the show

Fun Wildlife Projects for Kids

encore date: July 6, 2013

original air date: June 15, 2013

Go a little wild with the kids! Master Naturalist Meredith O’Reilly shows off fun outdoor projects for kids of all ages.  Get more projects and how to make them.  On tour, visit Helen Roberts’ wildlife haven for kids designed by Bridget Lane. Daphne answers Heidi Schaub’s question about spores on the back of her Japanese holly fern: evil or not?  Her Pick of the Week is Brazilian rock rose. Trisha shows how to freeze abundant garden fruits and vegetables.

Question of the Week

What’s this on the back of my holly ferns?

Thanks to Heidi Schaub for this great question and picture! What are these growths on the undersides of her Japanese holly ferns?

These are spores, which indicate a very happy plant. Ferns are ancient plants that reproduce from spores, rather than going to all the trouble of producing flowers to attract unreliable pollinators.

Ferns are native to areas with high relative humidity, which is important in their reproductive cycle.

Here in Central Texas, we have a beautiful little native fern, which can easily be seen while hiking along our many creeks and green belts, southern maidenhair fern, (Adiantum capillus-veneris).

When the spores are ripe, they will dry up and fall off. In the right conditions, they will create new plants.

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Plant of the Week

Rose (Brazilian Rock)

Rose (Brazilian Rock)

Pavonia hastata

Like our native pink rock rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) this species is a relative of the more tropical hibiscus, but with more drought and cold tolerance.

Plant Brazilian rock rose in full sun and give it plenty of space, since it can get up to 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. In a bit of shade it will stay smaller, but will still flower prolifically.

The petals are pale-pink, almost white, with a deep magenta center, attracting a crowd of butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden all summer long.

As its name implies, rock rose will do just fine in rocky soils, making it a great choice for rocky Hill Country gardens, and also in xeriscaped areas of the garden with decomposed granite or other gravelly substrate. In mild winters, Brazilian rock rose may be evergreen, but will be deciduous in colder winters. There's no need to shear to the ground in winter, but a light pruning in very early spring will encourage bushier, less leggy growth. If you have the time, lightly shearing during the growing season will also encourage more of those gorgeous little flowers. Plant Brazilian rock rose along walkways and paths, where it will have space to spread out gracefully, and soften surrounding hardscapes.