Fall Planting

I am a new resident of Brownsville and I am interested in sprucing up my new backyard. New to the South Texas region, I have no idea of what to plant or when. I know that September is an unusual time to plant flowers/plants, but I am looking for a group project. Do you know of anything that would grow particularly well during this time of year? I would appreciate any suggestions you might have.

Fall is  a great time to plant in the Rio Grande Valley.   Virtually any tree or shrub will thrive if planted now.   Save your tropicals to plant in the spring. 
 Following is a short list of annuals, vegetables and herbs that do well this time of year.   
Vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes (if you get them in before Nov 1), and peppers. 
Herbs – cilantro, parsley, Mexican tarragon, chives, dill
Flowers – impatience, Nasturiums (plant before Oct 31), petunias. 

A good resource for gardening in deep south Texas is Successful Gardening in the Magic Valley of Texas.    It was compiled by Dist. VI, Texas Garden Clubs, Inc.  many years ago – but the information is timeless.   I know that many of the local garden centers in the Rio Grande Vally carry it.     It contains a month-by-month planting guide that is extremely helpful. 
The Cameron County Master Gardeners also have a monthly “To-do List” on our website.  It can be found here.

This info from a previous inquiry: 

Fall and winter vegetables include:
brussel sprouts
leaf lettuces
Personally, I also grow tomatoes (from transplants) in my fall garden. Cherry, roma, and other smaller varieties have a shorter maturation date and do better for me in the fall. Some years we get lots of tomatoes and others it gets colder earlier and they don’t fruit until spring.

Herbs that can be grown during the fall and winter include
Mexican marigold
Many of these herbs will carry over into the spring and summer.


Quinta Mazatlan

Quinta Mazatlan

A group of Cameron County Master Gardeners visited McAllen’s Quinta Mazatlan to tour their gardens.     Along the walking trails, are mainly native plantings.      The one native that was new to all of us was brush holly, Xylosma flexuosa.   It was covered in beautiful yellow, orange and red berries. 

Our tour guide, John Bush

Thanks to John Bush for sharing great info about the mostly plant material and history of the garden.   John pointed out the scale on this cactus.  When crushed it exudes a red substance, which is used in many natural dyes.  In face, some people grow prickly pear cactus strictly to attract this particular scale. 

Zurly and Bill

The house and patio area are planted with palms and tropicals (and a few natives tossed in).   Zurly and husband, Bill, posed underneath a beautiful Golden Shower Tree, Cassia fistula.   We were told that in May, it was completey covered in the golden blooms. 

Bloom from a Golden Shower Tree

Quinta Mazatlan had some lovely areas to picnic in. 

If anyone had any pictures they would like to post, send them to cameroncountymastergardeners@gmail.com   


Butterflies, dragonflies, hummingbirds, & bees

In spite of our high temperatures, the plantings at The Arboretum are fairing well.   During Tuesday’s workday, we were able to take a few pics to share.   
Entrance to the outdoor classroom

Succulent Bed near the Compost Demonstration Site

I’m not sure who planted this succulent bed surrounding one of the mesquite trees, Prosopis glandulosa, but it’s looking great.    These various aloes, yuccas, and succulents are thriving in the filtered light and unammended soil. 

Ruellia or Mexican petunia

Ruellia or Mexican petunia

Ruellia, also known as Mexican petunia or wild petunia,  is perfect in these locations.   It is a vigorous self-seeder and considered a nuisance by some gardeners.   Don’t let it get established where you don’t want it!  It has deep roots and brittle stems that tend to break when you try to pull it out. 


Ruellia, aka Mexican or Wild Petunia

Ruellia also looks great edging the Outdoor Classroom.


Zinnias at the entrance bed

Zinnias and common sunflowers

Although we’ve let the grass and weeds get out of hand, these zinnias and sunflowers are still very welcoming.  

Butterfly on Butterfly Weed

And for those of you who are wondering about the title of this post.  We saw tons of butterflies, dragonflies, bees and one hummingbird.   The little beauty above was working the butterfly weed.   Butterfly weed is a nectar plant.  It blooms on new growth so you don’t have to worry about pruning.  It’s a self-seeder and will spread easily.