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

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.

Return to Gardening Columns Main Index

Weekly Gardening Column


QUESTION: I have a problem with Bermuda grass growing in my garden. What is the best way to remove Bermuda grass from my vegetable and flower gardens and how do I keep it out? I live in Kendall county, just north of Boerne.

ANSWER: Dig as much of the root system out as possible and spot treat (spray directly on the elongated grass and keep off all surrounding plants) any sprigs that sprout with a glyphosate herbicide such as Roundup, Kleanup or Finale. Or, to avoid possible plant damage caused by accidental contact or drift, use a product containing fusilade such as Ortho's Grass-B-Gon, Poast or Vantage. Fusilade-like products are used for grass control in watermelons and ornamentals. Glyphosate herbicides can cause damage to tomatoes and vegetable crops while fusilade can not.

QUESTION: My niece had a question in school for extra credit: What is the State Shrub of Texas? No Texas "Fact List" I have found has there one?

ANSWER: I am going to have to assume that there isn't one. At this Texas web site you will find a list of the symbols of Texas:

You will note that a shrub is not included, but that flower, fruit, grass, pepper, plant, tree and vegetable are. Perhaps the state plant, prickly pear cactus, is the answer the teacher wants.

QUESTION: I planted three Texas sage shrubs this past August or September, and they looked very healthy until just recently. Now there are bare strips along the middle of most branches, with leaves at the bottom and top. I am new to Texas, and don't know much about the plants that thrive here. I don't see any visible insects on the shrubs, or anything that looks like a fungus. Can you tell me what might be happening? Thank you very much. This site is going to be a great help to me!

ANSWER: I think that if you look at other Cenizos in your neighborhood you will find that they have done the same. It is normal for them to lose many of their leaves in the winter. They should soon releaf.

QUESTION: We are looking for a way to kill cattails that have overgrown waterfront property. We have heard there is some type of "tablet" that can be dropped in the water that will kill cattails but will not harm other surrounding plant life or fish. Do you know of such a product? If so, do you know where I can get it? If not, what other suggestions do you have for the problem of overgrown cattails.

ANSWER: In regards to killing cattails, I am not familiar with any "tablet" herbicide, nor could I find anything when I searched the web. This is what I did find:

At this web site

these herbicides are listed as being used to kill cattails: Arsenal (Imazapyr), Casoron 10G (Dichlobenil), Pondmaster (Glyphosate), Reward (Diquat), Rodeo (Glyphosate), Roundup (Glyphosate), Sonar (Fluridone), Weedone (2,4-D) and Weedtrine-D (Diquat).

At this web site

this article on Cattail Control was found:

"Cattails in modest amounts around a pond or lake can give a very natural and beautiful appearance to your pond or lake setting. Cattails in excess can totally take over all the shallow water areas of the pond or lake, greatly interfering with pond or lake usage and appearance.

Cattails can become very numerous since they have two means of reproduction. One means is the tail itself which spreads seeds that are airborne, the other method is sending out rhizomes from its large tuber to form new plants nearby. The Cattails large tuber is the major reason this plant is hard to control, the tuber can be twice the size of a potato and makes pulling the Cattail out by the roots almost impossible.

There are three methods of controlling Cattails, chemical treatment, mechanical removal and drowning, examine each of the methods to see which will best suit your needs.

Mechanical Removal

The only form of mechanical removal that will work with Cattails is the use of a back-hoe with a long enough boom to reach out and remove the cattail and its root system. Whether this means will work for you will depend on if you have pond or lake access for this size equipment and the equipment will not cause too much damage to your landscape.


This method is done by cutting the Cattails off 2 - 3" under the water line, once this is done the oxygen to the root system is cut off and the plant will drown. This method is only effective if you can maintain your water level for a long period of time, if the water drops below the level that you have cut the Cattails this control will not be effective.

Chemical Control

This the most commonly used control, since it can be done in just about any situation without damage to the landscape or concern over maintaining your water level. The two products we recommend for this use are both EPA registered for this use and when used according to label directions will not harm fish or wildlife. "Rodeo" is the herbicide of choice for this plant and a product called "Cidekick" which is a surfactant (sticking agent) that is used to make your mixture stick to the plant.

