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Horticultural Calendar for San Antonio, Austin and Surrounding Areas

Week 1-
Keep Poinsettias away from cold or hot drafts, but near a sunny window. Do not let them get too dry nor too wet.

If you want a cut tree, try a Fraser Fir. They retain their needles longer and hold ornaments better. Maintain the base of your cut Christmas tree in water until you remove it from the house. A special solution is not any better than plain water.

The only place for an Afghan Pine living Christmas tree is in full sun, on a perfectly drained slope, in far west Texas. For a long-lived tree, use Italian Stone Pines instead in central and south Texas.

Week 2 -
Prolonged exposure to temperatures below 20 F. can kill the roots of potted plants, even natives and other usually hardy ones. Water thoroughly and insulate the pots with newspaper, old blankets and tarps.

Do not burn pine or juniper wood in your fireplace or wood stove. Those woods contain highly inflammable substances.

Potted Abutilon, Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Ixora and Mandevilla placed at a south or west window will provide sporadic flowering during winter. Do not fertilize them until mid-March.

If temperatures below 24 F. are forecast, water all landscape plants (especially St. Augustine lawns) deeply, one to two days before temperatures fall below freezing.

Week 3 -
Drain water hoses between uses, to maintain them useful during freezing weather.

Give your familial gardener a gift certificate from his favorite horticultural establishment or a subscription to a publication, such as: Cactus & Succulent Journal, Fine Gardening, Garden Design, Garden's Illustrated, Orchids, Organic Gardening or Texas Gardener.

Apply pyrethroid granules to pots harboring Fungus Gnats and their larvae.

Never water frozen leaves. Watering will kill, not thaw them.

Week 4 -
Resolve to be a more observant gardener in 2020.

Give your chain saw its annual professional checkup to ensure it will function safely during the January and February pruning season.

While reading those glossy, out-of-state mailorder plant and seed catalogs or perusing their web sites, remember we live in Zone 8, have alkaline soil and hot, dry summers.

Be a horticultural mentor, give the gift of gardening to a child in 2020. Share with him the skills of sowing, nurturing and reaping.

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.

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