Find Answers To Your Plant Questions Here
On this page I will try to make as much information as possible about plants available to you. It is my goal to be able to answer any possible question either personally or through such sites as USDA ( United States Department of Agriculture) and TAMU. (Texas A&M University) I will also add some links to other universities, but USDA has answers for all areas of the US.
Below is a hardiness map to assist you in determining the lowest temperature expected for your area.
Below are some very good resources to help plan your lawn and garden.
PLANTING AND GROWING FLOWERS
USDA PLANT INFORMATION SITE
TEXAS A&M PLANT ANSWERS
Central Texas Gardener
Plant: October's cooler weather means time to plant cool-season vegetable crops: beets, Chinese cabbage, carrots, collards, lettuce, mustard, parsley, garden peas, spinach, radishes and turnips. This is the ideal time to plant cool-weather-loving annual flowers, including petunias, and dianthus, ornamental cabbage and kale, phlox, and Shasta daisies. Although Alyssum, asters, snap dragons, pansies, violas, calendulas and stock begin to be available in October, it is best to wait until air and soil temperatures have cooled significantly before planting them. This usually occurs in late October or early November. Wildflowers germinate and perform better if they are seeded into a lightly cultivated or raked soil. If planting in an established turf, chose bermuda turf since it is dormant during the growing season and bermuda is usually growing in a full sun location which wildflowers need to do their best. Floratam St. Augustine grass, zoysia, buffalograss or bermudagrass sod can still be planted.
Prune: Fall-blooming annuals and perennials can be kept in flower longer and will look better if their maturing flowers are removed. Rejuvenate leggy begonias with a light pruning followed by an application of a water-soluble fertilizer. Avoid drastic pruning of woody plants this late in the growing season. However, dead or diseased wood in trees and shrubs can be readily pruned on an "as needed" basis. Continue to keep vigorous-growing shrubs, such as pyracantha and ligustrum, pruned to maintain desired size and-or shape. Wait until December or January to do any major fruit tree pruning.
Fertilize: October is time for the most important lawn fertilization of the year -- application of a Winterizer fertilizer to condition the grass for winter survival. Wait until the lawn grass slows growth and mowing every two weeks is adequate before applying. The fertilizers to use are the ones which have "Winterizer" on the bags and are complete (contains all three elements -- nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) analysis with 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratios. Continue to fertilize hibiscus, bougainvillea, allamanda, mandevilla, and other tropical plants that have been spending the summer on your patio, porch or deck. The same goes for hanging baskets and other containerized plants. Use a water-soluble type of product. A light application of garden-type fertilizer will boost annual and perennial flowering plants.
On the Lookout: Watch for signs of brown patch fungus in St. Augustine lawns, particularly if this month is rainy and cool. Treat with a product containing PCNB (Terraclor) such as Turficide. Insects can still be a major problem this month, particularly if the weather is hot. Watch for whiteflies, spider mites, aphids, and scale. Treat with the recommended product by your county Extension agent or nursery professional.
Odd Jobs: It's time for the last roundup, partners (or should we say last glyphosate herbicide such as Roundup, Ortho Kleanup or Finale!). Invading bermuda and dallisgrass in St. Augustine should be "spot treated" before they begin a winter dormancy. There is no selective herbicide which will kill Dallisgrass and not kill St. Augustine grass. With the proper watering and fertilization, the St. Augustine will cover the "kill cavities" within six weeks and the saga of the Dallisgrass will just be a memory. Poast or Ortho Grass-B-Gon can be used to kill grasses in ornamentals without fear of damage to the flowers and/or groundcovers. Buy bulbs for tulips, hyacinths and daffodils but don't be in a hurry to plant. Keep them in the refrigerator vegetable crisper until after Thanksgiving and then plant.
October Calendar by Dr. Tom Harris
Plant: November and December are the ideal months to plant trees and shrubs. Fall is the ideal time to move trees and shrubs as well. Planting now gives the plant time to establish its root system before the shoot growth develops in the spring. Also, usually little supplemental watering is required through the winter. Look around at the fall color and see which plants you would like to add to your landscape. Make certain your final choices are from the list of recommended trees and shrubs for this area found at:
It is also an ideal time to prepare planting areas for spring planting. Temperate weather means that there is still time to plant or continue planting some of the cool-season vegetable crops depending on where you live. If you are south of San Antonio, beets, carrots, mustard, parsley, radishes and turnips can be safely seeded in November. Seeding in Region III is risky and should be limited to carrots, mustard, radish and turnips.Exact timing can be derived from recommended planting dates (See the fall direct seeding chart at:http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/PLANTanswers/fallgarden/falldirect.html
November and December are the ideal months to plant for winter color. Pansies, dianthus, violas, snapdragons, flowering cabbage, flowering kale, stock, larkspur, delphinium, petunias, phlox, calendula , Shasta daisies, snapdragons, stocks and violas are recommended cool-season bedding plants for this area. They all prefer well-prepared and drained soil and sunny locations. Many of South Central Texas' finest wildflowers can be seeded now and bluebonnets can be transplanted. Direct-seed the Firecracker 234 Annual Mix or the Butterfly/Hummingbird Mix as listed at the bottom ofhttp://www.plantanswers.com/wildflower_planting_fall.htm
follow planting instructions provided. Continue dividing and planting perennials which bloom in the spring. Complete planting of spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths and daffodils in December. Sodding Floratam St. Augustinegrass or bermudagrass can be risky this late in the season and can be damaged by severe cold. Zoysia sod such as JaMur can still be planted. There is still time to establish fescue in those heavily-haded areas. For a temporary grass cover to hold the soil over winter, try annual rye. Use 8 to 10 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet.
