Scion – May 2023

Ronald “Butch” Lee, Treasurer

Hello, Master Gardeners and local San Antonio area community gardeners,

I am Ronald “Butch” Lee and I have been a Master Gardener for six years.  I have been on the Bexar County Master Gardener (BCMG) Board for two years, first serving as the Secretary and now as Treasurer.  The last couple of years have been challenging for the organization and its members, as we were limited in the number of in-person opportunities to share our love of gardening and hands-on knowledge, and to achieve our mission of public outreach.  One positive outcome of these challenges, however, is how Master Gardeners and the organization have leveraged technology to share our knowledge virtually, to provide educational opportunities, and to increase access to locally relevant, researched-based information. 

In addition to our ongoing virtual gardening events, we are pleased that since January 2023 the number of in-person events we are hosting as well as those we have been asked to attend have increased significantly.   Every week and weekend through April, Master Gardeners have been among the military and local public communities sharing knowledge and electronic horticulture resources, answering questions, and rebuilding a strong connection through public outreach.

BCMG’s ability to support these in-person events while maintaining the support functions necessary for members and the public to access information electronically is a direct result of the dedication, sacrifice, and the positive “can do” spirit of our Master Gardeners.  I am proud to volunteer alongside our BCMGs as we move the organization forward for the remainder of 2023.

In May 2023, BCMG has many educational and in-person volunteer opportunities.  The virtual Texas Master Gardener Association Conference, which is open to everyone, is being held on May 2nd and 3rd with 24 breakout sessions to increase Master Gardeners’ knowledge to share with the public at future events.   Also, eight additional in-person and/or virtual educational horticultural opportunities are available.  Dates and times can be found on the BCMG May Calendar.   Lastly, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and BCMGs are hosting Texas Master Gardeners from across the state for Home Vegetable Gardening Advanced Training, 22 through 25 May 2023, at the San Antonio Botanical Garden Culinary Education Center. Several Bexar County Master Gardeners are attending this state-wide training, which will result in more opportunities for sharing such valuable knowledge with San Antonio area vegetable gardening enthusiasts and other Master Gardeners.  Sharing our gardening knowledge with others plants seeds of curiosity, which can lead to the creation of beautiful gardens we can all enjoy.

Thank you again for all you do for Bexar County Master Gardeners and the San Antonio Gardening Community.   I hope to see you at some of the upcoming events. 

In the Garden…with Bexar County Master Gardeners

Marsha Krassner, Principal Editor “In the Garden”

Birds and Wildlife

  • Lower the purple martin house to clean it out.
  • Change hummingbird-feeder sugar water every week.


  • Get begonias and impatiens in.  Wait until mid-month to plant periwinkles.  Do not water overhead.  
  • Mandevilla, bougainvillea and Chinese hibiscus are great patio plants.
  • Deadhead spent flowers. 
  • Hot weather plants: firebush, lantana, poinciana, Esperanza, firespike, caladium, coleus, begonia, moss rose, hibiscus, bougainvillea, purslane, cannas and blue princess verbena.  
  • Fertilizing potted plants with water- soluble product brings rich color.  
  • Fertilize roses for continued blooming.
  • Let wildflowers go to seed before mowing.  
  • Flower seeds to be sown directly in the soil include amaranthus, celosia, morning glory, sunflowers and zinnias. 
  • Plant hibiscus, bougainvillea or mandevilla vines in containers…

(Photo by Rhonda Bell)

Growing Little Green Thumbs

By Rhonda Bell, Bexar County Master Gardener

Gardening is a wonderful activity that benefits children in many ways. Not only does it provide a fun and engaging outdoor activity, gardening can also teach kids valuable skills and lessons that they can carry forward throughout their lives.

Gardening encourages healthy habits by involving physical activity. It also encourages healthy eating habits as kids are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables that they have grown themselves. Kids learn about the life cycle of plants, the importance of pollinators, and the role that plants play in our ecosystem.

Gardening can be a great confidence builder. When kids  see their plants grow and thrive, they feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. Gardening also requires responsibility and commitment. Kids  learn to care for their plants and assume daily duties for making sure  that the plants  have the right amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients to grow.

There are endless educational opportunities for kids while playing in the garden soil. For instance, gardening offers the young gardener lessons about science, math, entomology, and history by exploring different types of plants, bugs, and the origins of plants…

Iris (Photo by Mary Cennamo)

Growing Irises in San Antonio

By Mary Cennamo, Bexar County Master Gardener

There are more than 310 species of irises on record. This beautiful flower is characterized by a wide assortment of colors, varying heights and multiple seasonal blooming times.  Irises may be “bearded” or “beardless.” 

Bearded refers to the part of the flower that is above the fall (or at the top of the falling petal) and which usually has a contrasting color that helps the flower beautifully stand out in the garden.  Most bearded irises are native to central and southern Europe. In contrast, beardless irises do not have the “beard” and mainly originated in Asia.

Short or Tall?

Irises can be short or tall.  In general, the shorter varieties usually bloom earlier than the taller varieties, a blooming trend that I recently read about.  But, as always, there are exceptions to the rule.  There can be taller varieties that bloom early, and in my garden, I have a very tall bearded variety with multiple flowers up the stem that blooms for about two weeks in early April.

