Thursday, January 31, 2013

To Do List for Houston Gardeners

February To Do

Planting- Strawberries can be planted now; hanging baskets are an ideal way to grow the berries to avoid fungus and insects attacking the fruit. Tomatoes can be transplanted into pots that can be brought inside for frosts and freezes; later on (after last frost) they can be planted in larger pots or in the ground. Lettuce can be started from seed, for continual harvesting. Set out fresh seeds every 2-3 weeks through the cool season. Bluebonnets are available for transplanting to make a great spring show. It is past the prime time to set out seeds for bluebonnets.

Pests- Keep an eye out for loopers and aphids on cool season vegetables and annuals. Use the most organic solution possible for treating these insects. Check for scale insects on ornamentals such as camellias, hollies, magnolias, and Japanese blueberries. Treat with horticultural oil spray while it is still cool.

Lawns- Apply pre-emergent to stop spring weeds such as crabgrass, goosegrass and dallisgrass before they start. Corn gluten meal is an organic approach, while Barricade is a non-organic approach (both products can be found in our plant care shed).

Birds- Lower purple martin houses , clean and repair as necessary. Re-raise and position for martin scouts. Keep 20 feet away from trees and building for a clear flight pattern. Gold finches are feeding. Hang thistle or nyjer seed socks for these cuties. Keep suet feeders filled for hungry winter bird – their natural food sources are slim right now.

Freezes- Continue to keep an eye on the weather and stay informed on night time lows. Have frost cloth on hand for light frosts. If the temperature drops below 32, double wrap tender plants to ensure proper insulation. Avoid using plastic against foliage, but it can be used as the second exterior layer when covering plants. Remove plastic during the day. TIP: Heavy duty clothespins or spare bricks can be used to secure and weight down cloths.

Beds- Prune back perennials that are overgrown or have frost damage. This allows for a fresh spring start. Wait to cut back tropical plants until after the last frost, this includes hibiscus and bougainvilleas. Add in green annuals for spring color in the form of poppies, larkspur, hollyhocks, and delphiniums.

Pruning- Most shrubs, trees, and roses can be pruned now. Wait until after spring bloom cycles to prune spirea, azaleas, redbuds, and oriental magnolias.

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