Gardening This Weekend: May 10, 2018

The weather across Texas has become somewhat homogeneous so that I can now make my suggestions in more general terms. I have to admit that it was difficult for a while there, when it was still freezing in the Panhandle and already hot in South Texas. Check through this list for this weekend’s activities.


Trees, shrubs and groundcovers to gain benefit of the rest of the spring growth. Protect tender foliage by covering plants with nursery shade fabric or old sheets on the way home from the garden center.
• New turfgrass from sod, seed or plugs. There is no better time of the entire year to plant new grass!
• Summer color from annuals: angelonias, pentas, lantanas, coleus, firebush, copper plants, purple fountaingrass, crotons, Gold Star esperanza, purslane, moss rose, fanflowers.


Erratic new shoots that are causing shrubs to be misshapen. Whenever possible avoid formal shearing.
Both shade and fruit trees to remove branches that have been broken or damaged in recent windstorms. Wait to prune oaks until at least mid-July to lower the odds of spread of oak wilt.
Pinch growing tips out of fall asters, Mexican bush salvias, copper plants, coleus, poinsettias and other annual and perennial plants that tend to become leggy by the end of the growing season. Pinching forces them to produce side branching and stay more compact.


Lawns with all-nitrogen fertilizer with half or more of that nitrogen in encapsulated or coated, timed-release form. If in doubt, ask for the help of a Texas Certified Nursery Professional. He or she will be able to show and explain it all to you.
In most cases, use same lawn-type fertilizer for flower and vegetable gardens.
Iron with sulfur soil-acidifier to correct iron chlorosis such as what you see in the hydrangea photo in the story this issue. Iron deficiency shows up as yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominently displayed on the newest growth first. The leaves will then turn creamy white, then brown and crisp before the ends of the branches die. It will be primarily in alkaline soils.

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Early blight on tomatoes causes thumbprint-sized yellow blotches on lower leaves. Quickly causes plants to defoliate. Apply labeled garden fungicide.
Chiggers are out and about across much of the state. For them and for mosquitoes, protect yourself with DEET spray, both on ankles and feet, boots, socks and slacks, also on arms and face for mosquitoes.
Crape myrtle scale, most commonly in and around DFW. Pest looks like mealybugs, but squishes red fluid when mashed. It is not especially harmful, but it’s very unsightly. Black sooty mold grows in the honeydew the scales exude. To prevent the mold, control the scale with a systemic insecticide applied to ground around the plants now.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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