Gardening This Weekend: September 14, 2017

Reality check! It’s really warm right now, but the average first killing frost in the northern half of Texas is little more than two months away. Here are your critical tasks that must be finished on or around mid-September.


Fall color from mums, Mexican bush salvia, petunias, celosia and other annual and fall-flowering perennial plants.
Absolutely the last call for “safe” planting of new lawns from seed (risky) or sod (risky with St. Augustine). The problem is we never know when the first freeze will happen and we don’t know how cold the winter might be.
Best time begins now for planting new trees, shrubs. Fall plantings allow maximum time for them to establish new roots before next summer’s hot weather. Watch for special fall sales at your favorite nursery.


Dead or damaged branches from shade trees.
Dead or damaged stalks from perennials to keep garden tidy.
Mow lawn at recommended height. Allowing grass to grow taller does not improve its winter hardiness. It weakens grass and allows weeds to invade.


Lawn with all-nitrogen (or very high-N) fertilizer with half or more of that nitrogen in slow-release form. There is nothing magical (other than marketing) about the term “winterizer” fertilizer. It should be just about the same as what you applied in spring and summer.
Last call to help iron-deficient plants. Symptoms: yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominent on newest growth first. Apply iron product combined with sulfur soil-acidifier.
Patio pots and hanging baskets with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food. In a few weeks you will gradually need to start withholding fertilizer from those plants you’ll be bringing indoors over the dark days of the winter.

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Chinch bugs have hung around unusually late this year. See related story this issue.
Webworms in pecans, other trees. Sprays are inefficient. It’s usually best just to use a long-handled pole pruner to remove all you can reach. They will not do serious long-term damage to the trees.
Ragweed populations have exploded with fall rains. Keep plants cut down to reduce issues of allergies as best you can, but don’t confuse ragweed with harmless goldenrod. See related story from a recent e-gardens.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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