Gardening in Texas: Part 12 – A Winter Walkthrough
By Ebony Porter, December 12, 2016, Green
Welcome to Gardening In Texas from Bounce Energy! We hope this series will steer you in the direction of planting a green Texas garden with a eco-friendly lifestyle in mind. We’ll discuss shaping a garden that uses less water, grows in harmony with animal and insect life in the area, and provides you with more than just a pretty view.
Winter has arrived in Texas, but although most of the state doesn’t experience a snowy season, the soil still does go to sleep, and roots spend the next few months hibernating. While many bushes have lost their leaves, there’s a simple barrenness about it that visually lets me know it’s winter, and since we don’t live in a place where the trees tell me so, it’s nice that my garden does.
While it’s not a prolific growing season, you still have items to maintain in your Texas garden – especially when it comes to preparing for the spring. It’s a time of respite in the garden, as the weeds aren’t out of control, and my paperwhites, a daffodil-like bulb, emerge from the ground to provide of a spring-ish blossom of shape and color.
I personally love gardening in the winter, because the air is brisk and cool, and the mosquitoes are usually at bay. Head outdoors with us while the weather is chilly and gorgeous, as we’ll show how to tend to your Texas garden in winter.
This is a great time of the year to mulch your trees and bushes. If the leaves from your trees are falling, rake them up and use them as mulch. This material fights off weeds, protects roots from potential freezes, and keeps moisture in the ground after a good water or rainstorm.
2) Keep Watering
You might be inclined to stop watering your garden when the temperature drops. You’d be wrong. Just because it’s cold outside, your trees and shrubs still need a drink between rain. It’s especially important especially to keep your fruit trees watered, as well as your ornamentals, rose bushes, and tropicals. Don’t worry so much about cacti and Texas natives, as they’re wired to survive these winters.
3) Hold Off on Pruning
When you prune, it sends a signal to the tree to produce new growth. Resist the temptation to prune your trees during winter, and wait until the spring when new growth is supposed to appear. Then, the tree will be ready to sprout new shoots and take on new growth. For now, let them be dormant.
4) Care for Your Vegetable Crop
If you’re growing winter vegetables, continue to water and mulch them to keep moisture in the soil and to protect them during freezes. As opposed to your plants in Step 3, you want to harvest these often to encourage new growth. Kale and lettuce especially love to be picked. Start with the outside layer, and it will encourage new growth on the inside.
5) Prepare for Freezes
If the weather forecast calls for a freeze, be sure you are prepared before it hits. Cover your plants, especially those that are tender and full of water – begonias, cannas, banana trees, and succulents. Nurseries sell frost cloth, but you can also use old towels and sheets.
To keep the wind from blowing your cloth off, weigh down its corners with bricks or large rock. I often bring my potted plants into my house and enjoy those few days a year when my living room looks like a jungle!
6) Stay On Top of Weeds
Pull early spring weeds from your beds by hand to keep their seeds from spreading and cropping up again in the spring.
7) Fertilize Trees
Give your trees a dose of fertilizer to help them through the winter. Make sure you use fertilizer that’s designed for the particular plant you are fertilizing. But if you have azaleas and/or camellias planted, you can skip this step.
8) Plant Roses
Prepare the spot in your garden and plant roses now. Establish them by watering them every 3 days, and be sure to mulch. On Valentine’s Day, prune them!
9) Winter Color
If you want a bit of color in your barren winter garden, plant pansies, snapdragons, or dianthus. They are not perennials, but will give you a splash of brightness between now and when spring emerges.
10) Enjoy the Weather and Your Garden
As winter is one of the best seasons in Texas, being outside and enjoying your beautiful garden is an absolute must this time of year. Enhance the experience by drinking a hot cup of tea or coffee while you do!
Do you have any suggestions for taking care your Texas garden in winter? Share with us in the comments!