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Horticultural Calendar for San Antonio, Austin and Surrounding Areas

Its tough to make predictions, especially about the future, said Yogi Berra.

Despite his words of wisdom, I expect the first half of 2020 to be as dry, possibly drier, than 2019 with its local rainfall total 10.25 inches below normal. The Opuntia specimens on rocky slopes are currently wilted and our many Agave plants barely grew last year. (1 January 2020)

Week 1-
Prune out all tree and shrub growth within two feet of the house or roof. Find more pruning details here.

Have your lawn mower and chain saw serviced and their blades sharpened. Replace old mowers with mulching models.

Sow Tomatoes and Peppers indoors, with supplemental heat and light, if you intend to produce your own transplants.

Remove soil and rust from shovels, hoes, etc. Sharpen as needed and oil them.  Store them in a dry place.

Clean up your vegetable garden and till in more organic matter. Do not compost diseased or infested plant remains.

Prune dormant trees and shrubs, except those that bloom in spring. Fruit trees are pruned as their buds are expanding.

Week 2 -
It is normal for Hibiscus and Bougainvillea to lose their leaves when brought indoors. Consequently, water them less.

Buy recommended varieties of fruits, nuts & berries and plant in well-drained, sunny sites. Plant two or more varieties if cross-pollination is required. Use sulfur to suppress cotton root rot.

Water your St. Augustine grass lawn deeply if temperatures below 24 F. are forecast.

This is a good time to divide and replant ornamental grasses. Keep them moist, not wet, while they re-root.

Add acidifying iron-rich supplements to acid-loving plants and replenish their pine bark or pine needle mulch.

Week 3 -
Apply dormant oil to scale-infested plants, as well as fruit and nut trees twice during winter.

Wear old clothes when handling frozen banana stalks. Their oozing sap stains everything.

Protect Ranunculus flower spikes from temperatures below 24 F.

Tulips could start flowering between now and mid-February.

Week 4 -
Trench around clumps of running Bamboo to find and remove any rhizomes that are escaping. Replant or share them.

Spray a selective grass herbicide in wildflower patches to remove cold-season grasses.

Restock bird-feeders regularly and provide a source of liquid water when temperatures are below freezing.

Open temporary greenhouse for tender citrus & young Mexican Avocado plants on warm days.

Plant "Texas Grano 1015y" onion transplants. Protect them from extreme cold. Begin feeding them with 21-0-0 in three weeks.

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.

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