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Plant of the Month

The plants listed on this page were selected by the members of the Allen Garden Club at their monthly meetings. Look for these plants at your local nurseries to grow in your own home gardens.

December 2022: Kalanchoe Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Kalanchoe is popular with gardeners for a variety of reasons. Houseplant growers enjoy this succulent for its long-lasting brilliant red, pink, orange or white bloom heads that appear above the waxy green leaves in the cold of winter. Those in warmer climates appreciate its drought-tolerance, making it great in containers. Here’s what you need to know before you grow this plant.

Kalanchoe is fairly easy to grow indoors when placed in the right conditions. It grows 12 inches wide by 18 inches tall.  Be sure to place it in well-draining soil. The flowers are long-lasting, but once they fade, you can trim the heads to better enjoy the succulent foliage. Lots of bright sunlight will keep this plant healthy throughout the summer months, whether it’s growing indoors or in a container on your patio.

November 2022: Fall Aster Symphyotrichum cordifolium

Fall aster creates dazzling purple mounds in the fall season. It slowly colonizes by stolons, so thin regularly to control it. The plant may "open up" if it gets to top heavy so it is a good idea to keep it thick by pruning it back by no more than half in June. After it goes dormant, wait to cut back to the basal rosette in late fall, early winter. This plant is a favorite of native bees.

Plant fall aster in full sun in soil that has been amended with organic matter. It is drought tolerant once established and provides beautiful lavender flowers from late October until the first hard freeze in November.

October 2022: Autumn Sage Salvia greggii

Autumn sage is native to the Texas hill country and south, but performs well in gardens across the state. It prefers full sun and attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. It blooms during most of the growing season. It is drought tolerant and comes in a variety of colors, but most commonly found in red, pink, purple, white, apricot, blue, yellow and bi-color. As with most plants, it prefers soil that has been amended with organic matter and is well-draining. Wait until the second year after planting to prune it back in late winter by about half. Space your plants about 18-24 inches apart.

September 2022: Plant of Barbados Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Pride of Barbados, is a member of the pea family (Fabaceae). It is referred to by other names including Barbados Flowerfence, Peacock Flower, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Dwarf Flamboyan, Caesalpinia, and Dwarf Poinciana. The species name pulcherrima literally means “very pretty” and this plant definitely lives up to the name. The blooms of Pride of Barbados are incredible with terminal flower clusters showing an orange-red with a tinge of gold on the edges. Each flower is composed of five showy petals with very prominent six inch long red stamens. Plant Pride of Barbados in full sun. It is hardy from zones 8-11 and grows 6-10 feet tall. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Plant it in well-draining soil. It tolerates high temperatures and drought once it is established.

August 2022: Turk's Cap Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

This spreading shrub, often as broad as high, grows 4-5 ft., sometimes reaching up to 9 ft. Bright-red, pendant, hibiscus-like flowers never fully open, their petals overlapping to form a loose tube with the staminal column protruding, said to resemble a Turkish turban, hence its most common name, Turk's Cap. It grows well in shade to full sun.

June 2022: Plumeria Plumeria

Plumeria should be grown in full, or mostly full sun for best blooms. Keep your plumeria in containers. This makes it easy to provide protection on frosty winter nights, which is necessary in most parts of the state. However, plumeria also requires perfect drainage to succeed. Using a potting soil formulated for cactus gives plumeria the type of soil conditions it wants. A 3-5-gallon pot is OK start with, but eventually will need to be moved to a larger container. Locate the planter where the top of the plant gets full sun for most of the day. You will want to keep your container manageable so you can move your plant indoors or to a protected area over the winter. Fertilize your plumeria every couple of weeks from April through August. Cease fertilizing to allow summer's soft growth to harden a bit. If you live anywhere in Texas where winter temperatures regularly dip below 20 degrees, bring the potted plant indoors for the season. The plant will become semi-dormant until spring.

