Gardening tips from Ellis County Master Gardeners
Planting and Sowing
- Winter is the time to transplant mature trees and shrubs. It is best if they are root pruned in the fall.
- Seeds for warm-season annuals can be planted in flats. They will require bright light and warm temperatures (60-70 degrees). Peppers and tomatoes can be planted from seed mid-month. Use grow lights for best success.
- Sow snap peas and plant onions directly into your garden.
- Tulip and hyacinth bulbs which have been chilled for 8 weeks should be planted immediately after removing from the refrigerator.
Fertilizing and Pruning
- Apply a liquid root-stimulator monthly to newly planted trees and shrubs.
- Now is the best time to prune oak trees and other shade trees to remove lower limbs, dead branches and to maintain their natural shape.
- Peach and plums trees should be pruned to keep their “bowl” shape and remove water sprouts.
- Remove by hand, broadleaf weeds such as clover, dandelions, henbit, and achickweed in lawns and beds. You can also spray large areas with a broadleaf weed killer when temperatures are above 70 degrees. Read and follow the label carefully on any pesticide before using.
- Sow cool-season vegetable seeds directly into well prepared garden rows. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and potatoes should be planted 4 weeks before the last average frost date (around March 14th in the DFW Metroplex).
- Lettuce, radishes, carrots, spinach, beets, chard and turnips should be planted 2 to 4 weeks prior to last average frost date.
- Container and bare root roses can be planted this month.
- Plant blackberries, fruit and nut trees.
- Plant gladiolus and cool season annuals such as petunias, snapdragons, Iceland poppies, larkspur, ornamental chard, English daisies.
- Prune brush roses on Valentine’ Day. Prune back to the ground, old, dead, and weak canes. Leave 4 to 8 vigorous canes removing one-half of their growth above an outward-facing bud. If necessary, don’t hesitate to use hedge trimmers before using hand shears or loppers.
- Cut back old foliage of ornamental grasses to the ground. Division and transplanting of large clumps of warm-season ornamental grasses can be done now.
- Cover tender plants with landscape fabric in case of frost or freeze.
- Plant tomatoes and peppers after March 14th. Cover if frost or freeze is predicted.
- Direct sow seeds of warm-season vegetables such as beans, corn, squash, and melons mid to late March. Wait until April to plant okra.
- Plant perennials in well-amended soil.
- Prune, if needed, spring-flowering shrubs and vines.
- Remove dead top growth (Bermuda grass only) by lowering mower blade one or two notches.
- Apply a high nitrogen fertilizer to pecans and again in April and May.
- Begin fertilizing roses with specialty rose food.
- All trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers can be fed with an all nitrogen fertilizer.
- Spread compost around perennials and add mulch.
- Plant St. Augustine and hybrid Bermuda sod. Make good ground contact and keep moist until new roots are established. Common Bermuda can be started from seed, but it is best to hydro mulch. In either case keep the area moist for several weeks. This may require watering several times a day if no rainfall.
- Plant warm-season annuals from seedlings. For sun: zinnias, moss rose, purslane, butterfly weed, lantana, sweet potato vines, Dahlberg daisy and Angelonia. For shade: begonias, coleus, and impatients.
- Vegetables such as okra, black-eyed peas, corn and watermelons. You can still plant the cucurbits: squash, cucumbers and melons.
- Wait until May to plant the hot weather tropicals: hibiscus Esperanza, plumbago.
- Apply a high nitrogen fertilizer to lawns. This is usually after the third mowing when the entire lawn is green. Follow up with additional fertilizer in June (optional) and again in September.
- Mow Bermuda grass frequently at 1 ½ inches to keep thick and healthy-St. Augustine 2 ½ inches.
- Use mulching mower and leave grass clippings on the ground. They will provide a source of nitrogen to feed the lawn.
- Time to plant sweet potatoes. Also, it’s not too late for okra.
- Now is the time to plant other hot-weather, summer blooming plants such as canyon daises, and angel’s trumpet, which needs some afternoon shade. For shade, you can use torenias, elephant ears, and nicotiana.
- Wait until June to plant periwinkle (vinca).
- Spring blooming bulbs can be dug, divided and replanted. Make sure the tops have dried up before moving.
- Manually thin peaches, apples, pears, and plums about 5 to 6 inches apart.
- Fertilize tomatoes and most other vegetables every other week for productive and vigorous plants.
- Mow lawn grass the proper height every five days. Keep the blade sharp for a good clean cut to prevent browning at the tips.
- Deadhead roses and other re-blooming plants.
- Feed fruit trees, perennials, annuals, ground covers and vines with a lawn fertilizer.
- Maintain a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around all plants and bed areas. (Keep several inches away from trunks or stems of plants.)
- Shredded hardwood is one of the best mulches, but any type will work; except grass clippings. They tend to mat which prevents the penetration of rain water into the soil. Instead use them in the compost pile or on garden paths.