March is here! Is it too early to start planting?

Late summer blooms.The first Texas bluebonnets are beginning to appear, and that can mean only one thing: The early spring has finally arrived. This is the time of year that we can begin planting frost hardy plants.

There is always a chance of a late spring frost, especially prior to Easter weekend. With each passing week however, the chance of a killing frost drops. For most areas of North Texas the chance of a killing frost drops to 50% by March 15th. By the first week of April the chance of a killing frost drops to 10%. February and March this year have been unseasonably warm however, meaning that in all likelihood we will be safe to plant within the first two weeks of March, but there is always that slim chance.

That being said, there are a number of plants that you can plant secure in the knowledge that they will continue to thrive even through another freeze. Perennials like gladiolas, mallows such as turks cap, cannas, and salvias are always a safe bet this time of year. Annual color examples include foxgloves, larkspur, and sweet alyssum. These should be planted as soon as possible to ensure that they have a long growing season before the Texas heat of summer takes hold. Any seeds that were started inside over the winter can begin to be moved outside so that they can adjust to the sun and temperature, but make sure to bring them back in if temperatures threaten to fall below 32°. The same applies to any container plants that have been overwintered indoors: the soil in containers gets much cooler much faster than your average ground soil, so keep a close eye on the weather. Better yet, head to and sign up for our newsletter: we send out warnings any time the weather looks like it will take a turn for the worst.

If you have been putting off tree and shrub pruning, this is pretty much your last chance to perform this chore before leaves and buds start to appear. The exception to this is any spring flowering trees and shrubs. If you have dogwoods, wisterias, or fruit trees in your garden you should wait until after the blossoms have dropped. Early spring flowering plants set their buds in the autumn and should be pruned in late spring or early summer. This helps to ensure a glorious bloom next year. Any other trees and shrubs should be pruned over winter, with March being your last chance until next winter. Remove any low hanging branches to raise the canopy, and trim inside growth where the leaves of the plant are less productive, but do not trim oaks yet. Texas oaks should be trimmed in late summer when the chance of oak wilt fungal infection is at a minimum. Finally, if you have transplanted any woody shrubs or trees, cut back the canopy by around 40% in order to compensate for roots that were lost during the digging process.

For those with an irrigation system, now is the time to switch over to a spring watering schedule. The increased sunlight and the new growth of plants that have been recently added, or those coming out of dormancy, means that their watering needs are drastically increasing. Now is also the time for an irrigation audit. Run each zone one by one and check for leaks, poor water flow from spray heads, clogs, and breaks in drip line. Repair or replace these as necessary.

Late summer blooms.Lawns are also beginning to perk back up as the soil temperatures increase and they receive more sunlight. Take time early this month to scalp your lawn. We don’t need to get down to the thatch for a proper scalp. Scalping your lawn can dramatically improve the appearance of your spring lawn as it grows in. Simply drop your mower by no more than two notches when performing this task. Apply a pre-emergent weed killer early this month. Once it warms up and you begin to see weeds in your lawn, it is already too late. We do not recommend using any weed and feed product whatsoever. Many if not all weed and feed products can damage your trees and shrubs. Later this month you can add an all-nitrogen fertilizer. This will promote vigorous growth and a lush green color.

Finally, this is a fine time to make any changes to your hardscape and irrigation system. If you are putting in a retaining wall, pavers or pathways, patios or pergolas, do it now. Desiree Gardens offers a full suite of planning, consultation, irrigation design and installation services to help you create a wonderful garden this year, but don’t wait too long to book your appointment. Our spring schedule is filling up fast.

Need help with your irrigation or sprinkler system? Does your garden need an overhaul or just a general checkup? Maybe you just need a helping hand to protect sensitive plants from freeze and frost. Give us a call at 817-202-4808, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.

Like what you’re reading? Get information like this delivered straight to your email inbox by signing up here. We will never sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Plant Focus: Turk’s Cap Malvaviscus arboreus

Native Texas plant Turk's Cap or Malvaviscus arboreus.This North Texas native excels in our climate and should have a place in nearly every garden. This perennial can get over four feet tall and nearly three feet wide in the far north of it’s habitat. In warmer climates where it grows year-round it can tower over seven feet tall.

The Turk’s Cap can tolerate a wide variety of soil and water conditions and it has adapted to a wide range of climates with a range that extends from USDA zone 7 all the way south to Florida, Cuba, Mexico, and the entirety of the Gulf Coast. In southern climates that rarely get freezing weather the Turk’s Cap is an evergreen plant and will flower year-round. Further north it will die back to the ground in colder weather and reemerge every spring as a woody perennial. Malvaviscus arboreus is often found as an understory plant where it thrives in the shade of larger trees, but it’s adaptability allows it to flourish in everything from full sun to nearly full shade.

