Plant of the Month-Ghost Plant

ghost-plant-thegardensleuth-com-2Ghost Plants get their name because of the pale appearance of their leaves.  They are succulent plants and like most succulents require very little water. 
 In the last year I have seen a real interest in succulent plants in the landscape.  Living in Central Texas and being very concerned about using drought tolerant plants in our landscapes, this one fits the bill.   If you are looking for a plant that is hardy, easy to grow and adds interest to your garden because of the color and cascading way it grows, then this plant is a great choice.
: Rosettes grow at the tips of the ever-lengthening stems creating cascading results.

Growth rate: Moderate 

Average size:  7-12" Tall and 6-12" Spread

Special Features: Leaves and cuttings, root effortlessly making Ghost plants one of the easiest succulents to propagate.

Foliage color: In partial shade foliage tends to be blueish gray, in full sun more pinkish gray.

Blooms:  In late spring producing sprays of star shaped yellow flowers.

Flower color: Yellow blossom.

Flower attributes: Attracts Bees

Garden style: ghost-plant-3 Xeriscape.

Garden Uses: Great for rock gardens, ground cover and does well in containers and hanging baskets.  Does best in full sun but will grow in filtered sun.   Cluster around boulders or use in rock gardens.   Versatile, hardy and easy to grow with good drainage.  Deer resistant.

Plant of the Month-Columbine

IMG_2642Columbines are graceful and full of charm, they bring lacy foliage and intricate, delicate flowers to the garden.  They prefer shade to part shade but will grow in full sun provided they receive sufficient moisture. Tolerant of a wide variety of soils as long as soils are moist, but well drained.

They are airy plants with attractive foliage (clover-like when young). Their height will vary upon the particular type, but on average, they reach around 2 feet in height (taller when in full bloom). They bloom in late spring to early summer and self-seed readily if you do not deadhead them.

IMG_2647 Characteristics: Perennial that does well in shade. Will reseed if seedheads are not pruned off in late may.

Growth rate: Moderate 

Average size: 2-3' Tall and 1-2' Spread

Special Features: In warmer climates can be a semi-evergreen. Can be native to many areas in North America.

Foliage color: Bright green to gray green clover like when young.

Blooms:  In late spring early summer

Flower color: White red, yellow, blue, pink, salmon, bi-color or purple blossom.

Flower attributes: Attracts hummingbirds

Garden style: Cottage andZenner residence 3 Xeriscape.

Garden Uses: Great for shade gardens because there are very few blooming perennial that do well in shade.   Cluster around boulders or use in cut flower arrangements.  Can be used in rock gardens or border plants along walks.  Versatile, hardy and easy to grow and with several colors of blooms to choose from.  Deer resistant.

Plant of the Month- Sky Pencil Yaupon Holly

sky pencil 2Sky Pencil Yaupon Holly is a narrow, columnar in form plant, that is just right for small spaces. Being an evergreen, it has dark green foliage year round, adding additional interest in the  fall with purple berries. Outstanding plant for vertical accent, perfect for entryways or privacy screening. Maintains it's shape easily with minimal trimming. Grows well in average, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide variety of soils ranging from moist to dry and from sandy to clay. However, it prefers light, moist, acidic soils with good drainage. Established plants have some tolerance for drought. Plants may struggle with the heat and humidity of summers in the deep South in USDA Zones 8-9. 

CharacteristicsSky Pencil 2: Small glossy, spineless, deep green leaves (to 3/4" long) which are attractive all year.  Additional small white flowers which bloom in late spring (May-June) and black rounded inconspicuous berries ( to 1/4” diameter) which mature in fall, adds interest through out the seasons. Sky Pencil Holly is low maintenance and easy to grow.

'Sky Pencil' is an exceedingly narrow, and grows in a vertical, pencil-like column to 10' tall but only 2-3' wide. Planted in a large container, it makes an elegant, formal appearance.

Growth habit: Narrow, columnar/upright form

Growth rate: Moderate/Fast

Average size: Reaches 10 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide.

Special Features: Tall and slender , moderately fast growing

Foliage color: Shiny Dark Green

Blooms:  In late spring

Flower color: White

Flower attributes: Very Little Inconspicuous

Garden style: Formal and Xeriscape.

Garden Uses: Great for Privacy along property lines where space is limited, or small gardens.  Works well in containers and is perfect on either side of an entryways.  If you need some neighborly screening or just want to highlight some vertical architecture, like an entry, this is a great plant to use.


