"A flower is an educated weed."
~ Luther Burbank
Fall is a good time to fertilize your lawn. Fertilize your lawn with a slow release fertilizer such as J&L Fall & Winter Lawn Food. Another excellent slow releasing lawn fertilizer is Dr. Earth Organic Lawn Fertilizer. This fertilizer provides many beneficial bacteria that help your lawn to overcome many problems. It is extremely helpful in preventing lawn diseases. If you have problems with any of the spring or summer lawn diseases, this is the fertilizer that you should apply both fall and spring.
Do not let leaves remain on your lawn very long. Leaves shade the grass and can kill the lawn during the winter. In addition, leaves left on lawns too long stimulate a lawn disease known as snow mold. One of the easiest ways to dispose of these unwanted leaves is to simply mow them, bag them, and use them as compost in your gardens. Mow your lawn 1.5" to 2" long until your lawn stops growing. Once the lawn stops growing for the winter, mow your lawn as short as you can.
Many lawn weeds are still growing right now. Fertilome Weed Free Zone is a good spray to kill most weeds in the lawn, including dandelions, morning glory, and clover. Weed Free Zone will not kill any "grassy weeds" - just the "broadleaf weeds," If you have any of the grassy weeds just pull as many as possible this fall and apply Crabgrass & Spurge Control next spring to kill them as they germinate.
Fortunately, we do not have to do as much to protect rose bushes in our area as the gardeners in colder climates. In some areas, gardeners actually have to tip their roses over and bury them in trenches, to protect them from winter injury. In this area we only need to follow a few simple procedures, and hope that we don't have an extremely cold winter.
A. Don't fertilize roses in the fall. Roses need time to "harden off" before winter arrives. Roses growing too fast in the fall have new, 'soft" growth. This "soft" growth is prone to winter injury while the older, "hard" growth will tolerate the winter weather.
B. Reduce the amount of water you apply to your roses in the fall, again to help them "harden off" before winter arrives.
C. Don't pick rose flowers after Oct 1. Let the blossoms mature into rose hips. Hip formation helps the rose bush to "harden off" for winter.
D. Only prune your rose canes down to three or four feet high after the leaves completely freeze this winter. The only reason you need to prune roses in the fall is to prevent the snow from breaking the canes. Don't prune climbing roses or shrub roses.
E. Wait until spring to do major rose pruning. In the spring, after the danger of frost is past, prune your bush roses to 14" to 20" tall.
F. Mulch your roses to protect the roots from severely cold temperatures. Let the ground freeze lightly before covering them. Cover rose bushes with six inches of leaves, soil pep, bark, or garden soil on each bush. Don't use grass clippings to mulch roses. Grass clippings can create a fungus problem that can damage your rose bushes.
Fall gardening is a very important part of how well your garden will look next spring and summer. Listed below are some of the items you may want to make sure you complete this fall. Check them off as you finish reading about them in our newsletter and complete them in your yard.
- Fertilize lawn for the winter.
- Feed Your Garden Soil, not just your plants.
- Don't give up on the weeds. Spray them or pull them, especially morning glory, crabgrass & dandelions.
- Reduce water to trees & shrubs, but water occasionally until the snow starts to fall
- Wait to mulch roses, tender shrubs, or perennials until after the ground freezes.
- Trim and tie up shrubs before the snow falls.
- Harvest vegetables before the frost kills them.
- Dig up and store spring & summer bulbs.
- Spray lilac, peach trees, burning bush for diseases.
- Plant tulip, daffodil, and some "Fun Bulbs."
- Fertilize all bulbs planted in previous years.
- Divide perennials such as peonies, iris, daylily, phlox.
- Prepare gardens for spring by removing dead plants.
- Spread manure and roto-till this fall.
- Rake leaves & start a compost pile.
- Prepare the pond for winter.
- Enjoy the pretty leaves.
- Bring in the houseplants before the first frost.
- Hot peppers dry well. Thread them on a string to dry.
- Store apples at 40° F; Squash at 55° F, Tomatoes at 70° F.
- Divide rhubarb every four to six years.
- Try to outsmart the deer this winter!
This is not a complete list and it will vary from year to year. Make your own list of what needs to be done in your yard this fall and enjoy your fall gardening.
More and more gardeners are realizing that the best time to plant pansies is in the fall, not in the spring. Pansies love the cold weather. They grow and bloom all fall and winter, until the weather gets extremely cold. As soon as the weather warms in the spring, pansies will start to bloom again and will look great until the temperature starts to get hot in the summer.
Pansies are considered biennials or short-lived perennials. Because of their temperature requirements, it is best to treat them as a "cold-season annual flower." This means that is best to plant them in the fall and then remove them in the summer, when they start to decline. Try planting pansies in gardens that you normally use for "hot-weather annuals" Plant pansies a little farther apart this fall so there is room to plant annual flowers in between them next spring. As the pansy plants become leggy, and decline during the summer, the hot weather annuals will take over and you can simply remove the pansy plants as needed.