Native Texas plant Turk's Cap or Malvaviscus arboreus.When cultivating Turk’s Cap, it is generally recommended to prune it back in late winter or early spring to promote vigorous growth and maintain a compact shape. The plant can be propagated through stem cuttings or by dividing mature clumps. While propagation is easy in theory, the heavy black clays of North Texas make it exceedingly difficult to a very dense and extraordinary root system that can send taps very deep. Nevertheless, Turk’s Cap is very hardy and dividing root balls can be a very successful method of propagation. An alternative mentioned above is to use stem cuttings and a little bit of root powder, but the most successful methods are either layering (simply lightly bury a node on a branch) or letting it reseed from the abundant flowers and fruits they produce.

Native Texas plant Turk's Cap or Malvaviscus arboreus.One of the most distinctive features of the Turk’s Cap is its unique flowers. Malvaviscus arboreus produces flowers from late spring to fall, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees with its nectar-rich blooms. The flowers have a long blooming season, providing a continuous source of nectar for pollinators. The flowers are borne in clusters and have a shape resembling a turban or a Turkish fez, which gives the plant its common name. The flowers are typically red, but there are also varieties with pink or white blooms. The true flowers are the small, inconspicuous structures within the colorful bracts. Malvaviscus arboreus is highly valued by wildlife due to its nectar-rich flowers. It attracts pollinators such as hummingbirds and butterflies, particularly ruby throated hummingbirds, making it a great addition to wildlife gardens. Birds are also known to feed on the red berries produced by the plant.

Besides its ornamental value, Turk’s Cap has some practical uses. The flowers can be used to make jams, jellies, and beverages with a tart flavor. The small red berries are also edible and have a mild flavor and mealy texture that makes them attractive to humans, birds, and animals alike. The leaves of the plant have also been used in traditional medicine in Mexico and elsewhere for various purposes, including the treatment of digestive, reproductive, and respiratory issues.

Need help with your irrigation or sprinkler system? Does your garden need an overhaul or just a general checkup? Give us a call at 877-558-1496, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.

Like what you’re reading? Get information like this delivered straight to your email inbox by signing up here. We will never sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.


  • Plant Type: Woody Perennial Shrub
  • Color: Evergreen with red or white flowers
  • Light: Full shade to full sun
  • Blooms: Red or White, Spring to Fall
  • Height: 4 feet; up to 9 feet in frost free areas
  • Width: 3 to 4 feet
  • Heat Tolerance: Very High
  • Water Requirements: Very Low
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Soil Requirements: Any

Early June Plantings and Irrigation

The summer heat is definitely here, and adequate watering is more important than ever! If you haven’t already, it’s definitely time to adjust the watering schedule on your irrigation system.

Modern rotator spray heads are great at saving water.Deep waterings are one of the best ways to keep your plants happy, but if you have a clay soil you can’t just dump all that water all at once as the soil won’t absorb it. Instead you’ll have excessive runoff onto your driveway, sidewalks, and the street. All that wasted water! Instead, set up each zone to water in multiple short intervals. Instead of one long 30-minute watering session, set up your clay soil zones to do three 10-minute waterings separated by 10-minute “rest” sessions to give the soil time to absorb the water.

On the other hand, if you have sandy soil, or a sandy loam (more common on the far western side of the DFW metroples in areas like Weatherford, Springtown, Azle, etc.) your soil will readily absorb as much as a half-inch of precipitation from your irrigation system at a time. Don’t hesitate to water deeply and run your system for 30-minutes or longer, depending on your plants’ requirements. You don’t need to do this every day. Deep watering even once or twice a week is more than adequate, especially if you have more native plants or drought tolerant varieties. Deep watering like this also makes it easier to comply with any water use restrictions imposed by periods of drought and the accompanying water supply shortages.

Lantanas being pollinated. Now is also the time to start planting all of the heat loving plants in your garden. Crape Myrtles, Salvias, Lantanas, Texas Star Hibiscus, Verbena, Turk’s Cap, Phlox, Purple Fountain Grass, Purslane, and Yuccas are just some examples of these. Reseeding annuals such as Zinnias, Marigolds, and 4 O’clocks also thrive in the blistering summer heat. Other annuals such as Coleus, Pentas, and Caladiums should also be planted now.

It should be noted that this year has been a bad one for Caladium nurseries which have been hit hard and are not able to meet the normal demand for this plant. If you can find a Caladium plant, get it when and where you can.

If potted tropical plants are your thing, Bouganvillas, Tropical Hibiscus, Sago Palms, Agaves, succulents, and other cold sensitive potted plants will do well if planted now. Just remember that container gardens have very different watering requirements than in-ground gardens, but you can still have your containers hooked up to an irrigation system as long as they are on a separate zone.

Give us a call at 877-558-1496, or drop us a line and contact us here, to find out how Desiree can help you create a wonderful garden with a budget you can afford.