Society

Fight dry dullness with cool-season euphorbias

Plants can brighten up landscapes through winter
BY ROBERT BURNS AgrLIfe


Euphorbia mauritanica was introduced into cultivation in Europe at or before the beginning of the 18th century and was believed to have originated in ‘Mauritanica’ in northwest Africa. Euphorbia mauritanica was introduced into cultivation in Europe at or before the beginning of the 18th century and was believed to have originated in ‘Mauritanica’ in northwest Africa. COLLEGE STATION – Find the lack of fall colors this year depressing because of the drought?

Texas Superstars newest selections, cool-season euphorbias, can brighten up landscapes throughout the winter, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Cool-season euphorbias can add splashes of lime green, cream, pink and maroon with either solid or variegated foliage, said David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension horticulture agent in Bexar County.

Moreover, October is the perfect time to start planting the perennials.

“ The keys to getting coolseason euphorbias off to a good start and ensuring they last through our winters are good bed preparation and early planting,” Rodriguez said.


FLOWER POWER—Students in the Rockdale Junior High iTigers ACE program got their hands dirty to help replant the burned areas of land near Bastrop. About 40 students made 1,400 seed balls to be thrown out to help replace the wildflowers and such on the lands effected by the devestating wildfire in the Bastrop area earlier this year. The project was made possible through a donation for the Rockdale Gardening Club and throught the ‘Helping Hands, Healing Lands” program. FLOWER POWER—Students in the Rockdale Junior High iTigers ACE program got their hands dirty to help replant the burned areas of land near Bastrop. About 40 students made 1,400 seed balls to be thrown out to help replace the wildflowers and such on the lands effected by the devestating wildfire in the Bastrop area earlier this year. The project was made possible through a donation for the Rockdale Gardening Club and throught the ‘Helping Hands, Healing Lands” program. There are seven Texas Superstar cool-season euphorbia selections: Ascot Rainbow, Tiny Tim, Rudolf, Glacier Blue, Purpurea, Blackbird and Ruby Glow.

Cool-season euphorbias take full sun to partial shade, and because they have been through the Texas Superstar selection process, they are “Texas tough” and adapted to conditions throughout the state, from the Panhandle to South Texas, said Rodriguez, who is based in San Antonio.

Doing well throughout the state is the first prerequisite for a plant to be admitted to Superstar ranks, said Dr. Brent Pemberton, Texas AgriLife Research horticulturist and chair of the Texas Superstar executive board.

A plant must not just be beautiful but perform well for consumers and growers throughout Texas.

“Superstars must also be easy to propagate, a requisite that ensures designees are not only widely available throughout Texas, but reasonably priced too, Pemberton said.

Cool-season euphorbias were chosen only after extensive tests in East Texas, Lubbock, San Antonio and College Station by AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and Texas Tech University horticulturists, Pemberton said.

“We were looking for another type of plant that we can grow through our typical mild winters into early spring,” Rodriguez said. “They look wonderful as a standalone plant as well as plants for borders. What people like to do nowadays is to use a combination of plants in large containers on the patio. With cool-season euphorbias they have a uniquely different foliage.”

“In fact, they can be at their best in containers,” Pemberton added. “They will survive unprotected in large containers on a patio unless the temperatures dip below 15 degrees.

“If the temperature does dip below 15 degrees, they will need some protection from the wind and cold weather in the ground or in containers. This will be more of a factor in northern Texas than in the southern part of the state.”

Euphorbia is a genus of plants that includes thousands of species, many of them not widely cultivated, but some well known, Rodriguez said.

“The common euphorbia that we all know during the holiday season is the poinsettia,” Rodriguez said. “Poinsettias are very tender when it comes to cold weather, of course. ”

Unlike their poinsettia cousins, once established, the Texas Superstar cool-season euphorbias are very tough plants, tolerant of cold weather as well as diseases and pests.

They are affected by cooler temperatures, but in a good way, he said.

“ The foliage of some of the species tend to take on a kind of cool-weather or winter tinge,” Rodriguez said. “You get a kind of a pinkish or light-red appearance or greenish or light-green color of the foliage and the leaf margins. It’s a unique characteristic of these plants, I believe.”

TEXAS SUPERSTARS

Ascot Rainbow
Tiny Tim
Rudolf
Glacier Blue
Purpurea
Blackbird
Ruby Glow





LITTLE RIVER BASIN MASTER GARDENERS

If you are interested in gardening in Milam County, read the Little River Basin Master Gardeners Association (LRBMGA) newsletter, EarthWords, for gardening articles, recipes, gardening book reviews and other interesting gardening topics. Visit our website at http://grovesite.com/mg/lrb . For additional information about Master Gardeners activities visit website at http://grovesite.com/mg/mcmg


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The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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