Gardening This Weekend: September 21, 2017

Is it summer, or is it fall? I can’t tell, either. But there are critical tasks you need to get done. Take a gander.


Trees and shrubs as nurseries begin their fall sales. Work with a professional designer, perhaps at the nursery, to be sure all of the plants fit into your plans.
Ryegrass, either to overseed an established lawn or to cover bare ground temporarily over the winter. “Perennial” rye (not truly perennial in Texas) is finer-textured and more easily maintained. Although it costs more, it will result in far fewer mowings.
Fall color from mums, Joseph’s coat, Mexican bush salvia, Mexican mint marigolds, petunias and other fall color plants.
Wait until temperatures fall substantially to plant pansies. When planted in warm conditions plants will tend to become lanky.
Last call to sow wildflower seeds for spring bloom. If you’re planting bluebonnets, buy acid-treated (“scarified”) seeds for best germination. Sow into lightly prepared soil where there is no competition from turf.


Spent flower stalks and seedheads, damaged foliage from perennial beds.
Turf to maintain lawn at recommended mowing height.
Dead branches from trees while they are easily observed. It becomes difficult later into the fall after leaves start to drop.


Summer annual flowers and foliage with water-soluble, all-nitrogen food to stimulate one last round of fall growth and blooms.
Houseplants that you have on patio or beneath trees for the summer one last time before you bring them inside in a few weeks.
Lawn with all-nitrogen fertilizer (half or more of that nitrogen in slow-release form) unless soil test instructs otherwise. Product may be labeled as “winterizer,” but it could very likely be the same analysis as your spring and summer food.

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Dead areas in turf are not likely to be due to grub worms unless you can pull the grass up, runners and all. If it’s St. Augustine, it’s probably old chinch bug damage. They may still be active. See related story last issue.
Webworms are prevalent in Texas pecans and other trees currently. Spraying is impractical. Do not try to burn them (extremely hazardous). Long-handled pole pruners are probably your best solution, or just ignore them. They will fall to the ground over the winter. The trees will be fine.
Be on the lookout for stinging caterpillars of all types. See related story in last week’s issue.


If you are ever looking for unusual varieties of perennial plants, go to that plant society’s annual sale. This is a good example:
SAT. SEPT. 23 beginning at 9 AM
Camellia Room of Fort Worth Botanic Garden Center
University Drive just north of I-30 west of Downtown Fort Worth
Horticulturist and my friend Tucker Reed is chairing the event, and he tells me they will have state of the art varieties from some of the finest growers, all at affordable prices. Mark the calendar. Come early. They sell out quickly.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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