Pansies are hybrids, and breeders are always coming up with more color combinations and markings. Pansies do not have to be "deadheaded to keep them blooming. However, pinching back pansy plants, after they bloom, helps to keep the plants more compact and bushy, and it does help stimulate more blossoms. While you are pinching back pansies be sure to keep a jar of water handy to fill with the flowers. Pansies make charming bouquets so you don't have to just waste the flowers. You can make the flowers last even longer if you will change the water daily, and make fresh cuts on the stems when you change the water.
Pansies also grow great in containers, as long as the pot is big enough not to freeze solid during the winter. You can move the containers from area to area during the winter, as the winter temperatures dictate.
Pansies are heavy feeders; they need a lot of fertilizer to keep them blooming their best. Fertilize them every two or three weeks with Blooming & Rooting Fertilizer when you first plant them in the fall. Start fertilizing them again next spring, at least once every three or four weeks, until they start to decline in the heat of summer. Once the temperature reaches 90 degrees next summer, nothing will help keep your pansies blooming. They will start to struggle and many plants give up and die. Remove struggling pansies and replace them with a Geranium, Marigold, or Zinnia for summer enjoyment, and then replant some pansies again next fall.
Don't quit pulling weeds from your garden. Many weeds germinate readily in the fall. One of the first weeds that people ask us about in the spring is mouse-eared chickweed. This weed germinates in the fall, grows during the winter, and produces blue flowers and seeds early in the spring. It is much easier to kill it in the fall, as it is just starting to grow, than trying to kill it in the spring, when it is mature and producing seeds. Weeds can produce enough seeds, in the fall, to supply you with plenty of seeds that may continue to germinate for many years to come. Seeds can be dormant 10 to 20 years in the soil and still germinate.
Hand pull, hoe, cultivate, or apply weed preventers now. An application of Casoron, Preen, or Treflan this fall will help prevent a wide variety of weeds from germinating in your garden this fall, and may help prevent a weed problem next spring. The type of weed preventer you apply depends on the type of plants you want to grow in that garden. Stop by for a copy of our 'Weed Prevention' handout, or download a copy from our website.
Wild morning glory is also known as field bindweed and devil gut. Do not confuse wild morning glory with the annual morning glory vines that are easily controlled and bloom beautifully all summer. Wild morning glory grows in almost every part of the world and is one of nature's most persistent plants, with roots penetrating to a depth of more than ten feet. It also produces seeds that may germinate over a 20 year period. Wild morning glory is a tough problem in your yard, but you can control it if you have the persistence.
Chemical controls such as Weed Free Zone, Killzall, or Roundup will kill this weed, but timing is critical. Spray wild morning glory this fall as soon as the night temperature drops below 40F, but while it is still growing. The more leaves that are present when you spray, the more effectively the chemical can be absorbed and translocated throughout the plant. Spraying after the first frost, the one that kills your tomatoes and cucumbers, is the best time of the entire year to kill morning glory. After the first frost, morning glory starts going dormant by moving sugars from the leaves back into the root system for winter storage. By spraying in the fall, you can get more of the herbicide down deep into the root system and actually kill it.
Although a single application of one of these weed killers will greatly reduce your morning glory infestation, you will probably not eradicate the weed with just one application, or even in one year. Young morning glory plants may arise in the spring from roots that weren't completely killed in the fall. Seeds may also continue to germinate. Regular cultivation of your gardens during the summer will give you the chance to remove these young plants before they have a chance to mature and become a real problem. We have a more detailed morning glory control handout available. Please stop by to pick up a copy of 'Morning Glory Control' or download a copy from our website.
Don't prune plants too severely just before winter. Pruning stimulates growth. New growth, just before winter, makes many tender plants less hardy for winter. Also, many plants store food in their leaves. If you remove too much of these food reserves the plants may be damaged during the winter.
However, fall is a good time to get your yard into shape for winter and spring by doing some minor pruning. Trim your "fallflowering" shrubs (such as mock orange, potentilla, spirea, etc.) after the leaves drop off this fall. Don't trim your "spring flowering" shrubs (such as forsythia, quince, lilac, etc.) until after they finish blooming next spring. If you prune your "spring flowering" shrubs in the fall, you will remove most of the flower buds for next spring and lose the flowers. Remember, don't prune roses this time of year, wait until April.
You can prune some shade trees this fall, after the leaves drop. Maples, birches, willows and many other shade trees respond well to fall pruning because they "bleed sap" if you prune them in the spring. Don't prune fruit trees in the fall unless you absolutely have to. Wait to prune fruit trees in March or April. Also, wait to prune your "early-flowering" trees until after they finish blooming in the spring, so you can enjoy their blossoms before you remove the unwanted branches.
You can give all of your hedges, topiary plants, and upright junipers one last light trimming for the year. This final touch up can make a big difference how they will look during the winter and next Spring.
The peach tree borer often takes the rap for more than its fair share of trouble. Most of the time when you see sap on the trunk of a peach tree you automatically assume the tree has a borer. You are right, but only some of the time. Two other problems that can cause sap to ooze out of the trunk of stone fruits are Bacterial Canker and Coryneum Blight, both of which need to be treated differently from peach tree borer.
