Doug Welsh's Texas Garden Almanac

Doug Welsh's Texas Garden Almanac

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Doug Welsh's Texas Garden Almanac by Douglas F. Welsh, Aletha St. Romain

Think of Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac as a giant monthly calendar for the entire state—a practical, information-packed, month-by-month guide for gardeners and “yardeners.” With nearly 20,000 copies sold and now in its second printing, this book provides everything you need to know about flowers and garden design; trees, shrubs, and vines; lawns; vegetable, herb, and fruit gardening; and also soil, mulch, water, pests, and plant care to create beautiful, productive, healthy gardens—and have fun doing it!
Praise for Doug Welsh's Texas Garden Almanac:
" . . . a must for all Texas gardeners."—Fort Worth Star-Telegram 
" . . . a comprehensive, fun-to-use guide full of colorful and instructive pages. The helpful boxes, plant lists, charts, sidebars, and tips in the book make it one you can pick up here and there or dive into reading all at once."—Austin American Statesman 
“Welsh has packed this month-by-month guide with information. . . .”—Houston Chronicle
". . . a must-have book for gardeners and ‘yardeners’ packed with useful information. . . a reference book that will be helpful throughout the year, not just in the prime growing seasons.”—Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 
“This month-by-month guide provides a wealth of practical advice.”—Publishers Weekly
“I find it easy to appreciate Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac, a new month-to-month illustrated horticultural guide. More than just a how-to-manual, this information-laden compendium earns its title designation as an almanac.”—Texas Gardener’s Seeds
2008 Silver Award of Achievement for Best Overall Product and Silver Award of Achievement for Graphic Design-Book Category, sponsored by the Garden Writer's Association.
2008 Benjamin Franklin Awards, sponsored by PMA, The Independent Book Publishers Association.
2009 Texas Reference Source Award, sponsored by Texas Library Association Reference Round Table.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781603444781
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Publication date: 11/30/2011
Series: Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Service Series
Edition description: 2, AgriLife Edition
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 608,792
Product dimensions: 7.20(w) x 10.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

DOUG WELSH, a professor and associate department head in horticulture for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, served for twenty-one years as the statewide coordinator for the Texas Master Gardener program. A former gardening columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, he currently hosts a gardening call-in radio show and provides gardening tips on television each week in the Brazos Valley. He is the author of a book on xeriscaping and coeditor of the Texas Master Gardener Handbook.

Read an Excerpt

Doug Welsh's Texas Garden Almanac

By Douglas F. Welsh, Aletha St. Romain

Texas A&M University Press

Copyright © 2007 Douglas F. Welsh
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60344-478-1




* Roses in the Landscape

* Soils 101 for the Garden

* Thinking Like a Plant

* Growing Fruits and Nuts

* "What can I do about bagworms covering my pecan tree?

* Timely Tips

Roses in the Landscape

Roses are the "Queen of Flowers" and have been cultivated for thousands of years. However, the use of roses in the landscape has undergone a tremendous transformation in the past 20 years. Once thought of primarily in terms of the formal rose garden, roses are now incorporated into the landscape, replacing the drab, green "meatball- or meatloaf-shaped" evergreen shrubs (e.g., Burford holly, ligustrum, pittosporum).

Whether you are planting your first rose or want your established roses to perform better, follow these six basic steps to rose gardening:

1. Plant selection

2. Site selection

3. Soil preparation and planting

4. Insect and disease management

5. Pruning

6. Long-term care

Step 1: Plant Selection

When deciding which of the literally thousands of rose varieties to plant, you have more than just a color decision; you also have a type decision.

The modern hybrid rose is the rose that first comes to mind for most people: a long-stemmed red rose on a stiff, upright bush with lots of thorns. Modern hybrid roses include the following types:

Hybrid tea—romantic, long-stemmed blooms in vibrant colors; formal, upright shrubs; 4 to 5 feet

Floribunda—clusters of small flowers; shrublike growth habit; 3 to 4 feet

Grandiflora—a cross between hybrid tea and floribunda, with flowers similar to the tea rose but smaller and clustered; 5- to 6-foot shrub

Other common rose types, including miniatures, climbers, and tree form

The challenge to growing the vast majority of modern hybrid roses is that they are not adapted to many parts of Texas or even our entire state. You must know whether a variety is adapted to your area. Can it withstand common Texas weather conditions, such as hot summers, cold winters, varying rainfall, or high humidity? Can it adapt to the alkaline soil and water prevalent in much of Central and West Texas? Lack of adaptation kills more roses than does lack of proper care. To find a list of adapted varieties, turn to your local experts, such as local nursery professionals or AgriLife Extension Service Master Gardeners and country agents. Visit an area botanical garden. You could even contact the American Rose Society for help in identifying varieties suitable to your area.

