Gardening This Weekend: February 6, 2020

This is a crazy time of year to try to minister to the gardeners of Texas. It’s already in the 90s some days in South Texas, while the Panhandle is blanketed in snow. But I forge ahead boldly. Here are your tasks for this weekend!

Bare-root fruit and pecan trees, grape vines and bramble berries immediately. You’re likely too late in Deep South Texas. Stick with container-grown trees instead.
Finish all transplanting of established plants before buds start to break into new growth. Same warning goes here for Deep South Texas: you may already be too late.
Frost-tolerant annuals, including pinks, snaps, primulas, wallflowers, stocks, Iceland poppies, English daisies, larkspurs, sweet alyssum and others.
Leafy and root vegetables in Deep South Texas, including lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, radishes, kale. Wait 2-3 weeks in North Central Texas.
Cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower) from potted transplants. Do so immediately in South Texas. It’s OK to wait a week or two in far North Texas.
Irish potatoes from eyes. Cut “certified seed potatoes” from the nursery or feed store so that each piece has several eyes, or buds. Let the cut pieces air-dry for a couple of days before you plant them.

Do NOT top crape myrtles. Ever! It ruins their natural growth forms forever. However, if they have branches that need to be removed entirely, this is the time to do so.
Grape vines to remove up to 85 percent of their cane growth. That will result in fewer clusters, but of far greater quality. This must be done in order the keep the vines manageable.
Peach and plum trees before they come into bud and bloom (hopefully you’re not too late). Your goal is to remove strongly vertical shoots so you can encourage horizontal branching, especially of peaches. Trees that are not trained will grow too tall for easy harvest. Heavy fruit loads will also be more likely to break limbs.
Bush roses by 50 percent. Each cut should be just above a bud that faces outward from the center of the plant. If you’re in DFW, confirm that your plants do not have rose rosette virus before you start pruning. See related story this issue. I have left archived on my website.
Deep South Texas, because warm weather has caused lawns to green up and start growing earlier than usual, you can scalp your grass now by dropping the mower blade one notch. This is not as big an issue where you are, since warm-season grasses don’t always turn brown like they do in North Texas, but it’s a good way to get rid of many of the cool-season weeds. Use the clippings as mulch or put them in the compost. Do not send them to the landfill.

Pansies, pinks, snapdragons and other cool-season annual flowers with a high-nitrogen food. Water-soluble types give quickest results.
Ryegrass and fescue with high-quality lawn fertilizer. Wait until mid-spring to feed warm-season grasses.
Apply high-phosphate liquid root stimulator to newly transplanted trees and shrubs. Your independent nursery professional will have a couple of brands.

Continued Below

Be prepared to start spring fruit tree spray program soon. First applications will come when trees are in full flower bud, but before buds actually open.
Broadleafed weedkiller spray (containing 2,4-D) will kill clover, dandelions, chickweed, plantain and other non-grassy weeds. Check the directions as they relate to temperature restrictions.
Annual bluegrass and other winter grasses cannot be sprayed at this point. Mark the calendar to apply pre-emergent granules the first week of September to prevent them next time around.
Application times of pre-emergent granules for crabgrass and grassburs may need to be advanced earlier by one week depending on what temperatures do over the next 2 to 3 weeks. Don’t change them yet – stay tuned! (Deep South Texas, your time is here now.)

Posted by Neil Sperry
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