Posted by: Highland landscaping | May 4, 2018

May 2018


May 2018                                       EDITION 111

817-488-2718  Phone |


Each summer we include on our Task List (on the last page of the newsletter) to inspect for bagworms.   But,  questions arise:  What is a bagworm, and what exactly are we to inspect?   Bagworms are worms that munch on more than 100 different plants as their food.  Left alone, bagworms can  ravage plants and completely defoliate them.  Methods of treatment are only effective during certain times of their annual life cycle, so it is important to understand what that looks like.

The adult female bagworm looks like a maggot and never leaves the bag in which she has encapsulated herself.  After mating in the fall, the female lays 500-1000 eggs and then dies.  The eggs remain inside the bag throughout the winter.  The following May into June,  tiny caterpillars (larvae) begin to emerge from the bag.  At this point, the larvae are about the size of a sharpened pencil lead.  They immediately begin to munch on plants.  As they lower themselves from the bag, some become windblown and attach to nearby plants.  The larvae begin to create their own bag from silk (self-spun), and leaves and twigs from the plant.  The bag is constructed around the larvae with its head and legs free.  This allows the larvae to move around feeding on foliage.  If the plant becomes defoliated, the larvae can crawl off and search for a new plant to munch on.   The silk is so strong  it can actually strangle a small branch.

Picture2If larvae feel threatened, they can retract themselves into the bag and hold the openings closed.  This is what makes most prepared treatments less than effective. The bags, which may be mistaken for pine cones on an evergreen, become hard enough to protect the larvae, and on through the pupa stage.  By mid-August, the larvae attach the bag to a twig, seal themselves inside, and pupate.  At this point, they are roughly one inch in length.  By mid-September, the adult male moths emerge from their bags and begin the search for a female to begin the cycle again.  Fortunately, there is only one  generation per year.

The bags in which the bagworms encase themselves are virtually impenetrable by biological or chemical treatments.  They would have to be applied as soon as the eggs hatch and the larvae emerge. A plant would have to be sprayed from the trunk outward on each branch.  Natural predators that can feed on the larvae from their bags are wasps, hornets, woodpeckers and sapsuckers. The most effective treatment is to hand-pick the  bags from the plant and destroy them.  The time-span each year for this method is a bit broader than other applied methods. If the infestation is limited, monitoring Picture3natural predator activity may be all that is needed.  Bagworms can seriously stress a plant, especially in hot summer months.  Once a plant is infested, bagworms tend to return again.

Though any tree or bush may be attractive to bagworms, the plants in North Texas that appear most vulnerable are: arborvitae (evergreen conifers), red cedar, junipers, maple, persimmon, ginkgo, honey locust, sweet gum,  pine, sycamore, oak, willow, apple and cypress


“If the freedom of speech

 is taken away

 then dumb and silent

we may be led,

like sheep to the slaughter.”

                 -George Washington

Plant trivia

What parts of the pomegranate fruit are eaten for its powerful nutrients?(look for the answer at the end of our blog)

Featured project



Highland Landscaping enhanced a traditional  high maintenance residential landscape into a stunning native Texan design. The boxwoods and hedges were replaced with  bright yellow sunshine Ligustrum , purple Mexican bush sage, and Nandinas. Not only did this lower the maintenance requirements but added a variety of color to the property. Changing to a gravel or river rock brings a creative look to your design as well as reducing the hassle of replacing mulch every year.  Urns and containers are an effective way to add punctuation to the entrance of your property, separate plants, and anchor the corners of your pool. The agaves and sedum used in the urn below require no irrigation and blends nicely with the rest of the design.



