Middle South

September, 2008
Regional Report

Fall is for Planting

Fall is an ideal time to plant most trees and shrubs and many perennials. The roots will continue growing in the warm soil even as air temperatures cool. For best results, plant at least four weeks before the ground freezes. When choosing plants, consider their ornamental value in different seasons and choose a selection that provides year-round interest. Native berry-producing plants and evergreens are especially good for attracting birds.

Dig Summer Bulbs

Tender bulbs such as caladiums, dahlias, and tuberous begonias must be dug up in fall since they can't withstand cold winter temperatures. After digging, brush or wash off excess soil and let them dry. Cut off remaining foliage and store in slightly moistened peat moss or sawdust in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space that doesn't freeze. Protect from rodents.

Get Houseplants Ready for Indoors

Start your houseplants on their transition to indoors by bringing them to a shadier location and slowly acclimating them to lower light levels. When night temperatures hover in the low 50s, it's time to bring the most tender plants inside. Check the plants, containers, and soil carefully for pests, washing pests off with water or spraying with insecticidal soap. When you bring the plants indoors, keep them separate from other houseplants for a few weeks to be sure you haven't brought in any pests.

Harvest Pumpkins

You'll know your pumpkins and winter squash are ready to harvest when the stems are woody, the rinds are hard, and they've reached their mature color. Use pruning shears to cut the stem, leaving a 3-inch piece attached to the fruit. Cure them for a week or so in a sunny, warm spot, then store in a cool, dry place.

Gather Flowers for Drying

Start collecting materials for fall flower arrangements. Dry celosias, strawflowers, and globe amaranth by gathering a few stems, securing them with a rubber band, and hanging them upside down in a dark, dry place. Cover loosely with newspaper to prevent dust from gathering. Collect berry-laden branches, ornamental grasses, and attractive seedpods, too.

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