Plant Description- Firecracker Plant


firecracker plant, perennialFirecracker Plant has clusters of scarlet red or white tubular flowers resembling small firecrackers that provide reliable color from spring through fall. Perennial with slender, fern-like stems that start out straight, then fall over into long, showy cascades. A must-have for butterfly and hummingbird gardens. Great for cascading over retaining walls and out of large  containers.  Needs partial shade to full sun. Water regularly but will tolerate slight drought conditions.  Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

firecracker plant 2Growth habit: Weeping

Growth rate: Fast

Average landscape size: Reaches 3 to 5 ft. tall and wide.

Special features: Attracts Butterflies and Humming birds, fast growing

Foliage color: Green

Blooms: Spring through fall.

Flower color: Red or White

Flower attributes: Long Bloom Season, Showy Flowers

Garden style: Cottage, Xeriscape and Informal

 Care Information:

Provide moderately rich, well drained soil.  Will grow in full sun, however, does best with part shade in hot climates. Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Can survive in slight drought conditions.  Fertilize regularly. Deadhead spent flowers and prune in late winter or early spring.  This is a fun burst of color to add to your garden.  They do get rather large so give them room to cascade and you won't be disappointed with this perennial.

Lupine An Old fashion Favorite

Lupinus fabaceae

Lupine 2Lupines are a wonderful old-fashioned flower that can be either an annual or perennial, with many varieties available.  They bear very large, showy flower spikes covered with unusual florets on long, sturdy stems.  Colors include white, red, pink, blue, yellow, lilac, violet, and apricot.  Plants are attractive with large  blue-green leaves, and they usually bloom in June-July.

Easy, quick growing Lupines rise to a stately 3 feet, and prefer cool weather climates.  If grown in warm summers, they can grow with some success in light shade and with regular waterings.

Lupines are great in flower vases, alone by themselves, or in arrangements.

Lupine plants like full sun to partial shade.  They will grow quickly to a height of 2 to 3 feet.  Flower blooms from late spring through early summer.

Lupine will do well in average soils and in cool weather.  The soil should be loose and lime free(they do not like lime).  Keep the soil moist to feed their quick growth.  Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week.  Adding a general purpose fertilizer once a month before blooming will result in bigger plants and blooms.

lupine 3Tip: Apply a thick layer of mulch, to help retain soil moisture, cool roots, and for winter protection in colder regions.

Deadhead spent blooms to prolong the blooming period.

Insect and Disease: Insects and disease problems are not a major problem, however if problems  do occur, treat early with  insect repellents and fungicide.

Encore Azalea

Name: Encore Azalea

Latin: Rhododendrom

Height: 2'-6'

Width: 2'-4'

Their bright green leaf color throughout most seasons followed by some change of colors in the fall make them a welcome addition to your landscape with exposure to morning sun or high filtered shade.  Their multi-season flower display makes them one of the most popular landscape shrubs available.    Easy to grow but does need regular watering and thrives in rich organic soils. Encore Azeleas are not deer resistant.

Encore Azalea 4

Encore Azalea

An investment in your landscape pays great dividends. Proper landscaping adds up to 15 percent to a home's value.  The cost of landscaping pays for itself five to ten times over the maturity of a landscape.

Shrubs are considered one of the best investments in a landscape, so why not plant a shrub that will add beautiful color through out multiple seasons.  Encore Azalea offers many colors and sizes to choose from. The only hard part will be deciding which one to plant!


Salvia greggii 2 thegardensleuth.comName: Autumn Sage or Cherry Sage

Latin: Salvia greggii

Height: 2'

Width: 2'

Zone: 7a

Salvia greggii is a popular, small, evergreen perennial, growing natively in rocky soils in Central, West and South Texas, and Mexico.

The leaves are small, green and very aromatic. There are many varieties that bloom red, pale yellow, orange, salmon, fuchsia, purple, red-violet, burgundy, some with white variegation of leaves or flowers.Salvia Greggii Garden 8

It is valued for its adaptability to garden soils, its very long blooming season and as a magnet for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.  Autumn sage is usually not winter hardy or evergreen in cooler climates.

Blooms best in full sun and will bloom from late spring to first frost and beyond.  Very hardy and easy to grow, deer resistant, heat and drought tolerant.   A great plant to add interest in the garden year around.



