Search For The Answer
Click here to access our database of
Plant Answers
Search For The Picture
Click here to access the Google database of plants and insects
Information Index
Alphabetical Listing of Topics, Recommendations and Plants



Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

Click here

Weekly Express-News Article

By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist

Saturday, March 1, 2008


“Brief, but Showy Blooming Plants”

            If you have Texas mountain laurel, redbud or Lady Banks rose in your neighborhood, they are blooming or about to bloom.  All of them make a spectacular show in the landscape for about three weeks at this time of the year.  If you like how they look, now is also a good time to plant the selections for bloom next year and every year after. 


            Texas mountain laurel has pendants of purple flowers that are attractive and very fragrant.  The smell reminds me of the grape bubblegum that we used to buy for a penny as kids.  Other gardeners describe the fragrance as exactly like grape kool aid.  The Texas mountain laurel blooms are a distinctive feature of spring in South Texas, but the plant has many other assets as a landscape plant.  It is a tough xeriscape plant able to prosper in our climate without pesticides or supplemental watering.  Texas mountain laurel requires full sun.  It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that will grow to 20 feet tall.  The plant has shiny dark green leaves that form a compact form that does not require pruning.  The plant is a relatively slow grower.  If you water and fertilize Texas mountain laurel it will grow faster, but will be slower to start blooming.  Apply too much water and it will not survive.  Never plant Texas mountain laurel in a low spot or poorly drained location.  Texas mountain laurel reseeds easily so a normal question is does it transplant easily?  No, they are hard to transplant from the soil.  The best option to provide more home grown plants is to gather seeds after the pods are full size, but before they completely dry out.  Place two or three seeds in a one gallon container filled with potting soil and then transplant the potted plants. 


            About the only pest that bothers Texas mountain laurel is a small caterpillar that I have always called the sophora caterpillar.  The minute you notice leaves disappearing, apply Bt or Spinosad.  Both organic products will control the tiny caterpillar. 


            Redbuds remain invisible until this time of the year.  They are blooming now with small pink flowers that cover the bare branches.  The tree grows to about 25 feet; I say it is invisible because it grows best in the understory at the edge of the crowns of larger shade trees.  The individual leaves are heart-shaped and attractive, but it does not form a showy crown.  Early spring when it is blooming is its time to be noticed. 


            If you select the right variety of redbuds they are good xeriscape plants.  Look for the Oklahoma, Texas or Mexican varieties.  All of the well-adapted redbuds have shiny leaves.  The Eastern redbud has a larger, flatter colored leaf.  It is not the best redbud for Texas. The leaves drop off during droughty summers. 


            Another of the showy bloomers is the Lady Banks rose.  They bloom for about three weeks later in the spring and are relatively inconspicuous the rest of the year.  I say relatively inconspicuous because Lady Banks reaches about 12 feet in diameter and is 10 feet tall when grown as a shrub in full sun.  It has a very distinctive weeping conformation.  For Lady Banks to bloom well it must be grown in full sun.  The plant is long lived, however, and some that were originally planted in the sun were grown over by trees.  The Lady Banks will then send shoots 30 or 40 feet into the tree and have blooms up where the shoots find sun. 


            There is a white and a yellow blooming version.  The modern selections are usually yellow without thorns or fragrance, but older selections can have both. 


            Deer will eat Lady Banks rose, but not Texas mountain laurel or redbud.  Lady Banks is an antique rose that can survive our climate without supplemental water, pesticides or fertilizer.