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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: I have several Amaryllis that are dropping seeds. I have heard that they are easy to start from seed and would like to give it a try. What is the best way to get them to germinate and how should I care for them?

ANSWER: Refer to this University of Nebraska web site on the Culture of Amaryllis:

Which has this to say: "Amaryllis can be propagated by seed, offsets or cuttage. Since seeds do not always produce plants similar to their parents, most of the named hybrids and selected strains are propagated by cuttage.

Seed pods of amaryllis develop rapidly and are mature within 4 to 5 weeks after the flower has been pollinated. Pods should be picked as soon as they turn yellow and begin to break open. Seeds should be removed from the pod, allowed to dry for a few days and planted immediately. The seed bed should be partially shaded, and the media used for seed germination should be well drained. Following germination, increase the light until the plants are receiving full sunlight.

However, in Lewis Hill's book Secrets of Plant Propagation, he offers little encouragement about this process. He says, "It is possible to propagate them from seeds, but they germinate slowly and unevenly, and take many years to bloom".

QUESTION: I have seen an armadillo in my garden and around the house. He/she is alive and well, digging up lots of sand and dirt, but is an armadillo a good thing to have in the garden and around the house?

ANSWER: The armadillos are just doing you a favor by cultivating and aerating your soil. You don't buy that? I don't blame you.

The armadillos are in search of food (and probably finding it) in the form or grubs and other insects. You can rid your flower beds of these insects by treating with an insecticide such as diazinon or dursban granules. However, it will probably not help to treat the area now because the grubs are probably too deep for the insecticide to be effective. We usually treat for them in mid?summer (late June - early July). The grubs will be small and close to the surface making it possible to kill them.

Another remedy is trapping armadillos with 'hav-a-heart' traps and relocating the critters. However, this only moves the problem to someone else's yard.

QUESTION: I have a bougainvillea that has been in the ground for about 1 ½ years. About 6 weeks ago I trimmed it back drastically and now have new growth that is very healthy. I would like to move the plant to a sunnier location and need information on how to transplant it.

ANSWER: You don't say where you live but you should be able to relocate your bougainvillea at this time. It may be necessary to cut back some of the new growth if it is already excessive. First, prepare the hole for the plant in its new location. Then dig the plant getting as big a root ball as you can handle, keeping the soil intact around the roots. Move the plant to the new hole and backfill with the soil removed from the hole. The plant should do fine.

QUESTION: I just purchased a Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) and I read that all parts of the plant are poisonous. There was no reference to it being poisonous on the planting tag. I have two small grandchildren and a cat that will be in the area of where I plan to put this plant. Are all varieties poisonous or by chance, are the ones being sold here in Texas (Fort Worth) non?poisonous? If they are, what would be another good vining plant for an arched garden trellis?

ANSWER: Yes, the Carolina Jessamine is poisonous. See this North Carolina State University web site:

Whether or not it would be of danger to your grandchildren or pets is questionable as there is nothing about the plant that would invite ingesting. However, it is sometimes prudent to err on the side of safety. This Aggie web site has a listing of the recommended landscape plants for North Central Texas:

QUESTION: I'm from northwest Tennessee and I'm wondering if there are any differences in a crape myrtle bush and a tree. I have several bushes, but was wondering if they would eventually grow into trees.

ANSWER: Whether a crape myrtle grows as a shrub or as a tree is a matter of pruning and training. There are varieties that better lend themselves to the tree form than others and will grow to tree size. If your's are at their mature size, they would get no taller if you tried to train them into trees by eliminating many of their trunks. If you want one as a tree it would be better to buy one of the proper variety and train it from the beginning into a single trunk. See this PLANTanswers website for a very good article on pruning. You'll also get more information on training new trees:

QUESTION: I am having a hard time growing my Ficus Trees indoors. At present, many leaves are spotty, dropping off and turning brown. I have a plant light on the trees and the soil is not dry. I need to know what I should do to save my trees.

ANSWER: Ficus are notorious about dropping leaves any time their environment is changed. They need to be allowed to acclimate to their location and are usually quite happy when they do acclimate. Ficus will do well if it has good light, rich soil kept evenly moist, and frequent light feeding. Guard against over?watering and protect it from cold drafts and dry heat. If the leaves are developing leaf spots it may be suffering from one of the diseases described in this Michigan State University website:


Anthracnose turns the leaf tips yellow, then tan, then dark brown. The browning may extend completely around the leaf and extend in from the margin. The leaves eventually die. Pale rose-colored pustules develop in infected tissue. Wounding enhances disease penetration. Fiddleleaf fig (Ficus lyrata) is rather susceptible to Anthracnose. Pick off and destroy infected leaves. Several leaf spots cause spotting on leaves. These are rare in most homes due to dry air. Pick off and destroy infected leaves. Leaf scorch and leaf drop are cultural problems usually caused by poor drainage, excessively dry or wet soil, low humidity, or too much direct sun.

QUESTION: My yard is almost completely shaded by large oak trees that make growing grass difficult. Bare areas seem to be invaded with sprouts from Live Oak trees. Is there a way to prevent their growth? There are too many to pull by hand, and I'm afraid that anything I spray will prevent any grass growth.

ANSWER: Your problem is common to anyone with a lot of oak trees and unfortunately, there is not a good answer. About the best solution I have heard is to use the sprouts as a ground cover. Let the sprouts grow but keep them cut short as if they were some other type of plant. You could put Asiatic Jasmine in a bed where the sprouts are a problem and then keep the sprouts trimmed to the height of the Asiatic. You are right in that anything that would kill the sprouts would also kill the tree or other vegetation. The only other alternative is to keep them closely mowed.

QUESTION: A few years ago I planted some Bird of Paradise seeds and after all this time they have finally grown into plants about 8-12 inches high. This year they seem to be more active in their growth then ever. There are new leaves and the old ones are getting larger but I'm also noticing some of the leaves are half- gone from what I'm not sure. I don't see any bugs. I would like to know when to move the plant to a larger pot, its watering needs, potential insect and other problems, will they ever flower, etc. We are originally from San Angelo, Texas but now live at Scott AFB, Illinois---30 miles east of St Louis, Missouri.

ANSWER: This information on the Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) comes from Jack Kramer's book The Illustrated Guide To Flowering Houseplants: "Only mature plants with 7 or more leaves bloom, and then reluctantly indoors. Even so, it is worth a try because of the spectacular flowers. Grow this plant at your sunniest window - it must have at least 3 hours of sun daily to prosper. Use a standard houseplant soil and feed every 2 weeks in summer, but not at all the rest of the year. In winter, keep it cool at 50 degrees F and allow the soil to dry out somewhat, but in summer flood the plants with water. Use large tubs. It is rarely bothered by insects. Propagate by division of tubers or from seed. either way new plants will take several years to flower."

New plants need to grow in a medium- to- large pot until almost root-bound before they will bloom.

I don't know what has eaten the leaves on your plants. Could they have been infested with slugs or snails? Check them in the dark with a flashlight to see if you can find the culprit that is eating on them.