Gardening This Weekend: January 18, 2024

Folks from the North think nothing of the kind of weather we’ve been encountering this week. Lynn and I lived 30 miles from Lake Erie for two years early in our marriage. This week was nothing by those standards, but we can get behind schedule quickly. Here are the things you’ll want to do asap to catch up.

Dig and transplant established native or landscape shrubs and trees that need to be moved.
Bare-rooted or balled-and-burlapped fruit trees, grapes, and blackberries.
Asparagus, English snap peas, and onions as soon as possible in most of the state.
Irish potatoes, Cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, etc.) in South Texas.
Frost-hardy annual color as weather warms up in southern half of state, including ornamental Swiss chard, larkspur, stocks, sweet alyssum, Iceland poppies, and others.

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Grapes to remove 80 to 85 percent of canes in effort to limit numbers of fruit and improve overall quality.
Peach and plum trees to outward-growing buds to encourage horizontal growth.
Apples and pears to remove dead or damaged branches, also (in case of apples) to remove strongly vertical shoots called “water sprouts.”
Figs only as needed to remove frozen tissues. With the recent cold you may want to wait to see the extent of any damage it might have done.
Evergreen shrubs lightly as needed to shape. Do so before new growth has begun. Avoid formal shearing whenever possible.
Summer-flowering shrubs and vines to reshape but remember that extensive pruning will lead to strong vegetative growth and fewer flowers.
Do not ever “top” your crape myrtles. It’s a message I’ve carried for more than 50 years. There is no justifiable reason.
Bush roses by half. Each cut should be made directly above a bud that faces away from the center of the plant. That encourages full, spreading growth. (Remove all rose bushes infected with rose rosette virus. Remove plants, roots and all.)

Asparagus beds with all-nitrogen fertilizer as soon as tonight’s cold spell abates to promote vigorous new spears.
Ryegrass and fescue plantings with all-nitrogen or high-nitrogen fertilizer, half or more in slow-release form.
Winter color plantings with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food each time that you water.
Newly transplanted trees and shrubs with liquid root-stimulator monthly this year.

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Scale insects on fruit and shade trees, hollies, camellias, euonymus, and other plants. Apply horticultural oil (“dormant oil”) spray according to label directions.
Watch houseplants for scale insects, whiteflies, mealybugs and other indoor pests whose populations build when there are no natural predators. Use a labeled houseplant insecticide. You may also be able to remove some with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Broadleafed weeds in any type of turf. Apply a broadleafed weedkiller (containing 2,4-D) according to label directions. Be patient. It may take a week for it to do its job. These weeds may have been “burned back” by the recent extreme cold. You might be ahead if you waited for new growth before spraying.
Aphids on tender new growth, starting in South Texas during warm days. They can be vectors for plant viruses. Most insecticides will eliminate them, or you can wash them off the plants with a forceful stream of water.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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