Feb 21, 2024 - News

What to know for spring gardening in Central Texas

An image of two hands putting a plant in the soil.

Get ready to get your hands dirty. Spring gardening is here. Photo: Michael Paulsen/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Warm temperatures in Central Texas this week may have backyard gardeners wondering if it's time to get plants in the ground.

What's happening: Temperatures are expected to creep into the 80s next week, making for gorgeous gardening weather, but we can't rule out the possibility of a freeze in the coming weeks, National Weather Service forecasters say.

Why it matters: Many experts say fall is the best time to garden in Central Texas because of our scorching hot summers, but you can still reap the rewards of planting in the spring.

Pro tip: Start seeds indoors to get an early start, and use Texas A&M AgriLife Extension's month-by-month gardening checklist for Austin.

What they're saying: It's not too soon to start landscaping, according to Daphne Richards, Travis County's horticulturist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

  • "Nothing is completely 100% predictable, though, so one should always be prepared to protect plants in an unexpected cold snap, should there be one," Richards told Axios, adding that climate change has made planting windows much less reliable.
  • "With summers now trending hotter and hotter, the earlier start one can get in the spring, the better," Richards added.

Zoom in: The AgriLife Extension calls Valentine's Day the traditional start of spring gardening in Central Texas but notes that there is still a freeze danger.

  • It's safe to move hardy seedlings outdoors in late February.
  • Sugar snap, snow or English peas should've been planted at the beginning of the month, but you can start exposing tomato or pepper starts to the outdoors on mild days. You can also plant onions now, per the AgriLife Extension.
  • In March, you can plant annual flower seeds and lay sod for warm-season turfgrasses like zoysia grass, according to AgriLife extension's calendar. Weeding and watering are critical this month.

Between the lines: Camp Mabry's average last freeze is on Feb. 25, but the latest freeze on record was April 9, according to National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Gale.

  • "It's not uncommon — since the weather is so variable this time of the year — to see occasionally warmer temperatures in the 80s and then much cooler temperatures," Gale tells Axios. "You can't completely rule out there being a freeze" at this point.
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