Bacterial canker, sometimes known as Gummosis, produces sunken, dark lesions that allow sap to ooze from the affected area. Coryneum Blight is also known as shot hole fungus because the disease makes small "BB" holes in the leaves, as if someone shot the tree with a shotgun. This disease was extremely active this past spring and summer because of the warm, wet, spring weather. Both of these diseases can kill your trees if you do not treat them.
Remove any dry sap and spray the entire tree with Copper Fungicide as soon as 90% of the leaves drop off. It is very important that you treat this problem this fall and not wait until spring. You may also need to treat your trees again next spring just before they leaf out.
After the trees leaf out next spring, watch the weather. If the weather is warm and rainy, be sure to spray them every two weeks during the rainy period with Daconil fungicide. Don't use Copper fungicide once the leaves form in the spring. We have a handout giving more details about this disease.
We recommend that you do not fertilize deciduous trees and shrubs in the fall. However, if you have a pine tree, or a spruce tree, that appears to be under stress, go ahead and fertilize it with a tree or shrub fertilizer that contains iron, such as Dr. Earth All Purpose Fertilizer. Fall fertilizer does not stimulate new growth, or harm pine trees, the same way it can damage deciduous plants.
Be sure to water your pine trees occasionally during the fall, at least until the snow begins to fall. Evergreen plants need more water and a little more attention than deciduous plants.
Fall is the best time to move plants. Transplant deciduous plants when they are dormant; after they drop their leaves. Pine trees and shrubs can be transplanted a little earlier than deciduous plants; but it is still a good rule of thumb to wait until leaves drop off surrounding deciduous plants before moving pine trees.
Pine Tree - Fall Needle Drop
Each September and October we receive many calls from gardeners concerned about the lower and inner needles of their pine trees turning yellow and brown. Do not be alarmed if your pine trees, yews, junipers, and arborvitae plants shed their innermost needles. This is natural each fall; the inside needles will turn yellow and then drop off the branch. More needles will turn yellow and drop off a plant after a stressful summer than after a normal summer. Don't be too surprised if a lot of needles turn yellow and drop off your plants this fall because of the hot summer weather.
Contrary to the name "evergreen," these trees do not keep their needles indefinitely. Pine trees only keep an individual needle for two or three years. After that time period the tree stops feeding that needle and the needle dies and falls off the tree. Each spring a pine tree grows a new set of needles and each fall the tree sheds its oldest set of needles. Some years a pine tree may shed two sets of old needles making the needle drop even more evident. Needle drop in newly planted trees, and in trees under stress, is more noticeable than in the older and larger trees. However, all pine trees lose some of their needles each fall, including Austrian Pine, Scotch Pine, Mugho Pine, Blue Spruce, Alberta Spruce, Junipers, and Yews.
Spirea plants are among the easiest flowering shrubs to grow. Spirea have over 80 species, some of which have dozens of varieties. They are a member of the rose family and are beautiful, tough plants. All spirea have small leaves and fine, twiggy branches.
There are two distinct kinds of spireas; spring blooming and summer blooming. The taller, spring blooming, bridal wreath type, have clusters of white flowers on arching branches. The other type are smaller, shrubby, and much lower-growing. This type may have pale-pink, deep-pink, red, or white flowers clustered at the end of the branches from late spring through to fall. Many of the summer-blooming types will produce flowers more than once during the growing season, especially if the faded flowers are removed.
Spireas are easy to grow. These shrubs prefer partial sun to full sun, they do not grow well in shady areas. Full sun, in open areas, provide the best flowering conditions. Spireas are tolerant of many soils except extremely wet conditions. The plants also like mulch and consistent summer watering.
They are familiar, old-fashioned flowering shrubs. Spirea plants are becoming more popular in residential landscapes especially in the last several years. Both the traditional bridal wreath types, and the new, compact hybrid versions are appreciated for their delicate flowers, vigor, and pest resistance. Whether they form cascades of graceful, arching branches, or dense, low-growing mounds dotted with flowers, they are dependable additions to the yard. After blooming, during the spring or summer, spireas are unobtrusive background plants in the yard until they drop their leaves in the fall. Many varieties have leaves that turn brilliant shades of gold, orange, red, maroon or purple in the autumn.
Spireas are frequently planted along foundations or in mixed borders. They are adaptable to various soil and moisture conditions. Spireas are generally hardy to -10 to -30 F.
Wait until after flowering has finished to prune the spring-blooming varieties, such as bridal wreath spirea. On the larger varieties of spirea, thin out the old, woody, and weak individual canes to the ground. Periodical severe pruning may also be necessary to maintain the size and shape. With severe pruning, you may lose the blossoms for a season.
Prune the smaller, summer-blooming, shrubby spireas in winter or early spring. They generally need less severe pruning than bridal wreath spireas to maintain their shape. After flowers fade, a light pruning may produce a second flush of growth and additional flowers. Some varieties of Spirea can even be pruned severely, and they will still grow and flower again.
