Come Early For Best Selections

September 27, 2007

By Don Mader, Victoria County Master Gardener

Edited by Charla Borchers Leon


Several dozen baby
Koi fish

3 to 5 inches long

From Victoria Educational Gardens water garden

Limit of 2-3 per customer

“This year’s sale brings a new item.  Several dozen baby Koi fish, three to five inches long, will be available for sale from the Master Gardener water garden at Victoria Educational Gardens. Don’t miss this opportunity to stock your water garden at home.”

“Plant sale patrons often line up before 8:00 a.m. at the doors of the 4-H Activity Center where the sale will take place again this Saturday. Come early for best selections
The unusually heavy amount of rain this summer has taken a toll on plants in many area gardens.  Even in well-drained soil, plants have a hard struggle, making them more susceptible to diseases than normal.   Regroup and revive your landscape by making use of the Victoria Master Gardeners’ semi-annual plant sale.  The fall is an excellent time of year to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. It gives the plants a better chance to develop a healthy root system during the cooler weather before facing the many months of heat typical of Victoria’s spring and summer.

Master Gardeners have been hard at work growing plants for the sale.  This year’s sale will be this Saturday, September 29th, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Victoria Regional Airport.  Signs will direct you from Highway 59 to the Victoria County 4-H Center at 259 Bachelor Drive.

Plants will be grouped by type and labeled with the information needed to grow them successfully.  As usual, a staff of Master Gardeners will be on hand at the information table to answer your questions – and a crew to help you load all of your great purchases.

Gardeners will have a large variety of plants to choose from including perennials, trees, flowering shrubs, succulents, vines, and decorative grasses. For those who aren’t sure what plants will grow well in the Victoria area or want to try something different, let me recommend taking a tour of the Victoria Educational Gardens (VEG) at 333 Bachelor Drive. Phase II of VEG has been up and running and is well worth the trip! I suggest taking a look before the day of the sale if possible, since it’s best to arrive early for the widest selection of plants.

Decorative Grasses and Ground Covers

Many gardeners have taken advantage of decorative grasses to add variety and contrast in their landscape schemes.  This year we will have a dozen varieties at the sale, including Mexican feather, both black and purple fountain, switch Dallas, zebra, variegated Aztec, the smaller dwarf pampas and dwarf ribbon as well as the larger giant liriope and giant mondo grasses.

Among the ground covers available that do well in South Texas are creeping Jenny, chocolate soldier and wedelia. Keep in mind that these plants tend to spread and having a plan to keep them contained is a good idea.  Wedelia, for instance, is a very hardy ground cover with lots of yellow flowers, but it loves to travel! I planted some by my patio this spring and turned them loose. With all the rains in June and July, I had lots of runners fifteen to twenty feet long growing over a hot concrete patio and doing well, before I finally cut them back.

Trees and Shrubs

September and October are an especially good time to plant trees and shrubs. This year we will have a number of fruit and nut bearing trees such as native pecans, date palms and fig trees.   Other trees include Mexican olive, loquat, dwarf Barbados cherry, desert willow and sago palms. We also have vitex, a smaller tree that flowers most of the spring and summer.

The shrubs on sale this year will do well in containers as well as in the ground. Wax leaf ligustrum is an old favorite either as a specimen planting or as a hedge.  Scheffelera is usually planted in containers, but I’ve had success with several which have wintered over in the ground; they were planted in a sheltered location and covered during hard freezes.

Flowering shrubs for sale include blue plumbago, hibiscus, duranta, flame acanthus, blue butterfly bush and oleander.  Happily, our climate allows pride of Barbados to do well here and if you like humming birds, be sure to pick up a fire cracker fern.  This year, snap up one of our potted poinsettias for the holidays, plant it in the ground next spring and let it naturalize.  We will have a few roses on hand, too.


Nearly a dozen vines for hanging baskets, trellises and fences are among this year’s offerings.  The tri-color sweet potato vine mixes well with a variety of plants in hanging baskets.  Dutchman’s pipe has a unique flower and does well on fence lines as do passion vines.   Butterfly vine, bridal vine, spinach vine, blue pea vine, arrowhead vine, pothos ivy and Mexican honeysuckle round out the group.

Odds and ends

There’s sure to be something of interest for every gardener including wild petunia, coleus, white ginger, rock rose, geraniums, datura, Moses-in-a-boat, Society garlic, altheas, shrimp plant, kolanchoes, peperomia, abelia, caladiums, iris, canna and day lilies.

Sword and asparagus ferns and herbs including sage, basil and mint will also be available.

Xeriscape plants worth a try include night blooming, red bird and pencil cactus, as well as soft leaf yucca and aloe vera.  Aloe vera is still a great home remedy to use for soothing minor sunburns and insect bites.

This is a great chance to meet Master Gardeners who will be glad to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with fellow gardeners. Remember to come early for the best selections.