Texas Gardening forum: Texas in hot summer

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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Jul 5, 2017 3:26 PM CST
You never know. It's been, as Texas summers go, a pretty nice summer in my part of the usually hot, arid, windy part of Texas. A lot of San Antonio/Houston/Austin/east Texas style humidity because of the timing of the always welcome rains. Things are green. Things are growing. The mosquitoes are exceptionally happy, as are the toads and water frogs. I can live with all of it as it is now, but keep expecting to return to hot, windy and dry conditions at anytime. Because it has still been hot, I hear lots of complaining about the humidity nodding . Here are a few things growing for me.

This white portulaca. I extracted all the white ones from a mixed bunch sold as bedding plants several years ago and isolated them. I tried to overwinter them alive, but by the time spring rolled around those plants died. However there were clearly seeds germinating which led to me doing my current process. I bring them inside for the winter and just let them die and then just crush the foliage and let the seeds do their thing. This is the 3rd year for this container. Doing the same thing with a couple of other containers of different colors, but this is my favorite.
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I'm growing a weed, probably. Maybe a turnip? This plant was in a container of fennel. I'm still growing a plant that turned out to be Purslane that was in with a Bougainvillea I acquired. I do that with strays in containers sometimes, but haven't always been successful growing them. Since they are unknowns most of the time, it's just sort of a guess as to what the plant requirements for them need to be. This started in a small container and got unhappy. It's doing better at the moment and now gets lots of sun. It will tell you quick when it gets a little thirsty so it may be outgrowing the new container. Ugly, but I'm still curious for the time being.
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A new Aloe that was given to me. I may try to get a better identification over on the cactus/succulent forum. It's a lot bigger plant than the old heirloom Aloe that's been in the family for all my memory. The folks growing this had it planted outside in corner by the street and driveway and Bermuda grass had invaded so they were wanting rid of it completely. I obligingly removed a couple for them. They have milder winters than I do, so mine are in pots. I may try one in the ground since I have two. I saw some old bloom stalks with lots of candelabra branching, but I haven't seen the blooms. They described them as orange and now this one is going to grow one. I think that may help with the identification. One thing it did right away was get stiffer spines along the edges. Those things mean business. In the colony where these were extracted, they were much softer. It could be the time of year, but I rather think it's the harsher sunlight they get here. Looking forward to seeing it bloom.
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I wonder why more folks don't grow Crossandra. This is the 3rd year here for this plant. At the end of the summer last year squirrels or rats or something repeatedly got up into the plant, so it was badly damaged when it came in over winter. I wasn't sure how it would do and was afraid to cut it back. It looked better last year, but it's sure not bad now considering how it looked when I brought it back outside this spring. It's been doing this for a month now.
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All that rain and warm humidity aren't hurting the 'Macho' fern. It has now grown to mostly cover the hook and hanging cord of the container. It's getting denser and denser with new growth uncurling and growing longer and longer. It's a monster. I still don't know how I'm going to handle it this winter, but so far, it's still my favorite plant this summer. Years ago when I lived in Austin I went on a long camping trip traveling up to Canada and back home by way of Washington and Oregon. On the route back through Olympia, WA on the way to Oregon, I saw what looked like a small backhoe digging up ferns like Texan ranchers do to Mesquites. Plants I would have given a lot to be able to grow were treated as weedy nuisances. I can sort of understand that by watching this one grow. It's hard to even get a photo because it's so big and there's not enough room to back away and get it all in the frame.
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Donald
