Gardening This Weekend: January 5, 2017

After a few warmer days, winter has returned to Texas. Big time! However, I’ve still listed the first gardening responsibilities of the New Year below. Even if they spill past the weekend, here are things you’ll want to get done.


• Fruit trees, vines and bushes. Find a list of varieties recommended by Texas A&M for your part of Texas and buy accordingly. Local independent retail garden centers are most likely to have bought for your area. National chains usually buy from regional or national offices. If you buy via the mail, look through the listings of the highly respected Womack Nursery in DeLeon, TX.
• Onions in South Texas. North Texas plantings will go in in two to three weeks.
• Cool-season annuals, including pansies, violas, pinks and snapdragons in Central and North Texas. In South Texas list can also include sweet alyssum, stocks, ornamental Swiss chard, wallflowers and larkspurs.
• Dig and relocate any trees and shrubs you need to move during the winter.


• Mistletoe from tree branches. Smaller clumps at the ends of twigs can be removed by clipping the entire twig from the tree. Larger clumps on mature branches can only be clipped back flush with the bark. They will regrow, but you’ll slow them down. There is no spray that will eliminate mistletoe without harming the host tree.
• Evergreens to reshape, but avoid formal shearing. Hand shears and loppers give the most natural-looking results.
• Peach and plum trees to establish strong scaffold branching 24 to 30 inches from the ground. Remove all strongly vertical shoots each winter.
• Grapes to remove 80-85 percent of the cane growth. Without this pruning the vines will overproduce and fruit quality will be poor. Maintain the vines on their scaffold wires.


• Houseplants no more often than monthly with a diluted, water-soluble fertilizer with a relatively high nitrogen content. Your goal is to maintain them in good health and vigor without encouraging rampant growth during the dark days of winter.
• Pansies, pinks and other winter annuals with a water-soluble plant food each time that you water them.
• Liquid root stimulator to newly transplanted trees and shrubs monthly for first year they are in their new homes.
• Asparagus beds in South Texas with all-nitrogen fertilizer in next 10 days. Wait until late January in Central and North Texas.


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• Cover tender plants with frost cloth any time extreme cold is forecast. I still have many of my plants covered from three weeks ago.
• Freeze damage from three weeks ago. If you’re seeing dead leaves and damaged stems, limited pruning might be advised for shrubs. Many people are asking about perennials that have frozen back. Last winter was so mild these same plants never froze, and now people are concerned that they have this year. I’ve been asked about Turk’s cap, elephant ears and cannas – all plants that normally freeze to the ground every winter. Sit tight. They’ll be back.
• Houseplants for mealy bugs, spider mites and scale insects. Treat at first evidence. Populations can build quickly since there are no predators indoors.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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