Gail Haynes

Master GardenerS

The Ellis County Master Gardeners Expo will be held from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, March 26, at the Waxahachie Civic Center, 2000 Civic Center Lane. The following are some of the perennials that we are presently growing at the greenhouse.

• Aster Purple Dome (novae-angliae) – Purple perennial that blooms summer through fall and grows 18-24 inches in height. Attracts butterflies.

• Buddleia Royal Red (davidii) – Large deciduous shrub with long fragrant flower trusses from spring until first frost. Thrives in full sun or part shade in moist soils. Attracts butterflies; grows 60 inches high.

• Calylophus, Texas Primrose (drummondianuas) – Used as a groundcover with thick carpet of foliage growing 6-12 inches in height. Blooms from May to July with 2 inch soft yellow flowers.  Texas native.

• Callirhoe Wine Cup (involucrata) – A hardy, drought tolerant, sprawling perennial with cup-shaped flowers of red-purple; 12” tall blooming spring to early summer.  Mostly evergreen if grown in full sun.  Texas native.

• Damianita (chrysatina. mexicana) – This yellow perennial blooms in the summer. It grows to 18 inches. This plant is evergreen and drought tolerant.

• Gaillardia Arizona Red (artistata) – This is a new variety that blooms in the summer, is crimson red and grows to 9 inches. Attracts butterflies.

• Poliomintha Mexican Oregano (longiflora) – Blooms June-July with lavender flowers and aromatic foliage. It is drought tolerant and grows 24-36 inches high. This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies, and/or birds.

• Malvaviscus, Turk’s Cap Big Mama – A red and red-orange blossom is attractive to bees, butterflies, and is a magnet for hummingbirds; grows 4-6 feet high, space 4-6 feet apart. Blooms May to October. Sun or shade.

• Melampodium, Blackfoot Daisy (leucanthum) – Evergreen white perennial that attracts butterflies during a long flowering season; grows 1 foot high by 2 feet wide. Attracts butterflies.  Drought tolerant.

• Salvia, Cedar Sage (roemeriana) – Blooms April to October. A deep red perennial that is visited often by hummingbirds and butterflies. It forms a nice clump that grows to 12 inches high and will send up many flower spikes. Texas Native.  Tolerates shade. 

• Salvia Leucantha Bicolor – A purple perennial with a tinge of white that blooms primarily in the fall. It will grow to 24-36 inches high, attracts butterflies and can be used as a dried flower. Attracts butterflies. Mulch well as somewhat tender with our winter temperatures.

• Verbena Homestead Purple – This plant blooms prolifically from April to frost, has bright purple blooms. It grows 8-12 inches tall and is extremely hardy. Attracts butterflies. Cascades beautifully over edge of containers or retaining wall.

• Rudbeckia Goldsturm (fulgida): This Rudbeckia is gold. The 3-4 inches flowers are long lasting as cut flowers. They grow 18-24 inches high, spreading about a foot. 1999 Perennial of the Year. Attracts butterflies.

Also available at the Lawn and Garden Expo are many roses, vegetable plants, hanging baskets, and seeds that have been collected by Master Gardeners from their own gardens.

Garden Checklist for March

• Prepare beds for planting flowers and vegetables. You may want to consider renting or buying a garden tiller to speed up the process; however, a strong back and a garden fork will still do an excellent job.

• For every 100 square feet of bed area, work in a several-inch layer of either compost, pine bark or sphagnum peat moss, plus five pounds of balanced fertilizer.

• The average last killing freeze date for Ellis County is March 15. Remember that killing freezes can occur after this date so keep frost cloth or old blanket handy.

• Pruning of evergreens and summer flowering trees and shrubs should be completed in early March.  Prune spring flowering trees and shrubs as soon as they finish blooming.

• Select and order caladium tubers as well as geranium and coleus plants for late April and early May planting. Do not plant caladiums until soil temperature reaches 70°F.  Mother’s Day is a good target date.

• In North Texas there is still time to plant seeds of your favorite annuals in flats to be transplanted out-of-doors when danger of frost is past.

• Beware of close-out sales on bare-root trees and shrubs. The chance of survival is rather low on bare-root plants this late in the season. Your best bet at this time of year is to depend on container-grown or balled-and-burlapped plants for landscape use.

• Start hanging baskets of petunias and other annuals for another dimension in landscape color.

• Plant dahlia tubers in fertile, well-drained soil.

• Dig and divide summer and fall flowering perennials just before they initiate their spring growth.

Gail Haynes is an Ellis County Master Gardener and guest columnist in the Daily Light. She is the Exposition Chairwoman for 2011. For further information, contact the Ellis County Master Gardeners at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, 701 South Interstate 35E, Suite 3, Waxahachie, or call 972-825-5175 or e-mail: ellis-tx@tamu.edu.