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Gardening Q&A

Ask the Master Gardeners: February 2013

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Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

February 1, 2013 | 2,390 views | Post a comment

Q: My Satsuma tree has reached the top of my house. Can I prune it? What about other citrus?

A: According to Dr. Julian Sauls, a Texas A&M horticulturist, the best time to hedge and top is during the cooler months, after harvest but prior to bloom because the timing is compatible with early, midseason and navel oranges. Grapefruit trees are a problem, however, because the harvest is rarely completed before spring bloom, so you will end up sacrificing part of your un-harvested crop or sacrificing some of next year's crop. Dr. Sauls says that it doesn't matter whether the pruning is conducted before or after the bloom, as the results will be about the same--reduction in production during the season following pruning. However, if the branches are on your house, they must be pruned. Plus, you need to keep your tree a size that you can reach the fruit, and be able to cover it if we have a really bad freeze.

If your citrus is in a pot, you need to prune to maintain a balanced shape. If your container isn't getting enough sun, the branches become leggy. Prune these back to encourage side branching and a more compact growth of the top. Remember, you need 8 to 10 hours of direct sun daily.

Q: When is it time to prune roses?

A: Doug Welsh says to prune modern hybrid roses heavily each year two to three weeks before spring growth begins (about February 14). Prune each bush back to a height of 18 to 24 inches. Old fashioned roses, however, should be pruned to fit the landscape--about one-third of the plant's height. If you need "how to prune" information, Peggy Jones, our Master Gardener rose lady, will be talking twice in February. She will be speaking at the Gonzales County MG office, 623 Fair Street, February 12 at 6:30 p.m.; she will also be speaking February 19 at the Santa Clara City Hall at 6:30 p.m.

Q: Can I start planting my seedling flats now?

A: San Antonio's last average freeze date is March 6. You can start your flats now, and maybe even have time to transplant them to four inch pots before it is time to plant. Be sure to plant tomatoes. Looks like tomato prices are going to go up.

Q: I saw that the NICE (Natives Instead of Common Exotics) plants for the first quarter of 2013 include a pretty plant with yellow daisy like flowers. Can you tell me something about Damianita Chrysactinia mexicana?

A: Damianita, a member of the aster family, is a 1 to 2 foot aromatic shrub with yellow composite flowers. The Wildflower Center says that this evergreen perennial is very drought tolerant. It blooms in spring and on and off through September. The shrub grows in most soils, including caliche, smells good (both flowers and foliage), and is deer resistant. Provide good drainage.

Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, on the second floor of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension building, 210 East Live Oak in Seguin.
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