We often make the mistake of filling in bare spots in the garden with plants that we like, not the ones that will thrive there. An example is those plants that thrive in hot dry soil with little water. They should be planted by themselves if they are to do well. Some of these are yarrow, Russian sage, lamb’s ear, grasses, Autumn Joy, purple coneflower and many others. You probably have found it impossible to water some plants well while others like the above are planted next to them.
On the other hand, there are the hostas. They love water and in some dry spells, they have to be watered every other day. They also need shade. However they will tolerate a couple of hours of sun in the morning. They do well when planted under young trees and they do best in slightly acid soil, which has been amended with compost, sand, leaf mold and composted manure. In spring, before growth starts, put down a ring of slow release fertilizer, never letting it touch the leaves. They are so beautiful and so colorful that many gardeners plant them exclusively. Other attributes of this plant are its range in sizes from the petite ones to the giants. If you can get it, they like pine needles for mulch, at least for the first year.
Since you now have the time and the opportunity to see what mistakes you have made, you can remedy them. One good thing is that fall is a good time, probably the best time, to move perennials. September transplanting gives the little roots time to settle in before the ground freezes. Many gardeners prefer fall transplanting. Mulch is just as important in fall as in spring. In summer, the sun can starve your plants. Since nitrates can’t be formed at temperatures above 115 degrees. Your plants can starve for nitrates. A good mulching keeps plants insulated and cool and moist.
If you are interested in oriental lilies, as I am, they should be about through blooming. Oriental lilies are not to be confused with daylilies. As soon as lilies quit blooming, cut the faded flowers to keep them from making seeds. Cut as near to the bloom as possible. Never cut the whole stem or you may kill the bulb. I mention this old favorite because it is time to order them and the time to plant them is this fall. Always remember that you use a low nitrogen fertilizer for Oriental lilies such as a 5-10-10. Check with your nursery for a low nitrogen palletized fertilizer to use in the hole when you plant Oriental lily bulbs.
Would you like to propagate your climbing roses? A good way is called layering. Just fasten down a runner on soft, bare soil with a wire and cover a few inches of the runner with soil. An old bent coat hanger makes a good way to keep the runner in place. I always put a brick down over that spot till mowing time is over so the runner doesn’t get chopped up. You can propagate many plants this way, including crape myrtles as well as most flowering shrubs. Next spring, you can cut the runner loose from the parent plant and you will have a new plant with enough roots to plant somewhere else in the garden. Just keep it watered well its first spring and summer.
If you haven’t had enough rain in your area, as I have had, don’t forget to water your compost pile. If you don’t have a compost pile, why not start one now? It’s a wonderful place for potato peelings, peach and apple peelings, coffee grounds, corncobs and shucks, melon rinds, etc. But, best of all, it’s a good place to get rid of the dead blooms and all the cuttings when you straighten up flowerbeds. Back when I had big, big flowerbeds, I have even invited neighbors to put their melon rinds, corncobs and shucks and cabbage leaves on my big compost piles. If you have never had compost piles, you will be amazed at the wonderful difference compost makes in flower gardening.
You still have time to get those flower catalogs out and order some bulbs.
Please feel free to call me with questions or suggestions at 270-522-3632. If you would like a copy of my book, “Going Through the Garden”, for yourself or for a gift, send a check for $13.50 to Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211.