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Critters Allowed Region: Arizona Xeriscape Greenhouse Annuals
Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad Adeniums Orchids Tropicals Plumerias
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plantmanager
Jul 5, 2017 4:01 PM CST
You have things looking very good for summer in Texas, Donald! Your crossandra and ferns are gorgeous! I grow crossandra in my greenhouse and love it but don't think it would survive outdoors in AZ or NM. We have next to no humidity.
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Jul 5, 2017 8:12 PM CST
Karen @plantmanager
The amount of summer humidity has been really unusual here. I'm not far from Abilene, TX and that is more similar to New Mexico than it is to Fort Worth, e.g. We have days strung together where the surface has dried out and all the little pockets holding water are gone and then the humidity starts dropping rapidly. We've just had a lot of weather systems that are not characteristic come through to raise it back up. I seem to have a penchant for tropical, water hog plants. They actually manage the excessive heat better than many plants if the water can be provided. The crossandra is always in among them and I suspect the quantity of plants around raises the humidity in the immediate area. When the temps get hot and hotter, there are some plants that thrive on water every day, so other plants get some benefit in a secondary way. Too, nearly all my plants grow under the canopy of oak trees or near and the trees transpire a lot of moisture when it's hot.
Donald
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Critters Allowed Region: Arizona Xeriscape Greenhouse Annuals
Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad Adeniums Orchids Tropicals Plumerias
Image
plantmanager
Jul 5, 2017 8:19 PM CST
You're lucky to have the trees for shade. I love tropicals too, and can provide the constant water. I have a daughter near Austin who loves to garden. She has much more humidity than we do. I've given her cuttings of many of my plants, and they are growing better for her.
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Jul 5, 2017 8:28 PM CST
Yeah, I love the trees. And I'm right on the western edge where they essentially don't grow. Less than 20 miles and you pretty much leave them behind going west. I still wonder if the drought moved that edge a bit further east. The death toll on old growth big trees in this area was huge and it seems only Mesquites grow to replace them. They are still dying. I'm told that they continue to die as long as 5 years after the official end of a drought due to its effects. Seems to be true. On this place I've had more of the old oak trees die or just not put out this spring. I hate it.
Donald
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Critters Allowed Region: Arizona Xeriscape Greenhouse Annuals
Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad Adeniums Orchids Tropicals Plumerias
Image
plantmanager
Jul 5, 2017 8:32 PM CST
We have years old mesquites here in AZ, but they are dying off too. I think the weather has changed so much that the plants that used to thrive, are dying. It is scary. Our place in NM used to be much cooler than AZ, but now it's tracking the AZ temps. We are often in the triple digits now, when 90's used to be our highs.
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
Image
needrain
Jul 5, 2017 8:36 PM CST
Yes. It is unsettling.
Donald
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Critters Allowed Region: Arizona Xeriscape Greenhouse Annuals
Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad Adeniums Orchids Tropicals Plumerias
Image
plantmanager
Jul 5, 2017 8:55 PM CST
I just noticed that my Agave Victoria Regina that has been happy for 10 years, is now looking yellow and looks like it's dying out. I have it in NM too, and it's fine there. I'm thinking the AZ climate is just changing rapidly, and plants aren't able to make the change.
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Name: Audrey
Central Texas (Zone 8a)
Organic Gardener Keeper of Poultry Keeps Horses Butterflies Hummingbirder Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Esperanza
Jul 6, 2017 11:27 AM CST
Nice plants Donald. I love the fern. I do not do as well with ferns so I really enjoy seeing other peoples pictures. Your aloe looks like a soap aloe.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
Image
needrain
Jul 6, 2017 12:34 PM CST
Esperanza said: Nice plants Donald. I love the fern. I do not do as well with ferns so I really enjoy seeing other peoples pictures. Your aloe looks like a soap aloe.

