Upper South

October, 2004
Regional Report

Create a Fall Arrangement Outdoors

You can create great outdoor decor for the fall season using piles of pumpkins and gourds. For something a little different, select three pumpkins of graduated sizes and stack them up in a large planter, such as an urn or clay pot. Make sure the largest one sets safely on top of the container. Drape about 14 feet of honeysuckle or grapevine around them. For added stability, use clear silicone sealant between the pumpkins.

Save Coleus

Coleus are great for bringing color to the indoors during winter. With good care, the plants can then be set out again next spring. You can either take cuttings or dig up the entire plant and pot it up. Coleus root easily, even in water. Clip off 6- to 8-inch lengths of stem, remove the lower one-third of the leaves, then put the cuttings into a container of water. They will root in about three weeks and can then be potted up.

Dig Up Sweet Potatoes

Ideally, sweet potatoes should be dug up before a killing frost. If you miss this deadline, be sure to immediately clip off the vines at ground level. This keeps the potatoes from spoiling. Then dig the tubers within a week or two. For long-term storage, sweet potatoes need to be cured. Spread them out on a flat surface in a 70- to 80-degree F location with high humidity for 10 to 14 days. Store at 55 to 60 degrees F.

Start Paper Whites

For many gardeners, the sweet scent of paper white narcissus is very much a part of the winter holiday season. Bulbs are available at garden centers or by mail order. Started now, they'll be in bloom in about six weeks. Start some every couple of weeks for continuous bloom all winter long. Paper whites can be grown in pebbles and water or planted in potting soil. Keep in a dark place until leaves and buds appear, then move to a bright location.

Get a Head Start on Spring

Fall is a good time to plant trees and shrubs in the garden because they'll have plenty of time to put out new roots during cool weather so they'll be ready to grow next spring. As with any new planting, make sure to keep the soil moist and covered with mulch. Stake trees and install trunk protectors to prevent rodent damage and sunscald.

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