Category Archives: Winter

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus by Byron Chitwood, Master Gardener. Guess what? Christmas cactus are named because they tend to bloom about Christmas time. However, they are also called Thanksgiving Cactus, Crab Cactus and Holiday Cactus. When I was a kid, we called them “live forevers”. Live forevers will be described later in this article. The Christmas cactus is a native of southeast Brazil and primarily grows at an altitude of 2-7 thousand feet in mountainous areas. In Brazil, they are called “Flor de Maio” because they bloom in early summer…. Read More →

Winterizing Your Garden

Winterizing Your Garden by Wayne Bowman, Master Gardener. Thalassa Cruso reminds us that “Fall is not the end of the gardening year; it is the start of next year’s growing season.” By the time you read this, it’s likely that we’ve already experienced our first frost in North Texas. Time to turn out the lights in the garden; summer’s party is over. You’ve coaxed the final tomato from the vine and your neighbors and relatives no longer smile when you say the word “squash”. An excellent time to… Read More →

Winter Planting of Onions, Garlic and Leeks

Winter Planting of Onions, Garlic and Leeks by Byron Chitwood, Master Gardener Although onions, garlic and leeks have been around for a long time, it is not really known where they originated. Archaeologists have found evidence that they have been used as a food source through cultivation for at least 7,000 years. No doubt, the early hunter-gatherers foraged for them in the wild along with anything else growing wild that could be eaten. The earliest evidence of domestication and cultivation has been found in China, Asia and Persia…. Read More →

Poisonous Holiday Plants

Poisonous Holiday Plants by June Morgan, Master Gardener.  If you have been following the columns by Master Gardeners, you are well aware of the main  toxic plants such as poison oak and ivy found in the summer. But decorative  winter plants also have their dangers, especially those prevalent during the holidays which can pose special threats to our pets and children. Poinsettias have a reputation for being poisonous, but it would be unlikely for a pet or child to ingest enough of the leaves to be really dangerous… Read More →

Conditioning Your Garden in Winter

Conditioning Your Garden in Winter by Stephanie Suesan Smith, PhD, Master Gardener. Although most people do not grow vegetables over the winter, you can still work to make your garden the best it can be next spring.  First, remove all of the old, dead plant material.  If the plants were healthy and died of heat or frost, compost them.  If they had diseases or severe pest problems, it is best to throw the plants into a bag, seal the bag, and throw them in the trash.  If you… Read More →

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus by Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D., Master Gardener. Christmas cactus has segmented stems that are flat and have spines along the edge of the sections.  Most of the year, it is just a slightly odd green plant.  However, when it blooms the blooms are beautiful and unusual, and more than make up for the wall flower appearance of the stems. The Christmas cactus is native to the South American rain forests.  This means that it expects a rather high degree of humidity.  It would be impractical to… Read More →

Late Fall Vegetables

LATE FALL VEGETABLES – Byron Chitwood After our hot summers, we are all looking forward for a change to a cool fall.  With this cooler weather coming on, now is the time to plan for late fall vegetables in our garden plots.  The first ones that come to mind are turnips and beets.  Both of these vegetables are prized for both their greens and roots.  Both can be planted from mid- August through the end of September.  After cleanup of the spaces allocated for the two vegetables, till… Read More →

Bird Feeding in Winter

Bird Feeding in Winter by Dave White. We spend many hours watching and enjoying the numerous species of birds that visit our yard every day. They provide unlimited entertainment, color, activity and music. Some of the native birds frequenting our yard are finches, cardinals, titmice, bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, flycatchers, wrens, woodpeckers and crows. There are also many other species who stay for short periods when migrating through our area as they travel to and from their summer and winter destinations. Everyone can experience the same enjoyment by doing… Read More →

Winter Garden Clean-Up

Winter Garden Clean-Up by Byron Chitwood It is time to clean up the garden patch now that we have had some real cold weather. Start with the asparagus bed. The freezes killed the top growth of the asparagus so it is time to remove the dead ferns and get ready for the next harvest season which begins in late February or early march. First of all, the freeze was beneficial since it killed all the chiggers or red bugs. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about getting bitten… Read More →


Poinsettias by Charles Bohmfalk Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were brought to the US in 1828 by the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett.  The Aztecs called poinsettias “Cuetlaxochitl.”  During the 14th – 16th century the sap was used to control fevers and the red bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye.  In the early 1900’s the Ecke family of southern California grew poinsettias outdoors for use as landscape plants and as a cut flower.  Eventually the family grew poinsettias in… Read More →