Gardening This Weekend: May 16, 2024

We’re transitioning toward summertime temperatures across most of Texas. That changes our gardening tasks. Here’s what’s on your list for this weekend.

New lawngrass. This is the best time of the year. Soils and air temperatures are warm, but we’re still a few weeks away from the baking heat of the summer. Prepare soil carefully. Rake to a smooth grade that drains away from your house. If you’re planting sod, do so in the morning and water it as soon as it’s planted. Water seeded bermuda lightly daily for the first couple of weeks.
Summertime annual color. Coleus, begonias, angelonias, fanflowers, pentas, lantanas, purple fountaingrass, ‘Cora XDR’ periwinkles (because of their resistance to disease), alternantheras, ornametal sweet potatoes, cleome, Joseph’s coat, caladiums.
Summer perennials, but soon – before nurseries sell out.
Trees and shrubs now, but transport them home carefully so leaves will not be exposed to highway winds. Plant immediately, and make provision to water them by hand every two days now until October. Sprinkler irrigation and drippers will not be adequate.

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Pinch growing tips out of fall asters, Mexican bush sage, mums, copper plants, coleus and other plants that tend to grow tall and lanky if you do not.
Remove rose bushes infected with rose rosette virus. See my website for help in identifying it.
Reshape spring-flowering shrubs and vines. Do so lightly, however, because they’ve already produced a great deal of new growth. Try to avoid unnatural square or round shapes.

Apply high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen plant food to trees, shrubs, vines, groundcovers, annuals, perennials, and turf.
Patio pots and hanging baskets with water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer every week or two. Supplement it with a long-lasting, timed-release product.
High-phosphate liquid root stimulator product monthly to trees and shrubs that were dug and relocated over the winter. Phosphorus will promote important new root growth, and by applying it in liquid form it will be soluble. If you did not prune the plants at the time of relocating them, consider doing so now. By removing 30 to 40 percent of their top growth you will help them compensate for the damage done by the digging. Do this one branch at a time to maintain the plants’ natural growth forms.
Use an iron/sulfur soil acidifier product to correct iron deficiency. (Yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominent on newest growth first.)

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Fire ants are widespread across Texas due to the ongoing rains of this spring. The ants build their mounds above ground for oxygen. Apply individual mound treatments where the ants could be a threat to children and pets if they were to step onto them unknowingly (along walks, near patios, etc.). Very effective and long-lasting baits are available to treat larger areas such as entire yards and rural properties.
Chiggers are abundant in bermuda that has not been mowed recently, also in weeds in fields, roadsides and even parks. Apply DEET repellent to your legs and feet, also to the outsides of your socks and shoes. They are microscopic, but their itch is as big as Texas.
Same DEET repellent is the best way to deter mosquitoes. Yes, there are other ways of keeping them from biting you, but they’re not as dependable. With potentially fatal viruses involved, I’m going to give my family the product that is most likely to protect them.
Take all root rot (TARR) has returned across big parts of Texas to weaken St. Augustine, also zoysia lawns. Grass has been yellowed and lethargic in its growth. It shows up in irregular patches, sun and shade, but more commonly in grass that has been weakened by poor mowing habits or by poor drainage. Spreading a 1-inch layer of sphagnum peat moss still helps reduce the current outbreak. Azoxystrobin applied during late winter provides better prevention. See related question in Q&A this edition. (See my answer to Q2.)

Posted by Neil Sperry
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