Gardening This Weekend: October 27, 2016

This section was the single biggest change when we made e-gardens weekly. For 15 years I published a monthly “things to do” section, but it was tough to keep it relevant for 30 days. (Perhaps you’ve noticed: Texas weather can change in 30 minutes, let alone 30 days!)

So, that said, here are the most timely tasks for this last weekend of October.


• Almost last call for digging and dividing spring-blooming perennials.
• Pansies, snapdragons, pinks, ornamental cabbage and kale and other cold-hardy annuals, even if it means removing summer annuals that have served you well. The new plants need the head start to get themselves going.
• Daffodils and grape hyacinths as soon as you buy them. Choose daffodils and narcissus that have the best chance of “naturalizing” (blooming in successive years). Best include Carlton, Ice Follies, Geranium, Cheerfulness, Golden Cheerfulness and other early and smaller-flowering types.
• Buy tulips and Dutch hyacinths immediately, then place them at 45 F. in the refrigerator for at least 45 days to give them artificial chilling. Without it in Texas they won’t bloom normally.


• Trim away spent flower stalks and dead leaves from perennials to keep things tidy.
• Remove dead branches from shade trees while you can easily identify them. It’s much more difficult when their branches are all bare.
• Lawn at regular mowing height. Raising the blade does not help improve winter hardiness at all. Bag fallen tree leaves and use them as a mulch or in the compost pile.


• Ryegrass and fescue turf with a high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen lawn food. Use half the recommended rate for ryegrass that you’ve used to overseed bermuda or St. Augustine. Use the recommended rate for permanent fescue turf. Unless you are very near the Texas Gulf Coast, it is too late to fertilize St. Augustine or bermuda that has not been overseeded.
• Cut back on fertilizer given to patio pots and hanging baskets that you intend to bring indoors for winter. They won’t need the nutrition. Your goal will be to limit new growth in darker household conditions.

Continued Below


On the Lookout

• Brown patch is turning circular areas of St. Augustine yellow, then brown. Blades pull loose from the runners quite easily. Apply a labeled turf fungicide to stop it. The grass will bounce back, but you can speed it along by stopping the spread of the fungus. Local independent nurseries are more likely to stock it.
• Time is running out to apply a glyphosate-only herbicide to grasses growing where you’d like to develop a flower or vegetable garden. Once a freeze turns the grass brown you won’t be able to spray until mid- or late spring. Determine bed placement now, and get the spraying done.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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