Tree Talk – Answers from the Tree Experts

Ready to plant a new tree? Wonder what might be wrong with one you already have? Fall is a great time to plant trees so our local tree experts are having a Tree Talk this Saturday morning. Learn what tree will be best for your house and get a chance to win in the tree giveaway!

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The Fall Lawn Fertilizing Deadline is Fast Approaching!   by Doc Stalker, El Paso Master Gardener  

leaf on lawn

Credit: First Leaf of Autumn by Eric Sonstroem              (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Summer’s temperatures are finally starting to drop, and the school zone caution lights are flashing again throughout El Paso County. That means the deadline for the most important fertilizer application of the year is right around the corner.

A final application of fertilizer each fall helps warm season grasses store up extra energy before going dormant over the winter months. That stored energy is critical for lawns to ‘green up’ next spring as soon as the weather is warm again. It’s important to give enough time for the fertilizer to work before the grass dormancy period starts which in El Paso is usually around mid-November and depends on when the fall temperatures fall into the frost range. So, don’t risk applying any fertilizer to your lawns after early October.

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Is the “Mystery Tree” a Siberian Elm and What’s Eating Its Leaves?  by Doc Stalker, El Paso Master Gardener


Credit: Diseased Siberian Elm by Jeffrey Beall (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Homeowners and gardeners around El Paso often find ‘mystery trees’ popping up in flower beds, inside shrubs, and under the eaves of houses or garden sheds.  Allowed to grow, the trees quickly become small to medium sized trees. While happy to have a free shade tree, property owners may soon notice that something decimates the leaves on their volunteer tree every year. Chances are that ‘mystery tree’ could be a Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila L.): a hardy, quick-growing tree found throughout the Southwest that can reach heights of 50 to 70 feet under the right conditions.   

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Monthly Gardening Tips


Fall is a great time for planting.  Trees and winter hardy shrubs planted now will be well established by spring’s growing season and endure next year’s heat much better.

Now is the time to plant garlic as well as leaf and root vegetables. Transplants of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage can be planted in well-draining soil.

Continue mowing your turf areas at the recommended height (one to two inches for Bermuda) until the grass goes dormant. Also, continue lengthening the time between watering cycles as the temperatures decrease. Water to the same depth but less frequently.

This is a good time to plant fall-blooming perennials, ornamental grasses and wildflower seeds. Read our October Monthly Tips to learn more about this planting season, what to do to ensure spring-flowering bulbs, and how to initiate flowering in Christmas cacti.

Buzz Off! Prevent Mosquitoes to Reduce Disease

standing water

Mosquito conducive conditions,
Credit: NYSIPM Gallery

Mosquito-transmitted diseases are on our radar now more than ever. The bite of an infected mosquito can spread West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue, and Zika. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s “Mosquito Safari” is an interactive audio-visual website that takes you around a house and neighborhood to learn where mosquitoes will breed so they can be eliminated.

Below, there’s a collection of new fact sheets from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to answer some of the more common Zika questions. Read them to learn how to protect yourself from mosquitoes and prevent their spreading.


  • Buzz Off! 4 Ways to Prevent Mosquito Bites – A short reminder of the 4-Ds, the four ways to avoid mosquito bites.  A quick safety reminder.
  • What Texans Need to Know about Zika Virus – General information about Zika, what causes it, whether you should be worried, and how to stop it.
  • Zika Precautions for Women – A new publication outlining the most important steps women can take to protect themselves and their unborn children from Zika.
    DIY Backyard Mosquito Control – An overview of all the mosquito control options available to consumers, including hiring a professional.  Advantages and disadvantages of each option are listed, including what we know and don’t know about the many products out there.  (Spoiler alert: don’t buy bug zappers for mosquito control–they don’t kill many mosquitoes)

Halloween Shopping Made Easy

amazon-smile_halloween-shop-clipPlease support the El Paso County Master Gardener Association by starting your shopping at AmazonSmile.

Help Desk for Plant and Gardening Questions

Do you have a question about your plants, gardens or yards? Call the El Paso Master Gardener Help Desk (915-771-2354) to talk with a volunteer. You’ll get help with your gardening questions during the hours given below:

ask us pictureMonday 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Wednesday 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

If a Master Gardener is not available when you call, please leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible. Or, you may complete the Ask the Help Desk form which accepts photos and gives the option to receive an answer by phone or email.

Three Wins for El Paso Master Gardeners!

JanPetrzelka_IndivMG of Yr2015

  Jan Petrzelka

We continued our winning streak by bringing home three awards from the Texas Master Gardener Conference in McKinney, TX. Immediate Past-President Jan Petrzelka won 1st Place for “Outstanding Individual Master Gardener”.

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Who We Are

The El Paso County Master Gardeners Association, as a member of the Texas Master Gardeners Association, is a non-profit educational and charitable organization supporting the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in providing quality, relevant outreach and continuing education programs and services to the people of El PasoCounty. Our local volunteers receive extensive training and experience in a wide range of subjects before certification as Master Gardeners. 

In collaboration with the County A&M AgriLife Horticultural Agent, we conduct community educational projects through workshops and demonstration gardens. Members of the Master Gardeners Speakers Bureau, Help Desk, and Information Table committees provide information, education, and recommendations on horticultural topics to all residents of El Paso County.

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