GARDENING BY RONELLA: Time to bring houseplants inside for winter
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Oct 09, 2013 | 75 75 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s time to sit back and enjoy the changing fall colors. You have time now to take stock of all that has happened this past year and good, bad and ugly, aren’t we thankful to have been a part of it.

It’s time to bring your houseplants inside for the winter. They should not be outside after the temperature has dropped to 55 degrees. If your pots were outside in the yard, I would suggest you check carefully for any critters that have taken up residence in your pots.

If you have had some of your houseplants drop some leaves after bringing them inside this fall, don’t worry. They will soon grow new ones after they become acclimated to indoor temperatures and moisture.

If one or more of your houseplants seems crowded in the pots, it needs repotting before settling down for the winter. Remember to choose a pot that is only about one inch larger than the original. And buy the best potting soil you can afford.

A great time for planting roses is anytime from now to freezing. Late October is the time for winter protection of roses. Continue to spray your roses to prevent mildew.

If you have planted some young trees this year, don’t fertilize them until they are at least a year old.

One little trick that will benefit all your perennials that those of you who love perennials might want to try this fall is to arrange soil about the crown, so that water flows away from it. In spring, it’s best to plant level or even allow a little depression about the stem to catch water. This applies to all perennials but especially to roses.

If you plant a tree or shrub this fall, consider placing a piece of tile near the roots to help with watering next summer. For the winter, place a stone over the tile. You will be so pleased next summer at the ease of watering your plants all the way to the roots.

This is an ideal time to cut off the blooms of crape myrtles. Don’t trim the limbs, just cut off to where the flowers started.

This is the time when most noxious weeds go to seed so it is ultra important to get all the weeds out of your flowerbeds. If you don’t deal with them now, you will deal with lots more come spring. And all summer and all next fall, etc. All debris has to be gotten out of flowerbeds if you want to prevent disease.

A beautiful bulb that is blooming in October is the autumn crocus or colchicum, if you are looking for the bulb in a catalog. The most popular one is called “Giant” and is the one I have grown for years. It looks like an ordinary crocus but is several times bigger. The leaves come up in spring and then die back in summer. Then in fall, when you have forgotten about them, up shoots the lovely bloom. Its bright lavender sure makes a dreary flowerbed come alive.

Now to the topic of fall leaves, the dreaded chore of most of us. Why throw away such a wonderful bonus. If you have a chopper or a lawn mower that chops and picks up the leaves, why not use it to chop all your leaves? The chopped leaves will be compost by spring when you need lots of compost. Or you can use the chopped leaves for mulch. Or, use them for walkways in your vegetable garden to be turned under in spring to enrich your garden. But do NOT leave any leaves on your perennial beds.

The smell of burning leaves in fall takes me back about 75 years to a little village on the Cumberland River called Canton. I spent most of my childhood there and those were happy times. My father, who was always finding someone who needed his help, found a gentle, sweet old man who was probably middle-aged but who knew. He certainly didn’t know his age. He lived alone in a tiny house in Canton. He was a bachelor with a brother who lived in another tiny house next door but who didn’t have anything to do with him. Ed could neither read nor write and my father discovered that half the time he went hungry. No one would have hired him because he was mildly retarded or if not, it was his game that he played. That was before any kind of welfare. So Daddy took Ed under his wing. He paid him to watch over the kids who played in our big yard. He raked leaves in fall and watched while we roasted marshmallows. Ed did many other little chores but his favorite thing was riding to town with Daddy to get ice for our icebox. He finally had good, clean overalls, shirts and shoes and had plenty to eat and for the first time in his life, he had money in his pockets. He was a happy man. Is it any wonder that the smell of burning leaves takes me back to Canton and my childhood and old Ed.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions or suggestions.
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