Preparing Houseplants for Winter
Houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors need to be prepared for their move indoors. Once inside, check for pests. Most insects can be controlled with two insecticidal soap sprays, at two-week intervals. Trim off any dead or dying foliage and make your home more hospitable to the plants by installing grow lights for better lighting and placing plants on trays filled with pebbles to increase the humidity around the plants.
Dig Tender Bulbs
Caladiums, elephant-ears, cannas, tuberose, and gladioli should be dug up before the first frost. Cut, don't tear, the tops off and let them dry outside in the sun for a day. Remove the dried soil and store in mesh or paper bags in a dry location no cooler than 50F. If you're willing to experiment with your gladioli, try letting them overwinter in the garden. We have done it successfully.
Plant Pansies and Violas
It's pansy and viola planting time. Transplant young plants into the garden or containers now for flowers throughout the fall. Amend the soil with compost and keep the plants well watered. Come midwinter they'll stop growing, but they'll start up again in early spring, adding the lovely colors of their flowers to the spring garden. Depending on the spring weather, they'll continue blooming next year until the heat of summer.
Removing Fallen Leaves
Before the autumn leaves start piling up, check your equipment or consider purchasing some new tools.
If you do a lot of raking, try to find one of the lightweight, ergonomically designed rakes. They're much easier on your back. Leaf blowers may be noisy and smelly, but they're a quick alternative to raking. Rather than putting the leaves out for trash collection, shred them for valuable mulch or add them to the compost pile.
Plan on Mum Alternatives
The ubiquitous chrysanthemum may be the queen of fall, but other plants bring beauty to the fall garden as well. Although best planted in spring, asters, boltonias, patrinia, Japanese anemones, and sedums are great fall bloomers that keep the garden interesting until frost. Make a list of varieties and where to put them for a spring planting.