Fall really is here. At least a day or two here and there. November is cleanup time. Remove faded flowers and brown stems. Save seeds that you want to plant next spring. Old soil in pots needs to be emptied. It can go in the compost pile or in a flower bed. The empty pots need to be rinsed and washed in a light bleach solution. Now I admit I don’t always wash mine and I have read articles this year from various experts who say it is not always necessary.
Leaves continue to fall and instead of raking them, run the lawnmower over them and add organic matter to the soil. Continue to water all newly planted plants, including trees, now unless adequate rainfall has occurred.
Annuals: Seeds can be sown for Larkspur, Sweet Alyssum, Calendula, Sweet Peas and wildflowers. Petunias, Dianthus, Snapdragons, Pansies and Johnny Jump Ups can be planted now if the soil is cool. Maybe this will be the year I finally grow sweet peas successfully.
Perennials: Rudbeckia, Ruellia, Obedient Plant, Yarrow, Firespike, Lion’s ear, Cigar Flower, Mexican Bush Sage, Pineapple Age, Salvia guaranitica, and Chrysanthemums can be planted now. It is still time to transplant those perennials that seem to be in the wrong location. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberose) seeds can be sown now. Plant the seed thickly as the germination rate is low, but they are worth planting to attract butterflies. The birds are now doing a good job of planting Butterfly weed for me. There is no need to apply fertilizer now, but it is a good time to pull weeds as they sprout.
Shrubs: Balled–and-burlapped or container grown shrubs can be planted now and will have time to adjust before winter arrives. Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua can be planted at this time. They prefer soil with a lower pH and need mulching to keep their shallow roots cool. Dead or damaged wood should be removed from shrubs.
Bulbs: Spring flowering bulbs can be planted after pre-chilling and the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler. Don’t forget those bulbs you dug up to save. Bulbs need good drainage so amend the soil if necessary. Use a complete fertilizer like 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 when you plant them. Bulbs planted last fall need topdressing.
Edibles: If space is a problem, try container gardening with Arugula, Parsley, Collards, Kale, Mustard, Lettuce, and Spinach. Pansies and Snapdragons can be grown in with the vegetables. I have to get my half barrels filled so I can try fall gardening this year. I have the plastic bottles to put in the bottom of the barrels, then cover with landscape cloth and fill with potting soil. Otherwise I would need a large amount of potting soil. I envision collards surrounded by pansies for one.
Lawns: Ryegrass can be planted now for erosion control or to green up your lawn. The experts say that Bermuda grass sod can be planted now. After fighting Bermuida grass for 18 years I have no idea why anyone would intentionally plant it.
My yard is looking pretty sad right now but I anticipate being back out in it soon and I have a mental picture of how it will then look. The greenhouse has a new roof and I am anxious to get it cleaned out and organized. Keep on gardening.
This was written for the local newspaper as part of my volunteer work as a Master Gardener.