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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Maybe not in Pennsylvania or Illinois, but NOW is by far the best planting time in north Texas

In north Texas, the very best time to plant is NOW. Not in the spring like up north. If you’re new to Texas, this may come as a surprise. But if you’ve been planting things here for several years (like me) you’ve learned to follow Mother Nature’s example. So, if you want to attract birds next spring, plant hardy birdscape plants now.

All of the most hardy and effective plants are Texas natives.  I’ve had the most success with the woody, perennial kind, including shrubs and trees. Of course, you won’t actually see growth until next year, but the roots will be growing like crazy all winter. Choose the right plants and I’m positive that birds will hang out in your yard.

It has to do with the fact that plant roots can’t grow through frozen soil.  Here, the ground may freeze a quarter inch deep (if at all). Even then the ground is thawed by mid-afternoon. All woody trees and shrubs do best if planted now. Also all ground covers and most flowers – all but the very tender species that could be killed by a long, hard frost (if we have one) Up north the ground may freeze solid many inches deep, possibly all winter long.  And “up north” is where gardening advice columns were written, originally.
Sumac & friend

My favorites, to plant now, include mistflower, Mexican plum, beautyberry, sumac, lantana, flame acanthus, Maximillian sunflower and several prairie grasses. Don’t forget the mulch!


What’s vertical migration?       Unlike regular bird migration which involves flying south for hundreds of miles, vertical migrants may just fly down a slope. They may make the short journey from a mountain down to the valley floor. Thus they spend the winter in better weather conditions, and with more available food, that isn't covered up by ice and snow. 



OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.

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