I recommend planting some of each so that you have continuous flowers blooming in your garden…

Drip Irrigation System
(Photo by Bill Swantner)

Appreciating & Conserving Water

By Bill Swantner, Bexar County Master Gardener

More than 71% of the earth is covered in water but less than 1% is available for irrigation and drinking. Experts estimate that, within the next decade, 700 million people will be displaced by drought.

The recent atmospheric rivers left over 13 inches of rain in downtown San Francisco, yet 95% of California’s recent deluge went out to sea.   In a “typical” year, San Antonio averages 32 inches of rain, but in 2022 we received only a third (11 inches).  In that same year, 50,000 people moved into our region, placing additional demands on our water supply.

The San Antonio Water System is literally squeezing every drop of water possible out of our water resources, but we need to do our part by efficiently using every drop of water. Practices that we can adopt include: amending the soil, selecting correct plants and placing them in the right location, collecting rainwater, and using drip irrigation. In short, we need to appreciate and conserve this critical resource…

Clusters of Ruby Crush grape tomatoes.
Ruby Crush grape tomato variety was named a Texas Superstar plant for its consistent performance in trials around the state. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Mike Arnold)

Ruby Crush tomato named Texas Superstar plant

Top-performing tomato in taste, consistent production

Ruby crush, a determinate grape tomato variety with a long-standing reputation for performance and taste, has been named the newest Texas Superstar plant. 

Larry Stein, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist and Texas Superstar executive board member, Uvalde, said the variety has performed exceptionally well in field trials under less-than-ideal growing conditions around the state.

Stein said the variety has been a top-performing tomato plant in field trials over the past several years, despite it being a grape variety. Ruby Crush has also performed well in taste tests over the years, including at the San Antonio Rodeo, where it was named the 2021 Rodeo Tomato.

“It’s been extremely consistent since day one,” he said. “It performs even where fields or planting conditions are poor. Other varieties don’t do that year upon year.”

To be designated a Texas Superstar, a plant must perform well for growers throughout the state. Texas Superstars must also be easy to propagate, ensuring the plants are widely available and reasonably priced…

Gardening Education Opportunities

May 10 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Master Gardeners in the Garden: Texas Native Ornamental Shrubs for Your Landscape – Free

San Antonio Botanical Garden – Culinary Garden Education Center 555 Funston Place, San Antonio

Presented by Lynn Cox, Bexar County Master Gardener and hosted by San Antonio Botanical Garden. Advanced registration is required by May 9 at 10:00 A.M. This seminar is WaterSaver Rewards eligible.

Read More

May 10 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Earth-Kind® Brown Thumb Series – Utilizing Texas Superstar® Annuals and Perennials

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Bexar County 3355 Cherry Ridge, Ste. 208, San Antonio, TX, United States

Presented by David Rodriguez, Horticulturist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Certified Master Gardeners. $20/session.

Read More

May 11 @ 8:00 am – 4:15 pm

Vegetable Spring Field Day (RSVP by May 3rd)

Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Uvalde 1619 Garner Field Rd, Uvalde, TX, United States

Presented by Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Uvalde. This event will include educational presentation and field tours. Registration is required by May 3rd.

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May 12 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch & Learn with a Bexar County Master Gardener – Christmas Oranges – Free

Bexar County Master Gardeners 3355 Cherry Ridge, Ste. 208, San Antonio, TX, United States

Presented by Bexar County Master Gardeners. Bring your favorite lunch and learn at this free seminar.  Seating is limited and walk-ins will not be accepted, so please make your reservation in advance. 

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May 13 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am

Growing Texas Superstar® Plants for Summer Color, Butterflies, Pollinators, and More – Free

Milberger’s Landscaping & Nursery 3920 North Loop 1604, San Antonio, TX, United States

Presented by David Rodriguez, Horticulturist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and hosted by Milberger’s Landscaping & Nursery. Learn what you can do to keep your garden beds blooming throughout the heat of the summer, how to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and how to prepare your landscape for summer heat.

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May 15 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Surviving the Summer Heat – Free

Encino Library 2515 E. Evans Rd., San Antonio, TX, United States

Presented by Bexar County Master Gardeners Liana Benavides and Nancy Mills.      

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May 18 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

BCMG May Monthly Meeting – Wrangle Your Water Use: Garden Like a Texan – Free

San Antonio Garden Center 3310 N New Braunfels, San Antonio, TX, United States

Hosted by Bexar County Master Gardeners Topic:  Wrangle Your Water Use: Garden Like a Texan. Texas is challenged by a growing population and ever more variable weather conditions.  This sounds like an ominous combination, but it does not have to be. 

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May 20 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Growing TX Superstar® Color Plants – Free

The Garden Center 10682 Bandera Rd., San Antonio, TX, United States

Presented by David Rodriguez, Horticulturist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and hosted by The Garden Center Nursery. It isn’t easy to become a Texas Superstar® plant.  Only the toughest, most reliable, and best-looking plants make the cut. 

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May 29

Offices Closed: Memorial Day

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Bexar County Master Gardeners offices are closed today.

