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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 : We've just moved onto our own property for the first time and I'm a very new gardener who wants to make her yard very nice. Anyway, I need to know the average last freeze date! I've looked all over the Internet and I can't find any information.
ANSWER :This Aggie web site is a map of Texas with the average last freeze date shown:
Remember that these are averages and that means that there will be years when it will be before and some when it is after.
This map is part of The Texas Home Gardening Guide which is found at this web site:
There you will find a lot of good information to help you with your gardening

QUESTION : I have two Bougainvillaea vines, "Raspberry Ice" which has a variegated leaf, and a standard one. I keep them wintered in greenhouse space since they would not survive our winter climate. I am interested in propagating them but do not know how or when is the best way or time of year. Someone told me it is not easy. Can I try the conventional way by cutting off the tip of a branch, dipping it in hormone mix and putting in soil and keeping it covered?
ANSWER :Bougainvillea can be propagated by hardwood cuttings, softwood cuttings, layering and air layering. Probably the most common way is softwood stem cuttings treated with rooting compound and placed under mist. If you do not have a misting system, covering with plastic to keep the humidity high should work just as well.
This PLANTanswers web site on Asexual Propagation gives more information:

QUESTION : We have had a disagreement over the nuts found in the store that I have always called 'Brazil Nuts.' Someone else said these are 'Butter Nuts.' Can you tell me the difference between these nuts, and if they are both available in Texas?
ANSWER :Brazil nuts usually refers to cashew nuts which is a native of Brazil. Since this is strictly a tropical plant, it would be rare for it to be grown in Texas except possibly in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
The Butternut is actually a type of walnut. It has the same range as the eastern Black walnut except that it goes further north as well.
So you are talking about a tropical nut vs. a hardy North American nut.

QUESTION : None of the landscapers or gardening stores seem to know what can I use to take care of and control a weed infested buffalo grass. Labels on the weed control products do not mention buffalo grass and Im afraid of using something that might damage and/or kill my grass. I was told to use MSMA but that is only for a certain type of weed and I have them all!!
ANSWER :MSMA or DSMA has been used by some to control weeds and grass in Buffalo. It may cause browning in the Buffalo but it will recover. If you have concern, you should apply the herbicide to a small area and see what it does. If you have nutsedge (nut grass) the herbicide Manage can be used. You should use pre-emergence herbicides such as Greenlight Portrait, Balan, or Betasan three times a season (February, May and September) to prevent sprouting of weed seed. Because Buffalo is a sparse-growing grass, there will always be some weed problem.

QUESTION : I have many Euonymus kiautschovicus shrubs in a hedge row, and they are heavily infested with Euonymus scale. Some of the plants are defoliating at the tops, and most of them are defoliating at the bottoms (still quite a bit of green left). Is it possible to use rejuvenate pruning techniques on this shrub? Can I cut these shrubs just above the ground to encourage new growth and what would be the best time to do this?
ANSWER :This PLANTanswers web site on pruning is an excellent article:
This is what it says about rejuvenating broad-leafed evergreen hedges: "When these plants become old and straggly, cut them back 6 to 8 inches from the ground before spring growth begins. Don't cut them back too early, however, because a flush of growth could freeze and set them back. Prune only after the danger of the last killing frost is past. Such pruning stimulates the growth of new shoots from the base of the plant. Many gardeners prefer to remove only about one-third of the branches at one time and retain the general contour of the plant. This method also can be used. In the long run, probably the best thing to do with overgrown broad-leaved evergreens is to remove and replace them."

I am reluctant to recommend the rejuvenation by pruning though and feel that the last sentence above about replacement may be the best solution. While the Euonymus kiautschovica is supposedly the least susceptible to scale of the evergreen Euonymus, you have seen how devastating the scale problem can be. I am afraid that even if you eliminate the scale through pruning and treatment, it is just a matter of time until they return. If you choose to treat them, the use of a horticultural oil is probably the most effective solution.

QUESTION : I am a Landscape Architect in Cambridge, MA. One of my clients, in Texas, has a number of Pecan trees on his property. He is interested in flooding the landscape but salvaging the trees. He was told that there was a way to flood the trees incrementally, and I was wondering if you have any information on the subject.
ANSWER :There is nothing wrong with flooding pecan trees as long as the water does not stand around them for longer than 24 hours. In other words we want to put the water on and then we want it to drain away. If the water stays longer then that, it will eventually weaken and kill the trees. When we flood irrigate, we try to water at least every 3 weeks.