Prune: Wait until December or January to do any major fruit tree pruning. Prune back leggy perennial plants. Fall-blooming perennials such as lantana and salvia can be cut back as soon as freezing temperatures have obviously frozen their top growth. Cut them back severely - to the ground. Over-plant the cut-back perennial area with winter annuals such as pansies, Johnny-jump-ups and dianthus (pinks), larkspur or bluebonnets rather than looking at the barren bed all winter. The lantana will come back next spring in May to provide beauty during the hottest part of the summer. This is the ideal pruning time for many trees and shrubs. If you have oak trees in need of pruning, begin now. It is especially critical in areas where the oak wilt fungus is a problem. Apply horticultural tree wound dressing on all oak cuts. Prune out dead, damaged or diseased wood from trees and shrubs. Avoid topping or dehorning.
Fertilize: If you have procrastinated the application of the most important lawn fertilization of the year - the application of a "Winterizer" fertilizer to condition the grass for winter survival - do it before December. The fertilizers to use are the ones which have "Winterizer" on the bags and are complete (contains all three elements -- nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) analysis with 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratios.
On the lookout: Watch for pillbugs (sowbugs, rollie-pollies) eating seedlings and young transplants of flowering annuals such as bluebonnets, pansies, etc. Control with a barrier of an insecticide such as Sevin (carbaryl) or diazinon or by using baits until the plants are older and tougher. Scale and other hard-to-kill insect pests may be overwintering on your trees or shrubs. Pecan and fruit trees, euonymus, camellias and holly are favorite hosts. Spray with dormant oil, following label directions on the container to avoid plant damage. Protect any winter annuals from the oil spray.
My Thanksgiving and Christmas present to you is the BEST PECAN PIE RECIPE ON EARTH at:
November Calendar by Dr. Tom Harris
*It's winter-annual time. Select from pansies, spring bulbs, flowering kale, Dianthus, calendula, viola, Johnny jump-ups, alyssum, and snapdragons. If you use tulips and hyacinth bulbs, make sure they have 4-6 weeks of chill in the refrigerator.
*Be ready to move the bougainvilleas, hibiscus, Plumeria, purple fountain grass, citrus, Mandevilla and other tender plants into the greenhouse or garage at the first cold weather. Plan for ventilation as it gets pretty warn in San Antonio in November.
*Fall asters are spectacular. Plant them now for a good show next fall.*Get Texas Gold columbines in the ground to make a good groundcover under deciduous trees.
*Plant your wildflower seeds this month.
*If you plan to plant roses next January or February, prepare beds now with composted manure or pine bark mixed with existing soil.
Fruits and Nuts
*Pick up pecans as soon as possible after they fall to the ground. Damp nuts with limited mold can be dried n the oven.
*Prepare your Satsuma orange shelters so that you can move fast if we get a prolonged, hard freeze prediction. See: http://aggie?horticulture.tamu.edu/PATIOCITRUS/
Shade Trees and Shrubs
*Do not put leaves in the garbage. Benefit from fallen leaves by mowing them and leaving them on the lawn or by using them as mulch in the shrub border.
*If you're going to plant a pecan tree, consider Pawnee. It makes a reasonably sized lawn tree that doesn't seem prone to limb breakage. The nuts are relatively small and early so it does not require as much water or care to get a full nut.
*If you plan to plant bare-root trees or shrubs, prune the tops back at least one-third to one-half before planting.
*If you didn't get your lawn fertilizer down in October, do it now-before the first freeze and as long as the grass hasn't gone dormant. This equates to about 5-7 lbs. of a 15-19% nitrogen manufactured mix or 11 lbs. of 9% organic mix per 1,000 square feet. The nutrients will be stored for a fast start in the spring. Use a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ration of N-P-K.
*If you have a winter weed problem, get a winter weed pre-emergent herbicide down quickly. Check the label to make sure the product matches your needs.
*Treat brown patch with a fungicide labeled for that purpose, such as PCNB (Turficide) or F-STOP. See: http://www.plantanswers.com/brown_spots.htm
*Cut way back on the water. Water the lawn only every 2 weeks with one inch of water if we don't get rain.
*It's too late to plant Bermuda.
*Over seeding rye grass for winter green only works on Bermuda; Zoysia and St. Augustine have too thick a sod. Rye grass will kill buffalo grass. See: http://www.plantanswers.com/overseeding.htm
*Plant spinach in November.
*Side dress your cole crops and onions with a cup of slow-release lawn fertilizer per 10 feet of row.
*Tomatoes and peppers can be protected from light freezes with blankets. If you're successful, they'll produce another 3-4 weeks. Harvest them regularly…or keep the chow-chow and fried green tomato recipes handy.
*Plant radishes, carrots, beets, and greens this month.
*Watch for worms and caterpillars on cole crops. Treat with Bt (bacillus thuringiensis.) It's only active for 3-4 days, so plan to use it twice a week.
Madeline M. writes;
I live in zone 8 and would like to plant some aloe veras in the ground.I have at least 15 to 20 of them in pots and they are very healthy and large. about 8 of them have outgrown very large pots and I would like to put them in the ground now. should I wait until late winter or early spring? I do have about 6 in the ground now and they do well.
GS&S: I am contemplateing the same thing I have been wintering mine in the greenhouse. Wikipedia says they are hardy in zones 8 thru 11 and will take some frost. (By the way they got too much sun in the greenhouse in late winter and became pale.) I plan to wait until spring to put mine in the ground. Waiting will give you a chance to see the how the ones you have already set out survive. A heavy mulch could help as well.