For more information, please download our Spirea Shrub handout.
One of the joys of a perennial garden is watching the plants grow and fill the spaces allotted to them. However, perennial flowers can out grow their assigned areas quickly unless they are moved and divided periodically. Most perennial flowers do not know when to stop growing; you need to make that decision for them.
Dividing perennial flowers is not a bad thing for the plant. In fact, many plants are invigorated by dividing them regularly. Don't be afraid of breaking roots, stems, or plants as you divide them. This is a necessary evil when dealing with strong rooted plants. Don't be afraid of throwing away extra plants or unwanted plants, or giving extra plants to neighbors. The hardy perennial flowers will take over and dominate the weaker varieties if you don't do some refereeing. Sometimes you may need to remove the entire plant.
Divide spring and summer blooming perennials in the fall, as soon as the temperatures begin to moderate. Divide fall blooming perennials either in the spring or after they finish blooming in the fall, if there are still several weeks of good weather before the ground freezes hard. Divide perennials as often as the plant overtakes its assigned area. You may need to divide your Shasta daisy or Coreopsis every two or three years. Phlox, Astilbe, and Daylilies may only need to be divided every 5 to 6 years. Peonies only need to be divided every 10 to 15 years.
Most beginning gardeners plant a few bulbs here and there throughout their yard. After the initial delight of the blooming flowers they are left to stare at bare spots as they wait for the foliage to die back. Another way to enjoy a longer season of flowers is to layer them. Plant them in and around perennials; you get to enjoy a succession of flowers. The layering method also allows you to plant larger number of bulbs because the bulbs are stacked in the same hole.
- Dig a hole the size of a dinner plate, 10 to 12 inches across and 8 to 10 inches deep. You can also make larger clusters if you have the space.
- Mix well-rotted compost and bone meal with the soil because you will not be able to add compost again for many years.
- Place 6 daffodils in the bottom of the hole with a single Crown Imperial Fritillaria in the center.
- Cover the bulbs with 2 inches of soil.
- Arrange 10 to 12 scilla sibirica or scilla campanulata and cover these bulbs with 2 more inches of soil.
- Scatter 12 or more crocus, snowdrops, or puschikinia about 2 inches below the soil line and cover them with soil. Don't worry, the lower bulbs will not have any trouble growing around the bulbs above them.
- Gently water the bulbs long enough so water can reach the bulbs clear down at the bottom of the hole.
- Try a different combination of bulbs in several areas throughout the yard.
Try: A mixture of 12 early, mid-season, and late tulips in the bottom of the hole with an Allium Giganteum in the center.
Try: Dutch Iris, Hyacinths or miniature daffodils in the middle layer.
Try:Anemone, miniature iris, or grape hyacinths in the top layer of bulbs.
- Use these layers of bulbs in and around your perennial flowers so you do not have to disturb them when planting your annual flowers. Hostas, Astilbes, and Coral bells all grow well among flower bulbs.
Fall bulbs are perhaps the easiest of all flowers to plant, grow, and have bloom. It is almost impossible to make a mistake planting fall bulbs, because all the nutrients the bulbs need to bloom are already stored inside the bulb before you buy them. To keep bulbs healthy year after year requires a little more care. The most important steps for planting and keeping bulbs healthy are:
- Prepare the soil before planting.
- Choose healthy bulbs.
- Plan your design.
- Plant bulbs properly.
- Take care of your bulbs properly after they bloom.
The hardest part about planting bulbs is deciding which bulbs you like best and knowing when to stop buying bulbs. Although individual tulip bulbs will only bloom for a week or two, you can enjoy blooming tulips from early-April through late-May if you plant several different varieties. With the proper planning, your tulip garden can be fun and colorful for 8 to 12 weeks each spring.
There are so many kinds of tulips. How do you know which ones to choose? They vary by color, blooming time, height, and flower form. The Royal Horticultural Society and the Dutch flower bulb industry have classified tulips into 13 different categories. Some categories are based on genetic heritage and some are based on flower form. It is a flawed system and some tulips could fit into two or three different categories, but at least it standardizes terminology.
- Emperor Tulips (fosteriana tulips). These are among the first tulips to bloom each spring. They are relatively short stemmed tulips. They sometimes bloom while snow is still on the ground or they may be covered by an inevitable late spring snow storm.
- Kaufmanniana Tulips (rock garden tulips). These tulips are very short stemmed varieties. They usually grow 4" to 6" tall and have full sized blossoms. They usually bloom when the crocus are blooming in the yard.
- Greigii Tulips. These tulips are very short stemmed tulips similar to the Kaufmanniana. Most greigii tulips are mid season bloomers. They have mottled foliage and large flowers. These too are rock garden tulips.
- Single Early Tulips. These tulips are medium height varieties that bloom after the Emperor Tulips but before the Darwin and Triumph varieties.
- Triumph Tulips. These varieties have the broadest range of colors. They have many soft shades, bicolor varieties and vivid bright colors. These tulips are medium height. They usually grow 14" to 18" tall. They are mid to late bloomers.
