Sunday, June 9, 2019

Friday, February 1, 2019

Late Winter "Diggin' in the Dirt" Newsletter

'Molly's White' Frostkiss Hellebore

It is time once again for late winter pruning in North Central Texas. 

See my "Diggin' in the Dirt" Newsletter for tips to tidy up your garden and get ready for spring!

Happy pruning...

Toni :-)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Blooms & Beyond: Year-Round Color for Your Garden

Wondering how to have year-round color in your garden?   I recently gave a presentation to the Grapevine Garden Club on this topic and the video was posted to YouTube.   Click HERE to check it out!'s long.   

The plants mentioned in this talk are geared toward the Dallas/Fort Worth area in hardiness Zone 7/8, but if you live in other parts of the country, maybe it will inspire you to think through the seasons and how you can add color to your garden with plants that are hardy in your area.    Click HERE to see the plant list.

Below I've listed the garden centers and resources I mentioned in the presentation.

Here's to hoping you have something colorful in your garden all year long!

Toni :-)

Grapevine Garden Club

Stegall's Nursery & Plant Farm

Metro Maples

Neil Sperry


Fort Worth Botanic Gardens

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Fall Newsletter 2018

It may not feel much like fall right now, but it's time to get busy in the garden again because fall is for planting and transplanting and fertilizing... 

and ... 
     and ... 
            and ...

as soon as those temps do start to fall, 
we can enjoy our "second spring" of blooms!

Here's my...

with tips on getting busy in your fall garden

Happy Fall, y'all...

Toni :-)

Monday, June 4, 2018

If you live in Zone 7/8 (DFW area), check out the link below to my newsletter for lots of tips on your summer garden.

Happy Gardening!

Toni :-)

Summer 2018 container plantings pictured:

FlameThrower 'Salsa Verde' and 'Chipotle' Coleus

Crossandra 'Orange Marmalade'

'Cora Cascade' vinca
'Wedding Train' Coleus
Creeping Jenny
Purselane (double yellow)

Monday, February 5, 2018

Late Winter/Spring Newsletter

It is time for late winter pruning in North Central Texas.    

See my "Diggin' in the Dirt" Newsletter with tips to get your garden ready for spring!

Happy gardening...

Toni :-)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Is it Dead or is it Dormant?

Tropical Giant Spider Lily - pile of mush
Turk's Cap - crispy sticks

Last week we had our first hard freeze in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.   The freezing temps render our once lush, colorful gardens to either brown, crispy sticks or piles of mush.   For those new to gardening you might be thinking your treasured plants are dead.  But are they?    Let me run through a list of common plants in our area and help you it dead or is it dormant?    And if it's the latter, see instructions below on how to handle your plants to help them return to their pre-freeze glory next spring.


Plants that are only hardy to Zone 10 and above are considered annual plants/flowers in our Zone 7b/8a area. Annual summer flowers, such as Pentas, Periwinkles, Zinnias, Coleus, Caladiums, and Sweet Potato Vine will not survive freezes.  They can be removed now and replaced with cool season annuals like pansies and kale.

If you have a Zone 8b/9 plant, it is considered marginally hardy, and may or may not have been killed by the freeze.   For instance, some websites classify Esperanza Tecoma stans (Yellow Bells) as a Zone 9 plant.  Planted in the ground in a protected spot with a covering of mulch, it may well survive the freeze.    If planted in a container, plants lose one zone of protection from freezes, so it may not survive a freeze.   Mexican Milkweed Asclepias curassavica is another one of those marginally hardy plants.   It may come back from the root, or it may not.   It will usually reseed in our area, though, if it does not come back from the root. 

Look at your plant tag (or Google) to determine a particular plant's hardiness zone, and if it's a marginally hardy plant that has been damaged by the freeze, try cutting it back and then waiting for spring to see if it is going to return from the root. 


Next we'll look at hardy perennials that were sent into dormancy with the freeze.    Their tops might look dead, but their roots are still very much alive and they will flourish again next season.   Here's a list of our most commonly used perennials and how to deal with their post-freeze state:

Prune the following to the ground after a freeze:

Purple Coneflower
Black-Eyed Susan
Shasta and Ox-eye Daisy
Summer Phlox
Salvia leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage)
Mexican Mint Marigold
Salvia farinacea (mealycup sage)
Salvia guaranitica (Black & Blue Salvia)
Russian Sage
Flame Acanthus
Bee Balm
Purple Heart
Hardy Hibiscus
Turk's Cap
Elephant Ear
Tropical Giant Spider Lily
Ligularia/Farfugium (Leopard Plant)
Dwarf Mexican Petunia (Katie's Ruellia) - after a freeze, on a dry day, just stomp on them and break the stems off at the ground and remove browned foliage.

After freezes, some perennials add winter texture and interest, so save pruning for later:       

Salvia Greggii – Give it a slight haircut now to tidy up if desired, but save heavy pruning for February.   In mid-February cut it down to about 6 inches tall and wide.

Aster oblongifolius (Fall Aster) – You can cut it to the ground now; or leave for now for winter texture and interest - then cut to ground in February.

Ornamental grasses - After a hard freeze, the grasses will turn tan, but wait to prune in February.

Butterfly Bush, American Beautyberry:   Leave for now, but cut down to about 18 inches in February

Roses - Prune in February.  Be sure to REMOVE completely if infected with Rose Rosette Disease.

Some perennials are evergreen and may need no pruning after freezes:

Blackfoot Daisy, Calylophus, Pink Skullcap, Dianthus, 4-nerve Daisy, Creeping Phlox - Evergreen.   If no damage, no need to prune.

Lamb's Ear:    Overall should not be damaged by freeze, but cut or pull away any browned leaves.

Columbine - They will be evergreen through the winter and will bloom in the spring.

Powis Castle Artemisia - Evergreen, but benefits from late winter pruning for fresh new growth.    Wait until February to cut back to about 6 inches tall

Liriope - Evergreen, but again benefits from late winter pruning for fresh new growth.    Wait until February to cut them to the ground.

Evergreen Herbs (Thyme, Oregano, Winter Savory, Salad Burnet) -  Should not be damaged by the freeze.  Trim back in the fall, if desired, to produce new growth.

Cast Iron Plant:   Leave for now, but cut any damaged leaves to the ground late spring (new growth will come in April/May)

Some ferns are evergreen and some are deciduous:

Ferns - Holly Ferns and Autumn Ferns are evergreen and usually don't sustain much damage, so no need to prune.   If damaged, prune any browned foliage to the ground in February.  Wood Ferns and Japanese Painted Ferns will go dormant and turn brown after a freeze. Cut them to the ground and mulch.

Dormant, but not pruned:

Hydrangeas - Do NOT prune. Frozen leaves will fall off leaving only sticks.   Again, do not prune.  If necessary, the only time to prune is immediately after they finish blooming. Pruning now or in the spring will sacrifice next year's bloom.
Hydrangeas after freeze - Do NOT prune

Evergreen, but not frozen:

Some shrubs, like Aucubas, will simply wilt with freezing temps, but as soon as the temperatures are above freezing, they will rebound as if nothing happened.    So no need for action; just patience.

Gold Dust Aucuba wilted in freezing temps

I hope this helps to relieve some concern about your plants after the freeze.   If you have a question about a plant that I have not listed, please let me know and I'll update the post. 

Happy winter...stay warm and rest up to get ready for spring gardening!    Stay tuned for the Late Winter/Spring "Diggin' in the Dirt" Newsletter with more tips for spring.

Toni :-)