For The Answer
WILSON COUNTY NEWS
Calvin R. Finch, Ph.D., Conservation Director and Horticulturist, San Antonio Water System
Week of December 22, 2003
Q. How often should we water our cyclamen? We had two plants die. I think it is from over watering.
A. Cyclamen are not xeriscape plants and need regular watering, but they will rot from too much watering. It is easiest to determine when to water them by soil touch. Water the plants when the soil dries to half an inch.
Q. My blackberries have gotten out of hand. Can I prune them back now?
A. It is a good idea to remove all dead wood and the old floricanes (canes that bore last year’s fruit). If you remove parts of the primocane it will reduce the crop but I would prune them anyway if they are growing beyond their plot. It is impossible to harvest the crop if the plants are a tangled mess. Next year remove the floricanes right after the harvest and control excessive primocane growth through the summer.
Q. The pill bugs seem to be devouring my pansies. What should I spray?
A. Spread slug and snail bait. It also controls pill bugs.
Q. What do you think about using washing machine water on the lawn? Our septic tank overflows if we empty the washer into it. Will the grass die if we use the water on the lawn?
A. No, graywater from the washing machine is an excellent source of irrigation water. To avoid soggy areas in the winter when the lawn does not need much water, move the hose end around the yard.
Q. Are there any shrubs we can plant in the shade? Do we need to wait until the spring to plant them?
A. Winter is a great time to plant shrubs and trees in South and Central Texas. There are a number of good shrubs for the shade. Consider nandina, hollies, or pittosporum. Viburnum are also excellent. Look at Spring Bouquet, Sweet Viburnum, or Sandakwa.
Q. Is there any bird seed that I could put in my feeder that the cardinals would like but would not attract doves and sparrows? I cannot afford to feed every bird in my neighborhood but would like to have the cardinals.
A. Try safflower seeds. Cardinals love them but they are not a favorite of the doves, sparrows, or squirrels.
Q. Are there any flowers for the winter garden that are fragrant?
A. I can think of four winter flowers with fragrance. Some pansies are fragrant. Alyssum has a strong fragrance, as do paperwhites. Stock also has a wonderful fragrance.