The list of modern hybrid roses to follow contains varieties that will increase your success with roses in Texas. (Note: I have successfully grown over half of them in my gardens through the years in multiple Texas cities and have observed the rest performing beautifully in botanical gardens and landscapes across the state.)

Start small by growing a few modern hybrid roses in a bed before you head off to build a formal rose garden. You can plant a modern hybrid rose or two into your existing landscape to provide a splash of season-long color.

Old-fashioned roses (often called heritage roses, old garden roses, or antique roses) are rose species or varieties characterized by clusters of softer-colored flowers on robust, well-shaped shrubs. Vibrant, in-your-face colors on rigid plants they are not. These roses are, in general, lower maintenance, longer blooming, hardier, more pest resistant, and more befitting of most Texas landscapes. The renewed interest in old-fashioned roses is fueled by the fact that they require less care than modern hybrid roses and are more adapted to our often harsh Texas climate and soil conditions.

For hundreds of years these roses have been passed from generation to generation. Now these varieties are available in quantities. They are truly "living antiques," having been propagated by cuttings from original plants developed over 100 years ago. These living antiques are time-tested for success—they are known for their toughness and ability to withstand adverse growing conditions. Old-fashioned roses have a variety of growth habits and sizes. Most varieties are quite fragrant and bloom generally in clusters in colors varying from red to deep rose to pastels of pink and yellows to white. They are among the most versatile plants for any landscape.

Based on their origin, characteristics, and lineage, old-fashioned roses are categorized into several classes:

• Bourbon

• China

• Hybrid musk

• Hybrid perpetual

• Noisette

• Polyantha

• Rugosa

• Tea

There are thousands of varieties of old-fashioned roses. Confusion over selection can set in quickly, so check with your local experts for variety recommendations. The table on page 10 contains some of the most widely adapted old-fashioned roses for Texas. (Note: I have grown all of these in my gardens and can attest to their toughness and beauty.)

Not to confuse you too much, but there are now newer rose varieties that look like old-fashioned roses. David Austin, Griffith Buck, Robert Bayse and David Byrne from Texas A&M University, and other rose breeders have developed varieties to meet the need for durable, beautiful, old-fashioned-style shrub roses for the landscape. In 1988, William Raddler bred a rose variety that hit the market in the late 1990s and is now perhaps the most prolific-selling new, old-style landscape rose ever, the 'Knock Out' rose.

An exciting effort to identify the toughest-of-the-tough roses for Texas landscapes was initiated by Texas AgriLife horticulturists and county agents. The program, trademarked Earth-Kind® by Agri Life Extension, tests all types of roses under grueling conditions. The selection criteria identify roses that are widely adapted throughout Texas that need no spraying, minimal watering, and little pruning, yet bloom beautifully on handsome shrubs. Roses that make the cut are designated as Earth-Kind roses and are labeled as such in local nurseries and garden centers. For more information, go to

More than a Dozen Modern Hybrid Roses

Hybrid tea
Double Delight (red and white)
Mr. Lincoln (red, fragrant)
Olympiad (red, not fragrant)
Peace (yellow)
Sterling Silver (lavender)

Betty Prior (pink)
Europeana (red)
Iceberg (white)
Sun Flare (yellow)

Gold Medal (yellow)
Queen Elizabeth (pink)
Tournament of Roses (pink)

Altissimo (red)
Climbing Peace (yellow)
Don Juan (red)
Dortmond (red)

Note: New varieties hit the market each year, so check with experts for the plants' adaptability to your area.

If your goal is to have roses blooming in your landscape virtually all season for both cut flowers and landscape flowers, you would be wise to plant a combination of modern hybrid roses; old-fashioned roses; and new, old-style roses.

Step 2: Site Selection

Site selection requires only a few guidelines, but they are critical:

• Provide roses at least 6 hours of sunlight per day for maximum performance.

• Choose an east-facing site if possible. The morning sun will dry the foliage quickly, which reduces pest problems.

• Select a site that receives gentle breezes, providing air circulation to reduce insect and disease pressure.

Step 3: Soil Preparation and Planting

Expend the money and the effort to prepare the soil for roses. It is dirty work but a critical investment that will pay off.

• Create a raised bed of well-drained, highly-organic soil, about 6 to 10 inches tall. The bed can be edged with masonry, rock, or timbers or simply crested toward the middle of the bed.

