Ask a Question forum: Delphinium & verbena survival after the floods in Houston Texas three weeks ago

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Name: Jax Peck
Houston, Texas (Zone 8b)
Colourful floers that can survive H
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Jacqui71
May 6, 2016 4:17 PM CST
I live in Houston & the nation witnessed the torrential floods we received three weeks ago. I reside in NW Harris County, one of the hardest hit areas. I had a new large delphinium, unfortunately it is dying. Is this common to zone 8–9 or was it the conditions we suffered, 60 mile an hour wind, torrential down pour 14" of water in 13 hours, etc.? I was reduced to tears watching all my new plants and the mulch $200 worth wash down the street. We did all we could to preserve them. I sasandbagged the fence so runoff water wouldn't add to the flooding in my flower bed. As a result, the water backed up into my house through the back door. Now I have damaged my floor. Regardless I was hell-bent on saving my baby garden. I even resorted to using a coffee cup to strain the excess water from my flower bed. There's nothing we could, do it was raining faster than we could bucket / coffee cup it out. I stood over my delphinium with an umbrella and a tarp for a good 30 minutes crying until my husband made me come inside the house.

Money aside it was hard enough watching your labor of love die in front of you. On the Eastside of my house my verbena had an odd web on it. I discover this a week after the floods. It reminds me of the web worms I've seen in pecan trees. The leaves had holes and it smelled sappy. What is this? This worm seems to have jumped onto my Althea, which was always an over budder, nonproducer of flowers to begin with, and my Lobilia seems to be effected as well. So does my clown mix. The leaves have holes in all The flowers I mentioned. I don't see any more webs though. What do I do? What type of chemical first and foremost do I use to save what little I have from web worm? I've had to contend with snakes, critters of all kinds. I just want my garden back. One last question, what are the best bedding flowers / plants that will survive Houston's bipolar weather? My hibiscus survived this storm. Perhaps I planted the delphinium on the wrong side of the house? My preference is bright blue, purples & pinks, can you suggest something sturdy enough to make it through August?
Thank you from a sad soggy Houstonian- Jacqui Peck
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
May 6, 2016 8:10 PM CST
Hi Jacqui, what a very sad story! I can relate a little bit as we had a day of unusual torrential rain here on Wednesday. My gutters overflowed and destroyed some potted plants I had just divided and re-potted and I was out there with an umbrella just like you, moving pots and trying to save stuff.

On the insects, the webs may be from spider mites. I would try just a simple soapy water spray first. 1/2tsp dish soap to a quart of water in a spray bottle, and spray all surfaces of the plants, especially the undersides of the leaves. Always go with the most non-toxic thing first, and soap is usually very effective. If it is web worms, (but that seems unlikely since they prefer the trees) the best solution is Bt, which you can buy as a concentrate at any nursery or big box store.

As far as delphiniums go, they are a hardy perennial, but not something well suited to your warm, humid Texas climate. Garden centers have no morals when it comes to selling you a plant that really won't do well where you are. Don't trust Wal-Mart, Lowe's or Home Depot to have good plants for your area, because they often send the same plants to Kansas and Texas and Florida with no regard for survival. Go to a good specialty nursery, and ask for tropical perennials and also native plants that have evolved to withstand the climate and the diseases and bugs that also live there.

Some of my favorites are gingers, and although they don't come in blue, there's a so-called "blue ginger" Dichorisandra that is a very easy plant. They all love lots of water and will even grow in standing water so you won't have to worry when the summer storms come along with another deluge. For the best dark purple that loves lots of water, Louisiana Iris 'Black Gamecock' is beautiful but blooms for just a short while in the spring. If you have a soggy corner, this is another one that will grow in very wet conditions. Plant them along an edge, and they'll hold your mulch from being washed away down the street next time. The best blue in my garden is a little, low-growing groundcover type plant called Blue Daze that will make a mound about 10in. tall and 2ft. wide and cover itself with little blue flowers from March through November. Oh, and of course there's plumbago - gorgeous light, bright blue flowers on a pretty, small shapely shrub.

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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