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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

Instructions For Roasting Corn


QUESTION: I am having a problem with common bermuda growing in my Zoysia. I am looking for something that will kill the bermuda, but not the Zoysia. Is this possible? Do you know of any chemicals that will do this.

ANSWER: We do not have a chemical which will take bermuda out of zoysia or zoysia out of bermuda -- any chemical which will kill either will kill both. Sorry!! On the bright side, you have two of the toughest grasses on earth fighting for a place in your lawn -- MAY THE BEST GRASS WIN!!

QUESTION: I have two Burr Oaks that I planted this past fall. They both have grown over 18" and leafed out nicely. The problem is they are both turning their leaves fall colors!! I can see no pests or problems, what gives?

ANSWER: Coloration of leaves is a sign of slowed growth or a damaged root system. This can be caused by a flooded root system (too much rain or too much watering). The plant is just stabilizing and hopefully it will live through it. There is nothing you can do but wait and hope. If the planting site is in a low area you will have to use a tree which can tolerate root flooding such as a Montezuma Cypress or Bald Cypress.

QUESTION: I live in a subdivision next to about 100 acres of woodland (east Texas). My neighbor dumped a pot of English ivy over the back fence several years ago and now it is taking over everything. Growing on the ground, 30 feet up pine trees, etc. Question: How do we get rid of it without killing everything else in sight?

ANSWER: Dig as much of the root out as possible and treat young sprouts with a double concentration (mix twice as much of the product as the label instructs) of a glyphosate herbicide such as Roundup or Kleanup. Keep spraying the new sprouts until the root system in the soil is exhausted.

QUESTION: We are looking for a list of flowers to plant with the purpose of attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. We need to know their characteristics, specifically their height. One of our clients has planted a purple smoke bush in the middle of a new flower bed and also has a butterfly house. She would like to plant low to medium growth flowers in the hopes of attracting butterflies.

ANSWER: Most things that bloom will attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Look at site:

QUESTION: Our homeowners association in Carrollton, TX is undertaking a project to improve the entrances to our subdivision. It would be helpful to know the life span of red tip photinia as we make our plans. The plants in question were planted about 1976, variety unknown. The shrub line is approximately 1500 feet long with plants in a soil area 5-6 feet wide. Approximately 10% of the plants have been replaced and the remainder continue to grow, currently disease free.

ANSWER: If the Redtips are continuing to grow -- disease free -- then they have probably stabilized and will live for 10-20 years. However, they will get very large. I would not recommend planting more -- they are a risky plant for Texas and are currently not recommended because of possible disease and nutritional problems which are eternal on effected plants. Please consult PLANTanswers for a list of landscape plants which will provide durability with less risk.

QUESTION: This is my first year with watermelon and I am looking for some good tips on how to grow big and sweet watermelons! I heard about cutting the runners will this work???? What are your solutions?????

ANSWER: Watermelon flavor and/or sweetness depends upon environmental conditions. High rainfall or excessive irrigation as the watermelons near maturity will adversely affect fruit flavor. Also, diseases which reduce the vigor of the plant and the leaves' ability to produce sugar will affect fruit flavor. Maintaining the plants in a healthy growing condition and avoiding excessive watering near maturity will improve watermelon flavor. Lack of flavor is not caused by watermelons crossing with other vine crops, such as cucumbers and cantaloupes. Variety of watermelon grown also affects size and flavor. The number of fruit on the vine will control ultimate size -- of course, that ultimate size of any variety is determined by genetics. For the largest melon a variety is capable of maturing, remove all but one fruit per vine. Then all of the energy of that plant will be directed into the sizing of that one fruit. Grow the plant well and that one fruit will be as large as that particular variety is capable of producing.

QUESTION: I'm growing several types of peppers in large pots and so far I've gotten good production. However almost over night my plants leaves have started turning yellow have started turning yellow. This is also happening to a miniature fig tree that I have in a large pot. I live out west of Galveston and our rainfall has been very heavy at times and then dry periods. Am I having an overwatering problem or lack of fertilization perhaps? I've used Miracle-Grow on my peppers but don't know what to use on my fig tree. Do potted plants require a more vigorous feeding program?

ANSWER: The plants could have gotten water-logged. Fertilization of vegetable crops (pepper) in pots should be more than ornamentals where you just want to keep the plant green and growing slowly.

QUESTION: I have two beds of holly planted on the south side of my house. One was planted 8 years ago and the holly are thriving. The other I began planting 4 years ago and I have replaced them 3 times. All of them. The leaves begin drying up on the ends spreading up the stem and finally the plants dry up and die. No one seems to know why. Could it be something in the soil and if so what. We live on black land and the bed is sand based with peat, compost, added and it is mulched.

