Gardening This Weekend: November 9, 2017
Temperatures have been stair-stepping down these past couple of weeks, and that’s good for our plants. It gets them progressively toughened before they get slammed sometime in December or January. Here are tasks to get finished now while you still can.
• Trees and shrubs now. Nurseries have big sales going on, and the plants will be splendidly established by the time next summer arrives. Fall is the best time for planting!
• Cool-season color from annuals such as pansies, pinks, ornamental cabbage and kale and snapdragons. In South Texas add in English daisies, stocks, sweet alyssum, Iceland poppies, California poppies and wallflowers, among others.
• Daffodil, narcissus and jonquil bulbs, also grape hyacinths now. Continue chilling tulips and Dutch hyacinths for a total of 45 days at 45 degrees, planting them the last two weeks of December. They require this “pre-chilling” to develop normal flower buds and stalk heights.
• Do light shaping of errant growth of shrubs, vines, but save major pruning for mid-winter for evergreen species and after the blooming season for types that flower in spring.
• Continue mowing lawn at same height as you have used all the rest of the growing season. Raising the mower does not improve the lawn’s winter hardiness. In fact, allowing grass to grow tall actually weakens the grass and makes it more susceptible to invasion by weeds.
• Finish removing dead stalks, foliage from perennials.
• Houseplants no more than monthly during short, dark days of winter.
• Pansies, pinks and other winter annuals with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food each time that you water them.
• Ryegrass and fescue with all-nitrogen food now during their prime growing season.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Brown patch continues in St. Augustine turf across Texas. It shows up in rounded patches 18 to 24 inches across. Blades pull loose easily from runners. You will see decayed tissues at bases of leaf blades. Runners and roots remain healthy, so grass will rebound, but it is weakened and can be damaged by winter cold. Your local independent retail garden center has fungicides to control it.
• Clover, dandelions, chickweed, henbit and other cool-season broadleafed weeds are up and growing now. Spray them with a broadleafed herbicide (containing 2,4-D) on a warm day in November to eliminate them before winter weather makes it impossible.
• Run fallen tree leaves through the mower, then use them as mulch around shrubs and perennials or put them into the compost pile. Do not send them to the landfill. They are too valuable a natural resource to waste in that way. Hats off to those cities that recycle yard waste and conserve valuable landfill space in the process!