the show

Pests on Agave, Yucca, Cactus

encore date: August 27, 2011

original air date: July 30, 2011

What’s that pest destroying your drought-loving agaves, yuccas, and cacti? Wizzie Brown, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Extension Program Specialist- IPM identifies pests like agave snout weevils, cactus bugs, and more, and explains how to control them. On tour, visit Jeff Pavlat’s diverse succulent garden for design ideas with these drought tolerant plants. Daphne Richards explains how to grow beneficial aloe vera and how to pinch a plant for lush growth. John Dromgoole mixes up a soil blend for succulents.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Jeff Pavlat Succulent Garden Design

See how Jeff Pavlat and Ray Clayton turned a treacherous slope into limestone terraces, patios and staircases. To plant them, Jeff wanted deer resistant plants that needed little water and care. Through the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society, he found a passion for succulents and cacti, including Southwestern natives and specimens from around the world. For design impact, he clusters groups of plants against central standouts in each bed, alternating strong textures with softer plants. Jeff designed an upper story patio to feature aloes and a millstone fountain in a Japanese-inspired setting. In a greenhouse, he tends less cold hardy specimens. At the front door, they tamed a water-collecting slope with a pond.


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Question of the Week

What does it mean to pinch back a plant?

Pinching back a plant is simply pinching off the growing tips. At each of these tips is a terminal bud, which is responsible for growth of the plant in length or height. In this terminal bud, a plant hormone that inhibits lateral growth or growth in width is produced.

When you pinch off the terminal bud, you remove the source of that inhibitory hormone, encouraging the plant to grow from its lateral buds, those that occur down the sides of the stem. That encourages the plant to grow bushier rather than taller. Pinching back is very commonly done in the nursery trade to give mums and other plotted plants a nice dense, compact look that we, as plant purchasers, find more aesthetically pleasing. In the garden, this helps produce a lusher plant. With flowering plants, this will encourage more flowers, too.

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Plant of the Week

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

There are over 200 species of aloe, but we are most familiar with this one because of its gooey sap. It's in everything from sunburn gel to nutritional supplements. It's an easy succulent to grow. It does best when almost completely ignored, so don't over water it or pay too much attention to it. It is sensitive to frost, so it's best in a container that you can bring in and protect. It also rots easily, so don't overwater or use any compost in the soil around it. Use about half sand, half potting soil in your containers for this plant. It does love the heat, but it gets scorched in a full day of intense summer sun here in Texas, so it will do fine in a little shade. It will usually be a deeper green in those lower-light intensity areas as well. Aloe vera produces a lot of offsets, little plantlets that emerge at the base of the stem of your original plant. They can get pretty scraggily if left to their own devices, so it's best to divide them once those plantlets have begun to get out of control in the container.