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Choosing plants can be confusing at times. What is the difference between an annual and a perennial? 

A flowering plant with the label “annual” will last for a season. Generally, it will grow quickly, bloom for its season, drop seeds, and expire. On the other hand, a perennial plant biologically prepares for the next year. While it also might bloom, a perennial plant uses some of its cells and energy to form overwintering buds, bulbs, or tubers. When spring comes again, the buds, bulbs, or tubers emerge as stalks and leaves — then flowers. Therefore, annual means for a year/season and perennials last for more than one (of course, dependent upon harsh weather conditions.) 

Happy gardening!


1. Fight fleas and ticks with our wonderful soldiers: the beneficial nematodes. Or, when the ground is dry, apply diatomaceous earth. And sulfur works great for chiggers. You can apply elemental sulfur at 4 pounds per 1,000 square-feet.

2. Plant tropical color: allamanda, bougainvillea, hibiscus, mandevilla, and penta.

3. Warm season annuals to plant: begonias, caladiums, cosmos, impatiens, lantana, periwinkle, and zinnias.

4. Plant some fall blooming perennials such as asters, cannas, gladiolas, mums, summer bulbs.

5. Don’t wash your hands yet. We can also plant hot-weather vegetables, any and all of the herbs. 

6. Add to your compost pile and turn it.

7. Remember our avian friends. Keep an eye on your bird feeders, making sure stuck seeds aren’t molding because of the moist air.

8. Prune spring flowering shrubs, vines, and roses that only bloom in the spring.

9. DO NOT prune red or live oaks unless they are damaged. No oak wilt wanted.

10. Dead-head flowering plants. Pinch off the top of a spent bloom and drop it into the pot or ground for nutrients.

11. Fertilize your bougainvilleas with high nitrogen (or coffee/tea).


To state the obvious, soil is an important factor in gardening. Yes, we test nutrient levels and pH. Yet, there is another factor regarding soil: temperature. 

There are four labels of temperature range for soil: minimal, optimum, realistic, and maximum. These ranges vary for plants. For instance, the optimum temperature for echinacea is 70-85 degrees, but the optimum temperature for chives is 60-75 degrees. You can find the optimum, or temperature range, on the back of seed packets. 

If you started your seeds indoors and have already recycled your seed packets, a good general rule of thumb is 65 degrees(ish) for transplants. For transplants, you want to check the temperature of the soil to 5 inches. Whether you are using a barbecue thermometer, a Thanksgiving turkey thermometer, or a thermometer designed especially for testing soil temperatures, make sure the probe will reach 5 inches into the soil.

Till next time. Keep your souls and soles in your garden! Remember the True Master Gardener: Jesus said, “I am the vine; my Father is the Gardener.” John 15:1

“In the Garden” is written by daughter-father gardening team Martelle and Bill Luedecke. If you have gardening questions, contact Martelle at 512-769-3179 or or Bill at 512-577-1463 or