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

Giant Crinum Lily ( Crinum asiaticum )

I first heard about these plants at a talk I attended on ‘Recommended Tropical Plants for Houston’. I knew I had to have some even before I laid eyes on them. At the Mercer March Mart I was able to score two of them. Despite a bit of deer damage they are settling in very well and I fully expect blooms next May.

The Crinum lilies are part of the amaryllis family. The leaves reach 3′-4′ in length. The plant will have a 5′ spread after it has had some time to grow. ( I did read a report online of one reaching 8′ across ) Blooms are impressive. You should have several blooms per plant. If in an unprotected location they may need staking but in full sun in a sheltered location they do just fine on their own.

Crinum lilies prefer sun, but will grow happily in dappled shade. Watering needs are average to above average but they are drought tolerant once established. Fertilize regularly to encourage more blooms. Once established you may get as many as 7 bloom cycles a year.

Foliage may brown a bit in the winter here depending on how cold winter is, but they should stay green and leafed out year round. If they lose leaves in the winter they will bounce back come the warm weather.

Divide the bulbs as needed. Plant is poisonous ( what isn’t down here? ).

One of the two crinums I planted grew huge and is thriving but hasn’t yet flowered. The other didn’t put forth a single leaf, but gave me some short lived blooms. Go figure. The deer do not seem to like this plant.

12/13 I saw a beautiful collection of these blooming away down in Galveston last week. There was a row of several of the plants alongside a drainage gully. All were white and all had a half dozen to a dozen flowers in bloom.

I have two of these 6′ apart, one is thriving, the other meh.

These died back during some hard frosts. Much of the plant turned to mush. I cut off the mushy parts and once the weather warmed it started putting out new leaves so it looks to be fine.

Survived and bloomed during the extreme heat and drought of summer 2011

In the summer of 2016 I decided it needed to be divided. I ended up with over 200 bulbs. I have it lining both sides of the driveway, along the front bed and partly up the right edge of the front bed. It’s blooming more frequently and seems to resist the hard freezes better.

I sometimes have some for sale on eBay WrinkledTime

More information:
Crinum asiaticum

Carnivorous plants in Texas

Carnivorous plants
Carnivorous plants

These are some of my favorite plants. I’m a bit of novelty seeker and that carries over into my garden as well.

I’ve grown carnivorous plants as houseplants forever and they thrived and were gorgeous. I purchased some pitcher plants that are suited for outside growing in Houston. They haven’t died, but they aren’t thriving either. Now after attending a talk on carnivorous plants I know why.

The speaker has a plant store in Spring, PetFlyTrap.com I purchased some great plants from him that I have growing indoors right now. Mike Howlett works at Jesse Jones Park and can frequently be found there giving talks on carnivorous plants should you wish to learn more.

A carnivorous plant is one that attracts its own food, catches its food, and digests its food. There are over 600 known species. The earliest reference we have to them is in the 1578 book ‘New Herbal’. The Victorians, like me, loved novelty so it is not surprising carnivorous plants were popular in Victorian greenhouses. When it was rumored the first New World pitcher plants arriving, they lined up at the docks to get them.  ( much like gadget geeks of today )

Carnivorous plants can be found just about every where that is not a desert. There are even water dwelling carnivorous plants, the Australian water wheel and Texas bladderwort live on mosquito larvae. If you wish to keep mosquitoes from breeding in your bird feeder toss some in. ( I’m hoping to acquire some soon. ) It thrives and needs no care.

Most home growers cut off the flowers to save the plants energy. Don’t do this. Cutting the flowers off annuals before they seed adds life, it has no effect on perennials.

Carnivorous plants are very slow growing plants, buy the largest one you can find.

Carnivorous plants do use photosynthesis for energy, but use the bugs to provide nutrients not found in the poor soils that they grow in naturally.

Several carnivorous plants are native to Texas, you can go see native pitcher plants in Big Thicket, has a couple of trails with wild carnivorous plants. They bloom late April.

To care for carnivorous plants:
1) Use distilled or rain water or filtered tap water. They are extremely sensitive to chemicals.
2) Carnivorous plants want acidic soil. ( Add vinegar if needed to the water. Or just mix peat into your soil mix. )
3) Try not to play with them. If you feed them bugs use bugs that are half the size of the traps.
4) They love humidity.
5) No fertilizer, if you must, use a very low dose sparingly
6) Light needs vary by plant, most want full sun.

My problem is that the soil is too basic outside, and it hasn’t rained in forever so they’ve been getting tap water. I repotted them up and put them in a deep pot to hold the water. We’ll see if that works.

See also:
Big Thicket Carnivorous Plant Trails Photos

Visit:
Big Thicket Carnivorous Trails
Watson Rare Plant Preserve

Buy Carnivorous Plants Locally:
Local Spring carnivorous plant dealer

I recently visited the shop ( Jan 2018 ) They have a beautiful place over in Spring, it’s open most days. Take a trip by if get a chance.