Gardening This Weekend: May 27, 2021
Parts of Texas have had days and days of rain. Other parts have had months and months of sunshine. Either way, we’re heading toward June, and here are your goals for the next several days.
• Annuals that will stand up to summer’s heat. Remember that annuals give you months of great color. Perennials, nice as they are, are usually in bloom for only a few weeks. If you’re planting perennials, plan for a succession of blooms from different types.
• Tropical foliage and flowers to highlight pools and patios: bougainvilleas, mandevillas, bananas, crotons, variegated tapioca, elephant ears and their relatives and hibiscus for flowers.
• New turfgrass from sod, plugs or seed. As it gets hotter it becomes more work to get it established. Wise gardeners will plant as soon as they can now.
• Finish your tidy-up pruning of winter-damaged shrubs. Don’t get too excited by new shoots coming up from the bases of most old plants. It may take several years for them to catch up with where they once were. In most cases you’re better off starting over with new shrubs, vines and groundcovers. However, give oaks more time to leaf back out. They’re still amazing us. And retrain your crape myrtles. They grow rapidly enough that you can salvage them.
• Oddly growing shoots on shrubs. There always are a few of them each spring. Trim them individually so you can maintain the plants’ natural growth forms. There’s no need to do formal shearing and shaping.
• Pinch growing tips out of annuals and perennials that tend to get lanky and floppy: fall asters, copper plants, some coleus, Mexican bush sage.
• Blackberries, following harvest, to remove all canes that have just borne fruit completely to the ground. They will never bear fruit again. Pinch growing tips out of strong new 2021 shoots to encourage them to branch and stay more compact.
• Container plants, including hanging baskets, with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food every few times that you water them. Nutrients leach out of their potting soils rapidly.
• Iron and sulfur soil acidifier to correct chlorosis (yellowed leaves, dark green veins, most prominent on newest growth first).
• Lawns with all-nitrogen fertilizer with half or more of that nitrogen in slow-release form (encapsulated or coated). Timing of this feeding is especially critical for St. Augustine turf. It should come within next 10-15 days to lessen chance of gray leaf spot invasion that might follow summertime feedings. Spring rains have probably leached much of the fertilizer, inorganic or organic, out of the soil, so you need to replenish the supply.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Bagworms are (or soon will be) active on junipers, arborvitae and other conifers across Texas. Look for the larvae to be feeding voraciously on the small needles. Damage is unnoticeable at first. That’s when their bags are still quite small, and that’s when you need to apply Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) or almost any general-purpose inorganic insecticide. They can quickly kill their host plants.
• Chiggers, ticks and mosquitoes are active outdoors. Protect yourself by applying DEET before you head outside. Spray all exposed flesh, especially your feet, ankles and shins. Apply to your shoes, socks and cuffs.
• Take all root rot (TARR) has been prevalent on St. Augustine and zoysia lawns this spring. Large areas of yellowed turf appear, yet fertilizer does not help. Roots are very short and dark. Apply Azoxystrobin fungicide to stop it. Hot weather will also lessen its severity.
• Early blight causing lower leaves of tomatoes to turn yellow, then quickly dried and brown. Apply labeled fungicide.
• Second application of pre-emergent to prevent germination of crabgrass, grassburs. Apply Dimension, Balan or Halts granules now followed by a thorough watering. (See related story this issue.)