Weatherford Democrat

September 8, 2013

ASK A MASTER GARDENER: Wait till temperatures cool to plant, transplant

Weatherford Democrat

— Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit

I bought five Oakland hollies, and the nurseryman told me to wait for cooler weather to plant them. Why is this necessary?

In the summer, when our temperatures soar into the upper 90s and higher, most plants stop actively growing and focus on simple survival. Every ounce of energy is expended in an effort to retain enough moisture for photosynthesis.

Plants growing in containers are particularly affected. Even Master Gardeners experience problems transplanting during this time. I’ve tried Knock Out roses, daylilies, clematis and yew, and none survived. 

No matter how diligent the gardener, conditions will not be totally controlled when a plant is put into the ground. The container plant may have the same temperatures and conditions it will have when in the ground; but when you take that root ball out of the container, it will experience stress.

The feeder roots that got a good supply of water in the pot will not receive the same quantity in the ground. Often, feeder roots are damaged during planting, and this further complicates the situation.

Transplanting during cooler weather allows the plant to retain moisture more easily, and provides some reserve energy, allowing the plant to survive while the roots adapt to a new growing environment in the ground.

I have collected wildflower seeds, when should I plant them?

Wildflower seeds can be planted now through October. Many seeds will require scarification (scratching the hard outer coating of the seed so that moisture can get in). This can be done with fine sand paper. Soaking the seeds in warm water may also be helpful.

Did you know?

Now is time to plant seeds for root crops (beets, carrots, leeks, radishes) and leafy vegetables (kale, lettuce, mustard, spinach).

Fall Landscape Gardening Seminar

Mark your calendars now for Oct. 9th at 7 p.m. The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service of Parker County, in cooperation with Parker County Master Gardeners, will provide a 90-minute fall gardening seminar. A fee of $10 will cover the costs of handouts and other supplies.

To register, contact the Parker County Extension Office at 817-598-6168.