Gardening This Weekend: January 23, 2020

Once the curtain goes up, the play is underway. And that’s the way it is with the gardening season. It’s ready to start. Here is the opening of Act 1 – the things you’ll want to get done as soon as you can.

Bare-rooted or balled-and-burlapped fruit trees, grapes and blackberries.
Dig and transplant established native or landscape shrubs and trees that need to be moved.
Asparagus, English snap peas and onions as soon as possible in most of the state.
Irish potatoes, cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, etc.) in South Texas.
Frost-hardy annual color in southern half of state, including ornamental Swiss chard, larkspur, stocks, sweet alyssum, Iceland poppies and others.
Freeze-hardy annual color in northern half of state where hard freezes can still roll in, including pansies, pinks, snapdragons.

Evergreen shrubs lightly as needed to shape. Do so before new growth has begun. Avoid formal shearing whenever possible.
Summer-flowering shrubs and vines to reshape, but remember that extensive pruning will lead to strong vegetative growth and fewer flowers.
Do not ever “top” your crape myrtles. It’s a message I’ve carried for almost 50 years. There is no justifiable reason.
Grapes to remove 80 to 85 percent of canes in effort to limit numbers of fruit and improve overall quality. Professional viticulturists follow some very precise techniques, but suffice to say that if you remove unwanted canes as you train your vines to grow on their supports your yield will be greatly improved.
Peach and plum trees to outward-growing buds to encourage horizontal growth. Apples and pears to remove dead or damaged branches, also (with apples) to remove strongly vertical shoots called “water sprouts.” Figs only as needed to remove frozen tissues.
Bush roses by half. Each cut should be made directly above a bud that faces away from the center of the plant. That encourages full, spreading growth. (Remove all rose bushes infected with rose rosette virus. This is especially a problem in the DFW area and now in San Antonio and elsewhere, and infected plants must be removed immediately, roots and all. The disease is fatal, and leaving the old plant in place will only serve to spread the disease.)

Ryegrass and fescue plantings with all-nitrogen or high-nitrogen fertilizer, half or more in slow-release form.
Asparagus beds with all-nitrogen fertilizer to promote vigorous new spears.
Winter color plantings with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food each time that you water.
Newly transplanted trees and shrubs with liquid root-stimulator monthly this year.

Continued Below

Broadleafed weeds in any type of turf. Apply a broadleafed weedkiller (containing 2,4-D) according to label directions. Be patient. It may take a week for it to do its job.
Scale insects on fruit and shade trees, hollies, camellias, euonymus and other plants. Apply horticultural oil (“dormant oil”) spray according to label directions. Your time for this treatment is quickly running out, especially in South Texas.
Aphids on tender new growth, starting in South Texas during warm days. They can be vectors for plant viruses. Most insecticides will eliminate them, or you can wash them off the plants with a forceful stream of water.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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