Gardening This Weekend: October 19, 2023

As you start preparing your landscape and garden for the cool months ahead, there are some critical tasks on your checklist. Here are ones I’d do now.

Pansies, violas, pinks, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and kale and other cold-hardy annual color can be planted now.
Nursery stock while selections are still outstanding and as nurseries begin their end-of-season sales. This is the very best month of the year to plant woody plants into your landscape. The only exception would be for plants known to be tender to winter’s cold in your area – plant them in the spring.
Finish dividing spring-flowering perennials, including violets, candytuft, thrift and Louisiana phlox, Shasta daisies, iris, daylilies, purple coneflowers, gloriosa daisies and others.
Tulips and Dutch hyacinths can be bought now, but they need to go into the fridge at 45 degrees for the next two months, then planted around mid-December. They will not bloom normally without this “pre-chilling” treatment. Daffodils and grape hyacinths can be planted immediately.

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Dead or damaged branches from shade trees before they go bare for the winter.
Lawn to keep it at the same height you’ve been using all summer and fall. Letting grass grow tall in the fall does not improve its winter hardiness. It actually weakens the grass allowing weeds to invade in the process.
Erratic shoots from shrubs and vines, but save major reshaping for mid-winter.
Shape houseplants and hanging baskets you intend to bring indoors for the winter. You won’t have to bring them inside until the first freeze threatens them, but you’ll have them ready if you remove the lanky branches now.

Fescue and rye with high-nitrogen fertilizer to promote vigorous growth this fall.
Winter annuals with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food for quickest take-off. Repeat weekly until weather turns really cold. South Texas gardeners can feed all winter long.

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Brown patch (now being called “large patch”) in St. Augustine. This fungus is ramping up at full speed across Texas. It appears suddenly in round 18- to 24-inch patches, usually in grass that has been wet at night. Affected blades pull loose easily from the runners. Apply a labeled turf fungicide at first evidence to stop its spread.
Last call for this one! To kill existing turf and weeds in places where you want to create new beds for spring plantings, apply a glyphosate-only herbicide by spraying precisely within the beds’ boundaries. It will kill the vegetation without contaminating the soil, but it must be applied before frost turns the growth brown.
Inspect patio plants and hanging baskets for insects carefully before bringing them indoors for the winter. It’s much easier to address them outside than it will be once you have them indoors.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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