- Darwin Hybrid. These tulips are the most popular and versatile varieties. They have strong, vibrant colors. The bulbs are large and hardy and will perennialize for several years without having to dig them, where the conditions are right. These varieties are mid to late season bloomers. They grow quite tall, usually 20" to 24" tall.
- Single Late Tulips. These tulips are tall, late blooming varieties. These varieties are valuable in making the transition from early bulb gardens to the summer flower gardens. They often overlap the planting time of summer annuals.
- Double Tulips (Double early and Double Late). These tulips are double petaled types similar to their single blooming cousin. They grow tall and will bloom during the same time as the Single Early and Single Late varieties. They are often called Peony Flowering Tulips because the blossoms resemble peony blossoms.
- Lily-Flowering Tulips. These tulips have strongly pointed flower tips. There are not many colors, but the blossoms add variety to the garden. These tulips often bloom late.
- Parrot Tulips. These tulips are floral freaks that have been popular for years. The feathery petals add an informal look to the bulb garden. Parrot tulips, along with many of the other specialty (unusual varieties), are not very long-lived in the garden. Several types of specialty tulips seem to fade away after several years in the garden, unless they are fertilized heavily each year, and divided frequently.
- Bouquet Tulips. These tulips produce several flowers on each stem. The blossoms are a little smaller than other varieties but it makes up by having more flowers per bulb.
- Species Tulips. These tulips are non-hybrid tulips. The flowers are often small and the stems are usually short; up to 9" tall. These tulips naturalize extremely well and are great in areas where they can be mass planted.
- Fringed Tulips. These tulips are similar to parrot tulips in that they are floral freaks. They have normal tulip shaped buds but the tips are very frilly and lacy. They are usually tall growing and are mid-season to late-blooming. There are only two or three different colors available in the fringed varieties.
Deer love to eat tulips but they will not eat daffodils or hyacinths. If you want to enjoy the flowers you plant, instead of feeding the deer, you may decide to plant a pretty daffodil garden or hyacinth garden this fall. Daffodils are available in many different colors including white, yellow, gold, and orange. We have several different varieties to choose from. Hyacinths are available in red, yellow, white, pink, orange, and in different shades of blues and purples.
Daffodils are native to the Mediterranean area. They were grown by the Egyptians and Greeks. Daffodils were brought into the English gardens in the 1500s. By the 1600s about 50 cultivars of daffodils were commonly grown. By the early 1800s about 400 cultivars were available. Between the 1800s and the early 1900s another 1,000 cultivars were developed. From the early to mid 1900s about 6,000 more cultivars were hybridized. Today we have more than 24,000 different cultivars to choose from, if you can find them all. Many of these cultivars have only slight differences and the common daffodil grower would not notice any difference. Just like tulips, the American Daffodil Society and the Royal Horticultural Society have created several different classifications of daffodils.
- Trumpet -The center cup is as long as or longer than the petals.
- Large Cup - The center cup is about the same size or up to 1/3 larger than the petals.
- Small Cup - The center cup is about the same size or smaller than the petals.
- Double - The center cup has multiple layers and there are multiple rows of petals.
- Triandrus - The flower cup hangs and the petals sweep back.
- Cyclamineus - The petals sweep back.
- Jonquilla - The center is a very small cup. They have very fragrant flowers.
- Tazetta, Poetaz - The flowers have very small cups. They are bunch-flowering and fragrant.
- Poeticus - The flowers have white petals, small 'eyes', late blooming, and they are usually fragrant.
Deer do not like the smell of blood meal, Milorganite fertilizer, many deodorant soaps, human hair, lion manure, coyote urine, and many other household products. If the deer do not like the smell in your garden, they may leave your plants alone and visit your neighbor's gardens instead.
Mice, squirrels and gophers may also enjoy eating many of your bulbs. If these rodents are a problem, do not use bone meal when planting your bulbs; the animals, including your dog, may think there is a buried bone waiting to be discovered. Use either blood meal or a bulb fertilizer that does not contain bone meal.
Once you've nestled those tulip and daffodil bulbs in their proper holes and patted earth on top you can rest happily knowing their flowers will appear each spring for years to come. Now is the time to try some new, unusual, Fun Bulbs!
Puschkinia start blooming very early in the spring. As the weather gets warmer, they shoot up to their full height of 6 inches. The clusters of striped blue and white blossoms stay in flower for a month or more, then quickly fade without leaving a mess. Plant them above other bulbs so they will bloom together.
Scilla sibirica have small blue bells. They prefer shade and these bulbs will even thrive under other plants.
Muscari - Grape Hyacinth are perhaps the most vigorous of the spring blooming bulbs. The little blue flowers pop up in groundcover areas, flower gardens and even in the lawn.
Galanthus, often called snowdrops, are the first of the bulbs that bloom in wintertime undeterred by onslaught of snow and ice. Their frosty white bells emerge close to the earth on short 3" to 4" stems. To enjoy their sweet scent bring a bunch inside where the warm air will release their perfume.
