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Bamboo Basics

air date: April 15, 2017

How can you tell if bamboo is a clumping or running variety? Does clumping bamboo not really run? Landscape designer/consultant Merredith Jiles sets us straight with tips for clumping bamboo cultivation and selection. On tour, Chandler Ford’s front yard attracts a crowd and her romantic shady backyard invites intimate conversations. Daphne analyzes browned leaves on a container avocado and houseplant. Plant of the Week, forsythia sage, sparks in autumn with long yellow flower spikes to entice butterflies and hummingbirds. As we head into drier weather, are you watering enough or not enough? Get water-wise tips with Neil Schmidt from The Natural Gardener.

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Episode Segments

On Tour

Romantic Garden

Framed by her historic home, Chandler Ford’s romantic, fragrant front yard stops neighbors in their tracks to savor her ongoing festival of flowers and food. In shade and sun on clay soil, every season delights with bundles of color and layers of texture. In back, she sets a contemplative tone in shade with equally intense color bordering paths and charming patio.

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Interview

Bamboo Basics with Merredith Jiles

How can you tell if bamboo is a clumping or running variety? Does clumping bamboo not really run? Landscape designer/consultant Merredith Jiles sets us straight with tips for clumping bamboo cultivation and selection.

Watch more CTG Interview videos on YouTube →

Question of the Week

Brown spots on houseplant and avocado leaves.

Two viewers have similar issues on two different plants, both grown in containers. Eloise Hunt’s Dracaena has developed yellow leaf margins that eventually turn brown, and the edges of Anita Shekar’s avocado leaves are turning brown.

Although the symptoms look slightly different, both plants are suffering from the same problem: a buildup of salt in the leaves, which leads to marginal tip burn.

To understand this, think about the way your tongue feels when you’ve eaten lots of popcorn with too much salt. It feels kind of raw and burns a little. Well, leaves are just as sensitive to salt, so when they take up water that contains too much salt, then the water evaporates from their leaves and the salt is left behind, the tissues get burned, turn yellow or brown, then die.

Some plants are more sensitive to salt than others, and container-grown plants will struggle more than those in the ground, since they’re growing in a finite amount of potting soil, where salt builds up more easily.

Although you likely won’t be able to get this issue totally under control, there are a few things you can do to keep it at bay.

First, soak the container in a basin of water for a few hours, so that the potting soil can fully and uniformly rehydrate. Upon subsequent waterings, you should flush the container very well, making sure that lots of water passes all the way through and out the bottom.

You could also switch to using bottled water or rainwater for these plants. With the avocado, the plant looks overall very healthy to me.

Try to get the watering more uniform and work on protecting the plant from heat: tender new leaves are especially vulnerable to heat, wind, and salinity.

And take heart: according to our AgriLife Extension fruit specialists, the most common problem with avocados in Texas is tip burn and marginal necrosis, caused by water stress and salinity.

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Plant of the Week

Forsythia Sage

Forsythia Sage

Salvia madrensis

Forsythia sage really sparks autumn with long spikes of brilliant yellow flowers, guaranteed to entice hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. Complement with lavender-hued Salvia leucantha for a truly gorgeous fall display to benefit migrating hummingbirds and butterflies. Until it blooms, treasure its blue-green leaves and slightly sprawling habit. Forsythia sage isn’t too particular about soil, equally happy in situations from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline, but good drainage would be a benefit. Morning sun is best or sun throughout the day but not full blast all day, especially afternoon. It can also take partial shade with some sun, where it might get a little lankier and bloom a little less. At maturity, it can be 5-8’ wide with 3’ tall flowers in fall, so give it plenty of room. Plant in the back of a border to tower over smaller plants in front. Generally hardy to zone 7, it will die back in winter. Cut to the ground in late winter/early spring. As with all herbaceous salvias, a little extra water may be needed when planted in sun.

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