Gardening This Weekend: February 27, 2020

Evenings are getting longer, so you have a bit more time to work in the landscape and garden when you get home. Nurseries are stocking up for the spring. It’s a fun time to be a gardener. Here are some of the most critical objectives for early March.

Nursery stock as you see types you’re been wanting. Early-spring arrivals are typically larger plants that have been in their containers for a period of time. Spring-flowering shrubs and vines may only be available for a short while, so shop on Fridays. Trucks have arrived by then, and you’ll get first dibs.
Frost-tolerant annual color (It’s still cold across much of Texas from time to time – remember last night!) such as English daisies, snapdragons, larkspurs, petunias, alyssum, stocks and ornamental Swiss chard to decorate late-winter gardens.
Leafy and root vegetables in Central and North Central Texas. These plants can withstand any frosts or freezes that might remain. Wait another two or three weeks in the Panhandle.
Gardeners in Deep South Texas can begin to plant beans, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, corn and other warm-season vegetables over the next week or two.

Scalp your lawn to remove winter-killed stubble and many of the vigorous broadleafed weeds.
Browned palm leaves as well as pittosporum, gardenia and oleander stems that were frozen in winter’s cold. Cast iron plants to remove any browned foliage. South Texans will have other plants on their lists: bougainvilleas, Esperanzas and sago palms to mention a few. Trim and groom these if they suffered any browning or dieback.
Spring-flowering shrubs and vines as needed to correct erratic growth immediately after they finish blooming.

New annual flower and vegetable transplants with high-nitrogen, liquid fertilizer weekly to get them established and growing.
Rye and fescue turf with all-nitrogen fertilizer to maximize spring green-up. Wait several weeks to fertilize St. Augustine and bermuda.
Groundcover beds with all-nitrogen lawn fertilizer with half or more of that nitrogen in slow-release form. Early feeding will maximize burst of spring growth.

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Aphids congregating on tender new growth of shrubs, flowers and vegetables. Wash most of them off with a hard stream of water. If they persist apply a general-purpose organic or inorganic insecticide.
Begin your spring fruit spray protection program. You’ll find detailed information from university horticulture department websites, but the short version is to spray peach and plum trees when their flower buds are showing color but before they begin to open (“pink bud stage”), then again when 3/4 of the petals have fallen (“petal fall” spray). That particular spray should be made in late evening, just before dark, when bee activity has ceased for the day. Repeat on 10-day intervals until harvest. Apply Malathion to protect against plum curculios (the worms that invade peaches and plums). Apply agricultural streptomycin to pears while they are in full bloom to protect against invasion of fire blight, a bacterium that causes limbs to turn black quickly and die.
Scalp lawn now to remove many of the rank-growing winter weeds. See details elsewhere this issue.
Broadleafed weedkiller spray (containing 2,4-D) to control clover, dandelions, chickweed and other non-grassy weeds. I am not a supporter of weed-and-feed products. It’s way too early to fertilize in most of Texas. In my opinion, these two processes need to be done separately. Plus, the weed-and-feed combinations invite damage to shade trees, since their roots share the same soil.
Mow to remove henbit (scalloped leaves with purple flowers). While a broadleafed weedkiller spray will kill it, mowing is quicker and easier. It is a weak weed, and it will not regrow.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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