Garden catalogs seem to come earlier and earlier every year. Which means that orders need to be placed earlier too, to get the best selections. Check out Web sites and magazines for garden catalogs and send away for them now to make sure you're on their mailing list.
Divide Fall-Blooming Perennials
Start dividing large clumps of fall-blooming perennials such as asters, boltonias, and chrysanthemums. Dig up the entire clump and divide it into wedge-shaped pieces, each with several growing points. Another method is to dig up a small portion of the clump from the edge. That way you won't disturb the entire plant. Fill in the hole with topsoil, plant, and water in the divisions.
Holiday Cactus Care
With the shorter days and cooler nights, Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus will soon be in bud and bloom. To help yours set flower buds, expose them to cool nights (40sF) and keep the room where they are dark, without artificial lights, all night long. Keep the soil evenly moist and feed with a houseplant fertilizer according to the manufacturer's directions. Plants flower best when slightly rootbound.
Prune Butterfly Bushes
Butterfly bushes flower on new growth, so pruning them in fall is a good way to stimulate lots of new growth next spring. Prune them to 2 1/2 feet above the ground to create a bushier plant with more flowers. Using dry leaves or compost, mound mulch around the base to about a foot high for winter protection.
Harvest Fall Vegetables
Frosts heighten the flavor of fall vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, mustard greens, and turnips. Harvest these now as you need them. They will store in the garden until the freezes come in a month or so. I like oven roasting parsnips and turnips and steaming or stir-frying greens with garlic.