Application Rate: mix one ounce of Rodeo and 1/4 ounce of Cidekick to a gallon of water. 100 gallons of this mixture will treat approximately one surface acre of Cattails. This mixture is sprayed onto the Cattails in a fine or mist type spray. Although Cattail treatments can be done anytime during the year when the Cattail is actively growing, the best time is when the Cattail is first developing its tails, this is the time of year that the plant is most active and will take the largest amount of the Rodeo down into its root system.

After you have treated the Cattails you must wait at least two weeks before cutting them down and removing them. This gives the Rodeo time to get into the root system of the plant, which is the most difficult to kill."

While thre is no mention about harm to other plants, the glyphosate will kill only those plants on whose foliage it is sprayed (or allowed to drift).

QUESTION: I received a "Red Hot" as a gift and need to know what special care, if any, this plant requires. I haven't been able to find any information about this plant and wondered if you might know. I am keeping it in my office which has florescent lighting.

ANSWER: There are many species of Anthuriums and I cannot determine which you have. This is general information taken from Sunset's Western Garden Book. Anthuriums are perennial greenhouse or house plants, native to tropical American jungles. As houseplants, they are no more difficult to grow than some orchids. The higher the humidity, the better. Keep pots on trays of moist gravel or under polyethylene cover. Good light but no direct sun. Best at 80 - 90 degrees F. but will get along in normal house temperature. Protect from drafts. Mild fertilization every 4 weeks. At these web sites you will find general information on the Anthurium:

This species is considered easier to grow than many of the others and often thrives under good, ordinary houseplant conditions. Anthurium scherzeranum Flamingo Flower or Pigtail Plant. This is one of the show-off plants that can be added to an indoor planting. Two other species, A. andraeanum and A. crystallinum, are worthy of consideration as well. Known for their brightly colored spaths (the flower surrounded by a brightly colored leaf), these beautiful, eye-catching plants will require ample amounts of water. Temperature-wise, they like the typical household settings, between 65 and 70 degrees F. They are best used as massing plants or individual specimens. The flower stalks may need staking with slim bamboo to provide support. Be sure to mist the plant frequently and provide high humidity.

QUESTION: I have an avocado plant that I started from seed. It has sprouted and is one long stem. I am ready to plant it in soil, but my question is: What do I need to do to make it bushy instead of the one long stem?

ANSWER: At each of the web sites listed below, you'll find instructions on growing the avocado from seed:

which says,

How to Grow an Avocado House Plant

1. Wash an avocado seed. Suspend it (broad end down) over a water-filled glass using three toothpicks. The water should cover about ½ inch of the seed.

2. Place the glass in a warm location, out of direct sunlight. A mature seed will crack as roots and stem sprout in about 2 to 6 weeks.

When a stem grows to 6 or 7 inches, cut it back to about 3 inches.
(note: This will force the plant to branch out and take care of the problem you mention.)

4. When the roots are thick and the stem has leafed out again, plant it in rich humus soil, leaving the seed half exposed. Use a terra cotta pot, 10-1/2 inches in diameter.

5. Water your avocado house plant generously, but let it dry out somewhat between waterings.

QUESTION: My yard has mainly St. Augustine grass. I have pulled some weeds and noticed some big fat grub worms just below the surface. (I think this is destroying my yard). Question: What is the time and treatment for these worms.

ANSWER: If grub worms were "destroying your yard" you would have large patches of dead grass which could be picked up as if it were carpet because the roots would have been eaten off in the fall. Ignore the grub worms you see now; they will turn into June bugs in May. If you have had grub worm problems in the past, you should treat your lawn area with diazinon granules in July.

QUESTION: I thought a Bradford pear tree was fruitless. The tree in my front yard is about 12 years old and is supposed to be a Bradford pear, but it has gum-ball size fruit that is soft and squishy and messy all over the sidewalk and ends up on my carpet. It's a beautiful tree in the Spring but I'm not sure that week of flowering in the Spring is worth the mess in the Winter. (This year has been especially bad) Is this tree a true Bradford pear?

ANSWER: There are quite a few cultivars of the ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana) of which 'Bradford' is one. Most of these cultivars, including Bradford, have a small non-edible fruit generally about ½ inch in diameter. It usually has no ornamental value, being hidden by the foliage. However, it can be present in great quantities. As you can see from the list of Outstanding Trees for Texas at this Aggie web site:

the Bradford pear is highly recommended. So I guess that the decision is yours to make as to whether you want to continue to live with the mess of the fruit