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Plants for Pollinators

encore date: December 1, 2012

original air date: October 27, 2012

Get your garden humming with plants for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Crystal Murray from wholesale growers Far South Nursery shows off drought-tough plants for pollinators. Ask for them at your local nursery! On tour, visit gardener Ida Bujan in Kyle who turned a small lot into a wildlife and native plant haven. Daphne explains how to water your shrubs. Pick of the week is white mistflower, a perennial that brings on the bees and butterflies in spring and autumn. Trisha spices up the kitchen with herbs, along with tips on dividing and planting for every season.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Native Plant Design for Small Garden Ida Bujan

In her new down-sized garden in Kyle, Ida Bujan wanted native plants to restore wildlife diversity. Plus, she didn’t want to spend her evenings with a water hose! See how she reduced her lawn thumbprint with layers of fragrance, color and texture that rate attention from the neighbors and populate her garden with bees, birds and butterflies.

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Question of the Week

How should we water our shrubs? Do we go to the drip line, like for trees?

Thanks to Mary Riley for this great question! Although shrubs and even smaller plants do not have the same root mass as larger trees, the roots still grow in a similar fashion: away from the trunk or main stem. The larger the plant, the further away from the trunk the “feeding” roots will be. These roots are newer and covered in root hairs, which are responsible for water and nutrient uptake by the plant.

Older, often woody roots don’t have any root hairs, and so, don’t take up any water. With shrubs and smaller plants, the drip line won’t be anywhere near as far away from the trunk as it is with a tree, so I generally water my shrubs all around the base, and up to about half the height of the plant away.

So, if a shrub is 6′ tall, watering out to at least 3 to 4′ from the trunk would be sufficient. A slow, thorough soaking of the soil is much better than a quick burst of water. You’re after deeper moisture for the plant, to encourage the roots to grow nice and deep, so that it will have access to a larger soil profile.

The deeper you go, the cooler the soil is, and the more protected it is from the environment, so it holds on to the water longer. In the hottest part of the summer, if we’re getting no rain, established shrubs may need water once a week, but usually not more than that, as long as you water properly.

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Plant of the Week

White Mistflower

White Mistflower

Ageratina Havenensis

Also called shrubby white boneset or Havana snakeroot, this shrubby plant may get up to 6' tall, covered in highly fragrant, fuzzy white blooms from fall through early winter. These flowers are a magnet for hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insects, since they are a rare source of late-season nectar and pollen. White mistflower normally grows to about 2' tall and wide. It's native to rocky, limestone areas where the soil holds very little water so it prefers good drainage, but it also easily tolerates poorly drained soils, as long you don't overwater it. It will also tolerate shady areas, but will perform better and bloom more profusely in the full, bright sun. Once blooming starts to slow down with the onset of winter, give it a good, heavy shearing to encourage denser new growth in the spring and more profuse blooms next fall. If you don't shear the plant, blooming will be very sparse, since boneset/white mistflower only produces flowers on new wood. This plant requires very little water once established and is a great addition to any Central Texas landscape if you want a trouble-free shrub to attract lots of pollinators!

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