Gardening This Weekend: October 31, 2019
We’re being told to expect the coldest first freeze ever in parts of Texas over the next two or three nights.
I’ve put guidelines for coping with those temperatures in a related story this issue. The rest of this section will deal with what you can do in your landscape and garden from Friday on through the weekend.
• Pansies, violas, pinks, ornamental cabbage and kale and in South Texas, snapdragons, sweet alyssum, petunias and other cold-hardy annual color for the winter.
• Trees and shrubs. Fall is the best time for planting. And, once your woody plants have been exposed to at least one hard freeze they can be dug and relocated if that’s in your plans for this winter.
• Daffodils, grape hyacinths and summer snowflakes for spring bulb color. Put tulips and Dutch hyacinths in refrigerator from now until last two weeks of December to pre-chill them before planting them out into the ground. They must have that cold treatment if you expect them to bloom properly.
• Dead and damaged branches from shade trees.
• All browned flower stalks and leaves from perennials, also annuals as they finish their season.
• Let frozen “mush” from cannas, bananas, etc. dry for a few days, then trim it off plants.
• Mow lawn even after freezing temperatures have turned grass brown. Mowing keeps weeds at a minimum. It also allows you to mulch and bag fallen tree leaves. Use them in the compost or use to mulch beneath shrubs or around perennials. Do not send them to the landfill, and do not try to return them to the turf for the several weeks of prime leaf fall.
• Ryegrass and fescue turf with high- or all-nitrogen food. These are cool-season grasses that do most of their growing in these cooler months.
• Stop feeding patio pots and hanging baskets that you have brought indoors for the winter. You just want to maintain them, not encourage new growth.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Insects that might be coming into your house with plants you’re bringing inside for the winter. Chief among them: pillbugs, crickets and roaches, but plant pests such as scales, whiteflies and mealybugs are also possible hitchhikers. Deal with them outdoors or in the garage rather than inside your house.
• South Texas gardeners will want to watch for brown patch in St. Augustine. It will be in circular patches 18 to 24 inches across. Blades will turn yellow, then a day or two later they will shrivel and turn brown. They will pull loose easily from the runners. Fungicides labeled for patch-type diseases will stop it. Discontinue all evening irrigation as well.