Pruning Back the Jungle|Slow Flowers

How I wish that CTG had been around when I was a new gardener! Now, as producer, I learn something new every show. What about you?
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Whoops, with all the rain, plants are falling all over themselves.
sunflower collapse Central Texas Gardener
My Peter’s Purple monarda (bee balm) finally took off since I started a passalong from Daphne a few years ago. Now a thick cluster, hummingbirds hover like crazy.
Peter's Purple monarda Central Texas Gardener
Turk’s cap rebounded quickly in our non-winter. There’s plenty for Gulf Fritillary butterflies and hummingbirds to sip.
Gulf Fritillary butterfly turk's cap Central Texas Gardener
Pruning frenzy hits high gear this month, so sharpen up those pruners! To wrangle our overgrown abundance, Julie Clark of Stronger Than Dirt (an all-women garden maintenance team) joins Tom to explain how and when to make the cut.
Tom Spencer Julie Clark pruning tips Central Texas Gardener
I love her tips about persnickety damianita (Chrysactinia Mexicana), blackfoot daisy, and ‘Powis Castle’ artemisia:

Damianita/Blackfoot: after every bloom cycle, cut back so that there is only 1″ of green growth. For Blackfoot, you can also cut approx. 1/3 of the stems back to 2″. Don’t ever cut all green off. If new growth comes in lower down over the next couple of weeks, those stems can go back to the new growth.

Artemisia: best to cut 1/3 of stems back to 4-6″ each month, so that in three months the whole plant has been cut back. Do this throughout most of the year, even when it gets somewhat hot. Alternately, look for budding growth and cut all stems back to new growth.
artemisia coneflower lambs ears Central Texas Gardener
She tells us: The method of cutting 1/3 of the plant out each month is great because you are always encouraging new growth while still having a full plant to enjoy. Also, I feel that you can prune farther into the hot summer because the plant shields the new growth from the sun. But generally, we stop pruning once it hits 95 degrees or so.

Progressively, that’s what I’m doing with my fall asters, even though some are jumping the flower gun with our cloudy days. By mid-July, I’ll leave them alone to set fall buds.
asters summer cut back Central Texas Gardener
For some, Salvia coccineas are rocketing since they didn’t freeze back. As they form seeds, cut them back at least a third to prompt new growth and flowers.
Salvia coccinea Central Texas Gardener
And when our perennial herbaceous salvias start seeding, go ahead and cut them back about a third, too, to encourage lush growth and flowers this fall (or even summer).
Salvia 'Peru' Central Texas Gardener
Ant mounds abound as they seek higher ground from drenched soil. I don’t worry about them too much if they keep to themselves, since they’re really good soil aerators. If they’re in your way, or if you’ve got fire ants in your compost pile, John Dromgoole has the answer.
Organic fire ant control compost pile John Dromgoole Central Texas Gardener

You can buy prepared organic mound drenches or mix up his formula.
• Mix equal parts orange oil, compost tea, molasses (molasses encourages microbial activity)
• Blend 4-6 oz. of that mixture to 1 gallon water

To control fire ants, grubs, and fleas in the yard, introduce live nematodes. The secret to success is to apply when the ground is moist and don’t let the ground dry out.
beneficial nematodes fire ant control Central Texas Gardener
Get all his tricks and tips for ant control.

Troubles with trees really top our viewer emails this year, mainly fungal problems. But what’s going on with Danielle and Mike Demarest’s stunted red oaks?
soil compacted red oak Central Texas Gardener
When they bought their home, weed barrier and pea gravel surrounded the soil around the trees. They removed those obstructions and Daphne didn’t see signs of disease or insect problems. Paul Johnson of the Texas Forest Service noted that soil compaction and other soil/root issues, such as girdling roots, are most likely the underlying causes for this tree’s decline. Find out more.

Need a pop of color with the easiest container plant ever? Flaming tropical bromeliad is just the ticket.
tropical bromeliad Central Texas Gardener
Blooming for months, about all it needs is admiration. Find out more as Daphne’s Plant of the Week.
bromeliad container and pond Central Texas Gardener
Viewer pictures this week well illustrate that Texans can figure out anything! In Kerrville, Natalie Vollmar is growing several Hellebores (Lenten roses).
hellebore in Texas Central Texas Gardener
And in Austin, Ann Wilson’s peony bloomed this crazy winter.
peony in Texas Central Texas Gardener
But when it comes to cut flowers for your table, let’s go local! At Cuts of Color flower farm in Weimar, Texas, Rita Anders takes us on tour of “life as a flower farmer.”
Rita Anders Cuts of Color flower farm Central Texas Gardener
Get her tips on timing and techniques for fresh harvests every week and how to extend their vase life.
fresh cut flowers, slow flowers Cuts of Color Central Texas Gardener
I first met Rita thanks to Debra Prinzing, author of the 50 Mile Bouquet and Slow Flowers.
Debra Prinzing Central Texas Gardener
Rita crafts the most incredible to-order arrangements for special occasions, tucking in long-lasting succulents for take home gifts.
succulents Cut of Color Flower Farm Central Texas Gardener
Watch now!

Thanks for stopping by! Next week, Janet Riley shows how to take memorable garden photographs. Linda