May 31 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm ONLINE

Webinar Series: 15 Bugs Everyone Should Know About – Butterflies – Free

Presented by Molly Keck, Entomologist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Join Zoom Webinar Meeting ID – 863 6857 1398 Password – 15BUGS. Free and Open to the Public.

Read More


Are your home grown tomatoes showing promise?

Could you have a winner? 

Our 2023 Top Tomato Contest is coming up. Mark your calendars!

Saturday, June 10th from 9am-2pm at Fanick’s Nursery 

1025 Holmgreen Rd. San Antonio Tx 78220 

Frequently check the BCMG Calendar, as that is where all the new, upcoming programs will be posted. Click Here

BCMG News!

Wise Water Words

Hello Fellow Gardeners,

Speaker Liana Benavides, President BCMG
(Photo by Anna Vogler)

I would like to highlight a presentation that was given 12 April as part of our Master Gardeners in the Garden series.  Our BCMG President, Liana Benavides, gave a very interesting and informative presentation on Gardening for Pollinators at the historic Auld House within the San Antonio Botanical Garden. This was part of our Master Gardeners in the Garden series that we give the 2nd Wednesday of each month for the Botanical Garden.

Liana explained that pollinators are considered beneficial insects and she listed the numerous benefits that these little creatures provide in our gardens and landscapes.  Liana highlighted the critical role that bees play in sustaining our eco systems by pollinating fruit and vegetable crops. She shared some staggering statistics including that they provide essential services to American agriculture estimated at $9M annually.

Her class emphasized the impact of natural areas being depleted for new construction, which also depletes the population of the ever-important pollinators as their habitats are being destroyed. We as gardeners can make a difference by ensuring that our landscapes and practices are pollinator friendly. By planting specific types of plants for these pollinators that flower throughout the seasons, we are providing them with habitats, food sources, shelter from the elements, and a safe area for the insects to lay their eggs. Eliminating pesticides and herbicides from our pollinator gardens will further protect these beneficial insects we share our gardens with…


BCMGs have been busy volunteering at many wonderful community events. Here are photos from just a few of them!

Spring Bloom at San Antonio Water System “SAWS” (Photo by Barbara Lutz)
San Antonio Garden Center Flower Show (Photo by Cindy Hernandez)
Migratory Bird Festival at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center (Photo by Mim Shea)

Texas A&M AgriLife News!

Speaker and organizer Andres Villagran, Youth Gardens Coordinator, Texas A&M AgriLife (Photo by Tom Neckar)

Bexar County is vibrant in a multitude of ways, with one of the unsung heroes being vegetable gardening. Many schools and youth groups in Bexar County have their very own youth gardens where they grow vegetables, herbs, perennials, and more. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Bexar County is proud to support these gardens through visits, presentations, and more. One of the biggest ways we support these youth gardens is through the two Youth Gardens Educator Trainings that we host every year, one for the spring season and one for the fall season. These trainings are meant to supply local educators with the skills they need to implement and care for vegetable gardens in their schools, church groups, community groups, etc… Local educators are supplied with information from specialized presenters, as well as plants and compost for their youth gardens. We have done this training since 1992, so it’s hard to precisely quantify the impact that we have had on Bexar County over three decades. However, we do know that in 2022 alone, this training supported 140 youth gardens groups and around 11,000 youth.

Organizing the plants attendees received for their school gardens (Photo by Tom Neckar)

This past March, we hosted our annual Spring Youth Gardens Educator Training at the San Antonio Botanical Garden (555 Funston Place 78209). 64 participants attended the training. We had a total of 33 Master Gardener volunteers assist with set up, registration, and plant pickup. We had 4 Master Gardeners with Advanced Training present on various aspects related to spring gardening…

Helpful Resources

WOAI Lawn and Garden Show

Call in to Live Radio on Saturday mornings, with your gardening questions for David.
Call in: 210-737-1200 or 1-800-383-9624 on Saturdays from 7 am to 10pm

Or just listen to the show, and learn from everyone else’s questions!

WOAI 1200 AM – Lawn and Garden Show
Host: David Rodriguez, Bexar County AgriLife Extension Horticulturist.

Past shows are archived here, for easy listening on your computer, tablet or phone, anytime! Listen on your phone while you drive!

Ask a Master Gardener

Question of the month: We purchased a great looking “Knock Out” Rose Bush. Due to soil condition and availability of sun light in our yard we would like to plant it in a whiskey barrel.  Is this okay? 


Answer:  It will be fine in the container.  Just remember that you can keep it trimmed if it gets too big for where you put it and it should be cut back to about 12 inches in the early spring each year to keep it full and somewhat compact.

Answer by Art Vazquez, BCMG

Master Gardeners are available to help you with your gardening questions. We provide unbiased, research-based, locally relevant gardening information. Free service. You can reach us:

By phone: 210-631-0400 (Ask to speak to a Master Gardener)

Mon-Fri 9 am – Noon, 1-4 pm (Closed on county holidays)

Or Submit A Question Online

The phones and the Hotline are being operated from Master Gardener home telephones; hotline calls are being directed by the AgriLife Extension receptionist.

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