Marigolds and daisies

When gardeners think of marigolds, they think of annual color that lasts from spring to fall. This versatile family of plants also has two notable species that are wonderful perennials in our central Texas gardens: Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida), and Copper Canyon daisy (Tagetes lemonii).

Mexican mint marigold has an enchanting anise fragrance to its leaves and pretty button-size yellow flowers in the fall. Known as yerba anise in Spanish, it emerges in the spring and makes a deeply green plant which grows to a height and width of three feet by the end of summer. Plus it puts on a beautiful flower display in the fall.

In the kitchen, home chefs, you can use the leaves as a substitute for French tarragon in culinary recipes. Some gardeners even call it ‘Texas tarragon.’ This marigold also makes great cut flowers and is non-invasive.

Copper Canyon Daisy can grow up to 3 feet and 4 feet wide. The foliage has a strong scent and you can expect a show of yellow flowers in the spring and fall.

Both of these marigolds are easy to grow and deer-resistant. Give them at least a half day of sun, and once established they will need very little water.

I noticed a beautiful yellow rose during the spring along Elliott Ranch Road that appears to be evergreen and thorn-less. Do you know a name for this rose?

It is probably Lady Banksia Rose. This old-fashioned rose – evergreen and thorn-less – blooms in the spring with clusters of small butter-yellow flowers. Lady Banksia is planted all around the Austin area and has been a favorite ‘no muss no fuss’ rose. Also deer leave them alone. (They generally love to munch on roses.) Lady Banks needs plenty of room to grow and is also quite shade tolerant.

Do you know of a safe way to get rid of snails and slugs in my garden?
One of the oldest techniques is to leave out a few saucers of beer. Slugs and snails love beer so much that they wind up drowning in it. Snail and slug bait with metaldehyde has been used for years but is unsafe for children and pets. There’s also a snail and slug bait on the market that contains iron phosphate. This is safe for kids and pets, and simply becomes plant food when all the slugs have been killed.

Any suggestions for heat tolerant summer annuals?
Top of the pops on my list are purslane, moss rose, and vinca. The first two are called ‘chismes’ in Spanish, which means gossip… and it’s true that purslane and moss rose do indeed spread like gossip. They also tolerate a lot of heat and drought. Vinca grows a little bit taller and comes in a world of colors. Vinca also has the added attribute of being deer-resistant.  Happy Gardening everyone!

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