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October Landscapes – When is the best time to plant? Right now!

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October is an optimum time to plant!

Homeowners should take advantage of Fall to get their new landscapes prepared for the Texas heat next summer

“Do we need to wait until spring to plant?”

I hear this question time and again each Fall. And my answer seems to surprise a lot of folks – Fall is the very best time to plant.

“How can that be? Winter isn’t far away. We saw lots of damage and dead shrubs as a result of our winter storm last year. We don’t want that to happen again, right?”

Winter is not the real threat here. July and August are what we’re looking at. But let me explain why winter is not the threat.

The winter storm we experienced last February was a once in a lifetime storm, temperature-wise. We will probably never see that again here in Texas in our lifetimes. Nevertheless, the damage from that storm was pretty much confined to a short list of species. Palms, Indian Hawthorns, and Lorapetalums (aka Chinese Fringe Plant) were the hardest hit. But most species of shrubs and trees made it through that storm just fine. As weird as it sounds, the desert plants (xeriscape plants) sailed through it better than anything else.

So it’s the heat that we worry most about with planting.


We look at the July-August period when we talk about planting. The more time you have between “now” and July 1, the better off you are and the more successful you are with your plants/shrubs and trees.

“Aren’t a lot of plants and trees going dormant soon?”

They sure are. And they will require minimal care during the winter months. But just because you don’t see leaves and don’t see them growing, doesn’t mean they aren’t growing. The root system will continue to grow and spread into the surround soil. This helps them better withstand the spring winds. And by the time July arrives, there will already be a moisture accumulation within the root ball, as the plant(s) will be able to benefit from each and every spring rainfall event.

Perennial plants in your new landscape should wait until spring before planting. They are going dormant and will not have a soil surface presence anyway. So just wait until last frost before planting them in spring. They’re worth the wait.

If you’re wanting an easier, more successful venture into a new landscape, there is no better time of year than right now.



Get those Pansies and Kale in now!

As of the first of October, the Pansies and Kale have arrived in the nurseries. Those nurseries will have Pansies and Kale likely through December.


It is important to get your Pansies and Kale in now because they need the warmth of October to grow their root systems. When their root systems are able to grow and expand, the Fall display becomes nice and full and more colorful.

When you plant, don’t forget to sprinkle some ColorStar pansy food after planting! More blooms, larger Pansies!

Pansies will bloom almost constantly from now through next spring. Kale will actually live into the summer and will send a tower of yellow blooms up then. It isn’t real attractive so I don’t advise you leaving the Kale in past April 1 or so.

There are two types of Pansies you can choose from. One type has a two-color scheme on its pedals. The other type features one solid color in its blooming. They’re both gorgeous. You can plant them in single color, two-color (contrasting) or mixed colors.

When you plant Pansies, keep in mind that they will not do well if they are planted too deep or where they will be wet a lot. Pansies like to dry out between waterings and like to be planted in an airy space.

I recommend you pick out some of the native soil and combine with a landscape mix product (ground up tree matter, perlite mixed together). This will likely end with your planting space being higher than the rest of the surrounding soil. This is completely fine and is the desired planting situation.

If you want “packed” Pansies (close together), just line them up in whatever design you choose – right next to each other. Then put your planting mix where you need to.

For a more spacious design, allow a small amount of space between each Pansy.



Remove your bird feeders and Hummingbird feeders this month!

You will want to take down your bird feeders and Hummingbird feeders by the end of this month. Once you take them down, you can conduct maintenance on them before storing them away for spring.

Leaving them out gives them pause about leaving and heading south so soon. This is especially true in Texas where it can be quite warm right up to our first freeze. If a Hummingbird is still here when that first freeze happens, it will die.

It would also be a good time to take down your bird houses and conduct maintenance on them. You will want to remove any nests that are in them. Many species of birds will not use a bird house if it already has a nest in it. So take it down, fix whatever needs fixing, and get it back up by mid-February.


Trim deciduous trees now!

Fall is an excellent time to trim trees. The weather is more conducive to the labor involved. And the dead stuff trimmed off the trees can be turned into firewood for the winter. But this is especially important for deciduous trees, trees which shed their leaves during the Fall.

It is important to remove any dead limbs the tree may have and it becomes difficult to spot them when none of the limbs have leaves. Each limb looks a lot like the next. Cut them now while you can still tell them apart.




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1 hour ago, Eastexhorn said:

What your opinion on using wood chips ( from electric tree trimers) around small trees and flower beds.

It s proably 95% or better oak chips. Thanks.

What matters is whether the chips are from dead, cured wood or from a living specimen. If the chips are from a live specimen, then they still have to decompose. To do that, it will be robbing its surroundings of moisture. So it is terrible to put around plants or trees as mulch.

If its cured chips, then you're fine to use them as mulch wherever you please.

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