Gardening This Week: November 2, 2021

As I was looking at the weather apps on my iPhone this morning, parts of Texas are going to get close to freezing this Thursday and Friday. Wise gardeners will be on alert and will get their plants protected. Beyond that, if you are wondering what else needs to be done, here is my list.

Set out pansies, violas, pinks, ornamental cabbage and kale, dusty Miller and other winter color plants so they can grow as much as possible before winter rolls in.
This is a great time to plant shrubs and trees. Nurseries have replenished much of their supplies after last February’s cold, but they’re also selling down stock to make room for Christmas trees. Shop soon.
Absolute last call for dividing and replanting spring-flowering perennials.
Plant daffodils, narcissus, summer snowflake and grape hyacinths as soon as you buy them. Refrigerate tulips and Dutch hyacinths for at least 45 days at 45F before planting them into garden during last two weeks of December.

Tidy up overgrown or even February-damaged shrubs now. If you have major reshaping to do, hold off until mid-January.
Remove browned and dead stalks, stems, leaves and seedheads from perennials and stem stubble from annual gardens.
Dead or damaged branches from shade trees while you can still identify them. It is much more difficult to do so once they lose their leaves, and that time is near at hand. This would definitely include branches of oaks, elms, pears and other trees that were killed back part way by the February cold.

New annual color plantings with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food to get them off to a great start. Repeat weekly until weather turns really cold.
Ryegrass and fescue turf with high-nitrogen lawn food now. These are cool-season grasses that utilize nutrients well during cool weather. If you are feeding ryegrass that has been planted to overseed existing bermuda or other warm-season turf, use a half-rate application. You don’t want to stimulate vigorous new growth of the bermuda this late in the season. Apply just enough to give the rye a boost.

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Apply a broadleafed weedkiller spray (containing 2,4-D) to eliminate existing dandelions, clover, roadside asters and other non-grassy weeds in your turf. Spray on still day and when no rain or irrigation is expected for 24 hours. Read and follow label directions carefully.
Insects such as scales, whiteflies, mealybugs, pillbugs and even roaches may try to hitch rides into your house as you bring plants indoors for the winter. Examine the plants closely before bringing them inside. Treat any problems you find while they’re still outside.
Some plants suffered leaf burn following last week’s extreme winds. For most that’s not a serious problem as they are about to lose their leaves anyway, but it may mean that it’s time to replace coleus, wax begonias and other succulent annuals.
Fire ants are rampant across much of Texas now due to recent rains and waterlogged soils. Control with individual mound treatments in high-traffic areas, and area-wide baits elsewhere.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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