Gardening This Weekend: April 16, 2020

With the weather finally moderating across Texas, here are things you’ll want to do this weekend as you are able. Remember that many nurseries do offer delivery.

Trees, shrubs, groundcovers and other landscaping improvements. Buy a water breaker or bubbler plus a water wand. You’ll want to water your new plants by hand every 2-3 days for their first growing season.
Tomatoes and peppers (both from transplants) and from seeds: beans, squash, cucumbers, corn, melons and other warm-season vegetables. Plant only small and mid-sized tomato varieties. Large-fruiting types do not produce well in Texas heat.
Warm-season color from transplants, including marigolds, zinnias, angelonias, fanflower, pentas, cosmos, celosias, purple fountaingrass, wax begonias, impatiens and coleus among others. Wait for warmer soils to plant periwinkles, lantanas, copper plants, caladiums and other sub-tropicals.
Turf from sod or plugs, but wait another few weeks to sow bermuda from seed.

Spring-flowering shrubs and vines now that most types have finished their blooming season. Trim with lopping shears and pruning shears, not with hedge trimmers, for the most natural look.
Mow your lawn at the recommended mowing height for your type of turf to keep it short and dense. Tall grass isn’t stronger. It grows weaker, allowing weeds to develop.
Reshape houseplants as you bring them outdoors for the summer. (Do not put them in direct sunlight. They would sunburn within minutes.)

TAMU soil tests show that most of us should apply high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen fertilizer (depending on soil test results) to almost all types of plants that we’re growing, whether flowers, fruit, lawns, vegetables, trees or shrubs.
Begin to apply iron/sulfur products to control iron chlorosis (yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominently visible on newest growth first). Keep iron products off concrete, stone and other surfaces that could be stained.

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Forest tent caterpillars may show up in masses on trunks of trees. By the time you see them, they probably have done most or all of the damage they’re going to do, so no corrective action is needed. If you see them feeding actively, however, apply Bacillus thuringiensis biological worm spray.
Spring cankerworms are being reported on oaks and elms, among other trees. Small caterpillars are defoliating trees vigorously in North and East Texas. You’ll often see them hanging by single threads. Damage is short-lived and trees quickly leaf out again, but if you feel the need to treat, Bacillus thuringiensis and most general-purpose insecticides will eliminate them. It’s usually not justifiable, however.
Aphids are congregating all over new growth on many types of plants. Look for pear-shaped bodies with twin “exhaust pipes”. They are communal, so you’ll usually see scores of them together. You can wash aphids off plants with a hard stream or water, or most general-purpose insecticides will eliminate them very quickly.
Apply broadleafed weedkiller to eliminate dollarweed, dichondra, clover, poison ivy and other non-grassy weeds from your lawn. Your local professional nursery or independent hardware store can provide products that will eliminate these weeds without harming nearby trees and shrubs. Read and follow label directions.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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