QUESTION : Why doesn't my wisteria bloom?
ANSWER :Youth could be the problem since seedling plants require several years to flower and sometimes fail to flower at all. Grafted plants, the kind purchased at nurseries and garden centers, should not have this problem.

Reluctance of wisteria to bloom abundantly is usually due to a lack of one or more of the following cultural requirements: full sun, good drainage, and light fertilization in the fall, not spring. Another essential is annual pruning, which can be done by shortening new shoots to five buds in summer. If a grafted or cutting-grown Chinese wisteria refuses to flower in three or four years after planting, or a Japanese wisteria is barren after about seven years, prune it heavily and fertilize with superphosphate. If this fails to produce blooms root-prune by driving a spade into the soil 24 inches from the trunk around the plant.

This web site contains information on the blue passion flower (Passiflora caerulea). I don't know if this is the variety you have or not as there are many. However, the culture is basically the same for all with the basic difference being in their hardiness:

This is a portion of what it says: HOW TO GROW. As house plants, passion flowers grow best with four hours or more of direct sunlight a day and night temperatures of 55 degrees F. to 65 degrees F. and day temperatures of 68 degrees F. or higher. Plant in commercial potting soil and provide a climbing support. Keep the soil evenly moist. Feed the vine every two weeks with an all-purpose fertilizer applied at half the strength recommended on the label. When growth slows in the fall, stop fertilizing and let the soil dry slightly between waterings until new growth starts. In January cut the plants back to 6 inches to force new growth.

Outdoors, most passion flowers are hardy in Zones 9 and 10. Hardy to Zone 5 with protection, wild passion flower loses its leaves in colder regions, but is evergreen farther south. Plant passion flowers in full sun near a support. They will grow best in a deep, moist, well-drained sandy loam that has been enriched with compost or leaf mold. Prune the vines heavily in fall or early spring to remove deadwood and to control rampant growth. Propagate additional plants from cuttings 4 to 6 inches long, taken at any time during active growth. Germination of seed is slow and uncertain. If your's is growing in the full sun in deep well-drained moist soil and its roots are mulched and it still doesn't bloom, I would probably remove it and put in something else.

QUESTION : I live in Blanco county, in the hill county. For a number of years I've tried growing various lettuces in fall, winter and spring gardens - they look beautiful - but are so bitter, they are inedible. I've assumed it is due to the alkaline soil, I've been composting heavily for four years now (manures, hay, oak leaves) and I still can't grow a tasty salad.
ANSWER :There are basically three things that can cause lettuce to be bitter; low soil fertility, low soil moisture and high temperatures. This is the reason that fall planted lettuce usually does best in our part of the country. The leaf lettuces do fine but the heading varieties do not. Lettuce can withstand frost and light freezes, but if the temperature is to drop below the mid 20's, it should be protected.

In addition to the organic material you are using, about 2 pounds of any good fertilizer per 100 square feet (1 Tablespoon per square foot) should be added and apply water before the top inch of soil becomes dry.

Variety selection is also important. Salad Bowl, Black-Seeded Simpson, Ruby and Red Sails all are fine.

QUESTION : Four years ago I bought a grapefruit tree. The first year, I had 4 medium-sized fruits from the tree. Over the winter the temperature dropped below freezing and the tree apparently died. In the spring I planned on digging it up and replacing it. However, I noticed part of the trunk was still green so I left it to see what would happen. The grapefruit tree is now almost 10 feet tall, but it has yet to produce any fruit. What do I need to do, if anything to get fruit? Do I need to re-graft the tree? Will it ever produce again?
ANSWER :Even though the freeze did not kill the tree, it did kill the budded portion of the tree which produced the grapefruit. Most trees are budded onto a specific rootstock which performs better than a tree on its own roots. So all you have left is rootstock which may or not produce desirable fruit. You could re-bud the tree using the t-bud method. This procedure is outlined at the following Plantanswers site:

All you need is wood from a tree which produces desirable fruit.