I was about ready to hack them back (which I hoped would encourage some bushy new growth in time for fall) but I ran out of time over the weekend and never got to it.
During the week, I got a surprise when I spotted a tiny caterpiller, less than half an inch long, on one of the plants.
This weekend, I counted and found 9 of them, between an inch and two inches long and looking fat and healthy.
The plants still look pretty awful, but any hacking back will have to wait!
Some of them had almost eaten themselves out of house and home, as it were. So I had to delicately relocate them by removing the leaf (or remains thereof) that they were on, and placing it on a plant that still looked decent.
It didn't take them long to realize there was more food around and transfer themselves to the new plant.
The photos I have shown, including this one of a plant that is actually taller than the fence, were all taken in the back yard.
We've also got a zillion milkweed in the front, but unfortunately, when we got back from vacation, I discovered they were all covered with white powdery stuff and what looks like spider webs. I'm thinking spider mites of some sort.
I really need to get out there and either rip them out or just hack them back but it's too darned hot for me. I have to do my gardening in 15 minute increments or I end up with something akin to heat stroke.
I've been here in Texas 31 years and the summers still kill me!
I'll try and get out there a couple of evenings this week and see what I can do with them to save them for next year.
Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.