Gardening This Weekend: March 15, 2018

Half of the state is at or beyond the average date of the last killing freeze, so there are things that can finally be done – things that needed warming conditions. This is a fun time of year!


Warm-season annuals including marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, geraniums, coleus and wax begonias in southern half of state and in a week or two farther north. Definitely wait for warmer soils to plant vincas, lantanas, caladiums, elephant ears, moss rose and copper plants.
Warm-season vegetables including small and mid-sized tomatoes, particularly in southern half of the state. It’s still a bit risky farther north. Large-fruiting types do not set well in Texas conditions and should not be planted in any great numbers. Peppers, bush beans, crookneck and zucchini squash, cucumbers, and, for large gardens, melons and corn. Wait to plant okra until it turns warmer in mid- or late April.
St. Augustine or bermuda sod, but wait to seed bermuda until mid-April in South Texas and May farther north.
Trees and shrubs. Nurseries have their best supplies now. New shipments arrive late in the week, so Thursdays and Fridays are great days to buy. Protect tender new foliage from highway winds as you transport your new plants home.


Scalp lawn to remove winter, early spring weeds and to expose lawn to sun’s warming rays. Wear protective goggles and respirator. It’s a dirty, nasty job.
Spring-flowering shrubs and vines as needed to correct errant growth. Trim immediately after they finish blooming. Avoid shearing into formal shapes.
Trim to remove any shrubs’ branches that were obviously killed by winter’s cold.


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. Wait until last week of March or early April to fertilize lawns in North Central and North Texas.
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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Fruit trees to protect against insects and diseases. Follow Texas A&M-recommended spray schedule. Peaches and plums are especially vulnerable, particularly to plum curculio worms in the fruit. Avoid sprays during daytime when bees are active.
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.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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