Columns written by Greg Grant and a Smith Co. Master Gardener which have appeared in the Tyler Morning Telegraph, are posted here.
Let’s get ready to plant cool-season annuals
Published on Wednesday, 20 September 2017 16:57 – Written by GREG GRANT, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Let’s cover a few terms so we can all be landscape color artists. The first one is “herbaceous,” which simply means “not woody.” The herbaceous plants we use in the landscape are further divided into annuals and perennials.
Just as it’s time to plant cool-season vegetables in the fall garden, it’s also time to plant cool-season annuals in the landscape. The annuals we plant now must be able to thrive on cool nights and tolerate a frost (our first frost is generally around Nov. 15). Examples of cool-season annuals that can be planted as transplants in the fall include dianthus, floral mums, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, petunias, snapdragons, sweet alyssum and violas. Those that should be directed seeded now are bluebonnets, larkspur and poppies.
The next thing to consider is site selection. Unfortunately, most cool-season annuals prefer a full day’s sun. The more sun, the more flowers and color. All annual bedding plants also prefer excellent drainage and high fertility. Before planting annuals, I typically sprinkle a 3:1:2 type lawn fertilizer such as 15-5-10 (a premium fertilizer with a slow release nitrogen source is even better), fluff up the bed with a tiller or spade, then top dress with compost or potting soil. I do the same thing with container plants except I use a slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote in the pots to make sure the roots don’t get burned, and I use a high-quality potting soil instead of cheaper compost. Although it’s not always feasible with landscape color, I make sure and add a half-strength water-soluble fertilizer like Miracle-Grow to newly planted containers.
Many beginning gardeners fret about the approaching fall and winter, thinking that garden color will soon be coming to an end. But that’s certainly not the case. Fall in Texas is literally a second spring. In addition to a number of fall-blooming perennials starting to flower, it’s time to switch gears into cool-season annuals, that like us, are glad summer is over and autumn is knocking at the door..
Greg Grant is the Smith County horticulturist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. You can follow him on Facebook at “Greg Grant Gardens,” read his “Greg’s Ramblings” blog at arborgate.com or read his “In Greg’s Garden” in each issue of Texas Gardener magazine (texasgardener.com). For more information on local educational programming, go to smith.agrilife.org.