May 2022: Iris Iris

Iris is the toughest and most dependable spring blooming plant you can grow. The most commonly grown iris is the bearded or Dutch iris. It grows best in full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight) and has low to medium water demand. They can grow to 3 feet tall and spread about 2 feet. You can find iris in lavender/purple, yellow, white pink, burgundy, peach, and many other color combinations. Their bloom period starts in March and continues into May. It is an adapted plant and the leaves are evergreen so adds a nice vertical Plant your iris in well-drained soil amended with compost. Plant them far enough apart to give them room for good air circulation. Do not mulch and keep the tops of their rhizomes slightly exposed with the roots below the soil. Cut the bloom stalks off after they have faded.

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April 2022: Texas Gold Columbine Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Hinckleyana’

This columbine is a Texas native from the Big Bend region and a Texas Superstar plant. It has large yellow blooms and great heat tolerance. This cool season perennial can add a blast of color to a shady area in the garden. The neat rounded growth habit will work well in a formal landscape or a mass planting will provide a spectacular spring show. Plant in an area that has excellent drainage and rich soil (lots of organic matter). For clay soils, create a raised bed to avoid the roots sitting in a pool of water. This columbine will do well under a deciduous tree where it will be shaded in the heat of summer, but receives some sunlight during the winter growing months. Texas Gold will do well if receives one inch of water (from irrigation or rain) every 7 to 10 days so the soil stays moist. Apply a slow-release, high nitrogen fertilizer in October, December and February. Cut back dead growth. The Columbine will come back in the spring and can be propagated through division every couple of years and will easily grow from seed. 

March 2022: Daffodil Narcissus

Daffodils are one of the easiest spring bulbs to grow in the north Texas area. Plant your daffodil bulbs in the fall when they become available in the nurseries through as late as mid-December. Plant the daffodil bulbs about 3-6” deep and 4-5” apart, placing them in the ground with their pointy ends up. Water well once and wait for spring. After the daffodils have bloomed don't cut off the foliage. Leave it until it's completely withered and yellow, then remove.

Avoid planting the daffodils in a straight line. Instead, plant them in groupings by digging a hole about 18-inches across. Toss the bulbs in the hole and set them upright where they land (adjust the spacing if they all land next to each other). Then cover the bulbs and water.

February 2022: Lenten Rose Hellebores orientalis

The Lenten rose is a perennial flowering plant and species of hellebore in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, native to Greece and Turkey. The leaves of the Lenten rose are thick, leathery, and deep green. It offers nice texture for shade. It has graceful, nodding flowers. Plant Lenten rose in rich, well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant once established.

November 2021: Chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum is a lovely plant to add fall color to containers or in the garden. They are available in our area starting in September and will provide colorful blooms until the first freeze in November. Chrysanthemum are a member of the Compositae family and are available in a wide range of brilliant colors, shapes and sizes. First cultivated in China over 6 centuries ago, this type of daisy was initially grown as an herb associated with the power of life. The chrysanthemum flowers range from dazzling whites to deep bronzes, and the hardy plants are highlighted with full, dark green leaves.

Chrysanthemum flowers look like they have a multitude of petals, but each individual petal is actually a small floret. There are two different types of florets: ray and disc florets. Ray florets are what we traditionally see as the petals, while the disc florets create the center buttons. When the florets are all clustered together, they give us what we know and love as a mum bloom.

October 2021: Autumn Sage Salvia greggii

Autumn sage is a herbaceous perennial plant native to a long, narrow area from southwest Texas, through the Chihuahuan Desert and into the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, typically growing in rocky soils at elevations from 5,000 to 9,000 ft.Autumn sage is at home in Collin County as it is in its native environment. Plant it where it receives 6 or more hours of full sun in well-draining, rich soil. Many people keep their autumn sage from sprawling by pruning it twice a year. Prune it to 4 inches in late winter. New growth will emerge providing

you with a flush of spring blooms. Cut it back by half in August to encourage a second flush of blooms during the fall. Autumn sage is available in a variety of colors to fit onto any color scheme in your garden. You can find it in red, pink, white, purple, orange, yellow, and more recently available in blue. Autumn sage attracts a variety of pollinators including butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden.

