Friday, April 6, 2012

Landscaping Made Easy, Part 4: POH Yaupon Holly

Be open to yaupon.  (In case you're not familiar with the term, that sentence rhymes).

I should have been more clear at the outset of my landscaping posts about my intentions: identifying a variety of landscape plants that will make for an interesting and practical (i.e., private) back yard assemblage that requires virtually no maintenance or intervention of any kind

There are plenty of alternatives to the plants I'm listing here that are more exotic and sexy.  We live in a humid subtropical climate that lends itself very well to the growing of a wide variety of showstopping landscape plants.  However, the trouble with many of them is, unless you baby them and treat them with various chemicals, they won't do well for you.  You'll either be out there spraying and dipping and digging and watering and fertilizing and treating according to the schedule they demand, or you'll have dead plants. 

Nothing in my back yard gets treated with chemicals, ever.  If something gets attacked by some insect or fungus, I let it die and move on to trying the next hopefully-more-resilient candidate. 

I'm primarily aiming these posts at the Centerpointe residents who currently have nothing whatsoever in their back yards.  Obviously these are not residents who care to spend every weekend manicuring their landscapes, or they would have demonstrated that kind of behavior already.  These are typically the busy two-earner family-oriented professionals who need hands-off economical landscaping options that are suitable enough to create privacy and increase their property values accordingly, but who may have the time and energy to work on their landscapes only a few days each year.   

This perspective comes to mind at this moment because, if I recommend yaupon, some folks would be inclined to say, "That plant is SO over-done."

Well, there's a REASON why it's overdone - it's pretty and once it's established, it almost cannot be killed.  It's native to our area, evergreen, and is a landscape work-horse whether in miniature or larger form.

And the POH, which stands for Pride of Houston yaupon cultivar, is really special because, not only does it provide wonderful screening...
Like many Centerpointe residents, we have a few dreaded utility boxes inside our backyard easement.  Behind these POH's there is an ugly electrical utility box and an even-uglier Comcast utility box, but you can't really see them because the POH's shield them so well. also is unique in the sheer number of flowers and berries it produces:
This is a pic from a previous post.  In the spring, POH's are covered with white flowers that are very attractive to just about every insect.
Wow!  The brightest scarlet berries persist on POH's for months, basically from the fall until they drop off the following spring just in time for the next flowering.
Once the roots are well established, POH's basically never need watering or care.  They're native to Houston.  They live here naturally and they can deal with the environment without assistance.  I've never seen a native yaupon attacked by any pests.

Like the other choices I've listed, they don't cost much.  I have four of them that I bought at the Lowes hardware store on FM 646.  I saw them come into the store in the spring of 2010, mature five-footers, beautiful shapely POH specimens, but they were priced at $100 apiece due to their large size.  So I waited, and waited, and waited... and sure enough, that fall, they went on sale for $30 apiece, and I bought the store's entire remaining stock of them.    Again, not much money for a plant that now defines the entire northwest corner of my back yard.
Try some non-frustrating POH's, and the only red you'll be seeing will be in the annual outrageous proliferation of berries. 
I've also seen them for sale at Houston Garden Center, where the tags may say "POH" only, minus the words "yaupon holly".

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