Tips for January
» Plant trees, shrubs and woody ornamentals from nursery containers. Plant slightly above ground line to allow root flare to be exposed.
» Transplant small trees and shrubs while they are dormant. Water the plant well before digging it.
» Plant cold-tolerant herbs such as chives, cilantro, garlic and parsley; onion transplants late month.
» Seed for warm-weather annuals can be planted in flats in a temperature-controlled environment. Tomatoes and peppers can be started from seed mid-month. All require bright light and warm temperatures (60-70ºF). Use grow lights for best results.
» Tulip and hyacinth bulbs which have been chilled for 8 weeks should be planted immediately.
» Plant blackberries, fruit and nut trees. Contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Ellis County at 972-825-5175 or visit http://aggie-horticulture.tamu. edu/fruit-nut for recommended varieties. Cultivar or variety selection is critical.
Fertilizing and Pruning
» Prune trees, including live oaks and red oaks, to remove dead, broken and unwanted branches. Apply pruning paint to any cut/wound on your oak trees to prevent oak wilt.
» Water newly planted trees and shrubs as needed; and apply a liquid root stimulator monthly.
» Peach and plum trees should be pruned to stimulate lateral branches and keep their “bowl” shape. Thin out branches to open the center to allow more sunlight, resulting in fruit production over the entire tree.
» Apply blood meal or a slow-release fertilizer to pansies and other cool-season annuals.
» Maintain free-form crape myrtles by removing “sprouts” growing from the base, but never cut the tops out. It produces unsightly knots and delays blooming. Removing spent seed pods is OK.
» Remove by hand, broadleaf weeds such as clover, dandelions, henbit and chickweed in lawns and beds. If necessary, spray turf with a broadleaf herbicide when temperatures are above 70 degrees. Be careful when using herbicides to prevent the drift from harming desirable plants.
» Don’t Guess, Soil Test! The best way to determine your soil’s fertility needs is to have it tested. Contact the local AgriLife Extension office at 972-825-5175 for a Soil Sample Information Form.
» Extreme Environmental Issues – Since the mid 1990’s, city dwellers have been encouraged to adopt management practices to reduce fertilizer runoff and conserve water. Research has shown that large amounts of phosphorus and nitrates are washed from recently fertilized grass sod, regardless of the type of fertilizer and is contributing to the potential of deficient oxygen levels and algae blooms. As the algae begins to die other organisms consume them using even more oxygen resulting in possible fish kills and “stinky water”. Using a soil test to determine what nutrients are actually needed and only applying them at the right time will help keep these fertilizers out of our water systems. Contact your local AgriLife Extension office for more details on soil testing.
Tips for February
» Plant these fall vegetables now: beets, carrots, “greens” (mustard, collard, turnip), kale, lettuce, radishes and spinach.
» Lawn establishment using warm-season grasses such as Bermudagrass, St. Augustine, zoysia and buffalograss should be completed early in the month.
» Overseed established Bermudagrass lawns with perennial ryegrass this month, if desired.
» Plant these fall-blooming annuals from bedding plants before buds have opened: marigolds, petunias, asters, pinks, snapdragons and mums. Wait until cooler weather to plant pansies, violas and ornamental cabbages and kale.
» Complete sowing bluebonnets to ensure spring flowers. For season-long color, purchase a wildflower mix that contains annuals and perennials, as well as cool- season and warm-season plants such as bluebonnets, black-eyed Susan, Indian blanket, Indian paintbrush, Mexican hat, plains coreopsis, purple coneflower and evening primrose. Sow seeds in areas that are free of grasses and lightly tilled. Lightly rake area to ge good seed-soil contact before watering.
Fertilizing and Planting
» Prune bush roses around Valentine’s Day. Prune old, dead and weak canes back to the ground. Leave 4 to 8 vigorous canes, removing one-half of their growth above an outward-facing bud. Wait to prune climbing or leaning roses until after they bloom. Prune errant canes any time to maintain shape.
» Herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses may be cut back now. Prune autumn sage (Salvia gregii) by 50%. Mexican feather grass does not require pruning.
» Dig and divide large clumps of ornamental grasses, especially if the center of the plant has died.
» Cut or mow liriope before new growth emerges. Trim Asian jasmine back to 4 or 5 inches.
» Begin controlling insects and diseases on fruit and nut trees. Spraying is essential for a successful harvest. Contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Ellis County for a copy of the “Homeowners Fruit and Nut Spray Schedule”.
» Look for aphids and caterpillars on vegetables, and control with insecticidal soap and Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), respectively.
» Check for scale insects adhering to the trunk, branches and leaves of hollies, euonymus, shade trees, fruit and pecan trees. Apply horticultural oil to control these and other over-wintering insects.
» For the more difficult-to-control crape myrtle bark scale, apply a neonicotinoid insecticide, such as imidacloprid, as a soil drench to the root zone of infested trees.
Extreme Garden Topics
» Extreme Planting – Hydroponics is a system by which plants are grown in water without the use of soil. Plants are anchored in an inert medium such as clay or gravel pellets. The roots of the plant grow downward through the medium and take up the nutrient rich water, thus eliminating the need for soil. More plants can generally be grown in the same amount of space compared to traditional soil gardening. Also, hydroponics can be stacked to further increase space efficiency thereby growing four times the amount of crop in the same space as traditional gardening. Some crops can gr w twice as fast in a hydroponic setting.