Geranium carolinanum aka Carolina cranesbill

Several years ago I purchased some citronella scented geraniums ( which do not keep mosquitoes away, that’s Lemongrass (Cymbopogon ). They died off during droughts, freezes and go figure, today in its place I discovered a wild Geranium carolinanum. Only a tiny scent emerges from its leaves, I can’t quite place it.

This is a native through the middle of the US and across to the eastern states. Some authors claim it likes dry, wooded areas, others wet moist areas. Mine appeared in a sunny dry area.

One book lists it as the worst weed of the Geranium family, and that’s the kindest thing the author has to say about it. It spreads out from the roots becoming invasive. Time will tell, for now I’m going to leave it alone and see what happens.

Early flowers give way to fruits with a beak like appearance which also disperse seeds. The crane like fruit abruptly splits at the side which pulls the beak scattering the seeds a long way off. It is an annual or biennial

Can reach about 2′ in height and width.

Blooms March-May in the Houston area

Duchesnea indica aka Indian Strawberry

I’m not sure where it came from but it’s tried to overtake every garden bed here. It’s easy to pull out, but there’s so much of it I’m not sure I’ll ever get rid of it.

Fruit is bright red and flavorless, flowers are yellow

Loves sun or part shade, moist soil

Perennial herb, fast spreader, noxious weed, but that also makes it a good ground cover. It’s a recommended water wise ground cover by several references

Native to India, naturalized to eastern US and west coast

Some claim it can cause allergic reactions – birds, squirrels won’t eat it

Nothoscordum bivalve aka Crow Poison

Blooms early spring, sometimes in fall along road sides and other open areas. Leaves are long, thin all at the base of the plant.

Perennial bulb in Liliaceae family

Native to Texas, Mid Atlantic, Mid West and Gulf Coast

Toxic to humans, possibly crows, but loved by butterflies

aka Yellow False Garlic

Wood sorrel ( Oxalis sp. )

I had been sure this was a type of clover, but the flowers are the give away. This is oxalis also known as wood sorrel. It showed up in the shady areas of my garden late last winter.

This plant is a vine and is considered an extremely invasive plant in Texas. I think it stays in check here only because that part of the garden is so dry. I’ll be keeping an eye on it. So far it has shown up each spring, vanished when the weather warms, and stayed put.

It is also known by the name of shrub killer. Its vines climb over shrubs, blocking the light from reaching the shrub which then dies of starvation.

So use your own judgment. I don’t think I’d buy it and plant it. If it shows up in your garden keep a very keen eye on it.

I find it to be neither heat, nor drought tolerant and that keeps it from getting out of control here. Each summer it dies back to the ground.

Ball moss ( Tillandsia recurvata )

Tillandsia recurvata is an epiphyte ( air plant ). Epiphytes are plants that grow above the ground, usually on another plant, ball moss can be found growing along electrical lines as well as trees. While ball moss favors oak family trees, it can be found on other species as well.

Ball moss does not harm the trees it grows on. It does favor trees that are not doing well. It uses them as anchors. Many people consider ball moss unsightly and remove it. I don’t mind it. Ball moss is easy to remove from your trees, just use your garden hose sprayer to knock them down. Fungicides that contain copper will kill ball moss, however these leave blue stains on your trees.

Ball moss loves high humidity and you find it more often in Houston proper or south and east of the city than you do up in the north west section. It grows from southern Arizona to southern Texas to southeast Georgia and Florida in humid, wet areas.

It can grow in full sun, but prefers part shade. These are very slow growing plants. Ball moss can handle temperatures down to 20’F. It also prefers locations that are protected from the wind.

Tillandsia recurvata can reach up to 10″ in a clump. Most of the clumps I see around here are just a few inches across. In the fall it sends out long stems that produce small purple flowers.

Propagate by dividing the balls.

Tillandsia plants are part of the bromeliad family and there are at least 400 known species of tillandsia. Most are small plants that are grown for foliage. They grow in warm, wet areas of the world. Some have smooth green leaves, others like ball moss have white scales ( trichomes ). These scales trap and hold water for the plant. Plants go dormant in dry times and can often be re-awakened by a warm shower or rainstorm. The tillansia with white scales can better handle sun than those with the smooth shiny leaves.

Problems:
Ball moss is especially sensitive to lime, use rain or bottled ( low pH ) water for watering.
They do not like being both wet and cold.
Use only a very weak fertilizer during high growth times.

More information
Floridata: Tillandsia recurvata