Texas Edition- Our Texas Garden Editor offers tips and ideas for you.
William C. Welch

Planting a Tree
In observance of Florida’s Arbor Day on January 16, add a new tree to your landscape. Large trees to consider include live oak, Southern magnolia, bald cypress, and pond cypress. Central and South Floridians can also choose flowering trees such as jacaranda, pink trumpet tree (Tabebuia heterophylla), purple trumpet tree (T. impetiginosa), golden trumpet tree (T. chrysotricha), and yellow trumpet tree (T. umbellata). Dogwood, redbud, and fringe tree are small flowering trees for North and Central Florida. Dig the planting hole two to three times as wide as the pot or root-ball but no deeper. In fact, it is best to plant trees an inch or so higher than the ground to allow for settling. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch afterward. Thoroughly wet the root-ball three times per week.

Entire State

  • Cold Protection―Cover tender plants if the temperature drops below freezing. Small plants in the ground can be protected with a layer of pine straw or hay. Or you can cover them with clay pots. For taller plants, use some type of cloth covering such as frost blankets from a garden center. After a freeze, don’t be in a hurry to prune off cold-damaged parts of plants. It’s a good idea to wait at least a few weeks so that you know the full extent of the cold damage. Or better yet, wait until spring growth is about to emerge.
  • Editor's Pick―Has yard work taken a toll on your skin? Try some of the Earth-friendly products from Burt’s Bees to hydrate, repair, and protect your skin. Look for them at a drugstore, or visit www.burtsbees.com for a store locator.

North and Central

  • Prunning plants―Start by removing dead or diseased branches. Then cut off branches that cross or rub other branches or that grow toward the center of the plant. Don’t leave stubs. Remove the entire branch during this thinning process. Finally, cut back excessively long stems or branches to a point where you wish to induce branching. These principles can be applied to roses, crepe myrtles, and many deciduous fruit trees. Wait until late February to prune evergreen shrubs.
  • Flowers―Add color by planting 4-inch pots of pansies, petunias, snapdragons, dianthus, nemesias, diascias, and chrysocephalums in sunny garden spots or in containers. Plant and press firmly in place with your hands, and then water. Feed with a fertilizer such as Dynamite Select Annuals, Perennials & Vegetables 13-3-17.

Central and South

  • Papaya―Save the seeds from a papaya, removing the membrane that surrounds each seed. Plant two to four seeds in sterile potting soil in each of several 1-gallon pots. Place the pots in a warm, sunny location. After the seedlings emerge, select the most vigorous one in each pot, snipping off the others at the soil line. The plants will be ready to be placed in a sunny area of the garden in March when they are 6 to 12 inches tall.