Tips for April
- Plant warm-season annual flowers. For sun (6+hours per day): angelonias, copper plants, firebush, lantana, moss rose, purslane, pentas, ornamental sweet potatoes and zinnias. For shade (less than 4 hours per day): begonias, coleus, impatiens and perilla. Select short, compact plants.
- Plant okra and southern peas (black-eyed peas, etc). Squash, cucumbers and melons can still be planted.
- Many herbs can also be planted from transplants (dill, parsley, fennel, mint, oregano and thyme).
- Now is the best time to plant Bermudagrass and St. Augustine grass sod. Grade and smooth area prior to installing sod to ensure good soil contact. Keep moist until roots are established.
- Seeded varieties of Bermudagrass may be sown starting mid- month. Keep soil moist until seed germinate and grass has established a good root system.
- Select caladium tubers now, while ample stocks are available, for May planting.
Fertilizing and Pruning
- Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer to established lawns. Use product containing at least half of its nitrogen in slow-release form.
- Mow common Bermudagrass at 1 1/2 inches and St. Augustine grass at 2 1/2 inches. Frequent mowing with sharp blades will keep an established lawn thick and healthy; but avoid removing more than one-third of the leaf surface each time.
- Fertilize roses every 4 to 6 weeks from now to September. Start with a balanced fertilizer, then apply ammonium sulfate or other high-nitrogen fertilizer as new growth appears, following a flowering cycle.
- Check new plant growth for aphids. A few can be tolerated but large numbers should be controlled. Washing them off with a strong spray of water may be all that is necessary for control.
- Eliminate fire ants in your landscape by broadcasting labeled bait while temperatures are between 70 and 90 degrees. If fire ants are still present after using bait, treat the individual mounds with appropriate insecticide. Contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Ellis County at 972-825-5175 for more information.
- Look for rose rosette disease. New growth on diseased roses exhibit elongated/enlarged canes, reddish leaves and stems, and excessive thorns. Remove and destroy infected plants and roots immediately. There is no proven control for this fatal disease.
- Soil purchased for use in beds, low areas and containers should be examined closely. Nutsedge and other weeds are often brought into the yard through contaminated soil sources.
- Watch newspapers and other media for information regarding wildflower trails, garden tours and plant sales.
Tips for May
- Plant heat-loving annuals including copper plant, firebush, gomphrena, lantana, pentas, purple fountaingrass and ornamental sweet potato in sunny areas.
- In shady spots, plant caladiums, begonias, coleus, impatiens (mildew-resistant types).
- Seeds of celosia, cosmos, marigold, morning glory, portulaca and zinnia can be sown directly in the beds. Keep seeded area moist until seeds germinate.
- Achimenes, cannas, dahlias and other summer flowering bulbs can be planted now.
- Establish new lawns before summer heat sets in. Sow seeded varieties of Bermudagrass early in the month; or sod Bermuda or St. Augustine grass. Water daily for first few weeks to develop a good root system.
Fertilizing and Pruning
- Feed fruit trees, perennials, annuals, ground covers and vines with a lawn fertilizer (3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio).
- Fertilize tomatoes and most other vegetables every other week for productive and vigorous plants.
- Manually thin the fruit on peaches, pears, plums and apples to 5-6 inches apart early in the month.
- Prune spring-flowering shrubs and vines soon after flowering. Keep the natural shape of the plant in mind as you prune, and avoid excessive cutting except where necessary to control size. Deadhead roses and other reblooming plants.
- Allow foliage of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs to mature and yellow before removing.
- Allow bluebonnets and other reseeding, annual wildflowers to die and the seeds to dry before mowing the stubble. Delay mowing until end of growing season if other wildflowers are growing in the area.
- Check tomatoes for signs of early blight (yellow blotches on lower leaves). Apply a labeled fungicide if needed. Keep soil adequately moist to prevent blossom-end rot (browned tissue on bloom end of fruit).
- Look for squash bugs in early morning. Destroy eggs found on underside of leaves by hand. Vegetable pests can often be controlled by mechanical, biological or organic means rather than by synthetic pesticides.
- Watch for bagworms on junipers and other narrow-leafed evergreens. Apply Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) or general insecticide at first sign of larvae feeding. Remember that once the bag has formed, your only option is to manually pull them off.
- Make initial application of Image® or SedgeHammer® to control nutsedge in established warm-season lawns.