Getting Ready for Fall!

It feels like fall with moderate days, cool evenings, football, fairs, lots of color on our spring plants and time to think about hardy mums. These are pleasant days and evenings to garden and enjoy our yards and our neighborhoods. We still have to water when nature does not provide well spaced rains but we don’t face the watering pressure of the long triple digit days of summer.

There is a lot we can do with our lawns at this season. If you want to control winter weeds you should apply weed and feed or pre-emergent weed killers over the next couple of weeks to achieve the best control of henbit, chickweed and their other winter weed friends. This is also the time to apply your last nitrogen fertilizer of the growing season. It can be applied with the weed and feed product or apply a good general fertilizer by itself. This will help strengthen your lawn as it wraps up this growing season and prepares to go dormant this winter. If you plan to overseed your lawn with a winter cool season grass like tall fescue or ryegrass broadcast the seed in late September through October so you can enjoy a green winter lawn. Do not treat those areas to be seeded with a herbicide or weed and feed product as they will inhibit germination of your desired winter lawn.

We enjoyed such a mild and moist August that our spring annuals from penta, petunias and periwinkle to begonias, geraniums, zinnias, marigolds, lantana and sweet potatoes are generally doing quite well. Their flower color will intensify as we get cooler nights.
Enjoy this fall color from your spring and summer plants but start to think about adding fall color.

Hardy mums will lead the fall color show and are now available at your local nurseries and garden centers. They are widely available in one gallon, three gallon and many styles of large decorative containers. Hardy mums look great in the ground in flower beds and are perennials that will usually come back next year when planted in the ground. They look fabulous in decorative pots and will make a big color show until the first hard freeze. There are many styles of hardy mums from smaller more compact cushion mums to the larger mounds of Belgian mums. They come in many color combinations of white, yellow, orange, lavender, purple, red and burgundy to allow you to decorate your patio, porch or gardens to show your own style. Many folks will combine the mums with displays of pumpkins, gourds, hay bales and corn stalks as fall progresses to create the perfect fall ambiance. Remember that chrysanthemums or hardy mums are heavy drinkers and will require water more often than most of your established plants. They wilt fairly dramatically to advise you when you are behind on watering them but they perk up quickly after you water them well. Try not to drought stress them out too many times or it will effect or reduce your fall flower display. The hardy mums are close relatives of the pot mums you may enjoy throughout the year but these varieties are hardy perennials and although they will freeze down to the ground this winter they will usually sprout back up next spring ready for another year of action. The mums in pots are less likely to over winter as they will freeze harder and are more likely to be dry when it freezes which can dehydrate them. Mums are day length sensitive and that is why they bloom reliably each fall as the days get shorter after their growing season. Occasionally there will be mums under a street or security light that don’t re-flower well in future years because they don’t get these natural short days to initiate flowering.

Enjoy this gorgeous weather and the beautiful plants all around us as you get ready to plant new trees, shrubs and hardy mums this fall.


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