhizome will grow faster if you cut off a piece that has a small finger or peak starting to grow from the end. Set them aside for a few days and let them callus after you make your cut.

Next, you want to make sure you pick the appropriate spot to plant your ginger. It likes warm-humid climates and will need part sun to grow, (2-5 hours of sunlight a day.) Its best to plant your ginger rhizomes in the early spring, but if you would like to start now, you can always grow it in a pot or container inside.

When you’re choosing a soil to plant your ginger in, make sure you pick one that allows the water to drain. You want to avoid having a soil that absorbs water. Don’t oversaturate the rhizomes, or they won’t grow.

Take part of your callused rhizome and plant it halfway underground. After you see healthy buds on the planted half of the rhizome, flip it over so the buds are facing upward, and plant your ginger 2-4 inches deep.

Your ginger plant will grow up to 3 feet tall with the correct watering. Make sure you don’t let your ginger pant dry out. It needs to stay hydrated while it’s producing more rhizomes, (but remember not to waterlog.) When the weather gets cooler, you don’t have to water your ginger as often, but always remember to spray your plant’s foliage with a spray bottle.

The best time to harvest your ginger plant is when it’s 8-10 months old. Then you can pick rhizomes from that root and continue the growth process.

Enjoy your ginger and discover all the different ways you can use it. Share your progress on our Facebook page with #growingginger. We can’t wait to see what you do!

Herbs Anyone Can Grow

Guide Image

Why purchase herbs from the grocery store when you can grow your own at home? For a convenient oomph of flavor whenever your meal needs a boost, plant herbs in your own garden or containers. Home-grown herbs are less expensive and fresher than their store-bought counterparts while being surprisingly easy to grow and maintain. Study the following list for seasoning suggestions that any gardener can plant.

 

 

 

 Rosemaryrosemary

Rosemary is delicious when combined with other herbs or used on its own. A very versatile plant, rosemary enhances meats, vegetables, soups, sauces, bread, marinade, and oil. With its woody stems and needle-like leaves, rosemary may seem evergreen, but it needs to be brought indoors for the winter. Outdoors, seedlings should be planted two to three feet apart. Rosemary thrives in full sun and moist soil, as long as it’s given the chance to dry out between waterings. Dry rosemary is also very valuable, in fact. Hang the herbs upside down in bunches or use racks to dry rosemary. Because of their lovely scent, dried rosemary leaves are perfect for bouquets, wreaths, and sachets.

 

 

thymeThyme

Whether you dry, refrigerate, freeze, or preserve thyme, it will prove its usefulness. Butter, mayonnaise, meat stew, strong vegetables, dried beans, and slow-cooked foods can all benefit from a dash of thyme. Not only is thyme aromatic, it makes for an attractive groundcover. When exposed to full sun, thyme produces pretty white flowers and flavorful leaves. Lemon thyme works well with tea, seafood, and anything else that tastes especially good when given a citrus kick.

 

 

 Chiveschives

Grown for their leaves and flowers, onion and garlic chives are members of the lily family. Full sun encourages chives to flourish in clumps, which can be divided later. When harvesting chives, save half an inch of growth to preserve the plant. Chives lose their flavor when they’re cooked, so add them to dishes at the end of the process. Onion chives produce edible purple flowers, which can be floated in soup. To enjoy chives year-round, overwinter containers  or freeze the leaves.

 

Mintmint

There are many varieties of mint, including sweet mint, spearmint, peppermint, and chocolate mint. Each type spreads quickly, so limit its growth by planting mint in a container if need be. When gathering mint, pinch off the stems. The sprigs complement lamb, fish, poultry, and vegetable dishes. You can also make salads and beverages even more refreshing by adding this herb. Dried mint potpourri and sachets are also very popular.

 

 Oreganooregano

Oregano makes for a delicious herb as well as an attractive trailing container plant. Harvest oregano in mid-summer, before it’s had a chance to bloom; the herb’s aroma and flavor are strongest at that stage, especially when dried. Oregano is common in Italian and Greek cuisines. Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, tomatoes, and vegetables all taste even better when prepared with oregano. Add fresh oregano at the end of the cooking process and add dried oregano when simmering.

 

 Cilantrocilantro

Not only is cilantro tasty, it’s low-calorie, potassium-rich, and good for the digestive system. Fresh cilantro is best, which is why cooks prefer to grow it themselves. Cilantro has an easier time reseeding when it’s given space, so save room in the herb garden or the corner of a vegetable garden. To keep your crop strong, avoid harvesting more than one-third of your cilantro at once. This herb also produces coriander seeds, which make for excellent curry.

