I have been transplanted several times and my true love has remained those strange plants of the Sonora Desert. I would walk past the “patio plants” at the nursery, tender semi-tropicals and tropicals destined for a short life and long for the smells of orange and lemon blossoms and the wonderful night blooming jasmine.
One day, from sheer desperation, I bought three oleanders. I planted them not in pots but in the ground. They seemed to like the site and after two years of covering them at the first sign of frost, I decided it was time for them to adjust to East Texas or not.
I agonized during the first frost, but they seemed fine. A little frost bite on the tops, but nothing serious. They not only survived, but have prospered. They were up and over the roof line. Seeds were everywhere, in the drain spout out onto the ground.
The idea of an automatic planting system came to mind. I placed black lava rock in a bed at the base of the drain spout. When the wind blows the seeds into the eves, they will eventually come down the pipe and disperse onto the lava rock. The lava rock holds dampness and is very warm. The seeds germinate and I transplant them when they are about four inches tall. I seem to have a never ending supply of seedlings to share and it is absolutely no work. I never water, never fertilize, and never fuss. Who knows, maybe I will try an Ocotillo next. (Ocotillo is a desert plant that blooms red flowers and leafs out only after a rain. It can be known as Jacob’s Staff or Flaming Sword).
Susan Boyer, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service