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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
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
Saturday, June 23, 2007

“Summer Container Garden”

Even if you have a large lot and plenty of room for landscape and garden, container plants can contribute to your gardening experience. Container plants are even more important to gardeners without much space. They can be used in sun or shade, provide summer long color, and attract butterflies and hummingbirds to the patio. The actual container can be as decorative as the plants it holds. Larger containers can even be used for fruits and vegetables.

The larger the container the larger the plant they can support. Half whiskey barrels are ideal, especially if you mount them on wheels for large plants like citrus or tomatoes. Red clay pots are the classic container. They do not last as long as black plastic, but do a better job of insulating root tips. Decorative ceramic pots can be works of art that complement the plant they hold and make the patio worthy of a spread in “Good Housekeeping”. To be useful the container must have sufficient drain holes. The diameter of the drain holes should be 10% of the diameter of the top of the container (10 inch pot, 1 inch drain hole). Use high quality potting mix and only fertilize with soluble or granular fertilizers made specifically for containers. Osmocote and granular hibiscus fertilizers work well. Containers need to be watered more frequently than gardens in the soil because the root system is more limited, the soil reservoir is small and pots can heat up more than gardens in the soil or raised beds. Water when the soil dries to 1 inch.

Citrus make exemplary plants for containers. Satsuma orange, Meyer lemon and Mexican lime work especially well. In a half whiskey barrel they will produce high quality fruit every year. Some winters they will have to be covered to protect them from freezing temperatures, but they are drought-tolerant. In additions to the fruit the foliage and blooms are outstanding. The evergreen foliage is shining green and the white flowers have a wonderful fragrance. The container limits the size of the plant to about 3.5 feet tall. Citrus require full sun to produce fruit.

Oriental hibiscus are classic container plants for the summer in full sun. The foliage is shiny green and almost as attractive as citrus leaves. The best hibiscus plants produce blooms everyday from April to November. There are doubles and singles in red, yellow, pink, white, orange and bi-colors. Oriental hibiscus do have to be protected form the cold in the winter. They do well in 12 inch or larger containers. Hummingbirds will use hibiscus as a nectar source.

Pentas prosper in the shade or sun. Pentas in containers bloom every day all summer. They are available in red, pink or lavender. Pentas are tropical plants so they must be put in a greenhouse in the winter if you want to use them more than one year. Besides the constant bloom and shade tolerance, penta’s claim to fame is their attractiveness to hummingbirds and butterflies as a nectar source.

Purslane and moss rose are low growing drought-tolerant plants for hanging baskets or small containers. They produce a show of rose-like flowers white, red, pink, orange, lavender and bi-colors. Purslane and moss rose require full sun.

Begonias can tolerate sun if they are established early enough in the season, but they are especially useful for color in the shade. There are red foliage and green foliage versions with red, pink and white blooms that make a show all summer long and even do well in the winter if the weather is mild. Begonias are surprisingly drought-tolerant.

Sago palms are not really palms, but they are just as drought-tolerant and pest free as palms. If scale occurs, treat with summer oil and acephate. Sago’s do fine in light shade and full sun. The tropical looking upright foliage is very attractive and gives the patio the feel of the tropics. The Sago is very tough and less cold sensitive than most citrus.

Zinnias are sun loving flowers. They last about four months in a summer garden or container. Many selections can be grown from seed, but the best choice for San Antonio gardens seems to be the Dreamland transplants available at most retail nurseries. Zinnias provide great color – red, lavender, white, yellow, orange and pink. There are small zinnias (Thumbelina and others), but most varieties will fill a 3-5 gallon container. Deadhead spent flowers for the most attractive and continuous bloom. Both butterflies and hummingbirds seek zinnia nectar. Zinnias use lots of water so keep them moist.

Tomatoes do well in a half whiskey barrel, but peppers are even more attractive and do not require as large a container. They also tolerate the summer heat better than tomatoes. With peppers you would not have a period between late June and early August where the container would be empty. Use the red hot peppers and yellow banana peppers for useful vegetables and lots of color. There are unlimited selections of ornamental peppers. All have colorful fruit and shiny attractive foliage.