Paint your yard with eye-catching plants

September 09, 2010

by Carmen Price, Victoria County Master Gardener

edited by Charla Borchers Leon,
Victoria County Master Gardener
Gardeners' Dirt

With a name that is a misnomer - having nothing to do with cold or snow, the Hawaiian snow bush has papery leaves in rose, white and green, with bright red stems and blooms that have a small parasol shape. It grows in medium to full sun, with regular watering and good drainage, in containers or as a hedge plant.
RIGHT: Mignonette, with near white blooms, is a tender perennial known for its fragrance. It blooms midsummer to early fall in sun to partial shade with average water needs. With a height of 6 to 12 inches, it will die back from frost, but comes back in the spring. It makes a beautiful patio container plant or indoor potted plant, and its bloom can last a week in a cut-flower arrangement.
While there will be more than 2,000 - yes, 2,000 - plants to browse through at the Victoria County Master Gardener plant sale this Saturday, here are a few that will catch your eye. With this opportunity in mind and the long hot summer behind us, this could be your chance to paint your yard with some beautiful color and plants of interest - at a very reasonable cost.


(Yellow) Pacific Chrysanthemum - There will be an assortment of chrysanthemums at the sale, with one of the most impressive being the Pacific chrysanthemum (Ajania pacifica). This low spreading perennial, with attractive deep green silver-edged foliage, is a native of Japan. It spreads via rhizomes and can be a very aggressive plant if not cut back. The Pacific chrysanthemum blooms in late fall, with gorgeous clusters of vivid yellow button-like blooms.

It should be planted in full sun with average water needs and good drainage. Once established, this plant can be relatively drought tolerant. Bees, birds and butterflies love this plant. After the flowers fade, they can be trimmed to show off the pretty evergreen to semi-evergreen foliage.

(Purple With Yellow) Thunbergia Erecta - This plant is a sprawling shrub which can be used as a hedge or in the landscape. Thunbergia erecta, also known as King's mantle, has small, dark green leaves with tubular flowers, which are rich purple with a yellow throat. From Western Africa, the lovely fragrant flowers grow to 1 inches and bloom all year long, especially in the summer. It prefers sun to partial shade and well drained soil with average water needs.

T. erecta is a vigorous, woody shrub that can grow to four feet tall and become six feet wide. A gardener can use this shrub along porches or foundations and it can grow without clipping if there is enough room to accommodate its sprawling growth.

(Chartreuse or Near White) Mignonette - Mignonette (Reseda odorata), another shrub, also known as weld, Dyer's rocket, and sweet reseda, is a native from the Mediterranean. The Latin name 'Reseda' means to "calm or appease' and refers to the fact that the plant was used by the Romans for medicinal purposes.

The sweet fragrance of Mignonette is a luxury in any garden. "It's sweetness wins all hearts." The uninteresting blooms are chartreuse to white or near white. Bloom time is from mid-summer to late summer or early fall. The shrub can be planted in full sun to partial shade in soil with good drainage.

This delightful plant has many uses. Mignonette makes a great container plant for your patio or in a sunny window in your house. The blooms can be used as a cut flower and can last a full week in water. A sunny window can be used for a potted mignonette for a lasting fragrance in your home. It does not like to be transplanted and should not be moved after being placed in the ground.

(Multi-Colored) Hawaiian Snowbush - The Hawaiian snowbush is a popular shrub in the Victoria area. Its name is deceiving, as it has nothing to do with winter, cold or even snow.

It is a tropical plant and native to places such as the South Pacific, Australia and Asia. The bush is a vibrant colorful array of foliage and produces burgundy colored zigzag stems that have breathtaking green, cream and pink leaves.

These slender stems are easily cut so that you may use them to create vivid and beautiful flower arrangements. No other non-blooming bush is known to produce such a unique growing habit or such vivid colors.

Growing as a perennial to about five feet tall in the Victoria area, the Hawaiian snowbush should be planted in partial shade. Leaves will drop after the first sign of a frost, and the plant may die back during winter, but it will return with enthusiasm.

Cuttings of this plant make a beautiful centerpiece in the middle of a large bud vase. Surround it with blooming and colorful flowers from your yard for a dazzling effect. Change the water in the vase every few days and re-cut the stems to keep the arrangement fresh.


Saturday's sale will offer some outstanding varieties and colors of better known plants as well. For example, there will be four colors of the bougainvillea plant with bracts in fuchsia, deep purple, coral and a peach shade. Various crotons for fall foliage are expected with leathery leaves in tinges of gold, rust, orange and green in foliage.

Several selections of the commonly known elephant ear plant will be available including the usual green and also the multi-colored mojito colocasia variety. This one has light and dark green as well as black coloring in the leaves, resembling marble.

Another tropical available at the sale will be the Tahitian breeze with large striped leaves in yellow white tones.

And don't forget plants being offered especially for the upcoming holidays. There will be Christmas cactus in both salmon and white blooms, as well as small Norfolk pine trees for festive decor.

There may still be other plants that catch your curiosity such as African hosta, white Philippine violet, serpent tree and giant chenille plant, just to name a few.


While these are just a few plants offered, come out to the Master Gardener plant sale and see if these will work for you in your garden or landscape. See you at the Master Gardener Pavilion, 283 Bachelor Drive near the Victoria airport tower, this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The plants alone will get your attention - although there will be other gardening items you may just have to buy.
What :
More than 2,000 plants
150 varieties
Very reasonable pricing
Assistance from the Masters
Seed balls
Various gardening books

When :
Saturday, Sept. 11
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or until sold out

Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion, 283 Bachelor Drive, near Victoria Regional Airport tower
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.