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

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

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Weekly Gardening Column


QUESTION : A friend who lives by Gardenridge gave me a few cuttings(last Oct.) of her Boston ivy which practically covers her house. I love it and want to grow it at my home on the north side of Canyon Lake. I have heard that it is fussy and wondered what I should do to help it along. My place is either pretty shaded...lots of live oaks or right in the sun on the west side. Would it do best on the east side that gets filtered sun?
ANSWER :Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is not tolerant of drought or high light intensity so should be planted in the shady environment and kept well watered. A good layer of mulch over the root zone will also help.
See this Virginia Cooperative Extension web site for more information on Boston Ivy:

QUESTION : I bought a house here two years ago, and I'm eager to preserve and develop the two climbing rose bushes in the back yard. My three questions are: (1) Is there any inherent limit on the size of these plants? Specifically, can they grow not only to the top of the open bower structure, as they've already done, but then along its entire length, which is about 25 feet? (2) Can these bushes be "trained" in the direction desired? When I got first got here, some vines had already gone straight up to the top of the bower and beyond, but others were wandering off in all directions. I've used some cord (green stretchy stuff from a nursery) to bring them all into an upward direction, and some more cord to hold the longer ones in a curve toward the opposite end of the bower. Assuming I work only with the comparatively young and pliant stems, as opposed to the ones that have become hard and woody, is there any reason not to do this? (3) Is now the time to prune? I don't know exactly what kind of roses these are. I can tell you they're white, bloom in the spring and fall, and are now in some places 12 or 15 feet tall. By the way, could you possibly recommend someone I could call to come and look at these plants and advise me on them, someone who knows enough about such roses to offer genuinely useful advice?
ANSWER :The following information is found at this PLANTanswers web site under the link 'Pruning Methods for Roses':

"Climbers are not pruned in the same manner as Hybrid Teas. To encourage growth of more flowering laterals and stimulate production of new canes, you should not cut back long canes unless they are outgrowing the allotted space. Varieties differ in this respect since some will produce new canes from the base each year, while others build up a woody structure and produce long, new canes from a position higher up on the plant. Thus, when pruning, the following practices are recommended:

Everblooming varieties -- Cut back to two or three bud eyes all laterals that bore flowers during the past year. Remove any dead, diseased or twiggy growth. For established plants, oldest canes are removed annually at the base. Remaining canes are repositioned and secured, if necessary. For routine maintenance, remove all spent blooms and cut back to a strong bud eye. Canes are tied in place as they mature. Avoid attempting to do this before the wood matures, as soft tender growth is easily broken off.

Ramblers and once blooming varieties - These types should be pruned after blooming as they will normally bloom on year old wood. Thus, after spring bloom, cut out old, unproductive wood and weak canes.

A good practice is to avoid severe pruning for the first two or three years after planting, as it takes this long for most climbers to mature. During this period, remove all dead and weak canes and spent blooms (in some instances, climbers will bloom very little for the first couple of years). New canes of most climbers should be trained horizontally to encourage the growth of flowering laterals. Strips of old pantyhose make good "ties". Pillar roses will grow and bloom

QUESTION : What is the Confederate rose? is it just a variety of hibiscus?

ANSWER :This information from Aggie Horticulture can be found at this web site:
Hibiscus mutabilis is an old-fashioned perennial or shrub hibiscus better known as the Confederate rose. It tends to be shrubby or tree-like in Zones 9 and 10, though it behaves more like a perennial further north. Flowers are double and are 4 to 6 inches in diameter; they open white or pink, and change to deep red by evening. The 'Rubra' variety has red flowers. Bloom season usually lasts from summer through fall. Propagation by cuttings root easiest in early spring, but cuttings can be taken at almost any time. When it does not freeze, the Confederate rose can reach heights of 12 to 15 feet with a woody trunk; however, a multi-trunk bush 6 to 8 feet tall is more typical. Once a very common plant throughout the South, Confederate rose is an interesting and attractive plant that grows in full sun or partial shade, and prefers rich, well- drained soil.

QUESTION : I am look for information about various propagation techniques to use on the Crape Myrtle. Could you please suggest some resources that I could use to obtain this information. If you have an information about the successful and unsuccessful attempts to propagate this plant, please let me know.

ANSWER :According to Lewis Hill in his book _Secrets of Plant Propagation_ crape myrtles can be propagated by leaf cuttings under mist, seeds and softwood cuttings.

Michael Dirr in _Manual of Woody Landscape Plants_ says seed germinate best if given a 30 to 45 day cold treatment, softwood cuttings taken in late May, June or July and semi-hardwood cuttings will root. Softwood cuttings taken in July-August given an IBA dip of 1000 ppm will root in 3 to 4 weeks.
At this web site of the Georgia Extension Service you will find the enclosed information on crape myrtle propagation:

Crape myrtle is easily propagated from hardwood cuttings taken during the winter. Take cuttings from growth made the previous summer. Cut pencil-size stem into six to eight inch segments. Avoid weak, twiggy cuttings.

Cuttings can be placed in prepared outdoor rooting beds. If this procedure is followed, select a selection that can be watered conveniently. Thoroughly pulverize the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. Add four to five inches of organic matter to the surface and thoroughly mix into the soil. Peat moss, leaf mold, and pine bark are useful for this purpose. Place the cuttings approximately six inches apart. Insert one-half the length of the cutting into the soil. Mulch with two to three inches of pine straw, leaf mold, or pine bark to conserve moisture. Keep watered during dry periods in the spring and summer. Fertilize the young plants with a balanced fertilizer, such as an 8-8-8 analysis, beginning in May. Apply at monthly intervals until August at the rate of one-half teaspoon per plant.

The young plants can be transplanted to their permanent location during the winter.

See also the information on propagation of shrubs from cuttings found at this Georgia Extension Service web site:

QUESTION : I was having a discussion and I mentioned that I believed eggplants were either male or female and can be distinguished by the bottom..The female having more seeds..can you tell me if this is true and if it is could you tell me how to tell?

ANSWER :Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a member of the Solanaceae family which have perfect or bisexual flowers. The edible part of the Eggplant is the fruit. Fruit is defined by _Hortus Third_ as "The ripened ovary with its adnate parts (if any), the seed-bearing organ".

Perhaps you are thinking of the cucurbit (cucumbers, squash, gourds & etc.) family which have separate male and female blossoms with the female blossom being readily identified by the tiny fruit that is between the blossom and the stalk.

QUESTION : We have a large area of English ivy surrounding a well established magnolia tree. The ivy is growing up the tree, approximately 15 feet. Should we cut the ivy off the tree? Will it cause damage to the tree if left growing up the tree?

ANSWER : While the ivy is not, and will never be, deriving any of its nutrition from the tree the potential for damage is there. The ivy can get thick enough to keep the magnolia leaves from getting the necessary sunlight which could cause those limbs to die. An additional potential problem is that the ivy could harbor rodents and insects which might be damaging to the tree. I recommend that you keep it out of the magnolia.

QUESTION : I bought the Fan-Tex Ash at Aldridge Nursery and I would like to know what you think about it.

ANSWER : The Fan-Tex.. Ash, like all other Arizona Ashes, are susceptible to a fungal disease (Anthracnose) which can cause defoliation in the early spring. This is not normally life-threatening but can be unsightly. For this reason, I do not usually recommend ash trees for this area. The main benefit of the Fan-Tex. over the common Arizona ash is that it does not produce the seed pods which tend to come up in great numbers.