Gardening with Dianne

Please see the Garden Guild page for current meeting information and check out Dianne’s blog at:

Winter Gardening in Wells Branch

by Dianne Koehler

Winter is a time of reflection, planning, and preparation for gardeners in our area. We take time to reflect on what worked (or didn’t) in our gardens and yards last year so that we may plan ahead for the months to come.

Many yard and garden tasks need to be done in the cold months of January through early March like pruning trees and shrubs and treating lawns.  Many trees and shrubs can be planted during this time and still have time to become well established.

Lawns should be fed in March.  There are special fertilizers for each kind of grass now that actually kill of some of the other grasses so read the labels well.  Consider taking a gentler approach to gardening and the environment by using compost and other organic materials in place of chemicals. Wells Branch does have creeks and run-off continues into the aquifer where our drinking water comes from. Just a thought!

Please see the Garden Guild page for current meeting information or check out Dianne’s blog at:

April is the best time to be in the garden!

It is “spring,” at least as much spring as we get here. This is the time to finish digging/cultivating beds and get your plants into place before the summer heat. If you have perennials, locate the ones that might still come back after the freeze this winter so you don’t accidentally damage them. I lost a few but most are coming back. They did have a nice blanket of leaves and mulch to protect them though.

It is time to add lots of organic matter into the beds before planting or around the plantings to keep moisture in the soil and get plenty of mulch around the plants– 2-4” is recommended. You can use compost as mulch but it does not easily accept water so it has to be worked with. This is likely to be a very dry year—we are in a drought and Stage 1 water restrictions so conserving water will be doubly important as we go to more rationing ( this summer. Invest in soaker hoses or drip lines and deliver the water where you want it. The best reason not to top water the plants is it helps them give off more moisture to the air and dehydrates them—just like us when we spray our skin to cool off.

Whether you go to the big box and buy plants or the local nursery, all the plants are marked for sun, part sun, and shade. Really pay attention to these labels as the sun they are talking about is about 300 miles north of here so much cooler. I always got way too many plants and crammed them in but as they grew up, they competed for everything and didn’t do as well as I hoped. Now it is a bit bare between the plants in the spring but they have room to spread out as they grow and can get their share of the water, sun, and nutrients.

Here is a tip from every gardening expert except the TV commercials—Do not over fertilize the plants. Give them only what they really need and in much smaller doses than you would expect. They do better. Prevent diseases by keeping the plants healthy and observing them frequently. Remember the bees and the ladybugs are really good for the gardens so be VERY careful when putting out pesticides that you do not kill the good insects too. Butterflies also masquerade as caterpillars in the spring munching on foliage. You may just want to do what I did this year and plant a bit more parsley and dill so we all get some.

Some of the list of “to-dos” in April & May from the Central Texas Gardener website follow.   There are also full lists of recommended plants on these pages to plant now.

Check out this link for the best low water plants for our area:


  • Tomatoes and peppers with a liquid fertilizer
  • Crape Myrtle beneath the branch spread with 1/3 cup complete fertilizer per sq. yd.
  • Lawn with 3-1-2 ratio product; aerate first, if needed.
  • All spring-blooming shrubs after they have bloomed. Feed amaryllis after they bloom. Feed and mulch iris after blooming.


  • Divide and transplant late summer-and fall-flowering bulbs.
  • Container-grown plants (almost any kind) can go into the ground now.
  • Plant summer annuals to get their root systems established before the extreme heat arrives.

Lawn Care:

  • Plant grass sod or plugs. Water daily for one or two weeks to establish.
  • Begin regular lawn care. Mow every 5-7 days, leaving the clippings on the lawn. Keep St. Augustine grass at 2-1/2 to 3 inches. Apply 1/2’ to 1″ of water as needed to wet soil thoroughly. Don’t water more often than every five days.

Diseases/Pests to look out for:

  • Check for aphids and spider mites.
  • Look for tobacco hornworms, spider mites and stink bugs, especially in vegetable gardens.
  • Spray peach and plum trees for curculio weevils.
  • Spray blackspot-susceptible roses with fungicide every 7-10 days.

Fall Gardening Reminders for Wells Branch

By Dianne Koehler

It’s finally cooling down a bit and we’ll be able to get out in our yards and gardens again to take care of things before winter.   All the rain we received at the beginning of September was a blessing.  Let’s just hope it continues.  After a hot dry summer, our grass, trees and shrubs need the rain to better tolerate the winter cold.

I have been consulting the Central Texas Gardener’s website ( and a number of other websites for lists of “what to do this month.” I also browsed the catalog at the library for books to help keep the yard and garden in order so here goes.

September / October is the time to:

  • Divide & Transplant: Amaryllises, Callas, Cannas, Daylilies, Irises, Liriope, Wood Ferns, and crowded perennials. Dig and store caladium bulbs. Dust with fungicide.
  • Add to your compost pile with fall leaves and yard debris; shred well with lawnmower. Replenish mulch in beds. Prepare and plant fall vegetable beds. Seed some wildflowers and perennials.
  • Plant Vegetables: Beans, Peas (English & edible pod), Summer Squash, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage, Collards, Garlic, beets, carrots, and radishes. 1st frost date is mid November. All the kale family will do well far into the winter with a bit of protection. Keep an eye out for cabbage loppers/ treat with Bt.
  • Watch for brown patch in St. Augustine turf as temperatures cool. Treat late in the September and again in 3 weeks with Terraclor or Daconil.
  • Watch for blackspot and mildew on roses and treat. Control fall webworms on trees with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
  • Remove dead and damaged wood from shrubs and trees.
  • Trick Poinsettias into holiday bloom: Beginning on the fall equinox (September 21/22) they need about 14 hours of dark per day through Thanksgiving to bloom for the holidays. Consult the experts for the whole process.
  • Check out books from the library: Neil Sperry’s Complete Guide to Texas Gardening, Month-By-Month Gardening in Texas, Gardening with Nature in Texas, Native Texas gardens: Maximum Beauty, Minimum Upkeep