 

Actinovate

Actinovate

An organic fungicide

Actinovate is a biological fungicide that fights lawn and garden fungal-related diseases. Particularly effective for brown patch, dollar spot, root rot and leaf mildews.

The active ingredient in Actinovate is a bacterium that, when applied, grows around the root system (when soil drenched) and foliage of the plant (when sprayed on). It may be used on all vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

Sunny Citrus

GROWING CITRUS IN CONTAINERS

 

Try your hand at growing citrus in containers. We’re sure you’ll find it fun and rewarding… and of course, you’ll definitely enjoy the fruits of your labor when those tasty fruits are ready to be eaten! The fragrance of the citrus flowers can fill a room and the bright colors of the fruit and the glossy foliage make handsome additions to your home. We’ve put together a few tips on maintaining citrus containers:

Citrus grown in pots are temperature sensitive and will not live through hard freezes. Plastic and foam pots are best since plants should be taken outside during the warmer months. Potted citrus are grafted and are perfectly happy to live out their lives in pots. Most citrus trees are hardy to 38°F. Lemons, oranges and kumquats can tolerate temperatures down to 32°F for brief periods (hours) without damage.

Tips for Maintaining Citrus Containers:

  • Rotate the pots weekly so light strikes all the leaves.
  • Cut back on watering. Plants in weak light, out of the wind, use less water.
  • Return citrus outdoors as soon as temperatures warm to 40°F.
  • Keep in mind that some winter leaf drop is normal.

LIGHT
All-day direct sun is the most important factor in successful citrus culture. Your citrus trees should be outside, in full sun, except when the temperature drops below 40°F. When cold-temperature warnings occur, bring your potted trees into the house and place in a south-facing window.

WATERING
Citrus in full sun and out in the wind will use considerable water. After your first thorough watering, check the weight of your new citrus tree. Lift it a few inches, feel how heavy it is. If it is too large to lift easily, push against the pot to get a sense of the resistance it gives your push. Check the weight of your pots several times the first week. If it feels dry, water again on all sides of the pot until water drains out of the bottom.

FERTILIZING
All plants in pots must be fertilized to grow to their full potential. Since fruit trees are constantly leafing, blooming, and ripening fruit, they need regular fertilization. We recommend using: McDonald’s Greenleaf, 12-4-8, slow-release, every six weeks, plus; Espoma Citrus Tone, 2-3 times per year

LIFE CYCLE:
Most citrus trees bloom heavily once a year, usually in late winter or early spring. Exceptions are Meyer Improved Lemon and Calamondin Orange, which bloom sporadically throughout the year with good care, in addition to giving you a heavy bloom in winter. You can expect a crop of ripe fruit to ripen as follows:

  • Lemons and Lime: 9 months to turn yellow, let hang another 3 weeks for tree-rippened goodness
  • Calamondin Orange: 4-6 months
  • Kumquat: 5-7 months
  • Orange/Tangerine/Tangelo: 9-10 months

Fruit is ready to harvest when it gives to pressure from your thumb. Fruit is ready to harvest when it is no longer hard and gives to pressure from your thumb. Now you can enjoy the fruits of your labor!

PRUNING:
Prune right after you have collected your main crop of fruit, and before the next blossoming period (usually mid-winter). Shorten branches to no more than half of the current length, cutting just above a healthy leaf. If branches are rubbing another healthy branch, remove branches by cutting back to a main stem.

Herbs Anyone Can Grow

Guide Image

Why purchase herbs from the grocery store when you can grow your own at home? For a convenient oomph of flavor whenever your meal needs a boost, plant herbs in your own garden or containers. Home-grown herbs are less expensive and fresher than their store-bought counterparts while being surprisingly easy to grow and maintain. Study the following list for seasoning suggestions that any gardener can plant.

 

 

 

 Rosemaryrosemary

Rosemary is delicious when combined with other herbs or used on its own. A very versatile plant, rosemary enhances meats, vegetables, soups, sauces, bread, marinade, and oil. With its woody stems and needle-like leaves, rosemary may seem evergreen, but it needs to be brought indoors for the winter. Outdoors, seedlings should be planted two to three feet apart. Rosemary thrives in full sun and moist soil, as long as it’s given the chance to dry out between waterings. Dry rosemary is also very valuable, in fact. Hang the herbs upside down in bunches or use racks to dry rosemary. Because of their lovely scent, dried rosemary leaves are perfect for bouquets, wreaths, and sachets.