Debutante Camellia thegardensleuth.comName: Debutante Camellia

Latin Name: Camellia japonica 'Debutante'

Height: 15’

Width: 7’


Notes: Important factors in choosing camellias include size, bloom time, bloom color, sun exposure, and cold hardiness. Camellia japonica selections grow larger on average, and bloom winter-spring.

Debutante Camellia is a burst of cotton candy pink blooms in late winter... when all other plants are dormant and dull.  These deliciously fragrant blooms are reminiscent of fluffy, pink ballerina tutus. The multi-layered blooms are densely packed with petals and have a strong resemblance to a rose. These large evergreens shrubs are wonderful for specimen shrubs, or screening unwanted views. Which is why camellias are so popular in gardens. Best grown in acidic soils with filtered sun.

Easy to grow, the Debutante Camellia is cherished by expert and amateur gardeners alike.

It is drought-tolerant, low-maintenance,  deer resistant and easy to care for-making it an unbeatable choice for southern gardeners.

BONUS - December Plants of the Month

Yuletide Camellia

yuletide cammellia 2The end of the year is filled with celebration but there is little to celebrate out in the garden.  Plants are either dormant or dead.  Very little is going on in the garden; however, the Yuletide Camellia is the one bright spot.

Additional information about Yuletide Camellia:

This is a wonderful evergreen plant that makes a great hedge or specimen tree. It is also low maintenance.  But the most rewarding thing about this plant is that when everything outside is cold and dismal, Yuletide Camellia's bright red blooms will bring great color to your garden and will always lift your spirit and brighten your day!

Santa Clause Dahlia

Santa Clause DahliaChristmas in July?  Yes,  it's possible with this spectacular Santa Claus Dahlia! The enormous and colorful blooms are show stoppers that will demand attention in any garden.

Additional information about the Santa Clause Dahlia:

Santa Clause Dahlias are a fun and interesting plant to add to your garden.  However, they do not just grow anywhere, so check with your local garden centers for the best results.  If they do not grow in your area, then try them in a container.  What a great way to celebrate Christmas in July!

Lanai Candy Cane Verbena

candy cane verbenaLanai Candy Cane Verbena is new as of 2013. This Verbena brings fun, candy striped color to your garden.  And if you think it looks good enough to eat, then you're in luck as the blossoms are edible.

More information about Candy Cane Verbena:

For an easy, fun to grow annual with very showy flowers try the new Lanai Candy Cane Verbena in your garden.  Remember, if you wish to use in a yummy summer salad the blooms are edible.

Yaupon Holly

Ilex vomitoria

YauponHolly_WSYaupon Holly makes a great specimen tree.  And if your not sure what a specimen tree is, it's a tree that will grow about 20’-25' tall. Specimen trees are also referred to as ornamental trees.  Crape Myrtle, Rose of Sharon, Vitex and Lilac trees are some of the more popular ornamental or specimen trees used in landscapes. Ornamental trees are used to draw attention to a certain area or highlight an architectural features.  But they are most commonly used to add height to certain areas in the landscape like corners of a home.

There are two good reasons to use Yaupon Holly tree in your landscape and they are…

First reason is that it is native to most of the south-eastern part of the United States.  It is very adaptable to most landscape conditions.  It does well in the Houston area where soils are more acidic and it rains. It does equally well in the Austin/Hill Country where soils are more alkaline and drought is an ongoing condition.

The second reason I love this tree is for winter color.  The berries are bright red, spectacular and a much needed source of color when all else is dormant in the winter months. I love to cut several branches At Christmas time to add to my wreaths or any Christmas arrangements and the berries will last the entire Christmas season. The berries also attract wildlife and provide food for some of the birds.

yaupon_featuredFemale varieties are the only trees that will produce berries so make sure you are getting a female tree.  I think it is best to buy in the spring when you can see the blooms of the small white flowers or in the winter when you can see the berries on the trees.

Yaupon Holly is an evergreen tree with small shiny green leaves without the typical spines that most Holly trees have. If left natural it will look more like a large shrub but most are trained into a multi-trunk trees.  They can get rather wide at about 10’-15’ across, so if you use them close to your home make sure you leave plenty of space for them to grow, however, they are easy to keep trimmed.

They will grow in sun or shade and look good in gardens that are formal or natural. There are many shrubs that are compatible with the Yaupon Holly so don't be afraid to add the very hardy ornamental tree to your landscape design and enjoy the benefits of a Yaupon Holly year around.