• Prepare the soil using organic matter, such as compost, manure, and/or shredded bark. The goal is to create a soil mixture of half organic matter and half existing or trucked-in topsoil.

• Don't plant too deep—dig the hole only as deep as the root system is tall. If soil preparation has been done well, digging the hole can be done with your hands. The top of the root-ball should be at the same level as it was grown in the field or the pot. If there is a graft union (on most modern hybrid roses, the swollen area at the junction of the roots and trunk), it should be 2 inches above ground level in most of Texas, and 2 inches below ground level in far North Texas where soils may freeze.

• Plant roses almost year-round, depending on how they are sold and purchased. Modern hybrid roses are most often sold as "packaged" roses in nurseries during midwinter. The plants are dormant and look lifeless, yet they can be planted in January or February throughout Texas and will bloom by late spring. Old-fashioned and old-style shrub roses are most often grown in nursery containers and can be purchased year-round; however, summertime planting should be avoided if possible. If purchased through mail-order catalogues, the plants would be shipped like packaged roses in midwinter.

Step 4: Insect and Disease Management

Beyond selecting adapted rose varieties, the most important prevention of pest problems is your presence in the garden. Get out in the garden, and look for abnormal leaves, stems, or flowers, which may indicate insect or disease problems.

• Identify the problem first before you treat! Get help from the local nursery or AgriLife Extension office.

• Remember that a few insects or spots on your roses may not pose a big enough problem to warrant spraying a pesticide. Healthy plants, natural predators, and the environment can prevent most pests from becoming a major problem.

• Use the least toxic pesticide that is effective if you use a pesticide.

• Always read the pesticide label, and use caution when using any pesticide (chemical or organic).

• Spray pesticides from the bottom up on the plant, coating the underside of the leaves thoroughly.

• Prevent pests by using proper sanitation. Pick diseased, damaged, and dead leaves and twigs off the plants and off the ground, and throw them away.

Insect Problems

Look for tiny insects like thrips, aphids, and spider mites. Use the direct method of inspection—look at the tops and bottoms of the leaves. Also, check for pest presence by shaking leaves over a white sheet of paper, and look closely—thrips are cigar-shaped walking dashes; aphids are globular, fat, and shiny; and mites are tiny reddish dots that move.

Look at the plant also for indications of insect infestations:

• If blooms are brown, are deformed, or won't open, break them open and check for thrips.

• If new growth is yellow or covered with shiny honeydew or black sooty mold, check under leaves and on stems for aphids.

• If leaves are puckered or have a bronze sheen or tiny, white spots, check for spider mites underneath the leaves.

• If leaves and blooms are chewed, check for caterpillars and beetles.

If warranted, spray with the least toxic insecticide that is effective—common chemical insecticides are acephate, carbaryl, delemethrin, imadichlorprid, malathion, and permethrin; alternative, less-toxic insecticides include insecticidal soaps, neem oil, pyrethrin, spinosad, and high-pressure water sprays.

Disease Problems

Yellowing leaves with black spots indicate the presence of the fungus black spot. This disease can spread rapidly by water splashing from one leaf to another, usually during irrigation or rain. Try to water the soil without hitting the leaves.

A whitish, powdery covering on leaves, stems, or blooms indicates the presence of the fungus powdery mildew. This disease spreads rapidly when temperatures are above 80° F and humidity is high. Splashing water does not spread this disease.

Commonly used, effective fungicides for roses include Bayleton, captan, Daconil, Dithan, Funginex, and neem oil. Fungicides often require repeated applications if weather and plant conditions are conducive to further spread of the disease.

Step 5: Pruning

There is no big mystery about how to prune roses. For modern hybrid roses, prune heavily each year 2 to 3 weeks before spring growth begins (about February 14 for much of the state). The goal is to prune each bush back to a height of 18 to 24 inches, having only four to six main stems (canes), each facing outward in a different direction so they form a vase shape. Visualize creating an umbrella turned inside out.

Old-fashioned and old-style shrub roses should simply be pruned to fit the landscape setting, seldom pruning off more than one-third of a plant's height. Use of hedge clippers to prune old-fashioned roses works well.

For spring-blooming climbing roses, prune immediately after they bloom and then only remove dead or damaged canes, plus one or two of the oldest canes to promote new cane growth.

For all types of roses, prune to maintain blooming and health:

• Remove old blooms (deadhead) as they fade to encourage increased flowering.

• Prune off bad parts (damaged, diseased, or dead leaves, twigs, and blooms) to encourage new, healthier growth.