 

 

thymeThyme

Whether you dry, refrigerate, freeze, or preserve thyme, it will prove its usefulness. Butter, mayonnaise, meat stew, strong vegetables, dried beans, and slow-cooked foods can all benefit from a dash of thyme. Not only is thyme aromatic, it makes for an attractive groundcover. When exposed to full sun, thyme produces pretty white flowers and flavorful leaves. Lemon thyme works well with tea, seafood, and anything else that tastes especially good when given a citrus kick.

 

 

 Chiveschives

Grown for their leaves and flowers, onion and garlic chives are members of the lily family. Full sun encourages chives to flourish in clumps, which can be divided later. When harvesting chives, save half an inch of growth to preserve the plant. Chives lose their flavor when they’re cooked, so add them to dishes at the end of the process. Onion chives produce edible purple flowers, which can be floated in soup. To enjoy chives year-round, overwinter containers  or freeze the leaves.

 

Mintmint

There are many varieties of mint, including sweet mint, spearmint, peppermint, and chocolate mint. Each type spreads quickly, so limit its growth by planting mint in a container if need be. When gathering mint, pinch off the stems. The sprigs complement lamb, fish, poultry, and vegetable dishes. You can also make salads and beverages even more refreshing by adding this herb. Dried mint potpourri and sachets are also very popular.

 

 Oreganooregano

Oregano makes for a delicious herb as well as an attractive trailing container plant. Harvest oregano in mid-summer, before it’s had a chance to bloom; the herb’s aroma and flavor are strongest at that stage, especially when dried. Oregano is common in Italian and Greek cuisines. Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, tomatoes, and vegetables all taste even better when prepared with oregano. Add fresh oregano at the end of the cooking process and add dried oregano when simmering.

 

 Cilantrocilantro

Not only is cilantro tasty, it’s low-calorie, potassium-rich, and good for the digestive system. Fresh cilantro is best, which is why cooks prefer to grow it themselves. Cilantro has an easier time reseeding when it’s given space, so save room in the herb garden or the corner of a vegetable garden. To keep your crop strong, avoid harvesting more than one-third of your cilantro at once. This herb also produces coriander seeds, which make for excellent curry.

 

 

Do It Yourself Composting

Composting is an affordable, environmentally-friendly way to encourage the growth of your garden and help your soil retain water.

CompostingIt prevents garden diseases and pests while encouraging the production of helpful bacteria and fungi, which nourish plants naturally as well.         Composting food scraps and yard waste not only saves you money on garden products, it keeps this waste out of landfills, where it takes up room and produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. 20 to 30 percent of garbage actually consists of organic material, which could be used to benefit plants!

This process requires three ingredients: browns, greens, and water.

Dead leaves, branches, and twigs are examples of brown materials.
Greens include grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.

Ideally, compost consists of equal parts browns and greens, with alternating layers of different-sized materials. When combined, these substances react, resulting in the perfect food for plants. The browns produce the carbon, the greens produce the nitrogen, and the water breaks down the organic material.

To compost in your backyard, you might need the following tools: pitchforks, square-point shovels or machetes, and water hoses with spray heads.

First, set up a compost pile or bin in a dry, shady area next to a water source. Add browns and greens as they become available, making sure to moisten them and chop or shred the larger materials. As your pile grows, it’s a good idea to bury fruit and vegetable waste ten inches deep. You want your compost pile to maintain its moisture, so you also might want to cover it using tarp, for example.

Maintenance involves turning and watering the compost regularly. You’ll know that your compost is ready to use when the material at the bottom becomes dark in color, which can take between two months and two years.

It’s also possible to compost indoors, as long as you purchase an appropriate bin for your pile and keep it maintained. If your greens and browns are turned and watered often enough, the compost shouldn’t attract pests or produce any odor. An indoor compost pile is particularly convenient; it can even be ready for use relatively quickly, only needing to sit for two to five weeks.

Speaking of convenient, you can actually build your own indoors compost bin out of available plastic garbage cans!

Not everyone has enough yard space to compost outside, so this is a great alternative. Choose appropriate containers based on the amount of compost you want to produce. Drill holes in the bottom and sides of the larger can that are half an inch in diameter. Ground the larger can by placing a brick at the bottom of it, add a layer of wood chips or soil, and put a smaller can inside so that it rests on top of the brick. To help it retain heat, wrap insulation around the larger garbage can then cover it with a lid, and voilà! You’ll have usable compost in no time.