Plant Focus: Turk’s Cap Malvaviscus arboreus

Native Texas plant Turk's Cap or Malvaviscus arboreus.This North Texas native excels in our climate and should have a place in nearly every garden. This perennial can get over four feet tall and nearly three feet wide in the far north of it’s habitat. In warmer climates where it grows year-round it can tower over seven feet tall.

The Turk’s Cap can tolerate a wide variety of soil and water conditions and it has adapted to a wide range of climates with a range that extends from USDA zone 7 all the way south to Florida, Cuba, Mexico, and the entirety of the Gulf Coast. In southern climates that rarely get freezing weather the Turk’s Cap is an evergreen plant and will flower year-round. Further north it will die back to the ground in colder weather and reemerge every spring as a woody perennial. Malvaviscus arboreus is often found as an understory plant where it thrives in the shade of larger trees, but it’s adaptability allows it to flourish in everything from full sun to nearly full shade.

Native Texas plant Turk's Cap or Malvaviscus arboreus.When cultivating Turk’s Cap, it is generally recommended to prune it back in late winter or early spring to promote vigorous growth and maintain a compact shape. The plant can be propagated through stem cuttings or by dividing mature clumps. While propagation is easy in theory, the heavy black clays of North Texas make it exceedingly difficult to a very dense and extraordinary root system that can send taps very deep. Nevertheless, Turk’s Cap is very hardy and dividing root balls can be a very successful method of propagation. An alternative mentioned above is to use stem cuttings and a little bit of root powder, but the most successful methods are either layering (simply lightly bury a node on a branch) or letting it reseed from the abundant flowers and fruits they produce.

Native Texas plant Turk's Cap or Malvaviscus arboreus.One of the most distinctive features of the Turk’s Cap is its unique flowers. Malvaviscus arboreus produces flowers from late spring to fall, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees with its nectar-rich blooms. The flowers have a long blooming season, providing a continuous source of nectar for pollinators. The flowers are borne in clusters and have a shape resembling a turban or a Turkish fez, which gives the plant its common name. The flowers are typically red, but there are also varieties with pink or white blooms. The true flowers are the small, inconspicuous structures within the colorful bracts. Malvaviscus arboreus is highly valued by wildlife due to its nectar-rich flowers. It attracts pollinators such as hummingbirds and butterflies, particularly ruby throated hummingbirds, making it a great addition to wildlife gardens. Birds are also known to feed on the red berries produced by the plant.

Besides its ornamental value, Turk’s Cap has some practical uses. The flowers can be used to make jams, jellies, and beverages with a tart flavor. The small red berries are also edible and have a mild flavor and mealy texture that makes them attractive to humans, birds, and animals alike. The leaves of the plant have also been used in traditional medicine in Mexico and elsewhere for various purposes, including the treatment of digestive, reproductive, and respiratory issues.

Need help with your irrigation or sprinkler system? Does your garden need an overhaul or just a general checkup? Give us a call at 877-558-1496, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.

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  • Plant Type: Woody Perennial Shrub
  • Color: Evergreen with red or white flowers
  • Light: Full shade to full sun
  • Blooms: Red or White, Spring to Fall
  • Height: 4 feet; up to 9 feet in frost free areas
  • Width: 3 to 4 feet
  • Heat Tolerance: Very High
  • Water Requirements: Very Low
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Soil Requirements: Any

Early June Plantings and Irrigation

The summer heat is definitely here, and adequate watering is more important than ever! If you haven’t already, it’s definitely time to adjust the watering schedule on your irrigation system.

Modern rotator spray heads are great at saving water.Deep waterings are one of the best ways to keep your plants happy, but if you have a clay soil you can’t just dump all that water all at once as the soil won’t absorb it. Instead you’ll have excessive runoff onto your driveway, sidewalks, and the street. All that wasted water! Instead, set up each zone to water in multiple short intervals. Instead of one long 30-minute watering session, set up your clay soil zones to do three 10-minute waterings separated by 10-minute “rest” sessions to give the soil time to absorb the water.