Species Crocus are long-lived crocus. They are the ancestors of the hybrid crocus. They do not have as large blossoms as hybrid crocus, but they multiply more rapidly.
Unfortunately, there are numerous reasons why tulips, hyacinths and daffodils might not bloom! Here's a check list for you to look at. See if anything fits your gardens.
- Bulbs have not been "fed" in a couple of years. Fertilize both in the fall and again when leaves emerge in the spring.
- Bulbs are planted in a "too-shady" area. Bulbs will bloom the first year after you buy them but they may not bloom again if they do not receive enough sunlight. Most bulbs need at least an half-day of sun to produce flowers.
- Bulbs are in competition for food with other plants. Planting bulbs under evergreen trees or with other fast-growing plants limits the food they can get. Result: weak plants and no flowers.
- Bulbs are planted in an area with poor drainage. Most bulbs love water but must have good drainage. They do not grow well where the water puddles. In wet conditions they are weakened by “basal rot” fungus, or other diseases, and may die. Diseased plants usually have light-green leaves, malformed leaves and stems, and few, if any, flowers. Basal rot fungus is incurable so you need to dig and discard the bulbs.
- Plant leaves were cut too soon the previous year. Bulbs replenish their food reserve for about six weeks after they bloom. The leaves should not be cut off until they start to lose their green color and turn yellow. This color change signifies the completion of the bulb rebuilding process.
- Bulbs may be stressed from transplanting. Some varieties seem to skip a year of blooming if dug and replanted into a different environment.
- Some varieties grow well in one region but do not grow well in other regions. Ranunculus, for example, grow well in warm climates but struggle in this area.
- The bulbs may have a virus. Many plant viruses attack bulbs. Over time, infected plants lose their vigor. They produce smaller, weakened leaves and stems, stop blooming, and they finally die. Viruses are contagious to other bulbs and are incurable. Dig and throw away the infected bulbs.
- Growing conditions the previous Spring may have been inhospitable so the rebuilding of the bulb was affected. An early heat wave, or the lack of water may have shut down the bulb rebuilding process before it was complete.
- Bulbs may have been growing in the same spot for too many years and need dividing. Many bulbs normally divide every year or two. This results in clumps of bulbs that are competing for both food and space. Bulbs in compacted clumps tend to quit blooming. Dig the bulbs when the foliage has yellowed. Separate them into individual bulbs and replant them. You may replant immediately after dividing, or you may dry the bulbs in the shade, store them in mesh bags, and replant the bulbs in the Fall.
- Bulbs may be out to get you! This is the case when you give them away in frustration and they bloom wildly for the new recipients.
Bulb augers help take the chore out of planting bulbs and flowers. Bulb augers can also make planting petunias and marigolds fun and easy next spring. Using a bulb auger you can plant up to 300 bulbs in one hour. We have two different styles of bulb augers available for rent or purchase. One style is for digging holes while standing up. The other style lets you dig your holes while you are on your knees. Both styles work great. The main problem with bulb augers is once you start you won’t be able to stop. You may have to plant more flowers than you thought.
- Q. Why can't I plant tulip bulbs in the spring?
A. Spring-flowering bulbs must be planted in the fall because they need a long cool period to stimulate the blooming process. Most tulips (and many other bulb varieties) need at least 6 to 8 weeks of cold weather before they will bloom properly.
- Q. It's February and I forgot to plant my bulbs. Do I save them until next year?
A. NO! If the bulbs are plump and firm plant them now, even if you have to plant them into pots and put them outside in a shed. Bulbs are not seeds, they will not store and they will dry out and die if not planted. Chances are you may still get some results even if you plant them late.
- Q. What should I do if the weather warms early and then gets cold again?
A. Nothing. Tulips and other bulbs are tough. They can usually take whatever mother nature dishes out. A short freeze won't do any lasting damage to young shoots and buds, though it may "burn" blossoms that have already opened. An unseasonably warm spell may cause bulbs to bloom earlier than anticipated, but in most cases no damage will occur, unless you damage the plants by covering them with mulch or you break the plants by covering them with a blanket.
- Q. How do I keep animals from digging up bulbs?
A. Some animals are not attracted to the bulb but they love the smell of Bone Meal you used to fertilize the bulbs. Fido is sure you just buried a bone for him to find and eat! If you have animals (dogs, raccoons, squirrels, etc.) that may be a problem you may want to fertilize your bulbs with a commercial fertilizer instead of an organic fertilizer to eliminate the odor factor.
The only sure way of keeping unwanted animals from digging up your bulbs is to physically cover them with a screen or wire mesh. Some gardeners will leave the wire mesh in the soil and let the bulbs grow up through it. Other gardeners have found that removing the screen or wire mesh after the ground has settled or just before the bulbs begin to grow in the spring is just as effective as leaving the wire mesh permanently. Most animals won't dig up the bulbs after the ground hardens.
- Q. Should I fertilize bulbs?