• Pull off heavily infested or damaged leaves resulting from black spot or insects to curtail current and future disease and insect populations.

Step 6: Long-Term Care

Roses are blooming machines if given the nutrient energy from compost or fertilizers. Compost can supply adequate plant nutrients for old-fashioned roses. For modern hybrid roses, higher nutrient fertilizers are likely needed. Fertilizer types include slow-release, granular forms; water-soluble forms (diluted and poured onto the soil); and organic fertilizers, such as blood meal.

For modern hybrids, fertilize once in the spring and again in the fall. For maximum performance, fertilize every month using predominantly nitrogen ferti lizers.

In general, roses require more water than most shrubs but less than most flowers and lawns. Water only when the soil is dry a few inches under the surface of the soil. Use your index finger as your soil moisture meter. If the soil is cool to the touch, there is ample moisture. If it is the same temperature as the air or talcum-powder dry, water. Apply 2 to 3 gallons of water per plant, keeping the water off the leaves and blooms to prevent disease.

For gardens receiving less than 35 inches of rainfall per year, drip irrigation will make watering easier and more efficient. Check with your local nursery professional or irrigation contractor for help in setting up a drip irrigation system. Refer also to the March essay "Saving Water Drip by Drip."

Mulch is a final, but important addition to rose gardening. It provides major benefits, including reducing disease, conserving water, reducing weeds, and keeping soil temperatures cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Mulch with organic products, such as pine bark, cypress bark, and compost. Apply a 2to 3-inch layer of mulch every spring and perhaps again in the fall.

Soils 101 for the Garden

The best gardeners acknowledge that soil is the biggest limiting factor in successful gardening. It can make or break not only your garden but your garden spirit. You MUST know your soil. A good garden soil results in healthy root systems, which result in healthy, beautiful, productive plants. Working the soil is the hardest task in the garden, but soil preparation is imperative and must be done properly.

First, understand that few yards and landscapes have undisturbed native soil in them. Through the homebuilding process, most native soil is disturbed, the topsoil is scraped off, and the underlying poorer-quality subsoil is exposed. Trenching for multiple utility lines (e.g., water, sewer, cable, electric, gas) churns up the subsoil to the surface. Dozens of trucks used to bring building materials to the site also compact the soil. Post-construction, a thin layer of "topsoil" is usually brought in and placed on top of the compacted soil to smooth out the terrain. This becomes the soil you will contend with in your lawn, landscape, and garden.

A second observation worth noting is that the "best" soils in a city are generally in the city center. Think about it: Where would you have built a city over a hundred years ago? The pioneers erected towns on good soils where water was readily available. For example, San Antonio was built on rich, alluvial (river-deposited) soils next to the San Antonio River—same for Houston, Austin, Dallas, and El Paso, and the list goes on. Visit older neighborhoods near the city center of your town, and look at the quality, diversity, and size of the plants in the landscapes. As the town expands, the soils generally become less desirable. Building in the Hill Country on the outskirts of San Antonio, Austin, and Waco may provide natural beauty and spectacular vistas, but the soil is a huge challenge.

Three basic soil characteristics are of primary importance in managing your landscape: soil texture, soil pH, and percent organic matter. There are three ways to find out what these soil characteristics are in your yard:

• Have a soil test done by the AgriLife Extension Soil, Water, and Forage Testing Laboratory at Texas A&M University (Room 345 Heep Center, Mail Stop 2474, College Station, TX 77843-2474; telephone: 979-8454816; Cost is less than $50 and varies depending on analysis. Sample bags can also be obtained from your local county extension office.

• Contact your county AgriLife Extension agent, and simply ask what your soil characteristics are likely to be. The agent has seen dozens of county soil test results and can accurately describe your soil for gardening purposes. Local nursery professionals can also be a source for this information.

• Follow the basic information below to characterize your soil yourself, and understand the impact soil has on your gardening success.


Excerpted from Doug Welsh's Texas Garden Almanac by Douglas F. Welsh, Aletha St. Romain. Copyright © 2007 Douglas F. Welsh. Excerpted by permission of Texas A&M University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Select Plant Lists,
Almanac at a Glance,
January: Heading toward Spring,
February: Hints of Spring, Reminders of Winter,
March: Spring—Get Busy,
April: Get Moving—Lots to Do,
May: Full Steam Ahead 190,
June: Welcome to Texas Heat,
July: Dog Days of Summer,
August: Hot, Hot, Hot, and Dry Too!,
September: Cooling Off, Maybe?,
October: No Need to Stop Gardening,
November: Down Time, Not Exactly,
December: Dreaming of Spring,

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