On the other hand, if you have sandy soil, or a sandy loam (more common on the far western side of the DFW metroples in areas like Weatherford, Springtown, Azle, etc.) your soil will readily absorb as much as a half-inch of precipitation from your irrigation system at a time. Don’t hesitate to water deeply and run your system for 30-minutes or longer, depending on your plants’ requirements. You don’t need to do this every day. Deep watering even once or twice a week is more than adequate, especially if you have more native plants or drought tolerant varieties. Deep watering like this also makes it easier to comply with any water use restrictions imposed by periods of drought and the accompanying water supply shortages.

Lantanas being pollinated. Now is also the time to start planting all of the heat loving plants in your garden. Crape Myrtles, Salvias, Lantanas, Texas Star Hibiscus, Verbena, Turk’s Cap, Phlox, Purple Fountain Grass, Purslane, and Yuccas are just some examples of these. Reseeding annuals such as Zinnias, Marigolds, and 4 O’clocks also thrive in the blistering summer heat. Other annuals such as Coleus, Pentas, and Caladiums should also be planted now.

It should be noted that this year has been a bad one for Caladium nurseries which have been hit hard and are not able to meet the normal demand for this plant. If you can find a Caladium plant, get it when and where you can.

If potted tropical plants are your thing, Bouganvillas, Tropical Hibiscus, Sago Palms, Agaves, succulents, and other cold sensitive potted plants will do well if planted now. Just remember that container gardens have very different watering requirements than in-ground gardens, but you can still have your containers hooked up to an irrigation system as long as they are on a separate zone.

Give us a call at 877-558-1496, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.

Memorial Day Garden Chores

The growing season is running full steam ahead here at Desiree Gardens! That means there is a LOT going on right now.

Thin your stone-fruit in May to encourage larger and more high quality fruits of what remains.If you haven’t started already, now is the time to prune your wisteria and other spring blooming vines or shrubs. Do not wait until late summer or fall! The buds for next spring’s blooms will set through out the late summer and fall, and if you wait to prune you won’t have any flowers come next spring. It’s also time to prune any shade trees you have, except for oaks. For other species, any low hanging branches should be cut back now and it is a fine time to prune sucker growth on the interior of the canopy.

Proper pruning promotes strong growth.If you have oaks that need trimming, just be patient. Mid to late summer is the best time to prune your oak trees to in order to minimize the chances of spreading oak wilt. When you do prune your oaks, all cuts should be covered with a tree wound paint, or a regular latex paint (color doesn’t matter!) you can find at your local paint or hardware store.

If you have blackberries or other fruit bearing canes, it is time to tip-prune new canes in order to keep the plant compact, as well as to encourage branching. Stone fruit trees like plums and peaches should have the fruit thinned now in order to encourage larger higher quality fruit that remains.

Give us a call at 877-558-1496, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.

Zone 7 & 8 May Plants

The summer heat is here, and the weather man is forecasting nothing but highs in the 90s and 100s for weeks to come. Things start to seriously heat up in May, but it’s still the perfect time to plant certain crops. There are a variety of vegetables that need warm soil and grow very quickly that are perfect to plant in warmer weather.

Beans, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes all grow very quickly and prefer warm weather. This is the perfect time to set up a trellis in your raised beds and start your seedlings. All of these prefer well drained soil and regular watering, so if you don’t get frequent summer showers you’ll need to water your crops early in the morning. Tomatoes might tend to go dormant in the searing heat of late July and August, but you can look forward to another crop as the temperatures cool into September and October.

Corn, melons, and squash can be grown in fresh tilled fertile ground and will thrive in the coming summer heat. Don’t feel that you’re planting too late into the growing season. The first frost for zones 7 and 8 doesn’t usually come until mid to late November at the earliest, giving you plenty of time to allow these crops to reach maturity.

Pepper bushes seem to capture the scorching heat of the sun and concentrate it into their tiny red and orange fruits. These bushes can be ornamental, along with sweet potatoes, and provide interest and color to a front yard bed. Sweet potatoes in particular make a fantastic ground cover.

If you’re planning on some fall and winter crops, now is also the time to start planning your seedling grow beds for kale, spinach, and lettuce. Don’t start these seedlings just yet, but go ahead and start organizing grow beds and be ready to start your fall seedlings indoors under the grow light or by a south facing window here in a few weeks.

There’s never a dull moment and there’s always something to do in an active year-round garden.