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Program On Plumeria Offered On March 26

by Dr. William M. Johnson
Galveston County Extension Agent - Horticulture

March 29, 2005

Gardening: Plumeria imagePlumeria is well known for its striking, intensely fragrant, and spiral-shaped blooms which appear at branch tips from around April through November. The flowers are treasured for their durability, fragrances, and range of colors. A program on "Plumerias in the Home Landscape" was held on Saturday, March 26, 2005, at 9:00 a.m. at the Galveston County Extension Office. Photo credit: William M. Johnson

Plumeria is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and delightful plants grown in our subtropical growing environment. Plumeria is also known as Frangipani and as the Hawaiian lei flower.

Aprogram on "Plumerias in the Home Landscape" was held on Saturday, March 26, 2005, at 9:00 a.m. at the Galveston County Extension Office at 5115 Hwy. 3 in Dickinson. The program was presented by Jacque Sobotik and Dr. Ron Abbott who are Certified Texas Master Gardeners and members of the Plumeria Society of America.

Topics discussed were proven varieties, proper fertilization, soil and light requirements, pruning, propagation methods, and methods of overwintering. The presentation was sponsored by the Galveston County Master Gardener Association as a public service to our county residents. The program was free-of-charge and required pre-registration (GALV3@wt.net or 281-534-3413, ext. 6) due to space limitations.

Plumeria can be maintained as a shrub or small tree grown in the garden or in a container on the patio. Plumeria is well known for its striking, intensely fragrant, and spiral-shaped blooms which appear at branch tips from around April through November.

There is absolutely nothing like the sweet fragrance of plumeria in flower, with fragrances of jasmine, citrus, spices, gardenia, and other delightful scents. These flowers are treasured for their durability, fragrances and colors of whites, yellows, pinks, reds, and multiple pastels.

The enchanting plumeria can provide a tropical addition to almost any landscape and deserve wider use.


Questions: My houseplants are "looking tired." When can I transplant them?

Answer: The months of March and April are the best time to transplant houseplants. They will reward you with lots of lush, healthy growth. You should select a good sterile potting mix, preferably one contain vermiculite and/or perlite.

Never recycle potting soil because doing so could cause both disease and insect problems. Before repotting check for insects. Treat with insecticidal soap for all soft bodied insects. Also, be sure to inspect the roots. Prune any roots that are mushy, desiccated or severely matted.

When selecting a pot for your plant, pick one that is only one size larger. For example, if your plant is in a 6-inch pot, go to an 8-inch pot. When repotting, you can add a slow release fertilizer to your potting mix. If liquid fertilization is used, wait several weeks until plants reestablish and follow-up with fertilization twice per month during the growing season.

Question: My lawn was mowed the day after it was sprayed with a herbicide for the control of broadleaf weeds. Did this have any effect on the weeds that were sprayed?

Answer: In most cases, it is recommended that there be at least a 3-day wait (a 7-10 day wait period is better) between spraying an over-the-top application of a weed killer and mowing the sprayed area. It takes this long for the chemical to penetrate the leaf and to begin translocating throughout the plant. The removal of the weed's leaves during mowing as you described will very likely reduce the effectiveness of the spraying.

Those weeds that are below the lawn mower blade and closer to the soil surface remain unaffected by the mowing. You will have to judge the effectiveness of the spraying by what type of weeds you have. You should see results within 2-3 weeks or the lack of it.

Question: I am new to this area and plan to start a garden. The soil is a heavy clay. What would you consider to be the most important step in improving this stuff?

Answer: Welcome to the club. The most common soil type in the area is clay-it's affectionately called gumbo clay. Some gardeners call it 12-inch clay-if you take 12 steps in it, you're likely to have 12 inches of soil adhering to each foot! Other refer to it as 12-pound clay-take 12 steps over it when wet and you gain 12 pounds.

Yes, it's tough, but certainly not impossible, to work with. Without a doubt, the addition of organic matter would be the most important thing a gardener can do to improve gumbo. Organic matter worked into the gumbo clay improves soil texture and thus makes the soil easier to work.

Organic matter also supplies many needed plant nutrients; improves the conditions for the development of beneficial organisms such as earthworms; slows leaching of nutrients by providing a holding system; and speeds excess water movement and drainage through the soil.

I have seen numerous gardeners who started out with tough gumbo and over time achieve a very workable and fertile soil. However, you must add organic matter on regular basis to achieve the same end results.

Lawn clippings, leaves, manure and shredded pine bark are excellent sources of organic matter. You should also consider starting a compost pile so you can recycle your garden and landscape waste into your gumbo clay soil.

Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County
Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University. Visit his web site at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm

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