A. If you are planting bulbs for only one year's bloom: NO. If you want the bulbs to perennialize and bloom for many years: YES. Fertilize your bulbs when you plant them with a slow release bulb food such as Bone Meal or Dutch Bulb Food. Fertilize each spring, just as the shoots are appearing, with a balanced Vegetable & Flower Fertilizer such as either 6-10-4 or 16-16-8.
- Q. What should I do after the flowers fade next spring?
A. Wait until the blossoms fade and "deadhead" the plants. (Remove the flower head so it will not produce seeds.) Do not remove the leaves until the bulb has had a chance to reproduce the food reserves within the bulb (six to eight weeks). If you remove the leaves too soon your bulbs will not bloom very well, if at all, next spring. Fight the urge to trim back or contain the leaves during the die-back phase. Don't bunch, tie or cut off the leaves during this period. Dealing with the fading foliage is one of those things that lovers of spring bulbs must learn to deal with. The only management tip is to camouflage the leaves; plant other flowers around them so they are not as noticeable.
- Q. When should I plant my bulbs?
A. While it is best to buy your bulbs when the best selection is available (September), it is not always good to plant them that soon. Wait until the ground temperature drops below 60 degrees F to plant bulbs (October). Be sure to plant your bulbs at least six weeks before the ground freezes hard, so the bulb has time to start rooting in the fall. The key is to plant in the fall to have blooms in the spring. Even if you forget and plant late, your bulbs will spring into action and try to start rooting. Bulbs are pre-programed to grow and will do their best no matter how late you plant them.
- Q. Why should I plant bulbs in clusters?
A. Groups of flowers are more eye appealing than individual "soldiers marching single file". To create a greater color impact in the garden, plant clusters of the same color bulbs together in blocks. Try planting your bulbs in a triangular pattern in the garden with the point of the triangle towards the front of the garden to make the garden appear more full. Plant bulbs 4" to 8" apart within the clusters and plant your clusters 2' to 4' apart in the garden. Stop by and pick up a Free Bulb Planting Guide to give you more ideas about planting and growing tulips in your yard.
Your garden's soil condition is the most important part of gardening success. Without the proper soil conditions, gardening can be a chore for you, and your plants will just not respond and grow the way you want them to grow. Remember,Garden Soil Is Not Dirt. Dirt is the stuff you wash out of your clothes after working in the yard. Garden soil is a complex mixture of minerals, air, water, organic matter, microbes, and other critters. Soil is full of life and deserves your attention. With good soil, gardening will be more fun. The soil will be easier to plant in, cultivate, and it will be easier to grow your plants. Perfect soil is hard to come by in most home gardens and may take a little extra effort to achieve. The best way to improve your garden soil is by adding Organic Materials every year, and the best time to apply Organic Materials is in the fall, not in the spring. Mix as much Bumper Crop, manure, compost, Soil Pep, or other organic materials (within reason) as you can afford. You will be amazed each spring how much better your soil is than it was the previous year. Many garden soils will take four, six, or even 10 years to completely change but you will notice an improvement each year. We have an excellent handout on soils and mulches. Please stop by and pick up your free copy, or download it from our website.
If you take a few minutes this fall to winterize your pond properly you can enjoy it again next spring. Stop feeding your fish when the water temperature drops below 50 degrees. Fish will survive the winter without food. Excess food in the pond will create bacteria that could kill your fish. Clean all the leaves and other organic materials that accumulate in the pond; to prevent a buildup of bacteria in the water. Remove any tender pond plants and set the winter hardy plants in the bottom of the pond for the winter, be sure to remove any dead leaves.
Do not let your pond's surface completely freeze. Oxygen must be able to get into the water and carbon dioxide must be able to escape. You can use a pond heater or run a small pump to keep the surface from freezing completely. Styrofoam blocks or rubber balls can also help prevent the entire surface from freezing. Remove the Styrofoam or the ball in the morning and replace it in the evening. If the water surface should freeze solid, do not break it with a hammer. The shock waves may kill the fish. Set a pan of boiling water on the ice so it can melt a hole in the ice.
If your pond is less than eighteen inches deep, the water will probably freeze solid and your fish will die no matter what you try. However, with proper care your pond can be fun and enjoyable for years to come.
Watch the weather. If there is a threat of frost try to cover your plants with a frost blanket, or harvest your vegetables. Peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, tomatoes, and many vegetables are damaged even by a light frost. If you cover your plants at night you can often extend your harvest season by several weeks or even a month.
Tomatoes need an average daily temperature of 65°F to ripen. If daytime temperatures stay below this, pick the fruits that have begun to change color from the dark green, immature stage, to the light green, or pink stage and bring them inside to finish ripening. The dark green, immature tomatoes will not ripen, they will just rot, but you can use these under-ripe tomatoes for pickling. To speed up the tomato ripening process you can put a ripe apple in a bag with some unripe tomatoes. Apples produce ethylene gas which helps tomatoes ripen more quickly.
Cure pumpkins and winter squash at temperatures between 70° and 80°F for two weeks after harvest, then store them between 55° to 60°F for winter use. Unfortunately summer squash do not store very well so you have to eat them fairly soon after picking. We have a more detailed guide available about storing vegetables. Please stop by and pick one up or download it from our website.
