the show

Growing Cilantro, Mushrooms, Tillandsia

air date: September 23, 2017

Although we add cilantro to hot spicy dishes, it’s a cool weather herb. Herb ‘n Cowgirl Ann McCormick solves the mystery for successful planting and takes us on a historical tour of herbs used at the birth of Jesus. In Wimberley, discover how mushrooms are grown from spores to harvest. Daphne analyzes a troubled magnolia tree and shows how a gardener nurtures her heirloom collection of spider lilies. John shows how to garden indoors (or out) with decorative tillandsias.


Episode Segments

On Tour

Growing Mushrooms | Central Texas Gardener

Discover how speciality mushrooms are grown and find out how to start your own shiitake mushrooms on fallen tree trunks.

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Question of the Week

What’s wrong with my magnolia tree?

Thanks to Elizabeth Chinnault for sending this question about her two-year-old ‘Jane’ magnolia tree.She writes that the tree bloomed in early spring, and then she noticed the leaves starting to brown and look dry in mid-summer.

She’s been spraying weekly with a fungicide, but the tree seems to be doing worse. Elizabeth also notes that the tree has been getting extra water during the hottest, driest times.

Magnolias are commonly found in eastern regions of the US, and although they can be gorgeous and healthy outside of their normal growing environment, it is much more challenging to be successful with them when they are out of their element.

I wasn’t too familiar with this cultivar, ‘Jane,’ and when I did a little research on it, I was reminded just how challenging it is to sort out basic horticultural information on some plants. Most web sites that I looked at said to plant in “full sun to part shade” which they then went on to describe as “at least 6 hours of full sun.”

Also, soil preferences for ‘Jane’ Magnolia were said to be “acidic, loamy, moist, rich, and well-drained.”

Having the knowledge and experience that I have with plants, I was able to deduce from that information that this plant was going to struggle in Central Texas. And that it would be hard for it to be successful here, since none of our conditions are to its liking. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, just that the stars would have to align perfectly for this tree not to struggle here.

Also, I’m not sure who diagnosed disease issues on the tree, but even if they were correct, spraying anything on the leaves of any plant when the temperatures are above 80 degrees and the air is dry is extremely stressful on plants. What I think would be best at the moment would be to keep watering the plant as necessary in the coming months, but ignore any other issues. It will drop its leaves soon for the winter, and when it blooms and then leafs back out in spring, watch for signs of stress.

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Plant of the Week

Spider Lily

Spider Lily


Our plant of the week comes from viewer Janis, who has some wonderful specimens of Hymenocallis, a perennial bulb and one of many species commonly known as spider lilies. Janis received these pass-alongs, which bloom in summer, from a friend in Rockport. She keeps them in kiddie pools, which helps greatly to conserve water. This is such a great technique that we wanted to share it with you. Janis drills extra holes about an inch from the bottom of each pot, all the way around so they can draw up the water they need, and also drills small holes just above the soil line, near the top of each pot, so that when it does rain, water does not collect at the top of the pots and rot the bulbs. The bottom of the pool is kept wet year-round, so it doesn’t dry out and crack. This is a great way to collect rainwater, and to keep the plants alive if you go on vacation.