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Designs for Drought

encore date: October 15, 2015

original air date: October 17, 2015

Let’s “Go Beyond the Garden Gate” on a preview of the Brazos County Master Gardener tour.  Kayron Dube and Charla Anthony guide us through gardens in every size and style to match your drought-touch pursuit. On tour, meet Velia Sanchez-Ruiz, whose front yard enriches her neighborhood with bountiful beauty and wildlife all year long. Looking for an evergreen shrub to screen a view? Check out Daphne’s Plant of the Week:  Xylosma. Since it’s not too late to divide daylilies and irises, get her tips on how to do it. John styles up succulent containers for even the smallest, waterwise garden.

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Episode Segments

On Tour

Front Yard Garden no Lawn

Meet effervescent Velia Sanchez-Ruiz who designed and maintains a front yard garden complete with a colorful meditative nicho arbor. Every month of the year, neighbors stroll through to gather serenity and wonder, along with handfuls of fresh herbs and flowers. Not only only does Velia teach young and old about the wildlife that visits, she also passes along of knowledge of Mexican herbal remedies for health and good taste. First inspired by daylilies, she continued digging out grass to layer native perennials, annuals, and even vegetables alongside them.

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Question of the Week

When to divide daylilies and iris?

A good rule of thumb for flowering plants is to perform any routine maintenance after they’ve finished flowering, usually in the opposite season. Daylilies and irises are spring bloomers, so fall is a great time to divide them.

Since they grow from underground stems, daylilies and irises are prone to overcrowding and need to be dug up and divided at least every few years. If not divided, the plants will continue to grow, but will produce fewer flowers, or stop flowering altogether.

Daylilies are bulbs and can be pulled apart into separate plants, but irises are rhizomes that will need to be cut into separate pieces.

Both can be rather prolific in the right conditions and will easily grow into a very large colony in just a year or two. Dividing them (especially iris) promotes more flowers.

With both, you’ll want to first loosen the soil with a spading fork, taking care not to damage the colony if at all possible. Once you have them out of the ground, wash away the soil from around the roots, so you can see where to pull apart or cut them, and look for the healthiest pieces to replant. Any shrunken or soft pieces should be discarded, as should any pieces which have holes in them, which might indicate borers.

Daylilies prefer a little richer soil than irises, so if you need to amend your beds with a little organic matter, now would be a good time to do so. Trim back the leaves on both, leaving about six inches of top growth.

Prune away any roots that appear to be dried out or dead. If possible, dip the cut ends of your rhizomes lightly in a bit of sulfur, which will inhibit rotting until the cut surface heals. When replanting, don’t go too deep. With irises, cover the roots completely, but the base of the plant, where the rhizome and leaves are joined, should be just at ground level, and even exposed a bit. Daylilies should also be planted rather shallowly, with the bulbs laid on top of the planting area, then covered with a thin layer of soil and gently firmed in place.

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Plant of the Week

Xylosma Congestum

Xylosma Congestum

Thanks to Rebecca Schroeder, who gardens in Buda and blogs at Rebecca’s Retreat, for pictures of her Xylosma! Often called shiny Xylosma, this shrubby plant is very versatile. You can train to a small tree shape, leave it shrubby or prune into a hedge.

Xylosma usually grows to about six feet tall and spreads equally as wide or slightly wider, but can get larger if conditions are right. Rebecca grows hers in almost full sun on limestone rocky soil, but it can also take light shade. Water regularly, but not overly: I would consider Xylosma to be a medium water-use plant in Central Texas. Evergreen in mild winters, deciduous when temps drop below freezing, and root hardy into the teens, Xylosma should be reliable through most winters with very little care. It does tend toward a shrubby habit, so if you would prefer a tree shape, consider starting with an older plant that’s well on its way to being properly trained when you purchase it.
Our Viewer Picture goes to Doris Reagan, who recently revamped her front yard, replacing grass with colorful, wildlife-attracting perennials and evergreen structure. Click here to see some of her beautiful renovations that also trap water to trickle down multilayer terraces.

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