Horticultural Activities for Fall

San Antonio Express News
Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fall is a busy time for gardeners. The weather cools down and the plants burst into active growth after their summer lethargy.

Here are some timely tips to get your landscape and garden in tip top shape:

  • These days are ideal cleanup days get a head-start on early falling leaves, destroy what is left of summer weeds before they provide seed for next year’s crop in the garden cut away or dig out that misplaced seedling tree and give the hedge its final clipping for the year.
  • Still time to plant: snap bush beans, beets, ‘Green Magic’ broccoli transplants (in late October or early November), Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, Swiss chard, collards, cucumbers, garlic (cloves), kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, mustard, parsley, southern peas, radish, spinach transplants (Coho in November), summer squash and turnips.
  • If tomatoes haven’t been planted, consider container culture as a surefire production technique. See: http://aggie horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/misc/container.html
  • After temperatures cool in late October and November, this is an ideal time to put in transplants of cold hardy annual flowers. You may get some blooming this fall, but they will certainly grow over the winter then bloom like gang-busters early next spring. My favorites include Dianthus (pinks), ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, petunias (‘Laura Bush’ variety is the best, but risky for Hill Country region), phlox, Shasta daisies, snapdragons, stock and violas. Don’t forget the wildflower planting described at: http://www.plantanswers.com/wildflower_planting_fall.htm.
  • Divide oxalis, bearded irises, daylilies, perennials, daisies and cannas. Apply small amounts of fertilizer around tomatoes, peppers and eggplants after fruit has reached golf ball size.
  • Powdery mildew season is here. Check crape myrtle, evergreen Euonymus and zinnias. Ortho Funginex or Greenlight FungAway will usually give excellent control. Read and follow all label directions. You should consider removal of disease susceptible crape myrtles and replace them with resistant varieties. Decide how large you want the crape myrtle to ultimately grow and what color you want, then find that exact variety in the listings at: http://aggiehorticulture.tamu. edu/plantanswers/trees/crapemyrtle/.
  • Early autumn is an ideal time to make landscape plans. Select additional trees and shrubs needed for the landscape. Choose plants which will best do the job intended. Be sure each plant has a function in the total landscape plan. Choose ONLY from the list at: http://aggie horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/publications/southcnt.html.
  • It is time to select spring bulbs for late October and November planting. It is time to plan for the spring beauty of daffodils, jonquils, narcissus, Dutch iris, Dutch hyacinths, grape hyacinths and anemones for next spring. Spring bulbs should be planted in late October and November so the roots become well established before they send up their flower buds. Select bulbs now. Keep them stored in a cool, dry location until the beds are well prepared and planting time arrives. See the information at: http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_column/oct_02/2.htm.
  • The secret of success with tulips here is to pre chill the bulbs before planting in late November and December. Place the tulip bulbs in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for 45 to 60 days before planting. Our winters are not cold enough to trigger the biological clock to initiate the tall stems and good, colorful blooms. Do not freeze the bulbs. Plant them as soon as they are removed from storage or all your efforts will be in vain. Some nurseries are offering pre-chilled bulbs such as: http://www.milbergernursery.com/tulip.htm
  • Don’t attempt to plant Bermuda grass seed after September 15, as it will seldom develop a root system strong enough to withstand freezing temperatures. Okay to plant Bermuda or St. Augustine sod on into the fall if it’s watered regularly, however.
  • Hold off fertilizing established St. Augustine or Bermuda lawns until late October or early November. Fertilization now could make your grass more susceptible to a common fungus disease in this area called brown patch.

These and other ideas for fall planting can be found simply by reading the monthly column titles of articles written by Dr. Calvin Finch and me at: http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_columns.htm and: http://www.plantanswers.com/calvin_ finch_articles.htm You can also check the monthly garden calenders at: http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_ calendar.htm. So don’t let one of the best times to garden in Texas pass you by just because you just didn’t remember what to do and when to do it. For more fall planting tips in an expanded version of this column, read the first column in the October listing entitled: Horticulture Activities for Fall at: http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_columns.htm.

Dr. Jerry Parsons is a Professor for Texas A&M University and a Texas Cooperative Extension Horticulturist for over 30 years in South Central Texas. For more information on this or other horticulture topics, go to www.plantanswers.com and our County Extension website at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu.

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