Gardening This Weekend: January 19, 2017

You’re probably heard me say that doing the right things in gardening is half the key to gardening success. Doing them at the right time is the rest of your journey. Here are this weekend’s assignments.


• Fruit trees, grapes, blackberries, pecans and other bare-rooted nursery stock. Here is the TAMU list of best fruit varieties for Texas.
• Onion slips, asparagus and snap-type English peas immediately in South Texas and in the next week or two in North Texas.
• Transplant established trees and shrubs that need to be moved within your landscape. This must be done while they are dormant in winter.


• Peach and plum trees to encourage horizontal branching and strong scaffold branching system 22 to 26 inches from the ground. Apples to remove strongly vertical shoots (“watersprouts”). Pears only to remove damaged or rubbing branches. Grapes to remove 80 to 85 percent of canes and maintain vines on strong supports. Wait to prune blackberries until after harvest. Do not prune figs except to remove damaged branches.
• Evergreen shrubs to reshape. It’s best usually to remove one branch at a time to avoid the sheared look. By using lopping shears you can probably reduce their height and width by 20 to 25 percent.
• Oaks to remove unwanted branches. They must be pruned during winter (prior to mid-February) to minimize likelihood of oak wilt invasion into cut surfaces. Do not leave stubs. Seal all cut surfaces with pruning paint, but only for oaks.
• Do not “top” crape myrtles. See recent story from e-gardens.


• Established asparagus plantings with all-nitrogen, fast-release fertilizer such as ammonium sulfate by side-banding along the rows of plants. Goal is to create burst of new shoot growth in February, early March.
• Annual color beds with water-soluble, high-nitrogen plant food to help them regrow after the cold.


Continued Below



• Winter damage. With the freeze-thaw cycles that have followed our two extreme cold spells, plants that were hurt or killed by the cold are beginning to become apparent. If stems are brittle, mushy or shriveled, you can prune to remove them. Otherwise, wait a few more weeks to see how much, if any, regrowth the plants are able to generate. See related story from last week.
• Scale insects may look like crusts or scabs on the surface of tree and shrub trunks and leaves. You can usually flick them off with your thumbnail. Apply horticultural oil while plants are dormant. Requirements: no rain, as well as temperatures above freezing (and below 80F) for 48 hours after treating. (Note that oils do not appear to be effective in controlling crape myrtle scale.)

Posted by Neil Sperry
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