Garden How To’s

Picture of garden


Which fruit trees need a second variety for cross pollination?

Some fruit trees require a second variety that blooms about the same time to insure pollination.
Apples – Second variety recommended
Apricots – None
Blackberries – None
Citrus – None
Cherries – Second variety recommended
Grapes – None
Peaches – None
Pears – Second variety recommended for some varieties, see our signs
Pecans – Second variety recommended
Persimmons – Second variety recommended for most varieties, see our signs
Pomegranates – None
Plums – Second variety recommended for most varieties except Santa Rosa
Figs – None

When should I plant my tomatoes?

In San Antonio we are fortunate to have two growing seasons (spring and fall).

Spring: We have tomato transplants available in late January. Since the weather is still cool it is advisable to protect either by planting in a one gallon pot so that they can be easily brought indoors if the temperature gets below 45 degrees or covering with Insulate Cloth.  Our average frost free date is March 15.  transplants can usually be safely transplanted in the garden after this.  Some gardeners choose to plant them slightly earlier and protect them on colder nights.

Fall: Transplants arrive in mid-July for fall planting. Provide young plants with afternoon shade until they get established. Even though our average first frost date is mid-November, many years you can expect delicious fall tomatoes up till Thanksgiving or Christmas!

What ferns will survive in the ground during a typical San Antonio winter?

River or Southern Wood Fern
Holly Fern (Evergreen)
Royal Fern
Cinnamon Fern
Lady fern
Japanese Climbing Fern
Leather-Leaf Fern
Maidenhair Ferns (Waterfall Fern)
Christmas fern
Sprengeri Fern
Foxtail Fern
Thelpteris normalis
Cyrtomium falcatum
Osmunda regalis
Osmunda cinnamomea
Athyrium filix-femina
Lygodium japonicun
Polystichum adiantiforme
Adiantum species
Polystichum acrostichoides
Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’
Asparagus meyerii

What evergreen shrubs will provide privacy?

Loquat – Sun or bright shade
Russian Olive – Sun
Majestic Beauty Indian Hawthorn – Sun
Photinia – Sun
Bamboo, clumping – Sun or bright shade
Large Leaf Viburnum – Sun or bright shade
Sandankwa Viburnum – Sun or bright shade
Cherry Laurel – Sun
Japanese Yew – Sun or bright shade
Green or Variegated Pittosporum – Sun or bright shade
Italian Cypress – Sun
Oleander – Sun
Pampas Grass – Sun
Pineapple Guava – Sun
Japanese Ligustrum – Sun or bright shade
Waxleaf Ligustrum – Sun or bright shade
Xylosma – Sun
Yaupon Holly – Sun or bright shade

What varieties of tomatoes are best for San Antonio?

All the tomato varieties carried by Rainbow Gardens in our peat pot six packs will perform well in San Antonio. These varieties were selected by the Texas A&M Extension Service for San Antonio growing conditions. Some varieties are more disease resistant or heat tolerant than others. For best results, plant several varieties. Each year one variety may perform better than another because of changes in the weather, etc. Look for specific disease resistance on individual signs:

V: resistant to Verticillium wilt

F: resistant to Fusarium wilt

N: resistant to Nematodes

Smaller tomatoes such as Cherry, Sunmaster, Heatwave and Surefire usually perform better through the summer heat.

Any variety tomato can be grown in a container at least 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Determinate types work best. Fertilize with Osmocote once a month.
Please define the different types of roses?

1. Hybrid Teas – the epitome of roses, the “hobby rose”, the long stem cutting rose typically seen at the florists with many petals, colors and perfumes.

2. Antique/Old Garden – generally those developed prior to 1867, many of which were brought to US by early settlers. Have been rediscovered in old homesteads and graveyards, growing and blooming for decades with no care. The easiest to grow!

3. Floribundas – cross between Polyanthas and Hybrid Teas, clusters of smaller multi-petaled traditionally shaped flowers on smaller bushes. Hardier and more resistant to disease than Hybrid Teas. Great for pots. They bloom for an extended period.

4. Grandifloras – a cross between Hybrid Teas and Floribundas with characteristics of both. Usually a small cluster of larger sized, fully formed flowers.

5. Polyanthas – original roses, with many flowered clusters on low plants that are long blooming and hardy. The small flowers tend to be ball shaped.

6. Climbers – long arching canes which must be attached to fences or trellises for support. Generally they bloom only in the springtime but spectacular while blooming.

7. Miniatures – less than three feet tall, great for mass plantings and borders, and containers. Cute, tiny dwarfed Hybrid Tea type flowers. Continuous blooms.

8. China – early forms of everblooming roses with open semi-double flowers from China. Modern varieties hybridized with these can bloom for an extended season.

9. Rugosa – Tough roses from Siberia with many thorns and ribbed leaves. They tend to sucker and produce thickets. A great rose for someone with a brown thumb.

When should I prune my roses?

