Timely Tips: January 2015
Plant: Dig and transplant native or established trees and shrubs now, while they’re completely dormant. Finish planting chilled tulips, other bulbs very early in month. Bare-rooted fruit, pecan trees, berry vines, grapes. Check references such as the new Neil Sperry’s Lone Star Gardening or your county’s Texas AgriLife extension offices for a list of best varieties for your locale. Asparagus from 2-year-old roots. Flower, vegetable transplants indoors six to 12 weeks prior to spring planting dates outdoors. Pansies, pinks, cabbage and kale for winter color anywhere in Texas, and in South Texas, petunias, snapdragons and alyssum. Onions and snap peas late in month.
Prune: Evergreens as needed to reshape. Shade trees to correct problems. Never “top” any tree (including crape myrtles!) at any time. Cable large limbs of shade trees if they appear likely to crack under weight of ice, wind. Peaches and plums are pruned late in the month, your goal being to establish a vase-shaped scaffold branching system. Pears will need little regular pruning. Remove strongly vertical new growth (“water sprouts”) from apples. Remove at least 80 to 85 percent of vine growth from established grapes each winter.
Fertilize: Houseplants monthly using diluted complete-and-balanced, water-soluble plant food. Root-stimulator immediately after planting bare-rooted, balled-and-burlapped trees, shrubs. South Texas: high-nitrogen food to winter-flowering annuals. Asparagus beds with all-nitrogen granular material late January.
On the Lookout: Houseplants may be infested with scales, mealy bugs, spider mites, other insects. Apply “tender houseplant” sprays as needed to control. Scales and other tenacious pests can also be removed with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. Apply horticultural oil spray to eliminate scale insects from fruit trees, pecans, shade trees, hollies, camellias, euonymus and photinias. Remove rose plants infested with rose rosette virus (roots and all). There is no chemical control for the disease.
Odd Jobs: Prepare garden soils early in month, to let them lie fallow until planting time. Work shredded tree leaves, compost, other organic matter into the soil weeks before you plant. Have soil tested now to determine its shortcomings. Rototill every couple of weeks to ensure proper mixing, kill grubs, weeds. Work with landscape architect to plan spring improvement projects before rush season. Take equipment in for repairs before you actually will need it. Have saws, shears sharpened.