GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2001 show30
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Fall Tips

Fall is an excellent time to work in our yards and gardens. Dr. Rick has
a montage of Fall tips for gardeners.

Soil Temperatures - Soil temperatures typically take 6-8 weeks to catch
up with the air temperature. We're fortunate in the South that soil
temperatures remain warm making this a perfect time to plant perennials, shrubs and trees. Since the soil is warm, yet temperatures above ground are cool, it allows roots to grow but the plant slows its growth.

Cutting Back Perennials - Many Perennials like to be cut back in the
Fall. Ginger is one example of a plant that should be cut back after
several good hard frosts. The foliage will be black or brown, then cut
all but about 2-3" of the stem. Cannas - Some Cannas can take the cold weather. The Bengal Tiger is a Tropical, it won't take freezing temperatures. Cut off all above ground parts, dig up the underground part, the tuber, and store it indoors.

Pre emergent - A pre emergent is a chemical that keeps weed seeds from germinating. From now until the first week in December weed seeds will germinate. Now is a good time to apply a pre emergent

Roses - Collect all the dead leaves on the plant and those on the
ground. Either put them deep in the compost pile or completely destroy
them. By leaving them Black Spot and other funguses will continue, so
remove them and destroy them now.

Re-mulching - Now is a good time to freshen up your mulch. Apply a layer
about 1-2" not more and don't mulch around your Perennials. Because
Perennials, in the winter, die back to the ground, they'll send up a
couple of small leads by the base of the plant. This allows them to
Photosynthesize all winter long. If you mulch too deeply it will smother
the plant and cause crown rot.

Pruning - Now is a good time to remove suckers at the base of Crepe
Myrtles, for example, but it is not a good idea to cut the top part of
the plant. We get growth at the point of pruning, that growth is tender.
When a hard frost hits , it will stress the plant if recently cut.

Sweet Potato Vine - after the first heavy frost, dig up the tuber and
store it inside. Put it in a cool, well ventilated space and it will be
ready for next spring.

Tilling - Now is not a good time to till and leave the soil exposed. It
creates an open wound, which results in nutrient depletion and erosion.
If you do till , mulch heavily


Poinsettias were once considered a weed. Joel Poinsette in 1828 noticed the brilliantly colored leaves and sent some back to friends in
Philadelphia. By the late 1800's Poinsettias were a popular gift in
Philadelphia and New York. Albert Ecke in California heard of the plant
and was the first to mass market it.

To insure you buy the freshest Poinsettia, look at the center of the
plant, the Stamen, and see if they've opened. If many haven't opened it
should last a long time. Once home, to keep the plant fresh, make sure it is not near a draft. Fertilize it once in December and only water when the soil is dry. If the plant is in a foil wrapper make sure the plant is not standing in water.

Parker Andes from Callaway Gardens shows us how they bring back
Poinsettias year after year and how they get them to bloom at just the
right time. Cut the plant back to just above the leaf line around May,
then again in July. The plant will get bushy. Around the first of
October, to get the plant to start changing color, it will need 12 hours
of interrupted darkness each day. It needs sunshine during the day so
place under a box or in a closet at night.

Forcing Bulbs

This is nothing more than coaxing bulbs to bloom earlier than they
normally would. Dr. Rick suggests we start in the Fall, make sure the
bulbs are firm. Mix well a combination of 50% potting soil and 50% river
sand. This will be a well drained mix and the bulbs won't rot. Set the
bulbs so just the tops are showing. Put them in a dark place like a
cooler or refrigerator or any area with temperatures in the 40 -50
degree range. Leave them in this area for at least 8 weeks making sure
they have a little moisture. At that point you will see shoots at the
top of the bulbs. When the shoots are 1.5-2" tall take the bulbs and put
them in a moderate light condition. The leaves will turn green and
flowers will bloom.

Paper Whites - Use a shallow container with no holes. Fill it with
medium sized gravel and set the bulbs so their bottoms touch the pan.
Make sure this pan has a small amount of moisture at the bottom of the pan all the time. Place them in a cool area for 8-9 weeks. Once the tops come up , they will need bright light. Put them outdoors or in a bright window. In no time they will shoot skyward and you'll have a beautiful, unique plant this winter.

We thank you for watching this year. we hope you've enjoyed the show as much as we've enjoyed the process of producing the program. We'll be back next spring, keep in touch. In the meantime we'll try to answer
all your questions and we'll be working on the new shows for 2002.

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