Hybrid Teas, Shrub Roses, Grandifloras, floribundas, Polyanthas, Miniatures:

In San Antonio, a hard pruning should be done around Valentine’s Day (Mid February) and a light pruning should be done in late August. In February, prune down two-thirds of the bush, cutting just above a bud that is oriented outward. Leave five to twelve healthy canes, each about eighteen to twenty four inches high. Don’t be shy about taking off growth. Roses are tough and bounce back fast with plenty of attractive new growth.

In August, cut only enough to re-shape the bush.

For extended blooming and attractive bushes during blooming season, deadhead the flowers as they fade. Allow at least two five-leaflet leaves to remain on the shoot where you remove the faded rose.
Climbers: Prune after flowering. Cut out diseased or dead canes and remove older gray canes, as well as weak new ones. Save the green, healthy canes. Cut laterals back to eight to ten buds to shape the plant as desired. Remove any suckers at the base.
For more information please ask for the pamphlet for a nominal fee by the San Antonio Rose society available in the store which has a complete guide to the care and feeding of all roses.

Weed Control in the Garden:

I want to grow my own vegetables but every time I try I grow more weeds than vegetables.  Is there anything I can spray the ground with before or after planting that will prevent weeds and allow vegetables to flourish?

Controlling weeds can be one of the most troublesome jobs associated with producing vegetables in a home garden. In this modern day when someone thinks about weed control, he or she usually thinks about chemical weed control. But for the home gardener other “older” methods of control are still the best and cheapest.
Herbicides (chemical weed killers) may be used under certain conditions to control some weeds but there is no herbicide that can be used on all vegetable crops that will control all weeds. The use of herbicides in a home garden requires special planning and careful application.
Most annual weeds can be controlled by cultivation! Annual broadleaf weeds are easily removed while they are in the seedling stage. Cultivations should be made to control each flush of weeds that emerges, usually within a few days after a rain. At this time weed seedlings are easily uprooted.

Weeds should not be allowed to get so large before control measures are taken that their root systems will develop to such an extent that removal is difficult and damaging to adjoining crops. The old saying, “nip it in the bud,” certainly applies to weed control.

The first few weeks after vegetables are planted is the most important time to control weeds. After the vegetables get well established and start shading the ground, they become competitive and do a good job of preventing new weeds from becoming established. Mulches of bark mulch, grass clippings, leaves, and other such materials may also be used to help control weeds. In addition, mulches help conserve soil moisture. A good mulch prevents light from reaching the soil surface and prevents weed seedlings from becoming established. Mulches should be several inches thick to accomplish this purpose.

By following good cultural practices and using mulches along with the timely cultivations and hand hoeing, most annual weeds can be controlled without excessive “back-breaking labor.”

From Aggie Horticulture:

My plant leaves are yellow with green veins! What can I do?

Yellow plants seem to be a way of life in this area where we have high pH soils. Most yellowing of plants is caused by lack of iron in the plant. Such an iron deficiency in a plant can be caused by the plant’s inability to utilize available iron in the soil or simply the lack of iron in the soil. Because most soils in this area of Texas contain an abundance of calcium which cause an alkaline soil condition, many of the minor elements such as iron are not in a usable state for plant consumption even if they do exist in the soil. Improved aeration encourages greater microbiological activity with greater root growth and exposure to soil iron.

One of the best defenses against iron chlorosis is to plant adapted varieties. Plants which are native to the alkaline soil conditions have the ability to extract enough of the sparse and tenacious iron molecules to avoid the yellowing, weakening effects of iron chlorosis. If these adapted plants can be utilized, addition of iron, acidification of the soil with sulfur and organic material and the constant struggle to maintain a green plant color can be alleviated if not totally eliminated.

Chelated iron gives the best results for chlorotic plants. This special iron is bonded to a “chelating agent” which allows it to be available to the plant and not become bound to the clay soil particles. Next best would be granulated iron products with a high percentage of iron, 8-20%. The higher the percentage, the higher the price, but much more effective. For this reason, we do not recommend the popular Ironite, which is so low in iron, as to be virtually ineffective for greening up.

English Ivy:

My wife and I have recently purchased a home in North San Antonio which has approximately 12 small to medium oak trees. The previous homeowners had some sort of ivy as ground cover, which is now climbing on about half of the oaks (The ivy is especially heavy on one tree in particular). Many friends and family members have commented that the ivy will not harm the tree, yet others say that we need to cut the ivy or else the tree will eventually die. Although we think the ivy looks rather nice, we are definitely more interested in a healthy tree. What would you recommend we do?

English Ivy is just climbing on and attaching to the tree with aerial roots which do not penetrate the tree and “suck or feed on” the life blood of the tree — English Ivy IS NOT parasitic. If you want to limit the vines height, simply cut the stems at the height you desire — the top part will soon die and eventually all of the dead leaves will fall off or can be pulled out. The only way English Ivy or ball moss (another tree hugger!!) can damage its host tree is to so cover the tree that photosynthesis is interrupted to the leaf surface. I have never seen such a case. Enjoy your landscape; you have one of the best ground covers available in English Ivy and very drought tolerant.