Gardening This Weekend: October 29, 2020
Here are the things I would deem most important for tomorrow and over this weekend. It will depend on where you are to a large degree, because parts of Texas had snow way back in September (remember that, Panhandle?). Lots of Northwest Texas had ice this week, and the rest of the state can perhaps look forward to balmy weather for several more weeks. Go figure. It’s Texas!
• Daffodils, grape hyacinths at any time to provide early spring color. By comparison, tulips and Dutch hyacinths require 45 days (or more) of “pre-chilling” at 45 degrees in the fridge to give them enough artificial winter to bloom properly. Plant them no earlier than mid-December. (Do the math on those dates. You need to get the bulbs into the chiller in the next week or two.)
• Pansies, pinks, ornamental cabbage and kale, snapdragons and other winter-resistant annuals to replace plants that were damaged by the cold (or soon will be).
• Nursery trees and shrubs as final fall markdowns are offered. Nurseries need the room for Christmas trees, plus they would rather pass savings on to you now than to try to nurture container-grown plants through the winter. Unless they sell to landscape contractors over the winter, most nurseries don’t have interest in holding plants over.
• Reshape houseplants as you bring them indoors for the winter. Be mindful of latex sap that may drip from some species such as rubber plants. Put newspapers beneath them to catch the droplets.
• If frost has hit your perennials and annuals, remove dead foliage. Otherwise, remove old seed stalks and dried leaves.
• Mow lawn at same height you’ve been mowing all year. Bag fallen tree leaves in the process and use as mulch or in compost pile.
• Decrease the amount and frequency of fertilizer you apply to houseplants over the winter. Conditions are too dark and too cool for normal growth.
• Ryegrass and fescue with all-nitrogen lawn fertilizer to take advantage of good fall growing conditions.
• New annual color plantings with water-soluble, high-nitrogen plant food to keep them growing vigorously during warm spells of fall.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Cool-season broadleafed weeds such as clover and dandelions can be eliminated during warm, dry spells over the next 3-4 weeks by spraying with a broadleafed herbicide containing 2,4-D. Read and follow label directions implicitly regarding temperature and rainfall.
• Brown patch is common across Texas. It erupts as circular 18- to 24-inch patches in St. Augustine. The grass blades pull loose easily from the runners. Roots and runners are unaffected, so the grass overall will bounce back, but the grass is weakened enough that extreme cold in winter can kill affected areas. Control it with Azoxystrobin fungicide. Note: Brown patch will have shown up in the past few weeks. It must not be confused with old chinch bug or gray leaf spot damage left over from summer.
• Be wary of all caterpillars on shrubs and trees or that might have fallen to the ground at this time of year. Texas is home to several types of stinging caterpillars, most notably (but not exclusively) puss caterpillars, also commonly known as asps. Watch for caterpillars as you’re working with fallen leaves and as you prune your perennials’ fall stubble. If you see any, just leave them alone, harmful or otherwise.