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

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

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

Click here

Weekly Express-News Article
“San Antonio Life”
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
Saturday, March 10, 2007

“Spring Flush of Bloom for Winter Annuals”

The cool weather annuals have not been very showy through January and February because of the cold weather, but you can expect them to begin blooming again now. Depending on the weather, snapdragons, stocks, pansies, cyclamen and primula may bloom through May. Petunias and dianthus have more heat tolerance and may bloom into the summer. If it gets hot quickly the bloom period will not last as long.

To take advantage of the bloom period, the winter annuals that you planted last fall should be fertilized and weeded. Apply slow release or winterizer lawn fertilizer at the rate of 1 cup spread over 50 square-feet of the bed.

Weeds are a problem for several reasons. They compete with the flowers for nutrients and water. The foliage of weeds also compete with the flowers for growing space and light. A pansy will not bloom if it is covered by henbit, rescue grass, bedstraw or other weeds.

Water the winter annuals twice per week to maximize blooms. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are best. Hand watering works well if you have the time. Sprinkler irrigation is a problem because the spray is less efficient and can damage the blooms.

Control caterpillars with a BT product such as Dipel, Bio Worm Control or Thuricide. Cucumber beetles and other chewing or sucking insects can be controlled by Acephate or Malathion. Organic gardeners can use the BT and try neem oil products.

A question that has to be considered by gardeners at this time of the year if they have empty space in the garden is, “whether it pays to buy transplants now with only a 3-4 months of bloom period remaining?”

Petunias and dianthus have the most heat tolerance. They would be the best investments. Snapdragons, especially the large selections like Rocket, are so spectacular in the spring that they are hard to resist. Most gardeners would agree that they are worth the cost of planting now. I put stocks in the same category as snapdragons. They are very attractive. The most heat sensitive seem to be pansies, cyclamen, and primula. They still might be worth the purchase price and planting effort, especially if you can find the transplants as sale items.

The most heat tolerant petunias seem to be VIP, Laura Bush and Wave. They are not as ruffled or fancy as multifloras but are tougher. My favorite petunia “Pink Wave” has very large blooms. It and the VIP and Laura Bush will last into July and often survive the summer to bloom again in the autumn.

To extend the bloom period of dianthus into the summer, deadhead the blooms in late April. The easiest way to do it is to skim them with a string-mower.

Snapdragons are attacked by 2 pests in early summer. Stem borers take a share of the plants from now through May and then in late May the bloom ends when rust appears in the bed. The disease moves through the bed from the hottest section with the poorest air movement through the entire bed. Acephate slows down the borers and you can slow down the rust by pulling and discarding the infected plants as they appear.

Stocks are among my favorite winter annuals. The last 2 years they have been the best winter long performers in my cut flower garden. The colors are attractive and the fragrance is unsurpassed so it may be reasonable to plant stocks in the garden for 3-4 months more bloom if you find good looking plants at low prices.

If the weather cooperates pansies, cyclamen and primula can perform well into June but some hot years they only bloom well through April. Take good care of the ones you have in the garden now and take advantage of low prices for attractive plants during nursery sales as long as you realize they will not bloom all summer.

For more information on this and other gardening topics, visit the SAWS Spring Bloom event at SAWS headquarters, 2800 Hwy 281 (Mulberry and Hwy 281) today.