Timely Tips: March 2014


Part of the job of being a good gardener comes in doing the right things. The other half of the equation is in doing them at the right times. With a rather unusual winter now wrapping up, here are our suggestions for the most critical projects that await you.

Plant: Finish all dormant-season digging and moving of established trees and shrubs immediately. Once growth has started (as it already has in South Texas), mortality rates increase. Cool-season annuals early in month, including petunias, snapdragons, calendulas, stocks, sweet alyssum, English daisies, pinks, larkspur and poppies. Warm-season color early in month in South Texas, late in month in North Texas. Same schedule for cool-season and warm-season vegetables. Wait to plant warm-season lawn grasses until mid-March in South Texas, end of month farther north.

Prune: Reshape any plants that were damaged by this winter’s cold and ice. (See related story this issue.) Scalp your lawn if desired. Lower the mower one notch to remove browned grass stubble. In the process, you’ll also be removing many of the early spring weeds. Wear goggles and a good-quality respirator. Spring-flowering shrubs and vines immediately after they finish blooming to restore natural form. Balled-and-burlapped and bare-rooted nursery stock by 30 to 50 percent to compensate for roots lost in digging.

Fertilize: Shrubs, groundcover beds with all-nitrogen or high-nitrogen plant food, as dictated by a soil test. Contact your county agent’s office of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension for sampling supplies and mailing boxes. Diluted, water-soluble plant food should be applied to new groundcover beds, annual flower and vegetable transplants, and pots and hanging baskets. Repeat frequently for container plants. In South Texas, pecans with all-nitrogen fertilizer. Repeat 30 and 60 days later. Make these three applications one month later in North Texas: early April, early May and early June.

On The Lookout: Apply pre-emergent weedkiller granules to prevent germination of crabgrass, grassburs. Treat March 1 and June 1 in South Texas, March 15 and June 15 in North Texas, and March 30 and June 30 in Panhandle. Use a post-emergent broadleafed weedkiller spray to control dandelions, clover and other broadleafed weeds in turf. Snails, slugs and pillbugs eating tender new growth. Control with Sevin dust or bait. Maintain regular fruit spray program to protect against insects, diseases. Peaches and plums need special attention due to plum curculio worms that ruin the fruit. Have frost cloth handy to protect vulnerable plants should late frosts and freezes hit your part of Texas.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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