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Coastal Gardening

In fall, garden chores pile up like the leaves

By Bob Hearle

The other night I was awakened by a loud noise. After a quick check of the house I realized it was the temperature falling into the 60s. Can fall be far behind?

Now is the time to begin fall maintenance and preparation for bringing plants indoors. Trimming your “leggy” annuals can provide a second blooming season. Take stem cuttings of impatiens, begonias, coleus and geraniums and either place them in water until rooted or dip in Rootone to aid rooting.

When rooted, place in potting mix and locate in moderate, but not strong light. Provide adequate water, best by spraying. As the winter progresses you will see healthy roots, strong stems develop. Perhaps buds and or flowers, ready for spring planting will surprise you.

Consider also bringing entire small plants indoors and watch them bloom all winter with proper light and moisture.

You should plant fall blooming crocus and daffodil bulbs now. It’s not too late to plant beets, carrots, lettuce, spinach and radishes. Water the ground thoroughly before planting. Take cuttings of herbs and bring indoors.

Make plans to bring your houseplants back indoors. Secure adequate containers and find the right spot, usually where you had them last year. Force your amaryllis bulbs into dormancy by withholding water and fertilizer.

I don’t know about yours, but my mailbox is filled regularly with catalogs showing all the newest as well as old standbys for your garden. Be cautious because the pictures are of very mature plants and what they send you will not look like that.

Also be cautious that they tell you what plant hardiness zones they are good for. We are zone 8B. If you find something you like you should try it. Order conservatively as you can always order more.

Two of the most reliable catalogs are those of White Flower Farm in Vermont and Wayside Gardens in South Carolina. Good quality and great service.

Mums will appear soon, if not already, and should be planted now. They work well in containers and can be moved as needed. Ornamental kale/cabbage plants provide great winter color and again do well in containers. The purple will not do well when the warm weather arrives, but the lacy white will send up a tall stalk with yellow flowers and then produce seed. They are multi-season plants to enjoy in your garden.

Lawns should not be fertilized now. However do consider a late season dethatching and raise your mower blade ½ to 1 inch before your last cutting.

Prune dead wood from your shrubs and roses, but do not prune your hydrangeas until they finish blooming in the spring.

We will probably begin to see artificial Christmas trees arriving soon in the stores so it is never too early to begin thinking of gifts for your gardening friends and family. Tools, clothes and magazine subscriptions are greatly welcomed and if you have young gardeners you might consider seed packets for the stocking.

Bob Hearle is a certified master gardener who lives and gardens at Pawleys Island.

Previous columns

  • The second season
  • Higher ed center classes
  • Plants that bring the tropics home
  • Chores for the doldrums
  • On the edge of summer
  • Plant hardiness and Zone 8B
  • Green ideas
  • Getting plants ready for spring
  • Reading your soil test
  • Prune plants for health and to promote growth
  • Seed propagation
  • Introduction / Soil tests

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