Gardening This Weekend: September 24, 2020

There are things that really do need to be finished before the end of September. I’ve made you a list.

Dig and divide spring-flowering perennials such as iris, daylilies, oxalis, pinks, thrift and Louisiana phlox, Shasta daisies, coneflowers and others.
This is singly the best time of the entire calendar year to plant new nursery stock. That will give it 7 or 8 months of lead time to develop good roots before next summer’s heat rolls back into town. Watch for close-out sales as they start to narrow their stock before winter.
Wildflower seeds immediately. This will be my last time this year to suggest it. They must germinate and grow in fall’s warm spells to be established by spring. Plant where grass will not compete.
Ryegrass as a temporary cover for bare spots, also if you want green grass over the winter in warm-season turfgrass lawns. “Perennial” rye is the better choice for urban lots. It looks better, and it’s a lot easier to keep. The seed does cost a bit more, but it’s money well spent. As with annual rye, perennial rye will die once it turns warm in May.
Daffodils and grape hyacinth bulbs. These do not require pre-chilling. Choose daffodil varieties that have the best odds of coming back and blooming again year after year. Smaller and earlier-flowering types are your best choices. Carlton and Ice Follies are two exceptional types. Avoid the disappointment of King Alfred, Unsurpassable, Mount Hood and other big, late-flowering hybrids.
Tulips and Dutch hyacinths. These bulbs don’t get enough cold winter conditions in Texas soils, so you must “pre-chill” them for a minimum of 45 days in the refrigerator at 45 degrees. Do not plant them until mid-December. Warm soils early in the winter can reverse the effects of your pre-chilling.

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Dead and drying stubble from perennial gardens to keep things tidy.
Dead and damaged branches from shade trees while you can easily distinguish them from healthy ones. Once they’re all bare, you can’t tell them apart.
Mow turfgrass regularly to keep leaves picked up and to retard development of weeds.

Turf. High-nitrogen fertilizer for sandy soils. All-nitrogen fertilizer for clays. As much as half of nitrogen should be in slow-release form.
Same fertilizer you apply to lawn will also benefit your trees, shrubs and groundcover beds as they store nutrients for best early spring growth.
Avoid application of high-nitrogen food around wisteria plants that have been reluctant to bloom in past springs.

Armyworms in bermuda turf. If you’re seeing flocks of birds feeding in concentrated areas, and if the bermuda is being stripped of its leaf blades, that’s probably due to these larvae. Most general-purpose organic or inorganic insecticides will control them.
Watch patio pots, hanging baskets for insects, diseases. Deal with them outdoors, so you won’t be bringing them inside over the winter.
There is little reason to spray for insects and diseases on deciduous trees and shrubs. Those leaves will be falling within four to six weeks anyway. Exceptions could be evergreen plants such as euonymus or hollies with scale insects.
Conditions right now are perfect for brown patch development in St. Augustine turf. See related story this issue.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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