Is There Still Time to Plant? (Or Better Still…Should I?)
The answer is yes, you should plant:) but timing is everything. During the fall months you plant perennial plants and shrubs, winter months the answer is yes and no…Yes if you are planting trees some shrubs, fruit and roses, (you even have a bit of time to sneak in some bulbs), but no if you are planning on planting flowering perennials, by winter your time has passed for those. (Fall is the best time for planting shrubs and perennials and I usually begin around the beginning or middle of October and end the middle of November.)
Fall and Winter is the best time of year to plant most trees and winter is the best time of the year to plant fruit trees, fruit vines and roses. The one main exception is Crepe Myrtle trees and that is because they are perfectly happy being planted in the hot Summer, and most are not available until late Spring .
Before you plant in any season, I suggest you begin by going to my Facebook page at Lisa’s Landscape & Design for my photo album of some truly unique tree, plant and shrub choices. You can also search the web for trees and plants that are native and adapted to Central Texas. Be sure the trees, plants and shrubs you use are intended for zone 7/8. I suggest you avoid Oaks when possible due to Oak wilt, but if you are a lover of Oaks (and I cannot say I blame you), choose a White Oak like Bur, Monterrey, or Chinquapin which have smaller vascular systems and a better chance of survival if exposed to the disease.~If you choose a fruit tree to serve as a shade tree (great idea by the way), make sure you choose one that does not require a mate to fruit. Many varieties are self fertile and there are many delicious fruiting, flowering, fall color shade trees to choose from.~
When choosing a tree to plant, I suggest you use as small a tree as you can( 5-15 gallon size) as the smaller the tree the faster it will grow. A large tree has been in a bucket for many years and will struggle to acclimate in the ground, they also have larger roots that will have a hard time navigating through our hard soil, not to mention the cost! Try to avoid jack hammering rock to plant a large tree, you may be digging a tomb for your huge tree/root ball to drown in. A small tree can be planted in a shallower hole and can be mulched with a higher berm to encourage the tree to take the path of least resistance. Use a liquid root stimulator to encourage root growth when you plant your new tree and water once daily for the first couple of weeks, then every few days and finally once a week or so until established which can take up to 2 years. Irrigation is not sufficient to establish a new tree, hand watering is best. Also, be sure to stake your tree, the swaying motion tears the small thread like feeder roots from the root ball and forces the tree to re-grow them over and over, never getting fully established.
If you are planting perennials or shrubs in the fall season, do your homework for light and size requirements to you make plenty of room for the mature plant or shrub. Spacing your plants to close together is a maintenance nightmare and it looks like a blob of plants instead of maintaining the integrity of each plant you planted. Expect to have to water the fall plantings throughout the winter months at least once a week or every other week (depending on temps and wind) to the depth of one inch. Unless you get a good soaking rain, (then you can wait a week or two) your plants are going to need your help well until the following spring. Watering before a cold front can also protect your new plants, trees and shrubs from painful, burning freezing temps by decreasing the soil temps a few degrees. I also recommend you cover your tender perennials with frost clothes when temps are below freezing to protect the roots. Deciduous plants will of course still die back on top but below ground they are protected. Also, be sure not to “cut back” your new plants until late spring when you see some new growth. be patient here, don’t assume they are dead after the winter, if you have a late bloomer, give it a little tug and if it doesn’t come right out it is probably still alive.
Winter time is rose season, choose from the “Earth Kind” selection that can be found at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/roses/. These roses are tested for several years in various conditions to ensure that they are disease resistant, drought tolerant, low maintenance and prolific bloomers. Most of these treasures can now be found at your local nursery.
If you are trying to get some fall bulbs in but prefer to wait for the “sale” bulbs and get them in in time for Spring, the best way to “cheat” too late in the fall season is to simply plant the bulbs a little closer to the surface of the soil, but not too close or they may be damaged from the frost. In my experience, the best bulbs for our area that come back every year are bearded and dutch Iris (Louisiana iris prefer a wet spot), Daffodil ( “Sir Winston Churchhill” and “Peruvian” are my faves), Lilies of all types, Gladiola’s, Paper Whites, Amaryllis and Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile). Bulbs like dry feet for the most part so be careful not to over water.
Finally on to fruit…Mmm, there are many great fruit plants and trees for Texas and again should be planted in the winter months. figs, blackberries, persimmons, pomegranates, pears, plums, peaches, loquat, nectarines, raspberries and various grapes to name a few. Same as before, make sure they are for our zone, they thrive in our soil condition (alkaline, not acid…that means no Blueberries or Cherries) and that you do not plant a fruit that requires water we do not have. Fruits have specific “chill hour” requirements, if you buy a tree with too few chill hours, (meaning how many hours of freezing you get each Winter), you will end up with fruit showing up too soon and suffering damage in a late freeze, if you plant one with too many Chill Hour requirements, you will never see fruit. There are certain fruit trees that only grow up North for that reason.
Basic rule of fruit, roses and trees…Obviously, plant native and adapted, low water, low maintenance. Space properly with plenty of room for each plants mature size to avoid diseases and harsh pruning and always prepare your soil and planting site with organic matter before you plant. Remember, compost can save the world 😉
Check out my Facebook page (below) to see how to plant and mulch properly, but basically with all planting (trees, shrubs and plants) when planting you only dig the hole slightly deeper than the bucket and twice as wide. You mix the soil from the hole you dug with compost and place a small amount in the bottom of the hole so your tree/rose/fruit is level with the existing ground, then fill in the sides with the remaining mixture. Add root stimulator as recommended and water thoroughly. After mulching you should see the bell shape or flare of the tree at the ground level, it should not look like a lollipop stick. When planting Roses, you should see the graft union (that nubby thing on the bottom of the bush) above the ground, not below the soil when planted. When planting shrubs or plants you should see the soil the pot came in. Mulching too close to the plant can prevent adequate water consumption, but you do want to mulch up to the plant or shrub as we get closer to winter months to protect the plant from harsh weather.
Remember in fall and winter not to over plant, make plenty of space for the mature growth of each plant so that they are barely touching, not over crowding one another. Choose plants for the right light (sun, part sun or shade).Take pictures of your trees and gardens from year to year and revel in its color, shade and the fruit of your labor, and as always…take some time to smell the roses.
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“Like” me on Facebook!)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
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- Posted in: Central Texas Gardens ♦ Eco Friendly ♦ Education ♦ Gardening ♦ Native and Adapted Plants ♦ Xeriscape
- Tagged: Austin Texas, Avery Ranch, Central Texas, Winter gardening in Austin Texas, Winter landscape installation Austin, Winter landscape maintenance Central Texas, Winter landscape maintenance in Austin