Coastal and Tropical South

September, 2005
Regional Report

Consider the Cause of Early Fall Color

Crape myrtles and dogwood seem to be first up this year for fall color. But their display may not be truly seasonal. Waterlogged roots cause stress to plants; leaves concentrate their nutrients back into the stems for survival so they color up early and then drop. Prune the affected plants back a bit next spring.

Rake and Mulch

Garden sanitation takes center stage as the most active growing season slows down. Cut down weeds, rake leaves as they fall, and rogue out invasives like Jewels of Opar that you can't stand to kill completely. Then spread a new layer of mulch over the whole garden.

Help Weak Trees

A good fertilizer to use in fall is one with a 0-20-20 formula. It can help trees with weak limbs or ones that just aren't growing, and shrubs that haven't put on much new growth for several years. A no-nitrogen formula can nourish roots without pushing top growth.

Give Hibiscus a Haircut

The glory that is glossy leaf hibiscus can get a bit ragged this time of year. Plants may be overgrown, have a few bugs, or even stop blooming. Cut them back by about one third right now, fertilize with a flower formula, and watch for new leaves now and flowers by November.

Sow Leaf lettuce

It may seem early but go ahead and plant lettuce seeds now. Pick a spot in the flowerbed or vegetable row that isn't in full sun. Work the soil well and rake very smooth, then sow seed on top. Press in, but don't cover. Use a floating row cover for best results.

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