Saturday, April 16, 2011

Foliage Follow-up: April 2011

On the sixteenth of every month, Digging invites us to join her in celebrating the leafy aspects of our garden by participating in Foliage Follow-up.  With temperatures soaring, central Texas plants have certainly shaken off winter's doldrums and growth is happening everywhere.

I thought I'd highlight one of the more rampant foliar aspects of my garden - a groundcover that can be found in almost every one of my beds.  It is a native plant that initially appears as a few widely spaced plants, sprouting here and there.

But its amazing trait is that if simply ignored, it will quickly produce a thick verdant cover completely crowding out all your other garden plants.  Though squirrels have been known to bury the occasional seed, these individual plants are nothing compared to the creeping wonder that readily sprouts from the roots of the adult plant.

Unfortunately, to produce truly amazing beds of this plant, they must develop naturally from the roots of the much larger adult plant.  You can plant an adult specimen, but will likely have to wait for decades to get the full benefit of its ground cover.

Yes, I'm describing the wondrous Live Oak (Quercus virginiana).  The adult trees naturally shade out almost all other plants, and quickly suck moisture from the soil, thereby depriving it from other more tender plants.  This "bare" area, of course, cries out to the gardener to fill it with exotic and beautiful plants - never understanding that if they are just patient (or even if they are not), soon root sprouts will appear.

And if the gardener is distracted for a few moments, they will explode into luxuriant growth and quickly bury all those costly and lovingly tended plants - quickly making them obsolete.

Sigh...where are my pruners?  Looks like a long day of snipping.


  1. Looks like some kind of holly. Very nice.

  2. Noooo! I had a shock of horror seeing that first photo, RBell. Those horrible oak sprouts are growing rampantly in my garden too, crowded out my shade lovers and trying even to upend my stepping stones. I love the oaks but hate their suckering progeny.

  3. LS: Well...I suppose one could view it that way. If only it would put out a couple of root sprouts instead of hundreds!

    Pam: Yeah, I figured you'd feel my pain. Love the majestic trees, but those sprouts make me grumpy.

  4. It's such a love/hate relationship! I spent hours on my hands and knees this weekend digging them up. I removed the sago palm under which they grew undisturbed for a few years. I'm planting something there that is easier to get in and around to avoid this problem in the future. Come May though, I'll be thrilled to have those majestic beauties!

  5. I always get some in my yard (thanks to the squirrels), and always pulled them out figuring they were a weed of some sort (which I guess, in a way, they are). But the point is, i had no idea they were live oak seedlings.

  6. ooh, I couldn't tell at first if you wanted them or didn't want them around. They look tough to pull out. You have to snip them all? what a pain.

  7. Ronnie, you made me laugh out loud! Shade is always a love-hate thing in Central Texas, isn't it? Great post!

  8. Cat: Yep - love the big adult, hate the ornery kids.

    Katina: The seedlings don't seem to be so bad (a tug and up pops the roots and even the acorn); but those root sprouts: gotta cut 'em and then they seem to just come back stronger.

    Wendy: Yeah - thinking I might of oversold it there at first. They're tough to pull so snipping (or even weed-whacking when they get overly aggressive) seems to be the only way.

    Getgrounded: Certainly enjoy central Texas shade - until I try to get anything desirable to grow in that hot, dry darkness.