the show

Dazzling Daylilies & Garden Outdoor Living

air date: May 6, 2017

Looking for trouble free plants that structure things up and blossom with edible petals? Jeff Breitenstein from the Austin Daylily Society explains how to add daylilies to your easy-going perennial design. On tour, Pat and Tom Ellison turned a standard yard into fun and cozy vignettes. Why do bluebonnets show up white or maroon? Daphne unravels the mystery. Attract butterflies with drought tough perennial, Gaura lindheimeri. Trisha tackles tricky squash vine borers and pesky slugs and snails.


Episode Segments

On Tour

Basic Yard to Beautiful Designs: Tom and Pat Ellison

Like many new gardeners, Pat and Tom Ellison started with containers. When they bought a house, their passion kept growing. Now, they’ve got as many outdoor rooms as they have inside. Over the years, they’ve added and amended since they hauled their first load of soil or turned their first salvage into garden art.

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Question of the Week

Why do bluebonnets turn white, red or maroon?

With all the attention given to genetically modified plants these days, it’s easy to forget that there is more than one way that we end up with genetic variants within species.

Plants have been procreating since long before humans arrived on the scene, and subsequently, humans have taken note of this natural tendency and intervened to create more of any particular genetic trait that we happen to fancy.

We all remember from school how offspring get half their genes from each parent, and white or red Lupinus texensis are no different. Non-blue flowers are a recessive trait, so we don’t see them as often in wild populations.

And even if they are among out there, the sea of blue along a roadside dominates our eyes and makes those anomalous individuals harder to spot.

Now, let’s get back to man-made manipulation of those colors. When botanists spot oddballs in nature, they know they’ve found something unique, and being unique in the horticultural trade is normally a prized trait. In addition to the fairly rare white-flowering plants, there are also light pink and maroon bluebonnets. Sequestering these plants and forcing them to procreate only among themselves increases the likelihood of offspring with the desirable trait.

Of course, when enterprising Aggies discovered the maroon variant, they set about creating more of them, and making them available to the public, leading to a cultivar of bluebonnet named ‘Texas Maroon’.

But in your landscape, as by the roadside, those non-blue variants are fleeting, since cross-pollination is nature’s way of ensuring genetic diversity. Maroon, white, and pink-flowering plants in your yard will be easily pollinated by blue ones, and the dominant blue trait will return, with other colors popping up as rarely as they do in nature.

This of course brings to mind the sensational story from a few years ago, when a few maroon bluebonnets popped up among the native blue ones on the UT campus, prompting many Longhorns to suspect foul play. Although not impossible, it’s much more likely that the unique colors were just nature’s little trick!

And if you have a fondness for unique wildflowers, look for the Texas Super Star ‘Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue’ cultivar next season. It’s a deep, vibrant blue.

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Plant of the Week



Gaura lindheimeri 'Siskiyou Pink'

Native Gaura is also known as whirling butterflies, since the blooms look like white butterflies. ‘Siskiyou Pink’ is a cultivar featuring pink blooms. Both prefer full sun and well-drained soil that’s been amended with organic matter. Gaura gets about two feet tall and wide, but can be double that in the ideal environment, so don’t be tempted to overplant. Gaura is a wildflower in some areas, and needs very little care to survive and thrive, making it a great choice for busy gardeners that may not have a lot of time for maintenance. Water sparingly, and only during the hottest, driest times once established. Hardy all the way down to Zone 5, Gaura easily survive the cold of winter, but being so xeric, they may be taken out by too much rainfall if winter rain is abundant. This bushy plant will be covered in flowers from spring all the way through fall, making it especially attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. Once one series of blooms are spent, a light shearing to deadhead will encourage more blooms, but isn’t necessary, unless you’re so motivated.