Mid-Atlantic

September, 2005
Regional Report

Enjoy Late Flowers

Enjoy your late-blooming perennials, such as asters, anemones, cranesbill geraniums, and sedums. Ornamental grasses and reblooming roses should be flowering now, too. Many annuals will continue blooming until a hard freeze; your geraniums, marigolds, cleome, salvia, pansies, snapdragons, petunias, and sweet alyssum all thrive in the cool, sunny days of fall.

Prep Patio Plants

Frost ruins tropicals but many also resent cool temperatures, suffering and occasionally defoliating at about 45 degrees. To prepare plants for indoor growing, set them in a shady location to acclimate them to less light. Meanwhile, protect them on cool nights. Check plants for pests, and after a week or so bring them indoors to your sunniest windows.

Test Soil

If you have not run a soil test in the last few years, or if you are starting a new lawn or garden area, this would be a good time to test the soil for nutrients. The labs are not as busy as they will be in spring so you should get your results back quickly. Also, fall is a great time to prepare your planting bed and be all set for spring.

Ready, Set, Compost

Make sure you have space set aside to save those autumn leaves. They are nature's perfect mulch and compost material. Fallen leaves can be added to your bin or pile as they are, or you can shred them first to help them break down faster. Shredding or chopping also reduces their volume substantially so you can fit more into your space.

Water New Plants

If dry conditions continue, make sure to water your new plants. The soil should be kept moist like a wrung-out sponge, not sopping wet. To know if you need to water, dig into the soil with your finger. If it is still damp, don't water yet. When you do water, soak the soil slowly and thoroughly so moisture reaches down deep and encourages deep rooting.

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