Gardening This Weekend: January 26, 2023

There was a day, back in December and early January, when you could let things slide for another day, maybe even a week. But buds are popping and spring isn’t too far down the road. Here are your critical tasks to finish as soon as you can.

Freeze-hardy annual color in northern half of state where extreme cold can still roll in, pansies, pinks, snapdragons.
Frost-hardy annual color in southern half of state, including ornamental Swiss chard, larkspur, stocks, sweet alyssum, Iceland poppies and others.
Bare-rooted or balled-and-burlapped fruit trees, grapes and blackberries. Blueberries in East Texas.
Dig and transplant established native or landscape shrubs and trees that need to be moved.
Asparagus, English snap peas and onions as soon as possible in most of the state.
Irish potatoes, Cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, etc.) in South Texas.

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Peach and plum trees to outward-growing buds to encourage horizontal growth. Apples and pears to remove dead or damaged branches, also with apples to remove strongly vertical shoots called “water sprouts.” Figs only when there are frozen or otherwise damaged stems.
Grapes to remove 80 to 85 percent of canes in effort to limit numbers of fruit and improve overall quality. Professional viticulturists follow some very precise techniques, but suffice to say that if you remove unwanted canes as you train your vines to grow on their supports your yield will be greatly improved.
Evergreen shrubs lightly as needed to shape. Avoid formal shearing whenever possible.
Summer-flowering shrubs and vines to reshape, but remember that extensive pruning will lead to strong vegetative growth and fewer flowers.
Do not ever “top” your crape myrtles. It’s a message I’ve carried for 50 years, and I’ve yet to see a justifiable reason.
Bush roses by half. Each cut should be made directly above a bud that faces away from the center of the plant. That encourages full, spreading growth. (Remove all rose bushes infected with rose rosette virus. See this archived information on my website for details.)

Winter color plantings with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food each time that you water.
Ryegrass and fescue plantings with all-nitrogen or high-nitrogen fertilizer, half or more in slow-release form.
Asparagus beds with all-nitrogen fertilizer to promote vigorous new spears.
Newly transplanted trees and shrubs with liquid root-stimulator monthly this year.

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Looking ahead to mid-week next week, we may be in for very cold weather. I’m getting the frost cloth ready again. We may need to cover tender plants before you and I convene here again. Please be forewarned.
Houseplants for mealybugs, scale insects and whiteflies. Use labeled insecticides. If necessary, take plants out onto shaded patio on still, warm day long enough to spray and allow spray to dry before bringing plants back in.
Aphids on tender new growth during warm days. They can be carriers of plant viruses. Most insecticides will eliminate them, or you can wash them off the plants with a forceful stream of water.
Broadleafed weeds in any type of turf. Apply a broadleafed weedkiller (containing 2,4-D) according to label directions. Be patient. It may take a week for it to do its job.
Scale insects on fruit and shade trees, hollies, camellias, euonymus and other plants. Apply horticultural oil (“dormant oil”) spray according to label directions. Your time for this treatment is quickly running out, especially in South Texas.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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