Lazy Gardener & Friends for August 1, 2019

By: Nature's Way Resources | Published 08/01/2019

Here is the 302st issue of our weekly gardening newsletter for Houston, the Gulf Coast and beyond. We really appreciate all of our readers hanging in there with us, sharing stories and inspiring us in so many ways. 
Thanks so much!
This newsletter is a project of The Lazy Gardener, Brenda Beust Smith & John Ferguson. (John is with Nature's Way Resources). We also have a great supporting cast of contributing writers and technical specialists who will chime in and tweak away regularly. We would love to keep receiving your input on this newsletter, comments, suggestions, questions. Email your thoughts to: Thanks so much for your interest.
Please sign yourself up to receive this newsletter by clicking this link: "Join Our Mailing List". We will never sell or share our mailing list to protect the privacy of our subscribers.
There is nothing I like better at the end of a hot summer's day
than taking a short walk around the garden. You can smell the
heat coming up from the earth to meet the cooler night air.
-- Peter Mayle
Feedback and queries from readers are what make this column really fun to do. Two who have introduced new (to me) plants recently are Dale Philips and Leon Macha.
Some time ago Dale wrote of his slow-to-bloom frangipani vine. "Being 83 now," he wrote, "I'm not happy waiting for blooms!”
Dale's was one of the queries that triggered last week's "Why isn't my plant blooming?" column. I was surprised to hear of a frangipani "vine."
Rather than being a true frangipani (or plumeria, the Hawaiian lei flower), the "frangipani vine" is actually a Chonemorpha fragrans, so nicknamed for its plumeria-like flowers. It's in the Apocynaceae family, a cousin of oleanders, periwinkles (vinca) and many other plants with a milky, latex sap.
Dale had been feeding his plumeria fertilizer and bone meal, both of which should help blooming. They hadn’t.
Right, Dale Philips' frangipani vine
As I have often admitted, my real expertise is knowing where the real experts are. Linda Gay knew exactly what it was and said to “pray for a mild winter.” It will need protection here. Among her notes to Dale:
  • Flowers spring/summer
  • Few insect/disease problems.
  • Likes full/partial sun and southern, eastern or western exposure
  • Needs solid wood (no frost damage or dormancy in winter) to flower. Greenhouse an option?
  • Staying too wet in winter will also trigger dormancy which will affect blooming
  • Bring soil to state of visual dryness between waterings
The frangipani vine's other important need: Space. This native of India, where it grows up trees, can reach 40 ft. in length. Not much is known, however, about how energetically it grows here. Keep us posted, Dale!
* * *
GRANDMA'S YELLOW ROSE in our recent Superstar issue listings really grabbed Leon Macha's attention. He has five thriving at his El Campo area home.
All Leon's Grandma's Yellow Roses receive all day sun and are now into an awesome fifth round of flowering this year! As soon as a floral flush starts to wane, Leon cuts back at least 1/3 to larger diameter stems. This, he says, is why his bushes have so many bloom explosions.
Leon's longtime association with Greenleaf Nursery (one of North America’s largest wholesale growers) says the key to these, and other, roses is sun, sun and more sun. When he cuts a bush back, whenever possible,
"I want to be cutting stems of substantial size, not just a few inches below the spent flower where the stem is toothpick size. A larger stem has fat buds that reward you with more vigorous re-growth and nice fat flower buds.
“If you are paying attention, every 2 weeks there are stems that you can WHACK-OFF (my favorite pruning term) and the progression of new buds and flowers gets to be a constant event. Pruning is not a deep thought process.”
However, he cheerfully admits many gardeners “…would have cardiac arrest if they observed my approach.” For the past decade, a now retired Leon has shared his gardening advice through around 300 columns in the "El Campo Leader."
The "Grandma" honored by this rose is Tillie Jungman, grandmother of Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist and its developer, along with Jerry Parsons & Greg Grant, all of whom agree this is: as "dang near" the perfect yellow rose as they've ever seen. Who else would tell you these things?
* * *
Sandra Nichols, Dale Phillip's Friendswood neighbor, sent in this picture of Dale’s fennel, left, and a swallowtail it pleased. Sandra has released dozens of swallowtails from her own fennel and dill (right above) plants.
Right below,
swallowtail chrysalis
* * *
TEXAS MASTER NATURALISTS. Just as most counties in Texas now have Master Gardener programs, the Texas Master Naturalist ( program is successfully spreading across the state, encouraging “beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.”
Last year, the Texas Master Naturalists celebrated their 20th anniversary with around 50 chapters now actively educating folks about our native flora and fauna. With the steadily growing interest in Pollinator/Habitat Gardens, Master Naturalists definitely have a lot to teach home gardeners about our many beneficial and ornamental native plants.
Fall Master Naturalist certification training will start this fall across the state (Find program closest to you: 
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