- Now through February is the perfect time to plant container-grown trees and shrubs. Dig a hole two times the diameter and one inch shallower than the root ball. Make sure the root ball and the hole are thoroughly wet before planting. Backfill with existing soil and water well.
- Use the “Custom Tree Selector” at http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu for help in selecting the right tree for the right location. Also, see “Native and Adapted Plants for North Texas” at http://wateruniversity.tamu.edu/about/publications.
- Plant pansies and violas now. Bluebonnets can still be planted from transplants.
- Daffodils and grape hyacinth may be planted once soil temperature drops below 55o F. Plant 2-3 times as deep as the bulb is tall.
Fertilizing and Pruning
- Feed winter annuals growing in the ground and in outdoor containers with a high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food every two to three weeks. Also, feed and water cool-season vegetables that you are growing now.
- Remove the tops of herbaceous perennials after they have died. Add 2-3 inches of mulch to the beds to reduce winter weed growth.
- Trim patio plants and hanging baskets before moving indoors for the winter. Locate them near bright windows.
- Refrain from pruning freeze-damaged woody plants at this time. This pruning is best done in late winter.
- It’s time to winterize! Disconnect hoses from faucets and drain all hose-end sprinklers. Drain fuel from gasoline-powered engines and run the carburetor dry. Greenhouse owners should check the heating and ventilation systems to ensure proper operation.
- Check outdoor potted plants for insects (mealybugs, whiteflies, spider mites, aphids, roaches, ants) before moving inside for the winter. Apply a labeled insecticide if needed.
- When planning new landscapes, select trees, shrubs and perennials that are winter hardy in your area. According to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map, Ellis County is located in Zone 8 (average lowest annual temperature is 10o F to 20o F). Therefore, it is best to choose plants listed for Zone 8, or the one or two zones to the north (Zone 6 or 7).
- Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your home to receive the most benefit from summer shading while allowing the sun to warm your home during winter months. Just three trees properly placed, can save you up to 30 percent in energy use.
- Plant evergreen trees on the north side of your home to block winter winds and reduce heating bills.
- Stockpile fallen leaves for use in compost or as mulch. It is an excellent way to enrich the soil and to nourish plants. Mix one cup of high nitrogen fertilizer per cubic yard of compost. Turn pile with spade fork to keep it aerated. Water, if needed.