Gardening This Weekend: May 6, 2021
In a normal spring there could be 100 gardening things to get done in this Mother’s Day weekend. This year, add that many more because of the cold. But here are the top ones.
• Summer color annuals. Just off the top of my head, my favorites include trailing lantana, moss rose, hybrid purslane, angelonia, pentas, copper plants, wax begonias, Dragon Wing begonias, sun-tolerant coleus, caladiums, purple fountaingrass and a whole batch of others.
• Start new lawns. Soils are warm enough for sod and plugs in all parts of the state. Bermuda seed can be planted in South Texas and probably can be planted successfully in the I-20/I-30 corridor of North Texas.
• Landscape plants, but transport plants home carefully. Cover them to protect them from highway winds. Know each plant’s mature size to be sure it’s a match for the space you have available. Prepare to water all new plants by hand their first summer. Sprinkler watering alone will not be sufficient.
• Try to complete removal of all winter damage to shrubs. Wait to do any pruning to oaks. (See related story on oaks this issue.) See crape myrtle stories in this week’s and last week’s issues.
• Erratic spring growth to maintain attractive form of shrubs, but if you’re able, bypass formal pruning. It’s easier on both you and the plants if you let them grow naturally.
• Mow lawn at recommended height frequently to keep turf low growing and dense. Thick turf is best able to resist invasion by weeds.
• Dead or weakened branches from shade trees to prevent injuries and damage during spring wind storms. (Somehow Bradford pears keep coming to mind.)
• Lawn and landscape plants with all-nitrogen or high-nitrogen fertilizer containing upwards of half of that nitrogen in slow-release form. Soil tests from the Texas A&M Soil Testing Laboratory have repeatedly shown that most Texas soils have excessive amounts of phosphorus in them already.
• First notice of the season: If your shrubs and vines are showing iron deficiency (yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominently displayed on newest growth first), apply iron with sulfur to reduce the soil pH level. Repeat several times through the growing season.
• Apply high-nitrogen, water-soluble fertilizer to patio pots and hanging baskets each time that you water them.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• St. Augustine that is showing signs of take all root rot (TARR) can be treated with fungicide Azoxystrobin, sold at the consumer level as Scott’s Disease-EX or to lawn care companies as Heritage. This is the upgraded recommendation replacing application of a 1-inch layer of sphagnum peat to the lawn.
• Cabbage loopers chew holes in the leaves of cabbage, broccoli and other Cole crops. Apply Bacillus thuringiensis (“B.t.”) dust or spray.
• Snails, slugs and pillbugs are still devouring tender new growth. Control with Sevin dust or baits, or sink a pie pan flush with the soil surface and fill it with beer. The pests will be lured by the fermenting smell and will drown in the beer.
• Broadleafed weeds, including poison ivy and others, with broadleafed weedkiller containing 2,4-D.