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Horticultural Calendar for San Antonio, Austin and Surrounding Areas

Start preparing your landscape for a cold to very cold winter. Record low temperatures have been recorded recently throughout the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Also, the Ulawun volcano of Papua New Guinea erupted in early August sending volcanic ash into the stratosphere. Those high elevation particles can block the sun's energy for up to three years, exacerbating the prevailing cooling trend.

Week 1 -
Buy a large, inexpensive tent and cut a hole in its floor to serve as a temporary, but sturdy, heatable "greenhouse" for Satsuma Oranges, other half-hardy citrus and Mexican Avocados.

Young, deciduous trees and shrubs requiring transplanting can be moved as soon as they enter dormancy.

Start fertilizing Texas Columbines; they have big appetites. Keep them moist, not wet, during their cool-season growing period.

Last call to defoliate young specimens of hybrid Crepe Myrtles to induce dormancy.

Sow Elbon (Cereal) Rye in bare parts of vegetable garden as both a nematode trap crop and a "green manure'' to be tilled into soil in late winter.

Week 2 -
Mulch deeply all subtropical perennials (Begonia, Ginger, Hamelia, Heliconia, Firecracker Bush, Mandevilla, Plumbago, Poinsettia, Schefflera, etc.) until early March.

Still time to plant hardy annuals for winter and early spring color. Most need sunny sites. Cyclamen and Primula will tolerate shade.

Clean martin houses of sparrow debris and close them up until mid-February.

Last chance to feed lawns for fall and reap full benefit of winterizing function. Do not use slow-release fertilizers this late.

Make sure short-day bloomers (Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus and Kalanchoe) are not exposed to artificial light at night.

Week 3 -
Finish winterizing your landscape. Remember to water broadleafed evergreen shrubs and St. Augustine grass every two weeks during winter and especially when forecast calls for temperatures dropping below 24 F.

Clean up gardens after first freeze. Any plants with blights or mites should be thrown away, not composted.

Don't be a drip! Use faucet covers for freeze protection.

This is still an excellent time for planting trees, even living Christmas trees.

Cut back edible Asparagus spears to ground and mulch with composted manure.

Week 4 -
Saw off two inches from bottom of cut Christmas tree (I prefer the Fraser Fir), place its bottom in four to six inches of water and spray foliage with an anti-transpirant (while it is still ourdoors).

Brown patch can be a problem on 'Raleigh' St. Augustine grass throughout a mild winter. Take appropriate measures to control it early.

Start taking hardwood cuttings of trees, shrubs and vines as they become dormant.

Keep potted Poinsettias away from cold or hot drafts, but near a sunny window. Do not let them get too dry.

Week 1 -
Sow Swiss Chard now. This beet cousin is a potentially perennial vegetable.

Sow Poppies now in sunny, well-drained sites to enjoy their beautiful spring blooms.

Houseplants which spent the summer outdoors should be acclimated gradually to lower light intensities. Use anti-transpirants to minimize leaf-drop when they are returned indoors before a freeze.

Plant Strawberries in full sun, in raised beds filled with sandy, acidic materials. Bare-root plants are a bargain, but tricky.

Plant Garlic cloves in very well-drained sites in full sun.

Plant perennial cultivars of Daffodils, but never 'King Alfred', immediately.

Week 2 -
Fertilize Bermuda and St. Augustine lawns with a 3-1-2 ratio, winterizing fertilizer and water it in immediately.

Time for final application of pyrethroid granules to control insects in the landscape.

Have floating row cover, old blankets, tarps, etc. available to protect vegetable garden in case an early freeze occurs.  Polyethylene plastic, by itself, is useless, with no insulative properties.

Transplant hardy annuals like Texas Bluebonnet, Ornamental Kale, Snapdragon, Johnny-Jump-Up, Pansy, Pinks and Phlox.

Sow: Beets, Collards, Leaf Lettuce and Parsley in sunny plots.

Week 3 -
Time to move tropical plants back into the house or greenhouse. Apply insecticidal drenches to remove pests a few days before pots are brought inside.

Sow seeds of Texas Grano 1015y ('Texas Supersweet') onions in shallow containers of soil-less, well-drained potting medium. Protect from severe cold and plant in ground in early February,

Plant Ranunculus in the garden or in pots which will be over-wintered in a coldframe or cool greenhouse.

Week 4 -
Deeply mulch subtropical perennials like Chilean Jasmine, China Doll, Firebush, Firecracker Bush, Pride-of-Barbados, Plumbago and Poinsettia.

Start Freesia and Paperwhite Narcissus in pots. Keep them cool but protected from freezing.

Defoliate young specimens of Indian-named hybrid Crepe Myrtles if they are not showing colorful fall foliage.

Before you irrigate, see if storms are approaching from the west.

Or, see if storms are approaching from the east.

The botanical images on this site were produced by The Photon Hunt.

Thank you for visiting!,

seasonal notes

Protect acorns, sown for propagation, from squirrel predation.

Copyright at Common Law by Manuel Flores