the show

Staying Alive in Summer

encore date: August 4, 2016

original air date: June 25, 2016

Once again, suddenly we’ve traded wet, cool days for hot and dry. Designer Ginger Hudson shows how to spot problems and avoid common mistakes. On tour, visit a rocky hillside garden that handles drought and rain bombs.  Daphne answers: Why did established irises actually form seeds this spring? Distinctive ‘Pinot Noir’ pepper, contributed by a viewer,  is our Plant of the Week.  Trisha and Colleen Dieter make hypertufa containers.


Episode Segments

On Tour

Drought Garden for Wildlife

When Sandi and Bob Tomlinson designed their 5-Star Austin Energy Green Build home, they wanted to live outside, too. For gardens that equally respect resources, from the beginning they worked with designer Annie Gillespie and associate Rachael Beavers. First on Annie’s list: water retention and control, including a wide filtration trench, dry creek beds, and rainwater collection. Then, she and Rachael designed cozy outdoor living among richly fragrant and vibrant drought tough plants for wildlife.


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Question of the Week

Why do irises form seeds and how to plant?

Thanks to Orlando Vasquez for this great question! This year, his irises formed seed pods for the first time. What prompted that? And how can he sow his iris seeds?

It could be that your irises or just now maturing to the stage where they’re beginning to put resources into producing the next generation. If you’ve fertilized, it could also be that the plants finally have the nutrition required to reproduce.

But on the opposite end of the spectrum, it could be a lack of soil nutrients. Many plants only make a move to spend a portion of their valuable resources on producing seeds when times are bad.

If climactic and other external factors indicate a dire situation for the mother plant, perhaps the next generation can survive, remaining dormant until the situation improves.

Sowing the seeds is fairly easy. Simply leave the seed pods on the plants until they’ve dried completely, or as close as possible, then cut the flower stalks and open the pods to expose the seeds.

Let the seeds dry further for at least a couple of weeks, then sow in very shallow, seed-starting containers with a light potting soil mixture, covering them about twice as deep as their size.

Water enough to keep the media moist but not soggy, and place in a warm area of the house or patio. They won’t need sun until they germinate, and wait until they get a few inches tall to transplant them to slightly larger containers or into the garden.


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Plant of the Week

‘Pinot Noir’ Pepper

‘Pinot Noir’ Pepper

Our plant this week comes from San Antonio viewer Richard Alcorta Jr. Richard reports that these ‘Pinot Noir’ peppers taste a bit sweeter than regular bell peppers, and have grown very well in his garden. The striking deep purple, almost black fruit is stunning in the garden, and this plant can look right at home tucked into small pockets among perennials and other landscape plants. Plant in full sun and water regularly (a few times a week, depending on your soil type) throughout the growing season. Rarely are pests enough of an issue to worry about on peppers, so once planted, they require very little maintenance other than to harvest the beautiful, delicious fruit. Although peppers thrive in hot climates, many of them perform and produce better in areas where the nights are significantly cooler than the days, which is why we often get a bumper crop in fall. While bell peppers aren’t as sensitive to this issue, they can be damaged in extremely hot summers if they aren’t receiving adequate irrigation to assist with cooling. If you have your peppers and other vegetables planted in their own area of the landscape and summer temperatures are exceedingly hot and dry for long periods of time, you could alleviate the buildup of heat in their leaves by providing just a bit of protection from the harsh rays of the sun. A small shade structure covered with a very light shade cloth would do the trick. Our viewer picture this week comes from Louise Suhey. The paper skin on these Leek blooms in her garden formed a perfect dunce cap! Louise says that she doesn’t eat the leeks, she just grows them for the beautiful flowers. They’ve multiplied greatly over the years she has at least 40 spread out all over her garden.