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Garden Rehab

air date: February 18, 2017

We’ve all been there. We buy a house that comes with a weedy, overgrown lawn. Or, we’ve let shrubs get out of control or we just need to update. Designer Leah Churner from Delta Dawn Sustainable Gardens explains how to restore and renew. On tour, when Syd Teague moved from Tucson to Austin, she wanted a water thrifty garden. As she shaped her land, it became her outdoor laboratory from succulents to flowering perennials. Daphne answers, “Why do my lemons get black spots?” Find out how to plant Peter’s Purple bee balm to attract bees and hummingbirds. And John shows how to graft houseplants to grow your collection or pass along to friends.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Tantalizing Tiers for All-Year Beauty: Syd Teague

When Syd Teague moved from Tucson to Austin, she wanted a water thrifty garden. As she shaped her land, it became her outdoor laboratory from succulents to flowering perennials. After corralling rainwater runoff in multiple berms and swales, she patterned rambling wanders and broad sweep views that converge in shady hideaways. Now, she and husband Lary Evans watch the seasons evolve as colors and textures follow the calendar.

Watch more "On Tour" videos on YouTube →

Question of the Week

What are these black spots on my lemons?

Thanks to Chris Lalich for this great question!  His Meyer lemon trees have been in the ground for six years and he’s had a huge crop of lemons the last year.

Every year though, most of the lemons are covered with small black spots, which are only on the rind and don’t affect the quality of the fruit inside. We noticed from the photos that a few of the fruit appeared to have bird pecks, but the tiny black all-over speckles seemed to be something else.

Monte Nesbitt, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension fruit specialist confirmed that the large scar is the result of a bird pecking, very common when birds are looking for moisture.

The black, peppery spots are a fungal disease called Melanose. In some cases the damage can appear in streaks, where it follows the flow of moisture down and around the fruit. It usually first develops on leaves and twigs, but most people don’t notice it until the fruit is affected.

Although it can get bad enough to cause some twig dieback, it’s not harmful to handle or eat, but presents a problem for people in the business of selling fruit, who need their product to look attractive.

The fungus needs moisture to thrive in the spring, and the late spring rainy weather and cloudy days we’ve had the last few years are the perfect environment for this disease to thrive. It can be prevented or curtailed with application of basic copper sulfate, applied as a late winter foliar spray, but NOT when trees are blooming.

The fungus overwinters on twigs and foliage, so breaking the cycle on the fruit will require the copper to be coated on the tree before it produces its next crop.

Watch more Question of the Week videos on YouTube →

Plant of the Week

Peter’s Purple bee balm

Peter’s Purple bee balm

Peter’s Purple bee balm is one of many great Monarda species for Central Texas. ‘Peter’s Purple’ bee balm has been around a while, but it can be hard to find sometimes. Research at the Dallas Arboretum has shown it to be extremely resistant to powdery mildew, a necessary quality for survival in our landscapes. Like its relatives in the mint family, Peter’s Purple creeps easily into surrounding areas of the garden, so be prepared to dig and divide it yearly to keep it in bounds. It isn’t hard to dig up, and transplants easily, so it’s a great pass-along plant. From late spring through late summer, Peter’s Purple will be covered in gorgeous light purple blooms that are irresistible to hummingbirds. Bees also go crazy for this plant, hence the common name: bee balm. It is deer resistant, though! It loves the heat and full sun, but can take light shade, and is very drought tolerant, as well as tolerant of both well-drained and clay soils. It needs a little supplemental irrigation during the hottest, driest times of the year, otherwise, be careful not to overwater. In shady areas, Peter’s Purple will get lanky and may be unable to support its height and fall over. Listed as hardy to Zone 6, this Monarda breezes through even the coldest Central Texas winters. It will go dormant in winter, so cut it back to return in spring. Shooting quickly up to four feet tall, a single 4 inch transplant will also easily grow to a two foot wide clump in its first year.

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