Upper South

October, 2004
Regional Report

Prepare Amaryllis

Allow the soil of potted amaryllis plants that have summered outdoors to dry out, then place the pots in a dark place until new growth starts. Garden centers and mail-order sources now have amaryllis bulbs available. Try some different varieties, and choose some for holiday gifts. Plant amaryllis in a pot slightly larger than the bulb, with the neck and shoulders above the soil line.

Prevent Disease

Fungal diseases often survive over the winter beneath and around plants. Infected flowers, fruit and foliage that lie on the ground can reinfect plants next year. Roses, peonies and fruit trees are particularly susceptible. Save time and money next year by removing infected mulch and debris before replacing with clean mulch this fall.

Consider the Rake

This is the time of year when leaf rakes are indispensable. Chores will be much easier with a good quality leaf rake that is comfortable to use. Choose a rake that is not too heavy yet has a secure attachment point between handle and tines. Rakes with adjustable tines are handy for use in both open space and in tight areas around plants. Broad plastic or bamboo tines are less likely to skewer leaves. Rubber rakes are quiet on paving.

Sow Poppy Seeds

Whether the wild, red, field poppies or Shirley poppies in their wider range of colors, Papaver rhoeas provides a delightful burst of color in spring from fall-sown seeds. Choose a site amidst other flowers or around shrubs that has loose, well-drained soil. Till lightly and broadcast the seeds over the surface, then rake lightly to cover with soil.

Dig Summer Bulbs

Use a spading fork to lift tender bulbs, such as caladiums, cannas, dahlias and elephant ears. Rinse excess soil, cut away tops and spread to dry in a shady place. When thoroughly dry, label and store in a cool, dry place, such as a basement or heated garage. Mesh bags or stackable plastic bins provide the necessary air circulation. Check bulbs periodically for any that show signs of rot, and discard them immediately.

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