Gardening This Weekend: January 17, 2019
It’s about to get really cold across much of the state. If that’s the case in your area take a look at what I’ve written on frost cloth this issue. In the meantime, I’m going to outline tasks you’ll want to do once the weather begins to become tolerable once again.
• Cool-season annuals into patio pots, or in South Texas, into the garden, but wait until the current cold has moderated next week. The list includes sweet alyssum, larkspurs, wallflowers, pansies, violas, Iceland poppies, sweet peas, snapdragons and stocks, among others.
• Onion slips and snap-type English peas next week in South and South Central Texas. Wait a week or two longer in North Texas.
• Bare-rooted fruit and pecan trees, grape vines and bramble berries. Look at the Texas A&M horticulture website for the best varieties for your area. Here is a link to TAMU fact sheets on all types of fruit crops.
• Transplant established trees and shrubs that need to be moved within your landscape. This must be done while they are dormant in winter.
• Summer-flowering shrubs and vines as needed to maintain good shape, but remember never to “top” crape myrtles. There is no benefit to be gained and you’ll ruin their natural form forever.
• Evergreen shrubs to reshape. It’s best usually to remove one branch at a time to avoid the sheared look. By using lopping shears you can probably reduce their height and width by 20 to 25 percent.
• Oaks to remove unwanted branches. They must be pruned during winter (prior to mid-February) to minimize likelihood of oak wilt invasion into cut surfaces. Do not leave stubs. Seal all cut surfaces with pruning paint, but only for oaks.
• Peach and plum trees to encourage horizontal branching and strong scaffold branching system 22 to 26 inches from the ground.
• Apples to remove strongly vertical shoots (“watersprouts”). Pears only to remove damaged or rubbing branches.
• Grapes to remove 80 to 85 percent of canes and maintain vines on strong supports.
• Wait to prune blackberries until after harvest. Do not prune figs except to remove damaged branches.
• Established asparagus plantings with all-nitrogen, fast-release fertilizer such as ammonium sulfate by side-banding along the rows of plants. Goal is to create burst of new shoot growth in February, early March.
• Annual color beds with water-soluble, high-nitrogen plant food to help them regrow after the cold. Wait to make this application until soils warm back up again.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Insect pests on houseplants. Watch especially for scale insects, mealybugs, whiteflies and spider mites. Your Texas Certified Nursery Professional can show you the best products to control these pests.
• Scale insects on landscape plants. Apply horticultural oil (“dormant oil”) when temperatures are between 40 and 80 degrees for 48 hours without rain. Watch the forecast carefully – there won’t be many opportunities before plants bud out and start growing.