Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beds To Rest!

This post is written by Kathleen Carr Bailey:

The weather is crisp, sun shining, and the air smells of crisp apples, composting leaves and the hint of frost. Still wanting to be outside, yet not up to hiking? What to do? Ah, if only you could still tend to the garden? But you can!

The best preparation for a healthy, colorful & fulfilling Perennial bed for spring and the summer beyond is a good fall cleaning!

Other than divide/transplant or plant bulbs what to do?

Any perennial whose foliage is turning brown can be cut back; some, such as Dianthus, Campanula, (Bell Flowers) and Shasta Daisy, have green foliage at the base of the plant that should be left to overwinter.

Dos and Don’ts of the fall.


œ Allow for perennials and shrubs to go dormant.
œ Cut back withered/dried foliage and stems
œ Remove all debris (fallen leaves, excess mulch)that can harbor disease & pests
œ Add cut back debris to your compost bin
œ Take soil samples for testing (less expensive during winter months)
œ Pull annuals from bed, compost or till in garden
œ Add a germination retardant to ward off annual weeds
œ Add a top layer of Organic Compost
œ Mark place of newly planted bulbs or disappearing Perennials w/golf tee to ovoid misplacing and/or uprooting
œ Construct wind breaks or sun screens around plants predisposed to winter damage
œ Spray Broad leaf evergreens with anti-transpirant such as Wilt Pruf or other moisture retaining product.
œ Apply a light application of fertilizer to shrubs late fall.
œ Thoroughly clean w/light bleach solution containers for next spring readiness*
œ Add bright colored paint or Duct tape to tool handles for ease of recognition and sight.
œ Order seed & Nursery Catalogues.
œ Plan next year’s beds.


œ Dead head or prune shrubs which will encourage new growth
œ Stop Watering during dry periods
œ Pull stems. Cut at the crown instead.
œ Cut back Cone Flowers, Ornamental Grasses or other perennials that add winter interest or appeal to wildlife.
œ Compost foliage that appear to have a fungus/disease or may be invasive
œ Pull tender perennials that may self sow; snap dragons, pansies, dusty miller.
œ Forget to Lift tender bulbs such as dahlias, tuberous begonias, gladioli, and callas
œ Skimp on weeding
œ Fertilize perennials
œ Forget to put undercover or take inside glazed, ceramic or terra cotta containers or garden décor to prevent damaging due to freezing or breakage. Rusting of metals and glass breakage may also occur,
œ Neglect your tools. Clean, sharpen & oil so they may be ready at the first sign of ‘gardening weather’.

œ Forget to pour a cup of hot tea, but your feet up and dream about how ready you will be for next spring

Plants & Shrubs
With Special Needs

Shrubs should be left alone now--prune them in late winter or early spring, or right after bloom, depending on when they bloom. Roses also are pruned in spring, although if a Rose has grown an exceptionally long cane or two, you can remove a couple of feet of growth to avoid damage that might occur should they whip around in the winter winds. Hydrangeas and Clematis each have their own specific instructions

œ Hybrids:
o Prune all dead branches
o After frost hill organic compost & soil up to the graft to protect crown.
œ Shrub:
o Prune for the last time mid-late September with the exception of dead branches which may be removed anytime.
o Protect crown as above up to 6-12 inches.
œ Climbers:
o Secure branches susceptible to wind damage.


œ Mulch with Pine Needles or Oak Leaves to keep soil acidic,
œ Protect w/burlap those with exposure to high winds.
œ Add organic fertilizer, made for acid loving plants such as Holly Tone late fall (Thanksgiving)
œ Spray Broad leaf evergreens with anti-transpirant such as Wilt Pruf or other moisture
retaining product. (late fall)


œ Wrap evergreens (particularly if newly planted) with burlap if exposed to prevailing winter
winds or salt spray.
o Very wet snow may cause some evergreens to split (arborvitae) wrap w/rope or burlap if necessary
œ Water deeply once every seven to 10 days if weather is dry

Kathleen Carr Bailey for
Skillin's Greenhouses
October 25, 2010

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