Regional Pecan Show Winners

Winter Weed Control

It’s that time of year when weed control is on my mind.  Winter weeds like henbit and clover are actively growing and making a nuisance of themselves.  Just when you start to think you can take a break from lawn care for a couple months, all these pesky winter weeds start showing up.

We have some options to control winter weeds that are already up and growing.  Fortunately, some of these control options will also help you stick to your fitness goals for the new year!  One option for weed control is to mechanically remove the weeds either by hand pulling or hoeing them.  If you have just a few weeds in your yard, this might be the best option. (more…)


Nandina is an old-fashioned evergreen shrub that has become one of my favorite shrubs.  The foliage is dark green, but can turn orange, red, or maroon in the fall with bright red berries in the winter.  Also known as Heavenly Bamboo for its slender stems and spreading growth pattern, Nandina domestica is drought tolerant and cold hardy.  Nandina is also great because it can grow in sun, part shade, and shade.


Williamson and Bell County Pecan Show Winners

Blooming Christmas Plants

When the days are short and many plants are dormant during this time of year, I am always drawn to anything is green or blooming.  I love putting out fresh greenery and poinsettias, but there are two other winter-blooming plants that are eye-catching at Christmas and will continue growing throughout the year. (more…)

Christmas Trees

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I am a little bit of a traditionalist when it comes to decorating for Christmas.  I like a real Christmas tree, and you aren’t supposed to start decorating until December 1 (or at least until after Thanksgiving).  Controversial holiday decorating opinions aside, hopping for a live Christmas tree is so much fun! I have a few pro tips for keeping your tree fresh throughout the Christmas season.

Selection:  Christmas trees come in a variety of sizes, so be sure to measure your space where the tree will be kept.  Consider the diameter of the base of the tree as well as the height.

Check your tree for freshness.  The needles should be fresh and flexible and should not come off in your hand.  The branches should also be pliable.  The tree is too dry if the needles and branches are brittle.  Shake your tree well outside before you bring it into the house to remove any dry needles inside.  It wouldn’t hurt to check for bugs if you cut your own tree from a Christmas tree farm.

A live Christmas tree is very easy to keep fresh for several weeks.  The most important rule is to supply plenty of water.  A traditional reservoir type tree stand is the best way to display your tree and maintain freshness.  Be sure it will hold plenty of water.  As a rule, stands should provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter.  Check the water level daily.  Once a tree gets dry, it has a hard time taking up new water when you refill the reservoir.

Use a stand that fits your tree and avoid whittling down the sides or drilling holes in the trunk.  When you bring your tree home, cut a half inch disc off the bottom of the trunk and place it in water as soon as possible.

Keep your tree away from major sources of heat such as fireplaces and heat vents.  Lower the temperature of the room and use lights that produce low heat to slow the drying process.  Always inspect your lights before you place them on the tree and be careful not to overload the electrical circuits.

Christmas tree farms provide a really fun opportunity to cut a live tree, usually while you enjoy hot chocolate and Christmas sweets.  It’s also a great way to support a local farmer!  Most Christmas tree farms in our area grow Virginia Pine and Leyland Cypress trees, and they usually offer other pre-cut varieties like Frasier Fir.

I hope you enjoy the holiday season and have a fun time decorating your Christmas tree!  For more information about lawn and garden topics, contact Kate Whitney, Williamson County Extension Horticulturalist, at 512-943-3300.

Freeze Protection

One of the biggest challenges to Texas gardeners in the fall is the quick temperature swings that can catch even the most diligent weather-watchers off guard.  Last week we had a beautiful warm morning and freezing temperatures by evening.  I confess that I lost a potted plant to that freeze because I didn’t get it inside fast enough.  Oops!

Have you ever wondered what happens to a plant when it freezes or why some plants can handle freezing temperatures better than others?  We can do a lot to help our plants survive cold snaps if we understand how cold affects plants and the best ways to protect them. (more…)

Winter Turf Task

The temperatures are quickly falling as I sit down to write this article, and I can’t believe that I am writing about lawn care as we head into winter weather.  The cooler months of fall and winter do provide a little bit of relief from lawn care chores like mowing, weeding, and watering, but there are still a few tasks that you need to do to prepare for winter. (more…)

Pea Trial

One of the most fun parts of my job is working with the Master Gardener Volunteers in our Demonstration Garden.  The gardens include an herb garden, drought tolerant and native ornamental plants, roses, fruit trees, and vegetables.  The Master Gardener Volunteers do a fantastic job of maintaining the garden and growing all kinds of plants that will do well in our area. (more…)

Pecan Trees

On Tuesday, October 1, I got to participate in a fun event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the pecan tree being designated as the Texas State Tree.   The Texas Pecan Board hosted a neat event on the steps of the Capitol Building in Austin to commemorate the 100-year anniversary, complete with a proclamation signed by Governor Abbott. (more…)