The Plants Database

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By Dewberry on Apr 22, 2021 11:31 AM, concerning plant: Japanese Plum (Prunus salicina 'Santa Rosa')

Santa Rosa plum is one of the plum varieties best suited to Texas weather. It is self fertile, but probably bears better with a pollinator or a grafted branch from another variety of plum.

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By Dewberry on Apr 21, 2021 9:27 PM, concerning plant: Apple (Malus pumila 'Anna')

Anna apple trees have an unusually low number of required chill hours. Apple trees require a certain number of cold-weather hours or they won't produce fruit. Anna requires so few it can produce fruit even in places like Central Texas, with mild winters. It does need another apple tree (of another variety, I think) to pollinate it. Make sure the pollinator blooms at the same time.

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By Dewberry on Apr 21, 2021 9:21 PM, concerning plant: Apricots (Prunus armeniaca)

This delicious fruit can be frustrating for gardeners in climates with late freezes. Apricots are notoriously prone to getting nipped in the bud, so in places like Texas you can really only expect to get an apricot crop once every few years.

But they are splendid. The best taste, and a no-mess stone fruit!

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By Dewberry on Apr 21, 2021 9:18 PM, concerning plant: Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar maples can be tapped for their sap, which is boiled down into maple syrup, but only in certain climates. They can only be tapped where the weather repeatedly rises above freezing and drops again regularly for a long time, because when spring weather comes, the sap rises from the roots, and when it freezes again the sap flows back down. A long period of regular freezes and thaws means a long period when the right kind of sap is accessible in the trunk in large quantities.

Each maple can have one hole drilled in it for sap tapping per foot of trunk diameter. You can buy maple spouts to insert in the holes, and hooks to hang buckets for the sap to drip into. Be sure to check the buckets frequently. A five gallon bucket can fill surprisingly fast and overflow.

The sap itself tastes little like maple syrup. It may be a bit grainy, but when filtered it might make a decent drink, though not a sweet one.

Maple syrup was made by Native Americans and by settlers.

After it's collected and cleaned, it is boiled, boiled, boiled down. It takes several dozen gallons of sap to make a single gallon of maple syrup, and that takes time. It is probably a bad idea to do it indoors, as it can make the walls and stuff sticky. I think I have heard of people using turkey fryers to boil it down outside. Other people find ways to boil it outside in larger containers.

If you learn about the process and find a way to cook it down that works for you, maple tapping and syrup making can be a fun and rewarding activity, especially for families with children.

When I was a kid, we tapped our maples but brought the sap to a nature center that produced its own syrup. They kindly agreed to let us trade in our buckets of sap for bottles of their fresh maple syrup. It was a great experience.

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By Dewberry on Apr 21, 2021 8:56 PM, concerning plant: Daikon Radish (Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatu 'Miyashige White Radish')

Daikon radishes are used as cover crops. Their thick roots penetrate 1-2 feet into the ground, and not long after they were seeds, they are done. Farmers leave the roots in the soil to decompose into good organic matter for other plants, and use the leaves (working them into the soil, I think) for the same purpose.

I think they are used to improve sandy and clay soils. Gardeners can consider using them where they plan to plant vegetables or flowers, along with other cover crops like clover and other nitrogen-fixing legumes.

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By Dewberry on Apr 21, 2021 8:39 PM, concerning plant: Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo)

Arbutus unedo's outer bark peels and flakes off to reveal smooth, cinnamon-red bark underneath.

Its fruits ripen over a 12 month period, so it is in flower again as the fruits get ripe. Between its broadleaf evergreen leaves, its beautiful bark, its lovely flowers, and its decorative and (kid-safe if not tasty) edible fruit, the tree is never without ornamental appeal.

I have heard that the fruit tastes better when it's so ripe it wants to fall apart when you pick it.

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By Dewberry on Apr 21, 2021 8:31 PM, concerning plant: Chinese Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

This is considered one of the most cold-hardy palms around. It's unusual for a palm in that it prefers part shade rather than full sun. It might be the best choice for someone with frosty winters who wants to give palms a try for the first time.

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By Dewberry on Apr 21, 2021 8:28 PM, concerning plant: Rose (Rosa 'Valentine')

I planted this rose in the fall, and it bloomed into December! Then it started blooming again, like crazy, in mid-April.

Good color, very floriferous.

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By Dewberry on Apr 21, 2021 8:26 PM, concerning plant: Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)

Turk's Cap bloomed in December for me near Austin, TX, even after multiple frosts!

It's scraggly but beautiful, with bright true red flowers. They say it likes shade, but it seems to do well in a mostly sunny spot too. I've seen it in full shade, and it copes by getting extremely leggy.

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By Joy on Apr 21, 2021 8:32 AM, concerning plant: Lily (Lilium 'Nightrider')

Night Rider has the coolest growing habit and foliage I've ever seen on a lily. (see the photos I posted) It kind of reminds me of a spider or unusual daylily bloom. A really long one that looks like it's dancing. This lily is beautiful even before it blooms.

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