Purslane

Purslane makes a thick ground cover. If you don’t love it, don’t plant it. It is considered an invasive weed by many. I couldn’t find any growing tips, only many on how to rid your garden of it. So be forewarned. It can and will happily grow any where, any way, any time. It is susceptible to frost damage.

I planted it in a dry, shady place and it all died. A few months later purslane showed up on its own out in a front bed that is in full sun.

It was used as a food in medieval Europe, seeds can be made into flour, stems were pickled and leaves are still added to salads in Spain. It is also listed as one of the SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen foods that will change your life. It is high in vitamin E and fatty acid omega 3. Older gardening texts list it as an editable weed.

You might still find it as a spice in Mexican markets under the name verdolaga. The leaves can be eaten raw or boiled.

WHO lists it as one of the most important medicinal plants world wide.

Died back early in winter, holding its own during the heat and drought of summer 2011, no blooms.

More information:
Purslane: If you can weed ’em, eat em
Food Features: Purslane

Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis )

Rosemary

This started life as one of those Christmas tree shaped rosemaries you see in the stores in December. After Christmas I planted it out in the herb bed and it is settling in just fine.

Rosemary will grow 3′-5′ tall down here. It can be trained upright or coaxed into trailing. And like most herbs wants lots of sun.

Rosemary needs a lot of water when it is settling in, then not much once established, but will be happier with occasional waterings. It grows well in desert climates and is one of the recommended landscape plants for desert climates.

Fertilizer is not needed or wanted for rosemary. Once a year I put out worm castings in the garden.

Rosemary does not like being moved, pick its location carefully.

I use a lot of fresh herbs in cooking. I find herb gardens are very difficult to establish, but once established need little care.

It took me three tries to get a rosemary plant established in my herb garden. The larger the plants were when I started the better they did. So if you want to add rosemary to your garden, start with a good sized, gallon or larger, plant.

In downtown Huntsville rosemary is found growing along the sidewalks. It handles the traffic of the busy roads, the baking sun, the dry ground and grows about 3′ tall there.

Ancient Greeks considered it a mind stimulant. It was used in the middle ages as medicine.  And a gift of rosemary was a symbol of love. It is also associated with death and a sprig of rosemary is often placed in the hands of the dead.

Pineapple Sage ( Lamiaceae Salvia elegans )

Pineapple sage gets its name from the pineapple smell given off from the leaves when they are crushed. The leaves are often used in fruit salads. It is part of the mint family.

Like most herbs it wants full sun, but it does prefer afternoon shade here in Houston’s heat.

Flowers are ruby red and about an inch and a half long. Hummingbirds love these flowers.

This sage gets to be about 3′-4′ tall. It will be a small shrub when grown so be sure to give it plenty of room.

The pineapple sage bloomed through Dec. then lost its leaves and spent the rest of the winter barren. In the summer it wilts.

Mine died. When it blooms it is gorgeous but it’s a finicky plant and there are better choices than this one.

Grey mold occasionally attacks salvias in cool, wet weather. Treat with a fungicide.

Pineapple sage recipes

Propagate by stem cuttings.

Aloe ( disambiguation )

This is my first attempt at growing aloe outdoors. Someone brought some cuttings off a plant she was trimming to a meeting I was attending the other evening.

Aloes want full sun. They are succulents and store water so they need very little water and will rot if planted in a damp area.

Aloes thrive in the Houston summers, mine barely wintered over in the winter of ’09-’10. Most of the outer leaves died off and only the inner protected ones survived all the frosts we had.

Once established and happy they will bloom, flowers come up on tall spikes and are impressive. The aloe sends up new shoots and rapidly forms clusters of plants.

Blooming takes place in winter and it makes a great winter food for hummingbirds and bees.

Aloe doesn’t mind being moved about if you want o try a new location. Grows rapidly, sends off pups from base which you can leave or replant elsewhere.

Rust is a group of fungi that attack many plants. Each fungi attacks a specific plant. This occurs from too little sun and too much water.

The best fix is to give the plant more sun and drier air. That’s not so easy outside and not during the occasional cold, wet spells we get in Houston.

The next option is to use a fungicide. You can find them at any place that sells plant supplies.

As long as the wet, cold spell does not last too long, the fungus should not hurt the plant, just discolor it.

Pineapple Mint ( Mentha suaveolens variegata )

Pineapple mint, is a mint whose leaves give off a pineapple scent and taste. Because it is variegated it makes a pretty addition to the herb garden.

Pineapple mint prefers part shade, and moist soil. It will grow 8″-12″ tall. But like all mints it can be invasive, so I wouldn’t worry too much about making the growing conditions perfect.

If you see any stems with plain green leaves, cut them off. Otherwise you’ll end up with a solid green rather than variegated leaved plant. Also remove older woody stems when pruning this mint.

Mine did not survive the heat of August, none heat tolerant plant.