For The Answer
Weekly Express-News Article
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
As we approach spring, more plants are making a show with their blooms. Some of the current bloomers can still be planted. Consider these plants.
“Texas Gold Columbines” are among my favorite landscape
plants for the
Plant “Texas Gold Columbine” in beds under deciduous trees like red oaks, pecans and cedar elms. They also perform well under live oaks that do not have dense crowns. They like winter sun, but require summer shade. “Texas Gold Columbine” is a weak perennial. That means that if you have ten plants, you could expect one or two to die each year. Beds on good sites stay full, however, because the columbines re-seed each year. To encourage the re-seeding, a bed of “Texas Gold Columbine” should not be mulched.
The “Texas Gold Columbines” blooming period coincides
with the return of hummingbirds each spring.
Quite often the bed is the first place you will see them. Do not confuse “Texas Gold Columbine” with
“Texas Gold Columbines” are considered xeriscape plants because they do most of their growing in the autumn, winter, and spring when we usually have enough rain. If the weather is droughty, like this year, a watering every two weeks helps the bloom. The plants are in containers in bloom at area nurseries. Plant them directly into the landscape. They will complete the bloom period without any noticeable shock if you water them well at planting. Many of the old deer lists say columbines are deer-proof, if they once were, they no longer are.
Crossvine has a burnt red tubular flower. Established plants can be completely covered by blooms this time of the year. March and early April are the big bloom periods, but a few blooms appear on the evergreen vine until early winter.
Crossvine is a robust, but well mannered vine for full sun situations. It will fill a fence or arbor, but not take over the neighborhood like trumpet vine or coral vine, just like “Texas Gold Columbine,” crossvine is a good place to find the earliest hummingbirds. Crossvine has good drought tolerance and once it is established does not require supplemental irrigation.
Larkspurs are annual flowers. They must re-seed each year. It is not as bad as it sounds, larkspurs are easy to naturalize. Plant seeds in the fall or transplants now and they can be in your garden or vacant lot forever, if it is full sun and the seed can reach the soil.
The foliage is attractive and has a lacey look. The flowers can be blue, purple, pink or white. If the soil is fertile and they receive irrigation, larkspurs can make plants that are 18 inches around and 3 feet tall. On poorer soil sites they might only grow to 1 foot tall. There are double and single larkspurs. If you plant the doubles, as the years pass the reseeded plants revert to single blooms.
Unlike crossvine and columbine, deer do pass up larkspurs.
Mexican honeysuckle forms a multi-stemmed shrub about six feet tall. Right now the plants that are in full or partial sun are covered with small orange tubular blooms. This is a shrub that should be used more than it is. It is an evergreen xeriscape plant that attracts hummingbirds and is not eaten by the deer. Mexican honeysuckle is at its best now, but it blooms off and on, all through the summer and fall.
Because of the lack of rain this autumn and winter, do not expect much for bluebonnets. Don’t despair, the seeds are very persistent and some established beds should reappear next year if we return to a normal rain level. If you want to supplement the seed supply for next year, nurseries have bluebonnet transplants that can be placed in the landscape.