Newspaper Articles


By Shan Wheeler, Master Gardener Trainee

Insects are my “thing”… I love bees and butterflies (but who doesn’t?) and plant my garden to attract them. Most people try to prevent and spray insecticides to ward off insects, but there’s no need to be paranoid because some are good guys! You’ve heard about beneficial insects like Lady Bugs, but the stealthy, alien-out-of-this-world-looking Praying Mantis is one of my favorites. I once noticed what I thought was a new type of miniature mantis: light-green, perky with an arrogant, strutting attitude – cute-as-a-bug! (sorry…). After research, I found that that little guy was the nymph stage of the Praying Mantis.

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By Carl White, Master Gardener and Bird Enthusiast

There are very few gardeners that do not like having hummingbirds in their garden, and even have certain plants for them.  They are starting to arrive and once they find a bountiful "cafe" they come often and return year after year. You often hear the hummers before you see them.  Then, you will start to see them at your flowers or your backyard feeder.  To sustain their supercharged metabolisms, hummingbirds must eat once every 10 to 15 minutes and visit between 1,000 and 2,000 flowers per day.  Some of their favorite flowers to visit for nectar are Delphiniums (very rich in nectar), Honeysuckle


By Roger Corzine, Master Gardener

  The Easter Lily, Lilium longiflorum, is one of those plants we specifically associate with a particular holiday in the same way as the Poinsettia with Christmas. This scientific name can be loosely translated as “long-flowered lily.”  This  flower is shaped like the bell of a trumpet in that it has a tubular body that flares into six petals like the bell of a trumpet. In the early 1900’s most of our lily bulbs came from Japan but that ended abruptly in 1941 with the Pearl Harbor attack. At present, most of our lily bulbs are produced in a small area of northern California and the adjoining

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Carol Siddall, Master Gardener

When we think of summer color, very few of us think bulbs.  We love the spring bulbs like tulips and daffodils, but summer bulbs can add interest after the spring bulbs are gone. Summer bulbs can fill the gaps in your garden when early flowering perennials have finished blooming.  Like their sisters the spring bulbs, summer bulbs are incredibly easy to grow.  Some like the shade and others will like the hot summer sun.  Dr. William Welch, Texas A & M AgriLife Extension horticulturist says, "bulbs are a good fit for today's garden because they are low water and low care plants". These bulbs wi



Gwin Jamerson, Master Gardener

Ornamental grasses can be used in many places in the landscape. After all, grasses grow here naturally. Ornamental grasses add variety and interest with their graceful flower clusters and plumes, moving in the wind. They vary in size from less than two feet to over six feet tall. Using the wisdom of planting the right plant in the right place, consider the different types of grasses useful in the landscape. For example, last year at the Permian Basin Master Gardener Plant Sale, I bought 3 zebra grass (Miscanthus sinenis ‘Zebrinus’) in quart sized pots. They were just coming out of dormancy.  They were so cu


by Shan Wheeler

What is more beautiful than butterflies flitting from flower to flower? Soon the Orange Sulphurs, Painted Ladies, Swallowtails, Monarchs, Viceroys and more will be emerging or migrating back into Texas. When they do, they will need food and to seek their chosen plants on which to lay their eggs. Various “nectar” plants provide the butterfly sustenance. “Host” plants are more specific depending upon the butterfly. Eggs are laid on a specific host plant(s) that, when the eggs hatch, will immediately provide the tiny larval (caterpillar) with plenty of its favorite food while it grows through its stages into an adult butterfly (only 9 to 14 day

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By Debbie Roland, Compost Specialist

Companion planting is a good way to increase the flavor or deter pests.   Here are a few examples of how and what to plant together. Beans and peas increase nitrogen in soil and can be sown for harvest or as a cover crop.  Don’t pull the plants out when the season is over, simply dig them back into the soil to replace nitrogen.  Swiss chard, kale, lettuce and spinach all require extra nitrogen and can be planted with beans and peas. Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives repel cabbage worms and aphids.  They can be planted with cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots and peppers

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By Carol Siddall Master Gardener

I love asparagus. I grew up in El Paso, and my mother had a huge bed of asparagus. We ate it, gave it away and ate more. Back in the late ’50s, El Paso was known for its sand storms, so needless to say, no matter how many times we washed it, there was some grit. I cook it often, only now I have to buy it. Asparagus is a perennial plant. Some grow from seed, but most prefer to start with one- or two-year-old plants. These can sometimes be bought at garden centers, but always through mail order specialists. Growing your own asparagus is an investment of time and patience that pays off. Plant the root crowns in well-drained

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Linda Cranfill, Master Gardener

Last spring the Permian Basin saw an amazing rose bloom due to the mild winter.   Consider adding roses to your landscape this year.  Roses now being produced for the public market are easy to grow and have easy care.  Some are drought tolerant and bloom more than once a year.  They also live in companionship with a great many perennials and annuals so that you can have color all summer and fall with a little planning. First to consider is the location of the rose.  Roses in West Texas do best with morning sun and some afternoon shade.  Some can do well in full sun.  Many grow in containers with great success.  It all depe

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