Winter is When You Want to Plant

There are lots of plants that really enjoy the cool season and are ready for a long and happy life in South Texas. So get planting!

Don’t let the cold, damp weather fool you. Winter is the perfect time to plant not only trees, but also plants and seeds. The list will astound and amaze you.

Why can and should we plant in January, you ask? In the South, the ground never freezes and therefore plant roots have the opportunity to grow throughout the winter, maximizing their root growth before the advent of the hot, nasty summer. The earlier they are planted; the faster they will become established, requiring little to no supplemental water.

Some plants are like Aesop’s hare and will grow fast, but soon fade in the April heat. Bulbs, winter annuals and some winter vegetables fall into this category, but other plants really enjoy the cool season and are ready for a long and happy life in South Texas.

Here’s a short list of what you can plant in January.

  • Tubers – this group includes tulip and daffodil bulbs, gladiolus corms and iris rhizomes. Plant in January for their full effect before the heat. Keep the bed or area well drained.
  • Vegetables – transplants of garden spinach, green magic broccoli, head cabbage, Swiss chard and kale, as well as seeds of snow peas, English peas, spring carrots, beets, radishes, turnips and onion plantlets are all suggestions from Bexar County Horticulturist David Rodriguez.
  • Bare root trees – While all trees can be planted in January, fruit trees are traditionally planted in late January. It’s best to select fruit trees suited to our mild winters. Consider these.
  • Annuals – think “P” for pansies, pinks, petunias, phlox, primrose and Persian cyclamen. All of these flowers provide color and aroma to the winter Texas garden. A word on primrose: you’ll love them, but so do slugs and snails. Provide the appropriate protection.

Don’t let the cold weather keep you from getting out in the garden. This is the perfect time to plant.

Picture of Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson was a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System before retiring. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you're likely to find him hiking San Antonio's wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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