September 2021: Turk's Cap Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Turk's cap Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii grows to 4 to 6 feet and wide and will grow in full sun to part shade. Make sure you plant this native perennial where you want it because after about 3 years or more, it is impossible to dig up because the size of the large tap roots. Hummingbirds love the flowers and when the fruits appear in late fall, they are eaten by songbirds. The most common color is red, but there are also pink and white varieties available at nurseries. It can be cut back to just a few inches above the ground in late winter to promote spring growth.

August 2021: Shasta Daisy Leucanthemum × superbum

Shasta daisies are a tough garden plant that grow best in part to full sun. They do best if planted in soil that has excellent drainage. They start blooming in June and continue blooming into August if they are dead-headed through the summer. They do spread, so divide your daisies every 3-5 years.

May 2021: Lance-leaf Tickseed Coreopsis Coreopsis lanceolata

Lance-leaf Tickseed Coreopsis Coreopsis lanceolata grows in small clumps but forms extensive colonies. It is 1-2 1/2 feet tall and has leaves 3-4 inches long, opposite, sometimes alternate near the top where the leaves are fewer. Some of the leaves are deeply cut, almost forming 3 leaflets. Flower heads are yellow, 1-1 1/2 inches across. This native species has branching stems at base and often forms sizable colonies along roadsides and in old fields. Coreopsis attracts many pollinating insects, including butterflies and bees.

April 2021: Texas Gold Columbine Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Hinckleyana’

Texas Gold Columbine Aquilegia chrysantha hinckleyana ‘Texas Gold’ Texas gold columbine is a cool season perennial with attractive foliage and stunning, long-spurred yellow blossoms. It is native to shady areas in Big Bend National Park. It has excellent heat tolerance and prefers dappled shade, but can take a little morning sun. It grows to about 2 feet tall and side. It blooms for about 4 weeks starting in early to mid-April. The plants will reseed after the blooms are done. You can collect the seed after the pods turn tan and the seeds are black. They are about the size of ground pepper. Spread the seeds where you want new plants. Give them two to three years to mature to a large enough size to produce blooms. Here is more information from the Texas Superstar website about Texas Gold Columbine: https://texassuperstar.com/plants/columbine/index.html

March 2021: Daffodil Narcissus

Daffodil are one of the easiest spring bulbs to grow in the north Texas area. Plant your daffodil bulbs in the fall when they become available in the nurseries through as late as mid-December. Plant the daffodil bulbs about 3-6” deep and 4-5” apart, placing them in the ground with their pointy ends up. Water well once and wait for spring. After the daffodils have bloomed don't cut off the foliage. Leave it until it's completely withered and yellow, then remove.

Avoid planting the daffodils in a straight line. Instead, plant them in groupings by digging a hole about 18-inches across. Toss the bulbs in the hole and set them upright where they land (adjust the spacing if they all land next to each other). Then cover the bulbs and water.

February 2021: Ornamental Kale/Cabbage

Ornamental cabbage or kale may not be edible, but they are great for filling up cool season containers. Look for them in local nurseries in the fall for the best selection. They can be used in containers or planted in groupings in your landscape beds. They are attractive planted with pansies or other cool season plants. Provide a slow release fertilizer when planting and keep the soil moist. Cover them if there is a threat of an extended freeze. If you leave them until it starts to warm in the spring, the plants will bolt and produce clusters of yellow flowers. Pull them out when it gets too hot - usually by the end of May.

November 2020: Mexican Bush Sage Salvia leucantha

Mexican Bush sage is a late blooming perennial that has deep purple flowers. It is native to Central America and Mexico. It grows to about 2-3 feet tall and wide. Some varieties are plain purple and others have a white corolla and a longer-lasting funnel-form purple calyces. Flowers appear in dense, arching, terminal spikes up to 10-inches long that extend above the foliage. Butterflies and hummingbirds will feed on the nectar. Linear, lance-shaped, gray-green leaves grow in pairs on square stems. Foliage has a velvet-like texture, hence the sometimes used common name of velvet sage for this species.

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