Originally posted by Justin Hancock.
Edited by John Green
It is simply amazing the fantastic weather we have had in the last few weeks! Cooler temperatures will continue to improve over the next few days, according to our local meteorologists. Now is the time to take the opportunity and continue preparing the winter garden, moving houseplants indoors, and preparing our gardens for spring. If you’re like me, you procrastinate, wanting plants to enjoy their last few days outdoors before damaging low temperatures hit here in Southeast Texas. Here are some gardening tips to guide you.
Plant spring flowering bulbs
You can still plant spring flowering bulbs (including tulips, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, and snowdrops) in your garden. The later the season, the more important it is to look for good quality bulbs. Beware of bulbs that have soft, mushy spots or that appear to be developing mold.
Cut the plants
After a hard frost, you can trim annuals and perennials in the garden if you want a neat, wintery appearance. Be sure to clean up any dead or diseased foliage to prevent diseases from returning the following year.
Note: If you want to leave your plants standing, that’s okay too! Certain plants, such as Black-eyed Susan and Echinacea, provide seeds to hungry birds. And many ornamental grasses grow best when left upright, so their crowns don’t get too wet during the winter. Plus, allowing perennials to stand during the winter helps you remember where they are in the spring.
Clean your tools
If you are done using your tools for the season, clean them out before putting them away for the winter. Start by removing any dirt or other debris that might be lying around. Sharpen shovels, trowels, and pruners to make them easier to use in the spring. (You might be surprised at the difference a sharp shovel makes when digging a hole!) Use sandpaper to smooth out any wooden handles that might start to break.
Treat against parasites
Once the trees and shrubs are dormant, you can use horticultural oil to control mealybugs and other insects. Be sure to follow the directions on the product packaging.
Clean your houseplants
If you see dust on the leaves of your houseplants, rinse them with room temperature water in a sink or shower. The dust on the leaves acts like a film on the windows; this reduces the amount of light your plants receive and makes it more difficult for them to grow.
Increase humidity indoors
Once you turn on your furnace, the air in your home will usually begin to dry out (and the more heat you use, the drier the air becomes). Increase the amount of humidity in the air for tropical plants to prevent browning of the tips and edges of the leaves. Simple ways to do this are by grouping your plants into clusters or placing your plants on a large dish of water filled with sand or pebbles and water. The top of your plant’s pot should rest on the sand or pebbles, just above the waterline (so the soil doesn’t stay too wet and rot).
Water Indoor plants Less
As the days get shorter, most houseplants use a little less water than during the growing season. Instead of watering regularly, occasionally probe the soil with your finger to see if your houseplants are wet or if they need a little water.
If you would like more information or have your gardening questions answered, please contact us:
Master Gardeners of Orange County, Texas
Facebook: Orange County Texas Association of Master Gardeners.
Orange County Master Gardner Helpline: (409) 882-7010
Email: [email protected]