Tips for November
» Now through February is the perfect time to plant container-grown trees and shrubs. Dig a hole two times the diameter and one inch shallower than the root ball. Make sure the root ball and the hole are thoroughly wet before planting. Backfill with existing soil and water well.
» Plant pansies and violas now. Bluebonnets can still be planted from transplants.
» Daffodils and grape hyacinth may be planted once soil temperature drops below 55° F. Plant 2-3 times as deep as the bulb is tall.
» It’s time to winterize! Disconnect hoses from faucets and drain all hose-end sprinklers. Drain fuel from gasoline-powered engines and run the carburetor dry. Greenhouse owners should check the heating and ventilation systems to ensure proper operation.
» Check outdoor potted plants for insects (mealybugs, whiteflies, spider mites, aphids, roaches, ants) before moving inside for the winter. Apply a labeled insecticide if needed.
» When planning new landscapes, select trees, shrubs and perennials that are winter hardy in your area. According to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map, Ellis County is located in Zone 8 (average lowest annual temperature is 10° F to 20° F). Therefore, it is best to choose plants listed for Zone 8, or the one or two zones to the north (Zone 6 or 7).
» Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your home to receive the most benefit from summer shading while allowing the sun to warm your home during winter months. Just three trees properly placed, can save you up to 30 percent in energy use.
» Plant evergreen trees on north side of your home to block winter winds and reduce heating bills.
» Stockpile fallen leaves for use in compost or as mulch. It is an excellent way to enrich the soil and to nourish plants. Mix one cup of high nitrogen fertilizer per cubic yard of compost. Turn pile with spade fork to keep it aerated. Water, if needed.
Tips for December
» Plant berry-producing trees and shrubs to add winter color to your landscape. Choices include possumhaw and yaupon holly, Carolina buckthorn, rusty blackhaw viburnum and American beautyberry.
» Plant pre-chilled tulip and hyacinth bulbs mid to late month. Plant bulbs in masses for best effect.
» Daffodil bulbs may still be planted. Look for early and small-flowering varieties that tend to naturalize and return yearly.
» Considering a living Christmas tree? Choose an adapted plant. Junipers, Arizona cypress and pyramidal hollies are good options. While indoors, place the tree in the brightest natural light and keep soil moist. Do not leave indoors for more than two weeks.
Fertilizing and Planting
» Apply a root stimulator such as liquid seaweed or a high-phosphorus fertilizer to newly planted trees and shrubs.
» Do not top crape myrtles or remove the central leader of any shade tree. It destroys the crape myrtle’s natural shape, and delays blooming by five or six weeks. If your plant is too tall or too wide, remove or relocate it, and replace with something smaller that won’t require trimming.
» Remove mistletoe from trees as soon as it becomes visible. Use a pole pruner to remove the entire twig from infected branches before the mistletoe produces berries. There are no effective consumer products to control this parasitic plant.
» Protect tender vegetation from the cold with a lightweight frost cloth available at most nurseries and garden centers.
» Continue to water lawns, newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials if rainfall is insufficient.
» Prepare garden soil for spring planting by tilling in 6 inches of organic matter (compost) to a depth of 8 to 10 inches.
» Take time during the holidays to check out the new seed and nursery catalogues. Order early to ensure availability.
» Let’s not forget our feathered friends during the winter when their natural food supply is limited. Providing sunflower, safflower and thistle seed, suet and fruit will attract many species of birds to your backyard. And be sure to provide water.