Coastal and Tropical South

November, 2007
Regional Report

Prune Bougainvilleas for Blooms

Though they will bloom most all year, bougainvilleas come into their own in the tropical zone in winter and spring. Shape the plants now by pruning all over gently, and clip off the wildest shoots of new growth to enable the boldest bracts of the year to cover the plant.

Caring for Crape Myrtle

Leaves of some crape myrtle varieties turn yellow or red before they fall off. However, drought-stressed trees or those hit by a surprise cold snap will naturally drop when brown or green. Either way is no cause for alarm. Water occasionally in dry spells, and do not fertilize with nitrogen after midsummer.

Harvest Mirlitons

Mirliton, also called vegetable pear, chayote, and mango squash, is ripening now. Its vines are large and look rather like cucumber, but the taste of the light green flesh is more like squash. Pick the fruit for cooking, or store dry (like caladiums) for planting in spring. Mulch existing vines.

Plant Windbreaks

South Texas gardeners seeking to replace toppled trees or establish dense windbreaks can plant this month. Eleagnus dominates areas at 8' x 8' or larger, even with regular pruning, and tiny flowers next month are a plus. Salt and red eastern cedars, Arizona cypress, and arborvitae deserve attention for full-size screens.

Collecting Water

Get a rain barrel, put a tub under the gutter, build a cistern, or find other ways to collect water for your garden. Cover open containers with screen or mesh to keep leaves out, and don't allow water to get stagnant. Using what you gain will conserve reservoirs and save on water bills.

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