Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Friday, June 28, 2013

This week in the garden - #69

This week in my garden I sent some of my plants to the hospital. To intensive care, in fact.

If I have a plant that is struggling, I will sometimes pot it up and put it in the shelter of my backyard magnolia tree where it gets shade and some protection from the tree's big leathery leaves. Then I try to nurse the sick one along until it either recovers or dies. If it recovers, eventually I'll set it back into a garden bed in an area where, I hope, it will be more comfortable.  That spot under the magnolia tree is what I refer to as my plant hospital. It's pretty crowded right now.

This week I sent to the hospital three shrubs that I had added to the garden in spring: a banana shrub, Virginia sweetspire, and a spicebush. They were all in full sun and were slowly dying, even though I was watering them almost every day. I think all three of the shrubs actually need partial shade and, if I can save them, that's what I'll try to give them when I return them to the garden.

The plant in the front center here is the banana shrub. It actually was not in as bad shape as the sweetspire and spicebush, but it was struggling. Time to give it some TLC.

In addition to the sickly shrubs, there are several seedlings here that I just don't have the heart to stick out there in the hot Texas sun just yet. Here is a pot of sweet basil seedlings, an eggplant and pepper and a few other things. I may just transfer them to bigger pots and keep them where I can give them some protection for the summer. It's going to be a scorcher of a season, and even plants that normally prefer full sun do not really prefer the full sun that we have here.

Another patient in the hospital is this poinsettia from last Christmas. I intended to plant it in a protected niche in the garden this spring, but just never got to it. Now it will stay in its pot until the weather moderates.

The Texas Star hibiscus freely reseeds itself and I wind up with several seedlings every year. They germinate and get big enough to notice in the garden beds around this time of year - again, too late to plant them in the garden. So, they go into pots until I can find a home for them, maybe in somebody else's garden.

I have more plants, things like a volunteer passion vine that's in the wrong place, that will be going into the hospital soon. I may have to open a branch clinic under the other magnolia tree - the one in the front yard!


The high temperature today was 101 degrees. The high tomorrow is expected to be 103, a severe trial for both garden and gardener, and still no rain in the extended forecast. The sprinklers are working overtime. I don't look forward to getting our water bill for June. I'll try to be out of the room when my husband, the family accountant, opens it!


The plants may be sweltering and wilting and the gardener may be sweating, but some of the garden residents are making it just fine, thank you.

The little leopard frog that I showed you last week is perfectly comfortable every day on his lilypad.

And he's brought a friend! A couple of feet away today was this little guy, actually sitting on a sycamore leaf that had fallen into the pond. This frog is more green while the other one appears brown, but that is a normal variation in this species. And actually my little frog didn't just bring one friend. There's a whole posse of them in the area around the pond. They go jumping around whenever I'm doing something around the pond.

Meanwhile, the hundreds of green anoles in my yard have mostly gone undercover. A few weeks ago, I could hardly take a step without disturbing one, but when it gets this hot, even these little reptiles seek shelter.

I do see another reptile around the yard regularly, though. Sammy, our backyard box turtle, shows up on the back porch every day looking for his meal of dry cat food and I often see him when I'm out weeding or watering. Occasionally, I even see him, along with the backyard birds, enjoying one of the sprinklers. Even turtles get thirsty.


  1. I think it is a great idea to have a plant hospital! My sweetshrub is a shade loving plant but I thought virginia sweetspire likes sun...but 100 degree temps are difficult for anyone to handle! The frogs are adorable. We have at least one in our pond for the first time!

    1. Frogs are a great addition to the garden. We're really enjoying ours this year.

  2. TLC, Dorothy. It`s always good to check on you and see what you are up to. Your plants are lucky. :)