The Grumpy Gardener

Get your garden growing with the humor and wisdom of editor Steve Bender. Ask a Question


Pet Your Praying Mantis

Looking for an unusual pet? One that doesn’t bark, shed, need shots or a litter box, and will look you straight in the eye with obvious affection? Then you need a praying mantis!

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My Rotten Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are the rage nowadays, as everybody and their cousin with the goiter hail them for their superior, seductive flavor. But what happens when you get sucked into the hype and your special tomatoes disappoint? Join a convent? No — listen to the wise words of Grumpy.

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When It Rains, It Blooms — Texas Ranger

Grumpy delights in bringing to your attention little-known plants worthy of your garden. Here is one such character that needs little care, thrives in heat and drought, and blooms off and on all summer.

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Football and Flowers — Show Your Team Colors!

Electricity fills the air, along with charcoal smoke and vicious insults hurled at rival universities. College football season is back, that special time when we put aside such trivial matters as emergency surgery and anniversary gifts to celebrate young men heroically turning their brains into jelly for our amusement. If you think parading your school colors stops with wearing a […]

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5 Dorm Plants Your Kid Can’t Kill

Dorm plants and college students just don’t mix, especially if the student is a dude. There are so many other pressing concerns they must attend to — throwing a kegger, asking Mom for money, and figuring out what brooms are for. So if you want their rooms to appear habitable by adding houseplants, you need to choose ones they can’t […]

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Control Those Dang Tree Suckers!

Faithful Texas reader Carolyn White planted live oaks 39 years ago. Her trees are very big now and suckers keep coming up from the roots. She wants to know if there is any product she can use to keep the suckers from sprouting without harming her trees.┬áThe answer is…….perhaps. But before deciding which product to use or whether to use […]

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5 Dumb and Smart Ways to Deal With Stumps

If you have big trees, sooner or later one is going to croak, forcing you to cut it down to a stump. What should you do with this stump? Leave it, remove it, donate it to charity? Here are five options. Some make good sense, some make little sense, and some show whoever tries them has no sense at all.

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Gardening At 100 Degrees — 5 Hot Tips for Summer Survival

It’s August — the absolute worst month in the South to be a snowman, and not so great for a gardener either. You can’t stand to be outside and yet your plants need you. As you look out upon a melted mush of flowers and bushes, you may well remember the first day you planted them and ponder, “What the […]

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Grumpy’s 32 Tips For 32 Years

Today marks the start of Grumpy’s 33rd year of not being fired from Southern Living. I know, I know — how could any organization overlook more than three decades of sarcasm, bad taste, poor judgment, and blatant snarkiness? I still remember my first day on the job. I was 10 and had to sit on what was called a “telephone […]

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A Better Rose Than Knock Out

No doubt about it, ‘Knock Out’ rose has been the most successful plant introduction since marijuana. Millions upon millions have been sold to people looking for constant color with zero maintenance to the point where it’s hard to find anyone growing a rose that isn’t ‘Knock Out.’ But perhaps for the average homeowner, there might be something better.

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