Gardening This Weekend: May 2, 2024

It seems like you’re meeting yourself coming and going, mowing and pruning, feeding and planting. It’s a great time to be a gardener in Texas. Here’s this weekend’s list.

Annual color for the summer, both from flowers and foliage. Choose types that match the amount of sunlight or shade you have for them.
Perennials from quart and gallon containers, while nurseries have good supplies. Do your homework ahead of time to know size, blooming times of each type that you choose. With perennials you must plant for a succession of color. Most types only bloom for 2-3 weeks.
Trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers now. Nurseries have outstanding selections and plants are growing vigorously. Weekdays are the best times to shop. Shop at independent retail garden centers so you can work with full-time “plant people” who can give you the best advice, especially if they are Texas Certified Nursery Professionals.
New turf from sod, seed, or sprigs. This is absolutely the best time of the year to start new lawns. You must rototill to a couple of inches with a rear-tine tiller and rake to a smooth grade that drains away from your house. Do not lay new sod on unprepared soil, and do not “overseed” bermuda sod into an established lawn. (It is too fine to endure the competition.)

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Mow lawn at recommended height. Mowing higher will only weaken the grass and invite weeds. Common bermuda at 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inch. Hybrid bermuda heights will depend on the variety, generally 1/4- to 3/4-inch. You will need a reel mower in most cases. Zoysias at 2 to 2-1/2 inches. Buffalograss and fescue at 3 to 4 inches.
Dried foliage and flower stems from early spring perennials, but leave green foliage in place until it yellows and dies.

Lawns with all-nitrogen (for clay soils) or high-nitrogen (for sandy soils) fertilizer with 30 to 40 percent of that nitrogen in encapsulated or coated, timed-release form. If you fertilized in April, wait before feeding again.
Annual flowers and vegetables with same type of fertilizer as for lawns on 3- or 4-week intervals.
Liquid or water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer for patio containers and hanging baskets. Supplement with timed-released pellets.
Iron additive to correct deficiency (“chlorosis”) in acid-loving plants such as azaleas, gardenias, loropetalums, wisterias, and many others. Symptoms: yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominent on newest growth. Iron quickly becomes insoluble in alkaline soils and alkaline irrigation water, so include sulfur soil acidifier. Repeat several times during the growing season. Keep iron products off concrete, brick and stone that could be stained.

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Caterpillars are commonplace. Loopers are attacking Cole crops like broccoli and cabbage. Control them with Bacillus thuringiensis. Other caterpillars that are devouring foliage of trees and shrubs can be stopped by B.t. as well, or you can use a general-purpose insecticide for most. Read and follow label directions.
Poison ivy and other broadleafed (non-grassy) weeds with one of the many products containing 2,4-D. Let your nursery or hardware professional recommend one to you.
Chiggers! They will be in bermudagrass turf and especially in weeds, ditches, and pastures. Reach in to pick ripe dewberries and you’ll come back with an armful of chiggers. (Personal experience.) I recommend spraying yourself with DEET repellent rather than trying to spray your entire lawn and landscape. That will stop mosquitoes and their diseases, too.
Leyland cypress (and Italian cypress) and Blue Point and Spartan junipers are being ravaged by disease. Seiridium canker is attacking the two cypresses and Phomopsis canker and Kabatina twig blight are attacking the junipers. There is no control for any of them. Trim out the dead wood and try as much as you can to reshape the impacted plant. It will, however, be difficult.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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