currently in Austin


Top tomatoes, dead succulents, weed tea fertilizer

“Oops, I killed my container succulent! What went wrong?”
drowned succulent in glass bowl container Central Texas Gardener
I get that question a lot and know why it happens. So, what did I do? I kill my baby echeveria in an indoor container (with a drain hole). I know better than to water in winter (or much). And there I go, dribbling in the tiniest bit of water. Bang: two days later it was dead.
succulent drowned in container Central Texas Gardener
Daphne explains what’s often at fault: overwatering combined with lack of sunlight. “If the plants are not receiving enough sunlight for photosynthesis, they aren’t growing; and if they aren’t growing, they aren’t using water,” she says. Cautious watering is especially important in non-draining containers, since there’s no place for it to go.

I wouldn’t mind some water outside, though! Still, my recently dramatically pruned Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ popped its first flowers.
hot lips salvia Central Texas Gardener
The ground’s so dry it’s hard to pull out my nemesis, hedge parsley or beggar’s lice (Torilis arvensis). When we had a cocker spaniel, it was a mess when he collected its sticky seed heads in his curly fur.
beggar's lice weed Central Texas Gardener
Its long taproot, giving it another moniker “false carrot,” doesn’t make it easier to pull in no-rain soil.
beggar's lice taproot Central Texas Gardener
I don’t consider cute little henbit a pest, since its flowers attract tiny pollinators. And its seeds don’t stick to my socks and gloves!
Henbit flower Central Texas Gardener
This week, Trisha explains how “weeds” can tell you a bit about your soil. Henbit, purslane and pigweed are signs of healthy, balanced soil. Dandelions and sow thistle have deep taproots that aerate and make minerals available to surface plants.
dandelion taproot Central Texas Gardener
If you don’t pull or cut weeds before they seed, you’ll have them for years in the seed bank (like wildflowers). Herbicides are not the answer. Instead, Trisha puts these greenies to work in a nutritious weed tea to naturally nourish your plants. Here’s the recipe.
weed teas natural fertilizer Central Texas Gardener

And here’s Trisha’s yummy weed pesto recipe.

To spice up foliar entertainment in rocky, well-drained soil, what about Daphne’s Pick this week: American or Texas smoke tree (Cotinus obovatus).
Smoke tree Central Texas Gardener
As a specimen tree, it’s a striking contrast against Pindo palm, yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) and Euphorbia rigida, here in Valerie and Kirk Walden’s garden.
pindo palm and smoke tree design Central Texas Gardener
Although it can get to 15-30 feet tall, Kirk wanted to keep it shorter rather than block their outstanding view.
smoke tree euphorbia rigida lakeside patio Central Texas Gardener
In December, Julie Clark from Stronger Than Dirt cut it back 6’ for a current size of 6’.
smoke tree pruned Central Texas Gardener

Here’s what she says, “Since it already wanted to be very multi-trunked, we just went with that, rather than trying to make it into a nice specimen tree. So, we cut it back hard enough to allow for room to grow, but also leaving plenty of nodes for new growth. We pruned in December, which paid off, but in general I would recommend that hard pruning be done in February, or early March, depending upon what the winter is like. You wouldn’t want to encourage new growth and run a great risk of it getting zapped. During the season, more limited pruning can be done whenever needed.”

In my east Austin soil, I get my burgundy fix with Billbergia x Rubra bromeliad. Winter annual bee-loved calendulas, perennializing narcissus, and chervil dot this view.
billbergia bromeliad calendula narcissus Central Texas Gardener
Red veined sorrel is pretty. . .tasty.
red-veined sorrel Central Texas Gardener
So is Flashy Trout Back lettuce. I’m into burgundy.
Flashy Trout Back lettuce Central Texas Gardener
But you know what’s on our minds: summer tomatoes, peppers and other hot weather yums. Randy Thompson from Sunshine Community Gardens joins Tom for his short list of tried and true varieties and tips for success.
Tom Spencer and Randy Thompson Central Texas Gardener
You can get them all, along with herbs and companions at the annual plant sale March 5!
Sunshine Community Gardens plant sale
With this crazy weather, be ready for anything. Viewer Picture goes to Bell County Master Gardener Rowena Fengel for her bearded iris blooming Christmas day.
yellow bearded iris bloom early Central Texas Gardener
Since events abound, go ahead and mark it now: the Austin Funky Chicken Coop tour on March 26.

A few years ago, we visited Dani and Gary Moss in their artistic, wildlife-abundant garden, complete with Chicksville chicken coop.
charming wildlife and garden art design Central Texas Gardener
garden art and backyard conservatory Central Texas Gardenercharming wildlife habitat design Central Texas Gardener
From recycled finds, they built a charming conservatory. The bottom stones came from their rocky property.
charming backyard conservatory Central Texas Gardener
When Dani decided to become a mom to chickens, Gary built Chicksville.
cute Chicksville chicken coop Central Texas Gardener
cute Chicksville chicken coop Central Texas Gardener
See the whole story now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda