September 2007
How's Your Garden?

How's Your Garden?

Start Dividing Summer Bulbs

By now the leaves of early blooming summer bulbs are looking weary. It’s okay to dig and divide daylilies, agapanthus, amaryllis, crinums and other warm weather beauties now so that they will have a chance to root again before cold weather. Lift plants from the ground with a fork or sharpshooter shovel. Separate the bulbs or clumps and throw away damaged ones or any that look old and woody. Replant the young and medium sized ones that appear firm and healthy. By next summer the divisions will be well established and ready to bloom again. Add a little bulb booster type fertilizer, it is available now since it is often sold alongside Dutch
  Container with floating flowers at Chanticleer.
bulbs for fall planting.

A Fun Party Idea

Last summer I found this pretty little scene on the porch at Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Anyone looking for a different way to decorate for a football party could float orange and blue or red and white blooms or petals. It’s a simple photo worth a thousand words.

Renew Roses

Tired of looking at roses that just get worse as each summer day passes? Well, the worst is about over. With a little effort, you can bring plants back to beauty this fall. This works on all roses that bloom more than once per year. Early this month, snip off dead blooms, rose hips and dead stems. Clean up the mulch under the plants and sprinkle timed-release fertilizer over the roots. Cover again with clean mulch. Finally, spray the foliage with Fungi-cure, Neem or other fungicide labeled for mildew and black spot on roses. Keep watered, but avoid overhead sprinklers; a soaker hose or drip is best. In a few weeks as the air gets cooler, the roses will flush out with new blooms that seem as happy to see fall as we all are.

Autumn Royalty, Encore Hybrid  
Azaleas for Fall? You Bet!

When you see azaleas blooming this fall, it’s not that they are out of synch. A new breed of azaleas that blooms again in fall gives your landscape a surprise. Encore and other reblooming types will be appearing soon ready for fall planting, so keep your eye out for your favorite colors. These are bred by crossing some of our common spring blooming types with more unusual summer blooming types. The key to good bloom is good fertilization and enough sunshine. Dappled pine shade or morning sun is perfect. Encores are evergreen and hardy throughout Alabama.

Want a Green Winter Lawn?

Now is the time to decide whether you want a green lawn this winter. This month "lawn rangers" throughout the state begin sowing seed of annual rye over warm season grasses for a bright green glow in midwinter. When my son, Vandiver, was about four years old he so aptly called it "juicy grass." Just be careful not to overseed too thickly. Slow to start in the spring, centipede and zoysia are less tolerant of overseeding, while the much more vigorous Bermuda doesn’t mind. The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service recommends seeding at the rate of 5 to 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Use the low end on centipede, zoysia and St. Augustine (in north and central Alabama). Mow the lawn as short as possible before seeding and use a rake with a little elbow grease to rake up debris down in the lawn. This will help the seeds that you scatter get down to where they can take root.

  Cool season transplants, like Bonnie cabbages, are available for fall planting now.
Plant Cabbage a Little Deep

It’s okay to bury an inch or so of the stem when you set out transplants of cabbage. This will keep the heads firmer to the ground. Bonnie cabbages, lettuce, broccoli and other cool season transplants are becoming available for fall planting now. Growing a few heads of broccoli and lots of fast-growing leaf lettuce, which keeps on keeping on, will keep the freshest on the table at a price you’ll love.

Don’t Give Up on Tomatoes

By this time, it is so easy to throw up your hands at wayward, brown tomato plants. However, a little self-discipline now will pay off later if we have a long, frost-free fall; you could easily be harvesting tomatoes for Thanksgiving or later. Last year I ate my last tomatoes in January. They were green ones that I brought inside to ripen. So prune, spray and support those almost-gone plants. If they are indeterminate varieties, they will treat you with a sliced tomato sandwich on a cool, clear fall day.

Lois Trigg Chaplin is author of The Southern Garderner’s Book of Lists and former Garden Editor of Southern Living Magazine.