Gardening This Weekend: October 20, 2016

You’ve heard everyone talking about it: we’ve had an unusually warm fall so far. But that could change with one strong cold front. In fact, the average date of the first killing freeze is only days or a few weeks away for most of the state. Take heed of these tasks that need to be done now!


• Take cuttings of tropicals and select annual plants you want to keep over the winter.
• Finish digging and dividing spring-flowering perennials. Once you have a freeze, their tops will die down and you’ll have a harder time working with them. (See related story this issue.)
• Pansies, violas, snapdragons, pinks, ornamental cabbage and kale. Planted now, these winter annuals will be colorful well into spring.
• Nursery stock. Shop immediately. Nurseries begin reducing their inventories as the first freeze approaches. Fall is the best time for planting anyway. It allows the plants many months to get good roots established before summer.
• Daffodils and grape hyacinths can be planted as soon as you buy them. To bloom properly, tulips and Dutch hyacinths will need artificial “chilling” for 45 or more days at 45 degrees in the refrigerator. Plant in mid-December.


• Continue mowing lawn at recommended height. Collect and shred fallen tree leaves in the process and put them into compost or use them as mulch.
• Reshape patio pots and hanging baskets that you intend to bring indoors or overwinter in the greenhouse.


• New annual plantings with high-nitrogen, water-soluble fertilizer to get plantings off to a quick start.
• Cut back on feedings given to patio pots and hanging baskets before bringing them indoors. You don’t want them making a lot of new growth in low light intensities.

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• If you have an area where you will be planting groundcover, vegetables or flowers next spring, and if you want to get rid of the existing grass, spray it now with a glyphosate-only weedkiller. Give it 10 days to kill the tops and roots of the grass and you will be able to start rototilling the soil.
• Brown patch in St. Augustine turf causes very regular round 18- to 24-inch patches of dead leaf blades. The blades will pull loose easily from the runners. Apply labeled turf fungicide from local independent garden center to stop further spread. The fungus doesn’t kill the grass, but it weakens it unnecessarily.
• Watch houseplants and patio pots for insects that need to be controlled before you bring the plants indoors for the winter.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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