Master Gardeners answer lots of questions. Here are a few of our most frequently asked questions. Click on the question to view the answer.
Master Gardeners are volunteers who work through their cooperative Extension office to provide horticultural-related information to their communities. In exchage for volunteer work, they receive extensive training in a variety of horticultural topics.
To become a certified Master Gardener, candidates must complete both the training classes and meet specific volunteer requirements.
In Texas, training is provided by the local Texas AgriLife Extension Office. The training schedule and volunteer requirements are different from county to county. So you'll need to contact your county to get a training schedule and requirements for certification.
The Collin County program offers a minimum of 65 hours of instruction that covers topics including lawn care, ornamental trees and shrubs, insect, disease, and weed management; soils and plant nutrition, vegetable gardening; home fruit production; garden flowers; and water conservation.
Please visit our Master Gardener Training Page for details. Also check out the "Learn More About It" links for this FAQ to get more information and contact information for specific counties.
Mosquitoes can transmit a variety of diseases to people and animals. We've recently updated our Mosquito resource page to share the latest information about the Zika virus. You'll also find ways you can manage mosquitos around your home.
Rose Rosette Disease has spread through North Texas having a negative effect on our ability to grow healthy roses. This viral disease requires effective, community wide control strategies to eradicate this disease.
Once an infected rose is properly diagnosed with this disease, the entire plant, including the roots, should be removed and disposed according to local municipalities. Fortunately, Rose Rosette is fairly easy to identify.
To learn more, visit our information page on Rose Rosette Disease.
This is an infestation of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale. One of the first signs of this insect is black sooty mold on the bark. Bark and leaves may feel sticky to the touch as a byproduct of where the scale is feeding. The "white spots" can occur anywhere but usually in the branch crotch or pruning wounds.
Treatments for this scale include using a mild solution of dishwashing detergent and a brush to scrub the scale and black mold off. Horticulture oil has not been shown to be effective yet but a heavy winter coating might help. Full coverage is a necessity. Systemic insecticide treatments in the form of a soil drench have shown the most promise to date. These include Imidacloprid and dinotefuran. The best time to treat with the systemic insecticides is May through July. Follow the directions for use for either product. Systemics do take a few weeks to become effective as they spread throughout the plant
The best way to eliminate fire ants in your lawn and landscape is to use the Texas Two Step method. The first step is to use baits. These are slow acting and can require weeks or months to work but contain extremely low toxins. They are 80 to 90 percent effective. The worker ants take the bait into the hive to share with the queen, either killing or rendering her infertile. Put baits out when ants are actively foraging. Fall is an excellent time to bait as the ants will feed during the winter while you are indoors. Follow package directions carefully for best results.
The second step is individual mound treatment. These are fast acting to eliminate existing mounds. There are commercially available dust, granular and drench products on the market. Closely follow instructions on the label. You can also pour 2 to 3 gallons of boiling water on the mounds. This will be about 60% effective. The hot water will kill any grass or plants that are touched by it.
Even though Live Oaks are considered "evergreen", this is not true. These trees do keep their leaves over the winter but shed the old ones as new leaves start to grow. This usually occurs in February or March. This is a normal process and nothing to be concerned about.
Good news, even with heavy clay soil and automatic sprinklers this can be done.
In order to determine how much water your sprinklers are getting out, you could do a can catch. Place small, shallow empty cans (such as tuna) around your area to be tested. Turn the sprinklers on. When your sprinklers have filled the cans to a 1" depth, you will know how long your system takes to get the correct amount of water out. Every sprinkler system is different so this is the only way to find your particular output.
However, with heavy clay soils there could still be runoff. The best way to correct this is to run your system in small increments for each station. This may have to be done two or three times. By waiting between cycles the water has a chance to soak in. For example, if you have 6 stations in your landscape you could set them to each run for 5 minutes. By the time the last station has run, the turf around the first station has had time to soak up the water. You would then start the process over again. Depending on your particular landscape, each station could run for 5 to 10 minutes. If you have already determined how long it takes for a 1" depth, you will know how long to run each station and how many times to cycle them.
Organic mulches are the best to use in your landscape. Native hardwood mulches are readily available from the municipal recycling programs and also many retailers. These hardwood mulches will break down to act as a natural fertilizer to your plants. Mulches also discourage weeds, cool the soil temperature, protect from erosion and conserve water. Mulch should be kept at a 3 inch depth and can be applied anytime of the year. The most common time is in the spring. The depth of the mulch should be checked in the fall as well.
The optimum time for pruning of trees and shrubs is January through early March when trees and shrubs are dormant. This is also the best time to move established plants to new locations. When considering the pruning of evergreen shrubs such as photinias, hollies or pittosporum, remember that new growth with which to cover pruned areas will not occur until March or April so the sooner you prune, the longer you will have to look at the ugly scene which you have created. Just be patient and wait until January or February to prune. The plants will appreciate the consideration. Also a word to the wise: If you will initially choose the best adapted shrub or tree which will ultimately only grow to the intended size for the location it is planted, VERY LITTLE PRUNING WILL EVER BE NECESSARY. A list of recommended trees and shrubs with their ultimate size is available from the County Extension Service Office. THINK and PLAN before you PLANT!
While fall may be the ideal time to plant spring blooming bulbs sometimes things happen…time gets away from us, life events occur that take precedence, weather changes too quickly…now what? It may not be too late. If you are reading this and already have the bulbs and want to plant them, you have nothing to lose, right? However, if you don’t have bulbs please do not run out and buy them now.
Let’s be realistic, you may be taking a chance…agreed? Planting bulbs late may or may not be successful.
First, check each bulb to see if they are healthy. The bulbs should be firm and earthy smelling. If they are soft, mushy, disintegrate or have a bad odor discard them.
Depending on the variety of bulbs you have there are several options. If they are naturalizing bulbs for our area (North Texas), try planting them…
Hopefully, you will be able to enjoy the flowers of your dreams. If however, the bulbs leaf out, but the flower does not bloom or perform up to expectation, don’t panic. Give it another year. The leaves are nourishing the bulb for next year’s flower display (photosynthesis…it’s what they do).
Another option is an indoor container…
This ‘late-planting’ approach is not research based or recommended. However, it is what you can do to give unplanted bulbs a chance. Give it a try…you may be rewarded!