You can still plant Garlic this fall instead of waiting until spring. By planting garlic in the fall, you can harvest it early next summer instead of waiting until fall.
Come and see our great selection of Thanksgiving Decorations and Christmas Decor. By Halloween, our Garden Center is transformed into a Christmas Wonderland. We have 12 different styles of nativity sets, indoor and outdoor Christmas lights, artificial Christmas trees, garlands, wreaths, and many more exciting Christmas decorations. We also have an excellent selection of the popular 'Willow Tree®' Sculptures by Susan Lordi. In addition, we have nativities by Fontanini, statues from Joseph’s Studio, and many whimsical decorations from Jim Shore.
Our fresh wreaths and fresh-cut Christmas trees always arrive the day after Thanksgiving so they are perfect for the Christmas Season.
One of the challenges many gardeners face is how to add texture and interest to the landscape. One of the best ways to do this is by adding ornamental grasses to your garden. They have a natural fountainous growing habit and many produce beautiful flower blooms that will light up any garden.
Ornamental grasses are incredibly low maintenance, grow quickly, and are naturally disease and insect resistant. Add to that, their natural swaying movement in even the slightest of breezes and you have plants that add unparalleled beauty to any garden setting.
Another great feature of ornamental grasses is the fact that they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and color. There are many grasses that are perfect for creating borders and others that provide a nice backdrop to other plants or look perfect as individual featured specimens. The colors range from gold, green, silver and blue to shades of purple, burgundy, red and orange.
While most ornamental grasses prefer moist soil conditions, most become quite drought tolerant once established. They require very little fertilization and can get by with a single feeding of plant food per year. Most shorter varieties require no pruning at all (short of removing any spent flowers) and the only maintenance taller varieties require is a crew cut in late winter (down to 4-6" inches above ground level) to encourage new growth in spring.
We have a great selection of ornamental grasses just waiting for an opportunity to add interest and beauty to your garden.
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Many home gardeners lament the coming of cooler weather since it usually spells the beginning of the end of the outdoor growing season. But it doesn't have to be that way. Many herbs can be grown indoors quite successfully in the cooler months and then be transplanted into the garden the following spring. If you've got herbs already growing in containers outside, you can also simply bring them indoors as the weather cools down.
There's something about the taste of fresh, home-grown herbs in cooking that is hard to beat. The flavors are so much more flavorful and aromatic than using something dry out of a shaker bottle.
With the right location and care, many herbs can be fooled into thinking that summer is still here. If you're a little nervous or skeptical about growing herbs indoors, use some tried and tested varieties such as chives, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, rosemary, parsley, and thyme. Most of these can be started by seed, while mint and rosemary can be started by seed or cutting.
Most herbs are sun lovers and will require a southern facing window that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day. For less sunny locations, mint, parsley and rosemary will get by with less sunlight.
You might also consider hanging a grow light 6-9 inches above your plants to provide light on cloudy days. Make sure to also rotate your containers at least once per week in order to help your plants grow evenly.
Start your plants in seed trays and then transplant them to window boxes or larger containers once the plants become rooted. Use a good quality potting soil and make sure the containers you use have drainage holes. If you use water trays under your pots, make sure that you check them after watering and drain any standing water in them.
The herbs mentioned above will do fine provided temperatures are maintained between 55 and 70 degrees. Feed with a water soluble plant food every 2-4 weeks just as you would any other indoor plant, and don't water until the soil surface becomes dry. The use of a small fan will also help herbs survive the stuffy air conditions that can occur indoors in winter.
Plant pests are usually less prevalent during the winter months. Nevertheless, visually check your plants at least once per week, and treat your plants with an insecticidal soap before pests actually become a problem.
So don't let the winter doldrums get you down. Spice up your life and your winter meals with the addition of fresh, homegrown indoor herbs!
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What do the terms deciduous, evergreen, semi-evergreen, and coniferous mean?
Deciduous: Any plant or tree that loses all of its leaves and goes into a state of dormancy (sleep) periodically. Most shade trees and many fruit trees fall into this classification, along with plants like forsythia, hydrangeas, potentilla, roses, spirea, weigela and many others.
Evergreen: Any plant having green leaves throughout the entire year, the leaves of the past season not being shed until after the new foliage has been completely formed. Cedar, Hemlock and Holly are some evergreens.
Semi-Evergreen: Any plant retaining green, unwithered leaves for part of the winter or through comparatively mild winters.
Coniferous: A plant producing naked seeds in cones, or single naked seeds as in yews, but with pollen always borne in cones.
- 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Step by Step:
- In a large resealable plastic bag, toss sweet potatoes and oil.
- Add remaining ingredients; toss to coat.
- Transfer to a greased 11" x 7" x 2" baking dish.
- Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring every 15 minutes.
Yield: 8 servings
Nutritional Analysis: One serving (3/4 cup) equals 149 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 164 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 2 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 starch, 1/2 fat.
Bountiful Weather Forecast
September 22, 2017
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