by Patrick Dickinson, guest contributor
For many of us, spring cannot get here soon enough, but does that mean now is the time to start planting? The answer may surprise you and disappoint you because so many of us are ready for some flowers and green outside now. Spring fever is alive and well in most of us in north Texas as the weather begins to warm.
A lot of nurseries and big box stores are already stocking up on plants. However, it is a bit of a gamble to plant tender new plants right now. The reason is, our last average freeze is March 15, but our last potential freeze is April 15. The record latest freeze is April 13, so if you plant now and we get a late freeze, you could damage or kill your plants. To help you remember that date, April 15 is what day? Tax day, so you either have money to burn or need plant therapy.
Now, our native and adaptive trees, shrubs and some of our perennials are hardy so are, so they should be fine planting now. However, tender perennials, annuals, and especially vegetables could potentially be damaged.
What plants do we recommend?
We only recommend native and adaptive plants that are zoned for your area. Most of DFW is Zone 8a. We want plants that thrive in our harsh conditions and soil without a lot of TLC because that is when we tend to use too many resources like fertilizer and water. You want plants that demand little of your time but are rock stars in our heat and winters. It’s important to know it before you grow it. Be a better-educated consumer and plant something that will thrive year after year and use less water to maintain.
Here at Water University we have a great search engine on our website where you can search by plant characteristics like bloom color and size etc. Also, we have released this great deck of cards where they have chosen 100 proven performers in our DFW landscapes. It’s a deck of plant tags that help you design and even shop for those plants. Selecting native and adapted plants require less water and they survive our hot and dry summer months.
You can purchase the plant cards at the Water University website for $8 shipped or at any of their programs for $5.
If you just can wait to plant those plants and need a little green in your life, remember to cover and protect them if we do have a late freeze.
Patrick Dickinson is a Horticulturalist and Program Coordinator with Water University at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center – Dallas.
Watch Patrick Dickinson and our own water expert, Denise Hickey in the most recent WFAA Daybreak visit. Also, check out wateruniversity.tamu.edu for more great information and sign up for watermyyard.org to know when to wait and when to water your landscape.