“Summer is gone bye, fall has flown bye and winter is knocking on our door”
As each season arrives along with it comes a variable list of perennial task. For most die-hard gardeners, landscaping is a year round event that is truly never complete! There is almost always something on our landscaping “TO DO” list! Now that winter is knocking at our door it’s time to check our list. There are several important tasks that need to be addressed before winter walks through the door. Projects such as planting winter color, mulching, transplanting or planting new trees and shrubs, planting fruit trees as well planting and dividing perennials and of course winter time watering.
Pansies: These cold weather annuals are one of the best options for winter color in our area. Pansies thrive in our cold North Texas winter weather. Pansies will tolerate temperatures at or below freezing and provide color all winter long. With bright colors ranging from red, blue, white, yellow and more. Varieties like Majestic Giants with their large colorful blooms and dark faces are a favorite. The Crown series offers solid color blooms in assorted colors as well. Annual: 6-8” tall x 6-8” wide.
Ornamental Cabbage and Kale: These cousins to the edible varieties are an excellent choice for a non-blooming addition to Pansy beds or as a focal point in containers. With their ruffled foliage in bright colors of white pink and purple, they provide an interesting contrast to any winter landscape. Ornamental Cabbage and Kale are extremely cold tolerant. As the temperature drops the color intensifies and becomes more brilliant. Annual: 6-8” tall x 8-10” wide
Dusty Miller: This perennial favorite is used from spring through winter. This plant is used for its unusual texture as well as its unique silver to gray foliage. Perennial: 10-12” tall x 12” wide
Snapdragons: These late fall/early winter annuals are available in an assortment of colors including orange, red, white, yellow and bi-color selections. Annual: sizes range from 8-10” tall x 12” wide
Dianthus: Related to the Carnation. Dianthus is also used from spring through the winter months. Dianthus is available in Carnation scented blooms of pink, white, red, purple and bi-colors. Biennial: 8-10” tall x 8” wide
Mulching helps insulate the soil like a blanket, therefore helping to maintain the soil temperature. During the winter months as the temperature drops, applying a 2 to 4 inch layer of mulch around the root zone of newly planted trees and shrubs along with existing plants will help to ensure proper winter protection. As well as temperature control, mulching also helps to maintain the moisture level at the root zone, an important factor for winter survival of all plant material. When it comes to mulches there are several types to choose from! All types are excellent for winter insulation and water retention. Each type has a distinct look and texture. Some examples are listed below.
Pine Mulch: Made from various types of pine trees. Pine mulch breaks down quickly and helps to condition the soil. It may be necessary to reapply every 3 months.
Hardwood Mulch: This mulch comes from chipped or shredded branches of small trees. As it breaks down it becomes alkaline. Hardwood Mulch turns a grey color as it ages; it’s a good idea to replace every 2 years.
Cedar Mulch: Made from Mountain Cedar Trees from various Texas regions. The natural Cedar oils keep this mulch from decomposing too quickly, making it an excellent long lasting selection.
Cypress Mulch: Made from Bald Cypress Trees. Cypress mulch is available in shredded form. Shredded mulch stays in place and does not float like other mulches tend to do.
Planting or Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
Winter is an excellent time to plant or transplant trees and shrubs! The cooler temperature during winter makes it easier for new plants to become established. During the colder months, the top portion of the plant (from the ground up) goes dormant allowing the existing root system to continue growing. Planting or transplanting new or existing plants during the winter months allows the plant to become established without having to compete for vital nutrients and water usually associated with summer time drought and heat stress. Once everything is planted a fresh 2-4” layer of mulch applied around the root system will help ensure adequate temperature control as well as proper moisture levels during excessive cold.
Winter time watering
Watering in the winter is just as important as watering any other time of year. Although less often, watering during the winter months plays a vital role in plant survival. Plants need water to survive. Just as plants need water when it’s hot they also need water when it’s cold. When winter temperatures dip below the freezing point for extended periods it’s imperative that all plants receive adequate moisture. Watering just before a hard freeze will protect the root system, the added moisture will actually freeze around the root ball keeping the root ball protected with sufficient moisture. Plants that are left dry during extended cold periods are susceptible to damage because the extreme cold can actually pull moisture from the tender roots causing significant damage or death.
Plant Fruit Trees Now
Late fall into winter is a great time to plant container grown fruit trees. Although they can be planted year round, planting now will give them plenty of time to become established by spring. Variety selection is crucial. It’s always a good idea to plant two of each cultivar, keeping in mind that not all fruit will perform the same from one year to the next. Also remember that not all fruit trees are self-fruiting. The quality and production of fruit is dependent on the number of chilling hours we receive each year. The average number of chilling hours at or below 45*in North Texas is approximately 800-900 hours. Listed below are some varieties available now.
Bell of Georgia