Texas doesn’t experience the same depths of winter as do other parts of the country. Yet our gardens still need maintenance and full preparation as we head into cooler temperatures.
You can almost bet that the northern parts of our state like Amarillo and Dallas will find an ice storm or freeze in its forecast during the winter months, but cities as far south as Houston receive the odd freeze, too. With these 6 winter gardening tips, you’ll reap incredible color, liveliness, and regeneration come spring.
1) Continue to Water
Don’t let the cooler temperatures fool you into thinking your trees and shrubs don’t need water. They do. Continue with deep root watering of trees and shrubs, especially if they’re recent transplants. By doing so, you’ll protect them from a freeze. A well-hydrated tree holds up much better to a freeze than a dehydrated one.
2) Keep your Frost Cloth on Hand
The weather in Texas can be bi-polar at times, and a freeze can come into our forecast with barely 3 day’s notice. Don’t get caught off-guard! Purchase a frost cloth either online or at a local hardware store – or just use some old sheets.
Use bricks and large rocks to weight down the corners and sides of your frost cloths to prevent them being blown off by the wind. Avoid using plastic to cover your plants, unless it’s the second layer outside of your primary cotton cover.
3) Use Fallen Leaves and Pine Needs for Mulch
There’s no need to spend money on mulch when it’s falling out of your trees. Save the energy of packing raked leaves into biodegradable bags, and use them in your garden beds as you would regular mulch. Trees need mulch to keep moisture locked in, and the roots of tender young trees and shrubs need protection from freezes.
And if you have an excess of dead leaves and pine needles, add them to your compost pile for added carbon and for mulch in other parts of the year.
4) Keeping it Bright and Merry
Also, “deadhead” your cool season flowers and vegetables, and feed them with a slow release fertilizer. You’re likely to enjoy color in your garden until the first freeze arrives, or the entire winter if you don’t have a freeze in your area.
5) Sow Wildflowers Now
If you’re looking to spruce up a ditch or patch of your yard that isn’t already planted up, consider wildflowers. Wildflowers are low maintenance, and they provide plentiful nectar to birds and butterflies in the warmer months. And if you’ve never grown them from seed, this season is the time to try something new. The first month of winter in Texas is the time to sow wildflower seeds. It allows them to settle into the soil and germinate before going dormant in the cooler temperatures.
6) Prune Later
It’s tempting to cut back trees laden with curled leaves and dead branches. But hold off on the pruning until after the spring blossoms have come. You might think a particular limb is dead, but there’s often healthy tissue underneath that will spawn new growth in the spring.
A good rule of thumb for pruning roses is to wait until February, and do so on Valentine’s Day. So while everyone is buying roses, you’ll be cutting yours back!
Good luck with your Texas winter gardening!