SAN ANTONIO — Now is the time to think about planting fruit trees, ornamental annuals and other plants in South Central Texas for home landscaping and to show in spring competition, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert in San Antonio.
“While there’s still an outside chance of a hard freeze, indications are good that the rest of winter will be mild enough to allow plant establishment and survival to the spring,” said David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture, Bexar County. “And if you have a greenhouse or other climate-controlled growing area, the weather is even less of a factor.”
He said the South Central Texas climate permits the planting of trees, shrubs and ornamental plants just about all year long.
“When planting a tree, shrub or ornamental plant, you can back fill the hole with the dirt you dug out, and this allows for more uniform water penetration to the root area,” he said. “Make sure the plantings have fresh, plump roots and briefly soaking the root system in water. Then when you dig the hole, make the sides rough, not smooth. After the initial watering, you can water the roots sparingly as dormant plants need less water.”
Rodriguez said an early start on planting will be particularly helpful to people interested in participating in spring competitions, including the Alamo Area Horticulture Show and Contest which will take place May 26 during Festival of Flowers activities in San Antonio.
The Alamo Area Horticulture Show and Contest is presented by AgriLife Extension and the Bexar County Master Gardener association with sponsorship support provided by the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association. For the past two years, the contest has been part of Festival of Flowers activities held at the Alzafar Shrine facility, 901 N. Loop 410 West, between Blanco Road and Stone Oak Parkway.
“This will be the third year of the competition and we are seeing a steady increase in the number and variety of entries,” said Rodriguez, one of the show coordinators. “There is a limit of three entries per division per exhibitor and all entries must have been grown by the exhibitor for at least three months prior to the competition.”
Rodriguez said the show and contest is open to amateur home gardeners from Bexar and surrounding counties. Winning entries will be presented in nine different categories, including foliage and blooming potted or container plants; cactus and succulents; cut foliage, flowers and blooms; special displays, such as hanging baskets, dish gardens and container gardens; and vegetables and fruits.
“The show is open to amateur gardeners of all ages, and contestants 17 years old and younger are judged separately from adult contestants,” he said.
Rodriguez said the competition’s 2011 adult Best of Show winner was Jo Ann Bradley’s “Cajun Moon” rose spray, while the junior Best of Show winner was Cody Reiser’s “Succulent Garden” cactus arrangement.
“The vegetables and fruits division of the show is usually a ‘growers’ choice’ and may include tomatoes, peppers, greens, onions and other in-season crops,” he said. “Growers should show three to five samples of the same variety — unblemished and uniform in size, color and overall growth. They also should have stems attached to help confirm they are home-grown.”
He said each exhibitor must complete an official entry form either prior to the show or at the time of entering an exhibit. Guidelines and an entry form may be found at the Festival of Flowers website at http://safestivalofflowers.com or the AgriLife Extension office website for Bexar County, http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu.