By Dr. Mario Villarino, Texas AgriLife Extension Agent, Ag./NR
As I was writing this piece, the temperatures overnight dropped below freezing levels. I wonder what happen to our fall? All I can remember was two weeks of mild temperatures this year.
According to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, from a gardening perspective, the end of the year can seem to be relatively mundane. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, garden activities seem less numerous and important. These latter months have been reserved for planting bulbs, soil preparation, and a few other garden chores.
This year, why not think about taking advantage of this time to plant some trees. When you plant a container-grown tree, there is often transplant stress as the tree acclimates to a different environment. Some species react more negatively than others to this change, but almost all trees suffer aesthetically and stop growth.
Winter is a wonderful time to plant trees and shrubs. Cooler temperatures, though not ideal for growth, provide a much-needed time for root development and acclimation for the new tree, thus, reducing transplant stress. Winter is also often a time of ample rainfall, resulting in even less tree stress.
Some nurseries have a selection of trees during winter. When deciding which tree(s) to plant, you should take into account the characteristics of the proposed planting site, such as the amount of sun the site receives, the soil drainage, and the amount of room the tree will have to spread. Ask local nursery professionals about trees that are particularly well adapted for your area.
Here are a few safe bets when looking for trees that thrive in Texas:
- Bald cypress provides a glimpse of the South, with its picturesque pyramidal shape and fine foliage. Contrary to popular belief it will only grow knees (plant structures that pop out of the soil around the plant) if it is not receiving enough oxygen in the soil, such as in very wet conditions.
- Live Oak has a beautifully-rounded habit, and is well-adapted to most of Texas which makes it a natural for planting in landscapes.
- Shumard Oak is a wonderful species of Oak for our area, and it is one of the most dependable Oaks for red fall color in Texas.
For more confined spaces, very attractive small trees
- Crape Myrtles come in almost all colors and sizes, so it is a great choice for a number of different uses.
- Chinese Fringe Tree, although more rare, is a good small tree that puts on a spectacular show of refined, white flowers for two weeks in the spring. During the rest of the year, it has deep, dark, glossy green foliage and a nice shape that will certainly enhance any landscape.
- Redbud is also a wonderful choice for Texas plantings. It is typical in the fact that it has pink blooms in early spring, but it differs from other Redbuds by its beautiful dark purple or even maroon foliage. This deep, lush foliage makes for an interesting specimen and along with its eclectic seed pods provides interest throughout the year.
Winter buying and planting of trees also lends itself to another use: as Christmas presents! Why not get the gardener(s) in your life something that they’ll really enjoy, and that they’ll be able to observe for a long time? Even if the people you are buying for don’t garden, you could plant the tree for them, and provide enjoyment and added character to their landscape.
Brave the cool weather and plant some trees this winter. Come spring, you’ll be glad you did!
For more information on this or any other agricultural topic, please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-8853443 or email me at [email protected]