Brooke Sugden Photography : 817-948-6428


 Seasonal color this month…

Citrus Trees, Summer Phlox,Hydrangea,  Magnolia, Marigold,Scaevola, Water Lilies,Purple Loosestrife,  Echinacea, Browallia, Bacopa, Yarrow, Desert Museum,Oleander, Yucca, Turks Cap, Duranta, Pomegranate, Perennial Salvias

May landscape Tasks:

  • Plant summer flowers
  • Plant tropical and perennials
  • Plant late-spring/summer garden
  • Plant trees, shrubs and groundcovers
  • Mulch landscape beds to 3”
  • Feed lawn
  • Apply post-emergent for weeds
  • Run-through sprinkler system
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs after blooms fall
  • Enjoy Spring!

Trivia Answer

The entire fruit


Picture8   Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), also known as bull bay, great laurel, big laurel and evergreen magnolia, is native to the southeastern United States from North Carolina to central Florida , and west to East Texas.  This slow-growing evergreen tree easily reaches  60-80 feet in height in Texas.  The dark green glossy leaves can reach a foot in length.   The leaves are stiff and leathery, while the undersides are slightly fuzzy feeling.

Large (6-14” diameter) creamy -white  cup-shaped flowers bloom spring through summer.  The magnolia blossoms are legendary for their strong fragrance;  often described as stronger than jasmine or tuberose, and more delightful.  The flowers open in the morning, and close at night.  Each flower remains brilliant for 2-3 days before it begins to disintegrate.  Rusty brown cones follow the flowers. The cones are the fruit;  bright red seeds.  The Southern magnolia tolerates partial sun, but will produce more flowers in a full sun location.

The largest Southern magnolia on record is in Smith County, Mississippi.   It stands 121 feet tall.  This is quite impressive considering that these are slow growing trees;  averaging one foot of growth per year.  The magnolia is the state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana.  It is thought  to be the most widely planted ornamental tree in the world.  The wood from the magnolia tree is used for furniture, cabinet work, doors, pallets and veneer.

The magnolia tree is one of the oldest plants in existence.  Fossil remains suggest it existed prior to the Ice Age.   It survived numerous “climate changes” in the Americas Picture9and Asia.   The magnolia predates bees and other flying insect pollinators.  It would have been pollinated by beetles.  The carpals and stamen are long and sturdy to withstand  fertilization by beetles.  As early as the 7th century, magnolias were cultivated in China.  Since 1083, the Chinese  have used “Hou-phou” bark for its potent medicinal  properties.

In the United States, there are upwards of 100 cultivars of magnolia trees.  For spaces that cannot support the size of the magnolia grandiflora, we recommend  a smaller cultivar.  “D.D. Blanchard”,  is a hearty cultivar that  is slightly smaller in size overall.   The undersides of the leaves are a rusty-brown color, and the  blooms are closer to 8” in diameter.

“Claudia Wannamaker”, developed by John Brailsford, is a large cultivar that grows more rapidly (about 3’ per year) and blooms at an earlier age.  It may reach 50 feet in height, with a spread of roughly 25 feet.  Its large thick leaves are a glossy green on top, with a thick brown felt on the underside.  Twelve petals compose the large (12”) pure-white flowers that bloom all summer.

Smaller cultivars include “Little Gem” and “Southern Charm” (more commonly known as “Teddy bear magnolia”).  “Little Gem grows 25-30 feet,  with a spread of 8-12 feet.  Its leaves are 4-8 inches in length, and its showy creamy white flowers are 6 inches in diameter.  “Teddy Bear is slightly smaller, topping out at 26 feet, with a spread of 14 feet maximum.   Its leaves are generally 8 inches long, but slightly wider than those of “Little Gem”.  What gives “Teddy Bear” its name is the brown, heavy fur-like fuzz that covers the underside of the leaves (pictured below).  It blooms in spring and fall.

Picture7 The magnolia tree was named after Pierre Magnol (1638-1715),  a French physician and botanist.  Carl Linnaeus described the species in his Systema Naturae (1759) with the Latin words “grandis” (big) and “flor” (flower).  Throughout its long history, the Magnolia grandiflora has continued to gain attention for the many gifts it has given to mankind;  from its medicinal powers, hard wood for practical use, shade in warm summer climates and its overall offering of beauty.



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