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Edible Native Plants

air date: April 1, 2017

Turn your native plants into delicious recipes! Andrea DeLong-Amaya from the Wildflower Center picks a few tasty ones to harvest now or plant this spring. Daphne highlights native Barbados cherry, beloved by pollinators for its flowers and by us and birds for its fruits. Trisha harvests tasty wild purslane (Portulaca oleracea) for its nutritious benefits and explains how to grow your own. On tour at Austin Aquaponics, see why Rob Nash farms with aquaponics for year-round harvests.

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Episode Segments

On Tour

Rob Nash Austin Aquaponics

What’s aquaponics all about? Find out as Rob Nash takes us on a tour of his Austin Aquaponics greenhouse where aquaculture and hydroponics unite for water conserving crops. On his rocky land that could never support food, he supplies local harvests all year to restaurants, drop-by customers, and the Lone Star Farmers’ Market from aquaponics media-based and raft beds, along with wicking beds.

Watch more "On Tour" videos on YouTube →

Question of the Week

What’s wrong with my mountain laurel that I moved?

Thanks to Jason Wisser in Driftwood for this great question! He recently transplanted these young mountain laurels from another area of his property, and now they’re chlorotic and dropping leaves like mad. Jason would like to know if there’s anything he can do to save the plants.

Unfortunately, this problem is not uncommon. Texas mountain laurels are notoriously challenging to transplant, and the symptoms here are classic signs of transplant shock with this shrub. The roots of Texas mountain laurel do not respond well to being cut, and those who’ve found success with transplanting are those that have been able to dig enough of the rootball to give the plant a fighting chance.

The younger the plant, the smaller the rootball, and the easier it is to dig wide enough and deep enough to include most of the roots without disturbing them.

I’d suggest a wait-and-see approach. If we have an unusually hot, dry spring and summer, water the plants accordingly, but otherwise leave them alone and see what happens. Don’t even prune the top until you’re sure that it’s completely dead. They may come back in time.

Although many people report success, I only have one experience with transplanting a Texas mountain laurel. It was about half the size of these, but had a similar negative response to being moved. About a year later, when I’d given it up for dead, it returned from the roots.

Watch more Question of the Week videos on YouTube →

Plant of the Week

Barbados Cherry

Barbados Cherry

Malpighia glabra

Native Barbados cherry, a small shrub/tree, is great as an accent plant or screen. Like most plants, it needs a little extra water during the first year or so, but is very drought-tolerant once established. There are dwarf varieties available that form more of a groundcover, but common Barbados cherry usually gets 4 to 6 feet tall and has a spreading habit, so give it plenty of room to grow. It's easy to prune to shape as you like. The small pink flowers, which bloom in spurts from April through October, look very similar to the flowers of crape myrtle. They attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Barbados cherry produces a lovely bright red fruit that is edible and high in vitamin C, but quite tart. These fruits are truly a wonderful food source for birds during the hot months of summer. Those fruits and the tender leaves may also attract other wildlife to your yard. Deer absolutely love them too! So: not deer resistant. Barbados cherry performs well in part shade to full sun and is evergreen during most winters. In a harsh winter, it may lose its leaves but will bounce back when spring arrives. Simply cut back dead branches. It's adaptable to most soils, including clay, but does require good drainage.

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