Gardening for this Weekend: March 17, 2016
You need to know the average date of the last killing freeze for your area. That’s a date you want to keep in your head. We’re weeks past it in South Texas, and just about at it in North Central Texas, Northeast Texas and much of the Hill Country. For our Panhandle readers, we’re still at least a couple of weeks away. So this is an especially challenging week to be outlining gardening tasks.
Plant: For all but the Panhandle, warm-season annual flowers and vegetables. Note that there are some temperatures into the high 30s and low 40s forecast for this weekend, so if you wait until early next week, you’ll be just fine. Panhandle: leafy and root vegetables and frost-hardy annual flowers.
Nursery stock is wonderfully abundant right now. I’d encourage you to shop at independent retail garden centers where you will be talking to full-time, practicing gardeners.
Lawns can be sodded now. Along the lower Gulf Coast and in Deep South Texas, bermudagrass seed can be planted. If you are filling shady spots with new sod, be absolutely certain there is enough sunlight for St. Augustine, or in the Panhandle for fescue. Both require at least 6 hours of direct sun to grow and thrive. People waste millions of dollars across Texas each spring hoping that “this will the time that the new grass takes hold.” Our fellow Texans also waste huge amounts on what I call “miracle” grasses that turn out to be anything but miraculous.
Prune: Spring-flowering shrubs and vines to reshape after they finish blooming. Leave foliage atop daffodils if you expect them to come back next year to bloom again. Tulips and Dutch hyacinths usually do not bloom after the first year.
Fertilize: South Texans can fertilize turfgrass. Wait another week or two in North Texas. It’s fine to fertilize all of your existing shrubs, groundcovers and perennials now. Use high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen fertilizer depending on results of a soil test.
Spray: Continue fruit spray program as prescribed by Texas A&M horticulturists. Apply broadleafed weedkiller (containing 2,4-D) to control all non-grassy weeds. (See related story this issue.) Aphids may appear in massive numbers on tender new growth of many types of plants. They are not terribly harmful. You can probably wash them off the stems and new leaves with a hard stream of water.