Gardening This Weekend: March 30, 2023
Nurseries are well stocked and ready. Make a list of your biggest projects and tackle them first. Shopping is easiest during the week, and trucks arrive Thursdays and Fridays. Just a hint to the wise.
• New trees, shrubs and groundcovers. Supplies are going to run low very quickly. Some types are selling out already. Ask a Texas Certified Nursery Professional to guide you in the best possible selections.
• Summer annuals as your pansies and other winter color wears out. There are dozens of great types. Do your homework, and again, let your nursery professional suggest the best types for the conditions you have.
• Perennials. Nurseries have their most complete selections now. Remember that most types flower for 2-3 weeks per year. Choose so that you’ll have a continuous season of blooms from spring until frost.
• Warm-season vegetables, including tomatoes (small and mid-sized varieties only), peppers, bush beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, and corn. Wait for warmer weather to plant okra, sweet potatoes and southern peas. (OK to plant them in Deep South Texas now.)
• Sod or plugs for new turfgrass (St. Augustine, bermuda, zoysia). Wait a few more weeks for soil to warm up more to plant bermuda seed.
• Spring-flowering shrubs and vines immediately after they finish blooming to reshape them. Avoid formal shearing.
• Shrubs and trees to remove limbs damaged or killed by winter cold. If you have a crape myrtle that was hurt by the cold, it’s usually best to cut it completely to the ground and then train the new shoots that come up from its base. You’ll have a great new plant within 18-24 months.
• Lawn, perhaps to scalp it in North Texas, or at least to remove weeds and brown stubble after the winter. Do not send the clippings to the landfill. Use them in the compost instead.
• Trim overgrown and misshapen houseplants as you bring them out for the summer. Repot them into fresh potting soil and feed them with a high-nitrogen food to stimulate vigorous new growth.
• Leave old foliage on spring bulbs until it turns completely brown. It’s important in the manufacturing of food reserves for next year’s blooms.
• Lawn with all-nitrogen fertilizer containing up to half of that nitrogen in slow-release form. Note that sandy soils might call for high-nitrogen food with a limited amount of phosphorus (middle number of the analysis). A reliable soil test is the best way of knowing. Texas A&M’s Soil Testing Lab is outstanding.
• Container plants with water-soluble, high-nitrogen food with each watering.
• New flower and vegetable plantings with the same high-nitrogen, water-soluble fertilizer to get them off to a quick start.
On the Lookout
• Aphids on tender new growth. They will congregate in masses. Always pear-shaped bodies with twin “exhaust pipes.” Colors vary, including green, white, yellow, red and black. Most insecticides (organic or inorganic) will control them, or you can often blast them off with a hard stream of water.
• Spider mites in upright junipers, cypresses and other conifers. Plants turn brown from the ground upward. You can’t see the mites on the plants, but if you thump a small twig over a sheet of white paper, you’ll be able to see the almost-microscopic specks start moving around. Apply a general-purpose insecticide that is labeled for mites. Repeat in 1-2 weeks if mites are still active.
• Crane flies resembling giant mosquitoes are present in huge numbers across much of Texas currently. They are harmless and very short-lived, so no sprays are needed.
• Fire ants are active in much of Texas. Use one of the long-lasting area-wide baits for best control. Individual mound treatments work well in high-traffic areas. Read labels carefully before applying products in vegetable gardens. Not all will be given label clearance around edible crops.