Gardening This Weekend: January 25, 2024

You’re about to jump onto the spring gardening treadmill. Let’s look at winter tasks that need to be finished up first.

Dig and transplant established native or landscape shrubs and trees that need to be moved. This must be done before they start leafing out with new growth for spring.
Bare-rooted or balled-and-burlapped fruit trees, grapes, and blackberries. Be sure always to buy varieties recommended by Texas A&M Extension horticulturists as being the best adapted for your county. That information is available here:
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.
Cold-hardy annuals. Your local Certified Nursery Professionals can show you the best types for your area and your specific landscaping situations.

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Peaches and plums to encourage horizontal, bowl-shaped growth and to remove vertical shoots. Goal is to have trees 8 to 10 ft. tall and 15 to 16 ft. wide.
“Watersprouts” (strongly vertical shoots) on apples. Less pruning to pears, primarily only to remove dead or damaged branches.
Bush roses by half before mid-February. All cuts should be just above buds that face out from centers of plants. Watch closely for signs of rose rosette virus. It is fatal, and plants infected with it must be dug and destroyed, roots and all.
Evergreen shrubs lightly as needed to shape. Avoid formal shearing whenever possible.
Summer-flowering shrubs and vines to re-shape but remember that extensive pruning will lead to strong vegetative growth and fewer flowers.
Do not ever “top” your crape myrtles. There is no justifiable reason for doing so. It ruins their natural growth forms and it delays or prohibits their blooming. Bad idea all around.

Winter color plantings with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food to help them bounce back after all the cold.
Asparagus beds with all-nitrogen fertilizer to promote vigorous new spears.
Newly transplanted trees and shrubs with liquid root-stimulator monthly this year.
Ryegrass and fescue plantings with all-nitrogen or high-nitrogen fertilizer, as much as half in slow-release form.

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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.
Aphids on tender new growth, starting in South Texas during warm days ahead. 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.
Scale insects on fruit and shade trees, hollies, camellias, euonymus, and other plants. Apply horticultural oil (“dormant oil”) spray according to label directions. Your time for this treatment is quickly running out, especially in South Texas.
Don’t worry about grub worms you may encounter as you rototill for your spring garden. You will have disturbed them enough that they won’t feed any longer, plus they’re probably of species that aren’t harmful to vegetation anyway.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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