The soap aloe looks like a good candidate. The size matches so far. Now that I have bloom stalk pushing up, I'll probably wait for it to try and see if I can get a better I.D.
Donald
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Salvias Herbs Bluebonnets Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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LindaTX8
Jul 20, 2017 2:19 PM CST
You're having a different summer than we're having. Hot and dry here. Sometimes hot, humid and dry. Few days ago three rain cells went by near us. We heard plenty rumbling, even smelled that rain smell. But not a drop of rain...it missed us. Plants are dying out on the property.
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
Image
needrain
Jul 22, 2017 12:10 PM CST
The rain has gone away and things are really looking parched now. I expect the fire hazard has probably doubled or tripled in the last two weeks. The temps have mostly been in the upper 90sF. At least they're under triple digits so far. Getting harder to keep the containers with enough water. Some of my current things growing.

I'm happy with with the Tradescantia spathacea aka 'Oyster Plant' seen here behind the Tradescantia pallida. I'm liking the combo, but I'm really liking how the spathacea is looking. It wasn't a pretty sight when it got moved outside this spring and I wasn't hopeful. It seems a bit difficult to grow and I haven't been able to propagate it. It got put in a new larger container and clearly has grown. Maybe when it's time to do that again I can split some off. Or maybe that will kill it, I don't know. This is the 3rd year for it, so I haven't killed it yet but it seems so temperamental it won't surprise me if it shuts down one of these days.
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In July 2015 I picked up this orchid from Wal-Mart for a dollar. It was the first time I'd ever tried an orchid so I expected it to die. Here it is blooming again. It seems quite willing to try and bloom, but this is the 4th attempt to do it successfully this year. The buds kept drying up and falling off and then it would branch and try again. I think that might have been caused because I kept moving from indoors to outdoors and then back in. A cycle that got repeated many times due to the odd weather. It didn't seem to appreciate the change in the air. I thought it was going to be a failure, but then new buds formed yet one more time. Not as many - only 4 buds each on the two bloom stalks and there were at least 3 times that many buds on the first couple of tries. Now that it's been here a while, it doesn't get the attention I gave it early on. It's still in the sheep muzzle I fixed up for a container. I can't tell it's slacking off and until I can, I'll leave it be.
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The new Aloe that was given to me still is working on blooming. It's nearly there. Audrey @Esperanza does this still look like a soap aloe to you? The stalk is about 40" tall now and the buds are coloring but none open yet. I hope it's not a monocarpic plant because there aren't any offsets showing.
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Donald
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jul 22, 2017 12:37 PM CST
@needrain - Yes, we did have an exceptionally nice May, June and 1st 2 weeks of July. But boy howdy it's dang hot now! We've tiptoed into the 100s here. Being in a city with so much 'hardscape' and cars, etc. probably accounts for some of that. So anyway, I'm also having trouble keeping potted (note the 'ted') plants watered and alive. And yet I keep getting tempted to get more! Please help!

I recently had to have work done on my magnolia and 2 red oaks. Don't know if I've already posted these pictures so don't look if you've seen them.

This is the saga of my Broke Back Oak.

Started with:
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Curiousity made me look closer.

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It came from here:

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And ended up here:

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Name: Audrey
Central Texas (Zone 8a)
Organic Gardener Keeper of Poultry Keeps Horses Butterflies Hummingbirder Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Esperanza
Jul 22, 2017 12:47 PM CST
Yep, still looks like a soap to me. It is not monocarpic. You will get to enjoy years of blooms from that beauty. I left one outside last years winter and only the tips got burned. I have also used the leaves for fire ant stings and it does give some relief. I have not actually used it for soap yet but it does lather. I also ate some one time I had heart burn and it worked just as well as aloe vera does for that. It is one of my favorite aloes. Pretty and useful!
Name: Audrey
Central Texas (Zone 8a)
Organic Gardener Keeper of Poultry Keeps Horses Butterflies Hummingbirder Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Esperanza
Jul 22, 2017 12:55 PM CST
It is so hot the color has left this blade of grass a creamy white. I think the color got up and moved up north for some relief. Blinking Hilarious! Earlier today I was enjoying how cool 95 degrees felt compared to the 106 it got to yesterday. It is starting to look like August this year will be pretty miserable.
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Name: Audrey
Central Texas (Zone 8a)
Organic Gardener Keeper of Poultry Keeps Horses Butterflies Hummingbirder Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Esperanza
Jul 22, 2017 12:58 PM CST
Flower child, sure glad it ended up in a nice pile of mulch and not on any ones head. Those red oaks can be really dangerous. We have a lot on our land. Pretty in the fall but are super frail.It is not a tree I want to walk under while it is windy.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
Image
needrain
Jul 22, 2017 1:21 PM CST
@tx_flower_child
Love that the broken limb turned into chips. I have so much debris here that I wish could be run through a chipper. It really helps on my rocky clay nob.
Donald
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jul 22, 2017 1:34 PM CST
@needrain
Yes, I definitely needed mulch. The pile also includes stuff that they already had with them in their truck. I was a little disappointed that it wasn't ground up a wee bit finer but the larger stuff is breaking down to reasonable sizes pretty fast. Wish I had more of it. It's the least I could get for the $$$ I had to shell out. But still worth the money because the magnolia grandiflora that covers my entire front yard was sick, my 2 large red oaks needed work, and the tree biz is extremely dangerous often deadly.
Name: Audrey
Central Texas (Zone 8a)
Organic Gardener Keeper of Poultry Keeps Horses Butterflies Hummingbirder Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Esperanza
Jul 23, 2017 11:47 AM CST
@needrain Thank You! for the acorns.

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