Gardening This Weekend: January 5, 2023
January is a month when several critical tasks must be accounted for in the landscape and garden. Here are the ones that come to my mind.
• Dig and relocate any trees and shrubs you need to move during the winter. They are dormant now, best able to establish new roots before the growing season arrives.
• Fruit trees, vines and bushes. Find a list of varieties recommended by Texas A&M for your part of Texas and buy accordingly. Local independent retail garden centers are much more likely to have the best types than national “box” stores. Womack’s Nursery in DeLeon TX is an outstanding mail order source for both home garden and orchard needs. (https://womacknursery.com)
• Onions in South Texas in the next week or two. North Texas plantings should be made in 3-4 weeks.
• Cool-season annuals, including pansies, violas, pinks and snapdragons in Central and North Texas. In South Texas the list can also include sweet alyssum, stocks, ornamental Swiss chard, wallflowers and larkspurs.
• Dead and damaged branches from trees and shrubs, including limbs killed by the extreme cold 22 months ago and any growth frozen two weeks ago. For the latter, however, scratch bark to be sure it’s brittle and dry, not moist and green. It may be that only the foliage was damaged.
• Summer-flowering shrubs and vines, but do so cautiously. Over-pruning can reduce bud production dramatically.
• Do not “top” crape myrtles. It is not a way to reduce their height because they will merely grow back. And it does not improve their blooming – in fact, it delays and diminishes flower production.
• Evergreens to reshape, but avoid formal shearing. Hand shears and loppers give the most natural-looking results.
• This is the time to reduce the height and width of evergreen shrubs if needed, but do so one branch at a time. Prune so that remaining branches will conceal the cuts. You can probably reduce their size by 30 to 35 percent, but try not to do this very often or plants will quickly lose vigor.
• Grapes to remove 80-85 percent of the cane growth. Without this pruning the vines will over-produce and fruit quality will be poor. Maintain the vines on their scaffold wires.
• Peach and plum trees to establish strong scaffold branching 24 to 30 inches from the ground. Remove all strongly vertical shoots each winter.
• Liquid root stimulator to newly transplanted trees and shrubs monthly for first year they are in their new homes.
• Asparagus beds in South Texas with all-nitrogen fertilizer in next 10 days. Wait until late January in Central and North Texas.
• Pansies, pinks and other winter annuals with a water-soluble plant food each time that you water them.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Houseplants for mealy bugs, spider mites and scale insects. Treat at first evidence. Populations can build quickly since there are no predators indoors.
• Cover tender plants with frost cloth anytime extreme cold is forecast. Hopefully you had it in place two weeks ago. If not, buy it and have it pre-cut and ready should it get even colder in the next month or two. The lightweight material can make up to 8 to 10 degrees’ difference in survival of your plants. Do not use plastic to cover your plants.