TX Organic Research Center



East Palatka, Savannah Hollies, Dogs in Beds, Prickly Pear Removal, Tomato Problems
March 21, 2003
By Howard Garrett

They will turn yellow and die within a few years. That’s a common comment along with doubts about being able to grow well in alkaline soils that seems to plague two of my favorite plants. There are east Palatka holly and savannah holly. Not only will these fine hollies grow well here in the alkaline soil of north Texas, there are many examples of their adaptability. The photos here show one of the best examples of East Palatka. One is in Lakewood and the other is in Highland Park. Of the two, this may be my favorite. Its leaves are smooth-edged with one soft spine on the end. The red berries in winter are dependable, beautiful and good for attracting birds.


Savannah holly is more upright in growth, a little stiffer in appearance than the East Palatka holly but usually amore dramatic show of berries in the winter. Its leaves have multiple soft spines. The best place to see how well this plant grows in our climate and soil is the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park. I will admit that there are some yellow, apparently chlorotic examples of these two trees. There are two possible causes of this and one solution. When these trees are planted directly in solid white limestone rock, they will suffer. Also, if they are fertilized with high nitrogen, triple-superphosphate fertilizers that cause trace minerals to not be available to plant roots. The solution is to organic techniques. The Sick Tree Treatment will improve conditions short term and the Basic Organic Program is the long term solution. Both are available free as handouts by calling 1-866-444-SOIL. Not just these two hollies but other unusual plants can be grown here in North Texas if the proper conditions are provided. The most important condition – healthy soil.


Q. I have shredded cedar mulch in my flower beds.  My dogs love to wallow and sleep in the beds and they dig a little. What is the best repellant to keep the dogs out of the beds? – C.L, Dallas

A. Their own poop usually works like a charm. It also keeps dogs from digging but has to be redone from time to time.


Q. Is there an organic method for getting rid of prickly pear cactus on a large scale on a farm/ranch? – L.B., Waco

A. Yes, scrape the plants up into a pile and add some molasses – dry or liquid. This makes one of the best composts you have ever seen.


Q. Every year some of my tomato plants produce ripe tomatoes that are mottled when ripe.  On http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/tomatoproblemsolver/index.html it appears to be spotted wilt virus caused by flower and onion thrips. What can I do to control the thrips?  I have several volunteer marigolds in the garden.  Might the marigolds be a source of the thrips?  Thanks for your help.  J.M., Dallas

A. I doubt the flowers or any other plant will encourage pests to attack other plants. Beneficial nematodes applied to the soil at planting will usually do it. Garrett Juice spray and dry molasses added to the soil will also help.


   A burning question on lawns
   A Monster's Growing Under Our Deck!
   About oak sprouts
   After exposing tree’s root flare, leave it alone
   Ailing from harsh summer, crabapple needs treatment
   All we are saying is give trees a chance
   Amount of tilling, not method, is what matters.
   An organic option to control the fleas
   An unwelcome bug is eating ornamental plants
   Antique, container roses are sweeter
   Ants have invaded pots of peppers
   Any way to help heal injured tree?
   Apple and pear trees need little pruning
   Are gnats hanging out on your houseplants? There's hope
   Are mushrooms bad for my yard?
   Are tree galls troublesome?
   Asps won't hurt plants 9-01-2006
   Attracting Birds To The Garden, Composting, Sprayers
   Azalea beds may be incorrectly done
   Baby talc marches against ants
   Bag the worm problem to save tree
   Bald cypress going brown
   Bald cypress roots expose themselves.
Printable Version | Back to Top

Organic Club of America
Bonnie Plants

H A N N A H ' S    M A R K E T P L A C E

Send this website to a friend Make this website your home page