ANSWER: I cannot tell you why your plants are dying but I can tell you that when you get desiccation (drying up) on the end of the leaves it is normally a moisture problem. It can be either too much water or too little water. Since the normal reaction when we see something like this happening is to rush out and water the plants I would tend to suspect too much rather than too little. It may be that the plants are in a bed that is holding water rather than draining which then causes the drowning of the roots. This would be exacerbated by the peat, compost and mulch. If you use your finger to measure the moisture in the root ball you can judge when to water. When you stick your finger into the root ball up to the second joint and feel moisture, there is no reason to water. Conversely, if it feels dry, you should water thoroughly.

QUESTION: I had really pretty Easter Lilies last year. Since we need to dig all the other bulbs and replant them to get successful blooms outside- What do we do when we dig these bulbs? Do they need to be chilled or do we replant them immediately? Do we wash them off and store them in a cool dry place? When do we replant for spring blooms outside? Must they be kept moist?

ANSWER: I'm not sure what your situation is. If the plants are in the ground already there is nothing that needs to be done. They will come up again next year and bloom. Unless Easter is very late, they will not make it to the celebration as they are naturally an early summer bloomer. If they are still in pots, information on placing them in the garden can be found at any one of these Aggie web sites:

To plant your Easter Lilies outside, prepare a well-drained garden bed in a sunny location with rich, organic matter. Use a well- drained planting mix, or a mix of one part soil, one part peat moss and one part perlite. Good drainage is the key for success with lilies. To ensure adequate drainage, raise the garden bed by adding good soil to the top of the bed, thus obtaining a deeper topsoil and a rise to the planting area.

Plant the Easter Lily bulbs 3 inches below ground level, and mound up an additional 3 inches of topsoil over the bulb. Plant bulbs at least 12 to 18 inches apart in a hole sufficiently deep so that the bulbs can be placed in it with the roots spread out and down, as they naturally grow. Spread the roots and work the prepared soil in around the bulbs and the roots, leaving no air pockets. Water in immediately and thoroughly after planting. Try not to allow the soil to heave or shift after planting.
As the original plants begin to die back, cut the stems back to the soil surface. New growth will soon emerge. The Easter Lilies, which were forced to bloom under controlled greenhouse conditions in March, bloom naturally in the summer. You may be rewarded with a second bloom later this summer, but most likely you will have to wait until next June or July to see your Easter Lilies bloom again.

Another planting tip to consider is that lilies like their roots in shade and their heads in the sun. Mulching helps conserve moisture in between waterings, keeps the soil cool and loose, and provides a fluffy, nutritious medium for the stem roots. Or, a more attractive alternative would be to plant a "living mulch," or a low ground cover of shallow-rooted, complementary annuals or perennials. The stately Easter Lilies rising above lacy violas or primulas is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also sound gardening. The Easter Lily bulbs are surprisingly hardy even in cold climates. Just be sure to provide winter protection by mulching the ground with a thick, generous layer of straw, pine needles, leaves, ground corncob, pieces of boxes or bags. Carefully remove the mulch in the spring to allow new shoots to come up, as your Easter Lilies will keep on giving beauty, grace and fragrance in years to come.

Additional information at this web site:

QUESTION: I really need some expertise on this ongoing problem since it is not possible to reach the tops of our pecan trees with spray unless we go professional. We moved into a house with 8 very large pecans. I have tried various treatments and know of a couple which you cannot readily find the items needed. We prefer using BT , unless I want a quick kill for personal reasons; but the spraying is always a problem. I learned to hit the walnut caterpillars when they're dumb enough to group late in the day. Someone mentioned spreading Sevin dust around the tree base, but that is not economical these days since you would need to spread enough I suppose to assure their contact .

I am investigating to see if I can use the BT spray in my husband's new pressure sprayer. He says nothing but cleaners, and I say BT can't be worse unless the mixture itself is clogging etc. I can understand that the poisons may be a problem. I suppose it would depend on the inert ingredients used in it. I'm working on that.

ANSWER: The Bt products are your best bet. They will not harm your husband's new pressure sprayer. Just rinse it thoroughly with water after use. The Diatomaceous earth will not do much good on the caterpillars. If you are going to go to the trouble of spraying you just as well use something that is going to get them. Be sure to include a little bit of dish-washing soap, like Ivory, Joy, etc. with the Bt spray so that the spray will penetrate the web. Natural enemies of the web worms and walnut caterpillars include the paper wasps and a few parasites. The trick is to break open the web with a pole so the wasps can get it there and get the worms. I hope this information proves useful.

QUESTION: I just purchased a 4 foot Ficus and I was told by the salesperson that it can be planted outside in the hot sun and do very well. Is this true?? I was also told that this tree was tropical and needed cool temperatures - and was a great indoor plant. I live in Elmendorf and the soil is sand, clay mix...will it do well outside?

ANSWER: There are over 800 species within the Ficus genus and of the trees that are included I only know of one that can be planted outside and survive a freeze. That is the common fig which we eat. So unless your tree is growing edible fruit, I would make it a houseplant. You can put it outside for the summer but when you bring it into the house for the winter it would probably drop all of its leaves. It does not like to have its environment changed. So I recommend that you find it a place near an east or south facing window and let it grow and be happy. See this Aggie web site for more information: