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Gardeners' Dirt: Get Ready For Master Gardener spring plant sale

By By Beth Ellis - Victoria County Master GardenerEdited by Charla Borchers
March 20, 2014 at midnight
Updated March 19, 2014 at 10:20 p.m.

Master Gardeners work many hours in the greenhouse in preparation for plant sales.  Shown here, from left front to back, are Marcia Kauffman, master gardener; Gerry Hornstein, master gardener; Scott Sanders, master gardener intern and co-chairman;  and Donna McCanlies, master gardener and co-chairwoman; right front to back are Tom Akins, master gardener;  Lanny Havemann, master gardener;  Lupe Cook, master gardener and co-chairman; and Joy Reed, master gardener intern..

MASTER GARDENER SPRING PLANT SALE

• WHEN: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (or until plants sell out) March 29

• WHERE: Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion, 283 Bachelor Drive, across from Victoria Regional Airport control tower

Well folks, it's that time again. Get your garden act-ready, because the Victoria County Master Gardener Association's spring plant sale is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or until plants sell out) March 29 at the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion, 283 Bachelor Drive, across from the control tower at Victoria Regional Airport.

Great choices for area gardens

Master Gardener members have been hard at work since late fall in the greenhouse at Victoria Educational Gardens in preparation for the sale. Members meet every week - sometimes twice a week, weather permitting, to plant seeds, propagate - prepare plants for sales and for use in Victoria Educational Gardens.

The greenhouse is jam-packed with plants ready for you to take home and put into in your garden. Here is a small sampling of the many plants that will be offered for sale:

Hibiscus - These beauties adore our Texas heat, and as such, they are choice plants to include in any Victoria-area landscape, whether in containers or planted in the ground. Hibiscus produce lush foliage starred by large blossoms in a wide variety of colors and shapes. These easy-care plants prefer sun with some afternoon shade, and they oblige the gardener by drooping slightly when it's time for water, which is an advantage if you're as easily distracted as I am. Provide them with well-drained soil and they perform nicely. Give them regular applications of fertilizer, and they perform spectacularly. These babies can be pruned into shrub or tree form.

Bush morning glory - I'll bet you thought morning glories only came as vines, didn't you? Well, here's a morning glory in bush form that deserves a place in any Texas garden.Large, showy blooms ranging from pink and purple to near-white cover these large shrubs during the warm months, drawing hummingbirds and butterflies like magnets.These plants are drought-tolerant and love the sun. Cut them back in summer to produce an even more beautiful fall showing.

Coleus - Coleus has become a very popular plant in our area for a very good reason: outstanding foliage. These plants produce leaves in a wide variety of colorful patterns. What's really great is that they do well in shade, so they provide a strong visual punch in shady garden beds. They also pair well with other plants in patio containers. Some varieties (Plum Parfait and Burgundy Sun) can take sun, but in this area, you'll likely want to give them some afternoon shade relief. Coleus are good indicator plants for newer gardeners - if they need water, they droop, and if they get too much, the leaves turn yellow. Give them regular applications of fertilizer, so they can show at their best.

Esperanza - If you want a hardy, no-care plant that draws hummingbirds in droves, esperanza is the plant for you. Known commonly as yellow bells, this plant asks only for sun and well-drained soil. Plant it, water it if you can remember, and it will be a showstopper throughout the warm months. Deadhead to encourage even more blooms."Texas Gold" esperanza is a smaller, heavily blooming variety that grows to about 5 feet with a pruned height of 3 to 4 feet.

Mexican flame vine - Want another showstopper - this time in vine form? Mexican flame vines are extremely drought- and heat-tolerant. They love sun but will grow in dappled shade, too. Their yellow-orange, fan-shaped blooms are so bright they seem to glow. This vine will grow to about 10 feet. Provide well-drained soil and avoid caring for this plant too much. Fertilizer will encourage lots of leaves at the expense of blooms.

More to come

There are many more plants that likely will be available at very reasonable prices at the Master Gardener plant sale. Next week, I'll tell you more about some of those as well as discuss books that will be offered for sale that no Texas gardener should be without.

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 VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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