Gardening This Weekend: May 12, 2016

Texas has just about evened out. Spring is difficult, because it can be summer-like in South Texas and freezing cold in the Panhandle. But by now, we’re all looking down the same barrel of summertime. Here are things I’d suggest you address first.



• Summer color from annuals: angelonias, pentas, lantanas, coleus, firebush, copper plants, purple fountaingrass, crotons, Gold Star esperanza, purslane, moss rose, fanflowers.
• New turf from sod, seed, plugs or hydromulching. This is the very best month of the year to plant any warm-season lawngrass.
• Nursery stock. Watch for sales, as nurseries begin to reduce inventories before summer.



• Spring-flowering shrubs and vines to correct erratic growth.
• Mow often and at recommended height to establish dense turf.
• Shade trees to remove branches that are hanging low due to weight of new leaves and stems. Wait to prune oaks until mid-summer to lessen chance of oak wilt invasion.



• Lawns with high-nitrogen or (more likely) all-nitrogen fertilizer, as determined by a soil test.
• Use same fertilizer for other plants as well, including flowers, vegetables, trees and shrubs.
• Iron and sulfur soil additive to correct iron chlorosis (yellowing of leaf blades while veins remain dark green, most prominent on newest growth first).



• Crape myrtle scale, particularly around DFW. Pest looks like mealybugs, but squishes red fluid when mashed. It is not harmful, but unsightly. Black, sooty mold grows in the honeydew the scales exude. To prevent the mold, control the scale with a systemic insecticide applied to root system now. See related information in Question of the Week, this issue.
• Early blight on tomatoes causes thumbprint-sized yellow blotches on lower leaves. Quickly causes plants to defoliate. Apply labeled garden fungicide.
• Webworms will be showing up soon across Texas, first in South Texas, spreading into North Texas by late May, early June. Prune webs out of pecan trees as soon as they appear. At that point you can use a long-handled pole pruner to nip the ends off the twigs. Wait a week too long and you’ll have to look at the large webs the rest of the growing season. Spraying is expensive, inefficient and difficult.
• Chiggers are out and about across much of the state. For them and for mosquitoes, protect yourself with DEET spray, both on ankles and feet, boots, socks and slacks, also on arms and face for mosquitoes.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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