“Roots make Shoots & Shoots make Roots”!
Trees, Shrubs, Perennials and Annuals
Although potted plants can be planted anytime of the year, fall is still the best time to plant hardy trees, shrubs and perennials. Cooler temperatures and lessening light intensity mean less stress for the plants. Root growth will continue while soil temperatures remain around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and above. Now is a great time, transplant as well. As always, be sure to take into consideration the mature size of trees and shrubs as you decide what to plant.
It’s also time to be thinking about changing out your warm season annuals for cool season ones. Think about different color schemes using reliable bloomers such as violas, pansies, snapdragons, sweet alyssum, and dianthus. For foliage accents try ornamental brassicas, dusty miller, and herbs that prefer cooler temperatures such as parsley, dill, fennel and cilantro.
If you haven’t already done it, now is the time to prepare your vegetable gardens for next spring. Be sure to have your soil tested if you haven’t done it in the past few years. Commercial growers test every year because lime application to correct pH is critical for plant growth. Every part of your yard can benefit from a soil test. For more information on soil testing please visit:
The time for pre-emergent herbicide applications for lawns begins this month. Time your application after there have been at least four consecutive nights where temperatures were between 55- and 60-degrees Fahrenheit. Look for temperatures to start dropping around the middle of the month. For more information on weed management in lawns please visit:
In the best-case scenario, plants in your landscape that are susceptible to diseases (common ones are Cercospora, anthracnose, powdery mildew) would have been sprayed with a fungicide before Hurricane Dorian and the heavy rainfall it brought. Even if that was done, another fungicide application should be applied 7-14 days after that first application. Read the product label to be certain how soon you can make another application.
Woody plants can benefit from a dormant or horticultural oil spray during the fall and winter months for numerous overwintering insect pests. Most important of these pests are scale insects and oil sprays are a very effective treatment. Various scale species can be commonly found on camellias, magnolia, holly, citrus, oleander, dogwoods and maples. Be sure to read the label on the container of the product that you use. The label will have a list of plants that are safe to treat. Oil sprays should be applied while air temperatures are between 45°F and 85°F. It is also best to treat at a time of day when the sun is not shining directly on the plant. Now is still a good time for planting hardy shrubs and trees if you didn’t get your planting done in the fall.
Now is also a great time to reassess your landscape design while you can see the “bones” of the garden. If your garden is maturing you may realize that it has become too crowded and needs thinning-be disciplined and bold. Take out weak plants, remove ones that don’t fit the design, reduce the numbers of over-planted varieties and assess which ones may only need a good pruning. Use this opportunity to make room for plants for which you have been lusting!
Pruning trees and shrubs can begin at the end of this month. The reasons for pruning are to remove old, diseased and dead wood to encourage new growth and flowering. Crossing branches that are rubbing each other should also be removed. Pruning should not remove more than one-third of the plant unless you are doing rejuvenation pruning. If a plant needs to be severely pruned on a regular basis because it is in the way seriously consider replacing it.
For thorough information on pruning please visit the Clemson HGIC website: https://hgic.clemson.edu/hot-topic/the-art-and-science-of-pruning/
Hardy perennials can still be planted at this time. Many of them can also be divided and replanted at this time. Make sure that plants don’t stay out of the ground too long. Water in well after replanting. Be sure to try a new and exciting perennial in your planting.
Be sure to keep your winter annuals watered and fertilized. Keeping pansies, violas and snapdragons dead-headed will improve their looks and flowering. If the cold has been severe they may be looking a little rough. They’ll look better as the weather improves but you can trim back any severely damaged parts.
Continue to mow cool-season grasses. Fescue lawns should be mowed at 2-3 inches. Over-seeded annual ryegrass should be kept mowed at 1-2 inches. Hopefully a pre-emergent herbicide was applied in the fall. If not, you can spot treat broad-leaf weeds with an appropriate post-emergent herbicide. Fruit Garden Fruit trees should have been sprayed with a dormant oil in the fall to treat insect pests, especially scale. Another application can be made this month or next month while temperatures are between 45°F and 85°F. Be sure to get good spray coverage on all of the trunk as well as the branches. Remove old plant debris from under trees that can harbor pests. There’s still time to plant fruit trees, shrubs and vines if you didn’t get them all in the ground in the fall. Just be sure the soil is not too wet to be cultivated. Attempting to work wet soil will cause soil compaction.