the show

Native Alternatives to Exotic Invasive Plants

encore date: January 30, 2021

original air date: February 16, 2019

What’s the negative impact of exotic, invasive plants on waterways and wildlife habitat? Erin Cord from Austin’s Watershed Protection Department analyzes the damage and offers native plant alternatives. On tour, Sandy Stone and Joe Brown worked with nature’s architecture to restore habitat in an area getting bulldozed. Daphne checks out a troubled container avocado and what to do next. John picks out the tools every new gardener needs first and why to go for long-lasting quality.

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Episode Segments

On Tour

Shady Style for Wildlife Habitat: Sandy Stone and Joe Brown

On land framed by trees, architect Sandy Stone and Joe Brown designed outdoor living vignettes and handmade art among native plants to restore wildlife diversity. As habitat around them is razed for construction, they offer refuge for wildlife while creating opportunities to engage with them. Working with designer Leah Churner, they’ve added drip irrigation from rainwater collection and livened shady nooks with colorful accents.

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Question of the Week

What’s wrong with my avocado in a container?

Many of us plant avocados from seed because it’s fun to get a plant from a food you ate! Fred in Ft. Worth planted his first five years ago into a container. It was so successful as a lovely, leafy plant that he added more.

Now he’s got four small plants in the same container. He keeps it outside in warm weather but brings indoors when autumn gets chilly.

Recently, the tip of the first plant has started to discolor and die. Fred has cut it back several times, but the dieback continues and is moving down the main stem. What’s the problem?

First, indoor light is not enough for plants like this. An LED grow light can take care of that, and there are many options out there.

Dallas-based certified professional horticulturist Leslie Halleck, author of Gardening Under Lights, explains how on this segment.

Next, the soil in the container may also be an issue, as well as the watering regime. I’d suggest separating the plants into individual containers. Gently work to remove the entire root mass, separate the plants and replace any lost potting soil with a good quality soilless mix.

Watering can also be an issue. While indoors, water sparingly, as the plant won’t be growing much. And be sure to toss out any water that flows all the way through and into the drainage pan so that the container doesn’t sit in water for more than a few hours.

And finally, once you move the plant back outdoors, put it on a fertilization regime.

The current die-back is related to all of these issues. Continue to prune out this dead tissue and get the plant on the right track with light and water, and you should see improvement.

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