Coastal and Tropical South

September, 2012
Regional Report

Rethink Landscapes

As autumn approaches, homeowners look to replace and add shrubs and trees to the landscape. With warmer conditions overall and more rain than usual in many places, native plants adapted to your garden's conditions are the natural choice. They are often more adaptable to the stresses of drought and high rainfall, hardly ever have pests, and bring a sense of place to your garden. And by the way, if you staked trees last year when you planted them, remove those stakes and ties now. It is time for the young trees to stand on their own.

Shake Fall Tomatoes

If your summer tomatoes did not make it through, be sure the fall tomatoes are in the ground or pots very soon. The challenges of this season are somewhat different from those of other times of year. It is essential to grow the plants at full tilt so they can be ready to bear fruit as soon as night time temperatures dip low enough to enable fruit set. The practice of shaking the plants slightly as is done in greenhouse production increases the movement of pollen, whether insects are present or not. Be gentle, but disturb the tomato plants daily when they begin to bloom.

Fertilize in Fall

As we shift into fall, remember that autumn does truly arrive this month, no matter what the thermometer says. Fertilize the lawn with a low nitrogen formula if you are on a schedule or if the lawn has not performed as well as you would like this year. While you are at it, remember to fertilize annual flowers at two week intervals if you use a soluble formula. Select a granular formula and use it on actively growing perennials every six weeks this fall.

Propagate Plants

Take a look around the garden for plants to root for your indoor garden or to swap with friends. Good candidates include those that are marginal along the Coasts and too large to move indoors easily. Set up a rooting box of covered plastic filled with a light potting media, half perlite and half peat. Or set aside a flat filled with clean, damp sand. Fashion a cover of clear plastic that can be opened daily to ventilate or closed to keep out rainfall. Use a rooting hormone such as Hormex and water rooting boxes just enough to keep the soil damp.

Give Poinsettias Long Nights

If you are growing a poinsettia, now is the time to begin long night treatments. By extending the dark hours, you mimic conditions that occur naturally later in the year. Long nights of 12 hours duration bring on red bracts and tiny yellow flowers. Drop a box over your plant each evening and remove it the next morning, before its environment overheats. Provide full sun for the rest of the day and continue fertilizer and water regularly.

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