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Horticultural Calendar for San Antonio, Austin and Surrounding Areas

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-
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 2024.

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 2021. Share with him the skills of sowing, nurturing and reaping.

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

Thank you for visiting!,

seasonal notes

Please remember to water your trees and shrubs deeply at the drip line (with a root-feeder probe or soaker hose) every two weeks during the growing season.  Groundcovers, perennials and other shallow-rooted plants should be watered deeply every week in the absence of substantial rainfall.

The on-going La Niņa drought necessitates this intervention.  Topsoil and subsoil are very dry and their survival will be dependent on supplemental  irrigation.

As spring progresses to summer, and the Comal Springs look like they did in early 1956, the usual suspects will again be asking you to let your landscape suffer or die, to protect the "crittters". Those eco-nazis, radical environmentalists, politicians beholden to "downstream interests," and other bed-wetting sissies will neglect to inform you that the "critters" will not suffer irreparable harm. The current population of Fountain Darters was reintroduced from individuals kept at the federal fish hatchery. The Gambusia were illegally reintroduced from the San Marcos Springs population, and the Blind Salamanders will again retreat into the safety of the Edwards Aquifer.

If you read the local paper, listen to for-profit media outlets, or Government Radio (NPR), please disregard their propaganda.  If the "downstream interests" wanted to keep Comal Springs flowing, they could restrict the spring openings to restore their natural state before they were blasted open in the 19th century.  They could also recharge the aquifer with treated wastewater where the Cibolo Creek intersects the recharge zone as well as at Hueco Springs (when they are not flowing).

If they bring up the subject of Texas Wild Rice, let them know it is not endemic to Spring Lake and its surroundings in San Marcos.  This species actually has three known natural habitats - San Marcos River, along the Trinity River (about 100 miles N of Houston). and along the Pearl River in southern Mississippi.  Scientists who feed at the federal trough (the human parasites of endangered species) will swear that Texas Wild Rice is a submerged aquatic plant whose survival requires millions of gallons of spring water of precise chemical composition and temperature.  However, those who have cultivated this species for decades will tell you it is an invasive weed that thrives in shallow water and moist banks.  Under such care, it grows to 10-12' high and flowers consistently from July until first frost and sets abundant seed.  It is a marvel of adaptation that it can even survive as a submerged aquatic.  A federal recovery plan reported that Texas Wild Rice once choked the irrigation ditches downstream from Spring Lake.  Also, a now defunct retail nursery in Austin sold container-grown Texas Wild Rice in the 1990s.


Copyright at Common Law by Manuel Flores