Gardening This Weekend: November 2, 2023

Last week we were up into the 80s and 90s, but then, for those of us in North Texas at least, frost and freezes came visiting early this week. Let’s assess where we are now across Texas and see where we go next.

Pansies, pinks, ornamental cabbage and kale, snapdragons and other winter-resistant annuals to replace plants that were damaged by the cold (or soon will be).
Daffodils, grape hyacinths at any time to provide early spring color. By comparison, tulips and Dutch hyacinths require 45 days (or more) of “pre-chilling” at 45 degrees in the fridge to give them enough artificial winter to bloom properly. Plant them no earlier than mid-December.
Nursery trees and shrubs as final fall markdowns are offered. Nurseries need the room for Christmas trees, plus they would rather pass savings on to you now than try to nurture container-grown plants through the winter.

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If frost has hit your perennials and annuals, remove dead foliage. Otherwise, remove old seed stalks and dried leaves.
Mow lawn at same height you’ve been mowing all year. Bag fallen tree leaves in the process and use as mulch or in compost pile.
Reshape houseplants as you bring them indoors for the winter. Be mindful of latex sap that may drip from some species such as rubber plants. Put newspapers beneath them to catch the droplets.

New annual color plantings with water-soluble, high-nitrogen plant food to keep them growing vigorously during warm spells of fall.
Ryegrass and fescue with all-nitrogen lawn fertilizer to take advantage of good fall growing conditions that still lie ahead.

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Brown patch (“large patch”) will run rampant across Texas. It erupts as circular 18- to 24-inch patches of dead St. Augustine grass blades that pull loose easily from the runners. Roots and runners are unaffected, so the grass overall will bounce back.
Puss caterpillars (asps) have been common on live oaks, hollies and other broadleafed evergreens this fall. They are amber-tan larvae with distinct ridges on their backs, and it’s within those ridges that the hairs that inflict painful stings are embedded. Most general-purpose insecticides will eliminate them, but stand off to the sides so they won’t fall down your collar or onto your arms.
Cool-season broadleafed weeds such as clover and dandelions can be eliminated during November by spraying with a broadleafed herbicide containing 2,4-D. Read and follow label directions implicitly regarding temperature and rainfall.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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