Upper South

August, 2005
Regional Report

Plan for Peonies

Peonies, both common herbaceous types and tree peonies, are best planted in fall. They'll make root growth all winter and get a head start on next year. Prepare the planting area and order them now. Specialty peony growers offer a wide range of sizes, colors, and flower types. Peonies need rich, well-drained, deep soil and full sun to light afternoon shade. When planting, place the growing point, or eyes, about an inch below the soil surface. Peonies may require several years before blooming their best.

Rejuvenate Container Plantings

If your container plantings are still growing well, be sure to check soil moisture daily and continue feeding regularly. If they're getting bedraggled, you can try cutting them back and fertilizing. Or, you can start over. Adding 4-inch pots of well-grown annuals is one possibility. Another is to replace summer plantings with fall-blooming flowers and other cool-weather plants, such as dwarf asters, chrysanthemums, pansies, or ornamental kale and cabbage.

Get Annuals Ready to Overwinter Indoors

If you bring coleus or geraniums indoors for winter, begin digging plants in late August before nights get too cool. Pot them up, water, and trim them back. Set them outdoors in shade for at least a week or so to allow them to adjust to the severed roots. If desired, leave them outdoors until frost is imminent. Then bring them inside to the brightest spot. An alternative is to take cuttings from outdoor plants and grow them indoors for the winter.

Plant Cool-Season Vegetables

As the summer heat abates and rain begins appearing more regularly, sow seeds of cool-weather crops, such as spinach, lettuce, kale, collards, mustard beets, and carrots. Cabbage and broccoli transplants also can be set out. To extend the harvest season, consider building or buying a cold frame or using protective row covers. The covers are best held up by wire hoops. Adding plastic over the row covers will keep cool-weather crops growing until the end of the year.

Fertilize and Reseed the Lawn

As the weather begins to cool, it is the best time to reseed an entire lawn or mend bare patches. Choose a lawn grass mixture that is best for the sun or shade conditions in your yard as well as for the type of use it will receive. An early fall feeding is one of the most important of the year for the lawn. Choose a fertilizer specifically designed for lawns and follow manufacturer's recommendations for application rates.

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