Smith County Horticulturist
Make note of two educational events in Tyler. The Smith County Master Gardener-sponsored “1st Tuesday in the Garden” starts in March, with “Azaleas — Selection, Planting and Maintenance” noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday in the IDEA Garden patio area in the Tyler Rose Garden. This free lunchtime program will cover the basics of growing these beautiful springtime plants for which Tyler is so well-known. Bring a lawn chair and a bag lunch and enjoy.
March 16 is the second East Texas Garden Lecture Series workshop at the Tyler Rose Garden Center, featuring “Creating Creative Container Gardens.” Gone are the days of boring, one-plant pots! Come and be inspired watching three nurserymen — Sharon Smith of Blue Moon Gardens, James Wilhite of Wilhite Landscape & Lawn and Laurie Breedlove of Breedlove Landscape Nursery — demonstrate how to plant beautiful and interesting container gardens.
You’ll not only learn the basics of container gardens — soils, containers and plants — but your creativity will be stimulated for making arrangements, using stylish containers consisting of combinations of evergreens, grasses and perennial arrangements; color flower and foliage arrangements; and using odd and/or structural items in arrangements. Each person will present an initial arrangement solo, then all will create a second container garden, with Mary Wilhite of Blue Moon Gardens moderating the whole affair.
The program begins 9 a.m., with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. Registration is $15 at the door. Some containers will be given as door prizes.
WHETHER TO PLANT
Some flowers to plant right away include sweet alyssum, larkspurs, poppies, English daisies, stocks, snapdragons and petunias.
If you have larkspur, zinnia, cockscomb and cosmos seedlings coming up, be sure to thin them to eliminate crowding. Plants will bloom much better if thinned to about 4 inches apart. Transplant or share the extras with gardening friends.
Vegetables to plant right away as transplants include broccoli, cabbage and collards. Beets, carrots, collards, mustard greens, leaf lettuce, radish, turnips, Swiss chard and spinach can still be seeded in early March. Summer vegetables can begin to be sown and transplanted a little later this month. These would include beans, sweet corn, cucumber, melons, tomatoes and squash. Delay planting sweet potatoes, okra, eggplant (transplant) and peppers (transplant) until early April.
The best weed prevention is a sound lawn maintenance program of frequent mowing, proper fertilizing and timely watering. Mowing infrequently or at the wrong height, over or under fertilizing, and frequent, shallow irrigation are some of the factors that lead to poor turf quality. No amount of weed preventer or weed killer can overcome poor lawn care practices.
Now is the time to apply a preemergence herbicide (weed preventer) if crabgrass or sandburs (grassburs) were a problem last year. Follow label directions carefully and do not exceed application rate. It is very important to immediately water-in the product following application.
Tidy up and encourage new growth of Asian jasmine, mondograss, liriope, and ornamental grasses by shearing them back now before new growth starts. A tip to make cutting back large ornamental grasses easier is to wrap all the blades together with twine before cutting. When finished, you have a sheaf ready to haul away.
Keith Hansen is Smith County Horticulturist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. His web page is http://EastTexasGardening.tamu.edu. His blog is http://agrilife.org/etg.