Gardening This Weekend: December 28, 2023

There are things that simply must be done in the middle of winter if they’re going to be done at all. Here is my list.

Those tulip and Dutch hyacinth bulbs you’ve been chilling in the refrigerator. The soil is cool enough and they can’t wait any longer.
Your living Christmas tree. Hopefully you bought a type that’s well suited to your part of Texas. This weekend looks like the perfect time to set it outdoors. It’s going to be cool, but not frighteningly cold. Plants that have been indoors more than 8 or 10 days may have become acclimated to lower light and warmer temperatures. Water your plant deeply after you set it out.
Pick up or order fruit trees, grape vines and blackberry plants now for planting as soon as possible. Most critical tip of all: plant only varieties suited to your county. I have them in the Fruit chapter of Neil Sperry’s Lone Star Gardening, or you can find them at this link from Texas A&M
Any digging and relocating of established trees and shrubs must be done while they are dormant. That means now through early February in most of Texas – a little less in South Texas and a little longer in the Panhandle.

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Mistletoe from tree branches. Use a long-handled pole pruner to remove small branches and twigs that have it embedded. Leaving it in place gives birds time to harvest the sticky berries and carry them to other branches.
Grapes, peaches and plums. To a lesser degree, also apples and pears. This can wait for 3-4 weeks, but don’t let it slip by should you be called out of town.

High-phosphate, root-stimulator plant food monthly to newly planted trees and shrubs to help them establish strong new roots. Repeat monthly for balled-and-burlapped plants.

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Weakened tree branches, trunks that might split during a winter ice storm or snowfall.. This might be a good time to have a certified arborist inspect your trees carefully.
Please help me fight the battle: Don’t top crape myrtles. There is never a good reason. Topping ruins their natural growth form. It does not reduce their height for more than a few months, and it certainly does not improve their flower production.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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