Gardening This Weekend: March 16, 2017

Not only does it look like dangers of frost are behind us in all but the coldest parts of the state for the next 15 days, but it looks like the weather is going to be beautiful.

Here are this weekend’s gardening priorities, all personally laid out and arranged for you by your own private garden butler (me).


• Warm-season vegetables. Most successful types include bush beans, crookneck and zucchini squash, small and medium-sized tomatoes (large-fruiting types don’t set fruit well in Texas heat), peppers, and for large gardens, corn. Wait to plant okra until it turns warmer in mid- or late April.
• Warm-season annuals including marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, geraniums, coleus and wax begonias. Wait for warmer soils to plant vincas, lantanas, caladiums, moss rose and copper plants.
• St. Augustine or bermuda sod, but wait to seed bermuda until early April in South Texas and mid-April farther north.
• Nursery stock is at most plentiful supply. Shop on Thursdays and Fridays. That week’s shipments will have arrived, yet the weekend crowds won’t have been in yet.


• Spring-flowering shrubs and vines as needed to correct errant growth. Trim immediately after they finish blooming. Avoid shearing into formal shapes.
• Mow turf at recommended height for type of grass that you’re growing. Frequent mowing at this time of year will discourage and kill vigorous early spring weeds.
• Reshape greenhouse plants and houseplants with selective pruning before you bring them into the landscape for summer.


• Lawns in South and Central Texas with high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen plant food. Half or more of that nitrogen should be in slow-release form.
• Unless a recent soil test shows otherwise, that same high-N or all-N fertilizer will be best for landscape plants and even flowers and vegetables.
• Newly transplanted flowers and vegetables and newly repotted patio plants with diluted solution of water-soluble or liquid plant food (high-nitrogen) with each watering for the first month.


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• Chickweed, dandelions, clover, dichondra and dollarweed can be controlled with application of broadleafed weedkiller (containing 2,4-D). Read and follow label directions carefully for best results. Be patient – these products may take a week or two to show effects and you may have to treat more than one time for tenacious weeds. Small droplets that coat the weeds’ leaves are most effective.
• Aphids congregate on tender new growth of many types of plants. Colors will vary, but all will have pear-shaped bodies and twin “exhaust pipes” on either side. They are easily controlled with almost any organic or inorganic insecticide. You may even be able to wash them off with a hard stream of water.
• Spider mites are ravaging junipers, Italian cypress and other conifers already. If you are seeing graying needles, thump a suspect twig over a sheet of white paper. If you see almost microscopic pests crawling around, those are the mites. Apply a general-purpose insecticide that is also labeled for control of spider mites.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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