Garden Centres field gardening questions daily. There is a lot to know about your garden; there is still a lot we can all learn too. Sharing information, be it book knowledge or personal experience, trial and error, is the best way to learn. Below are some of the common questions garden centre staffs are asked this time of year:
Can I still plant now? Yes. The Autumn is a good time to plant perennials and shrubs or move and divide spring blooming perennials. The days are usually cooler (for the stress of you and the plant). Be sure to dig a generous hole for the new planting, add some nutrient rich soil, such as compost or triple-mix, and water it extremely well upon planting and for at least two weeks to help it establish a root system prior to the ground freezing in mid-November. All new planting and divisions should be done by late September so plants can develop a decent root system prior to the freeze. Water all your perennials and shrubs well, new or existing, prior to freeze-up.
When do I plant spring flowering bulbs? Spring flowering bulbs are planted in the Autumn and they bloom in the Spring. They are available in good garden centres in early September through to usually the end of October and they can be planted as soon as you purchase them, if you wish. Daffodils must be planted by Thanksgiving at the latest so they can prepare a root base prior to freeze up; Tulips and minor bulbs such as muscari (grape hyacinths), snowdrops, scillia, crocus can be planted later (all through October and to early November) to avoid disruption by the pesky squirrels. Squirrels are less fond of daffodils and minor bulbs; they like to play havoc with tulips. Planting tulip bulbs with dehydrated hen manure (Act-i-sol) does deter them. Planting tulips later in the Autumn will, hopefully, discourage the squirrels from digging up the bulbs as they are less “frisky” as the cold weather nears.
How do I change my pots for the Fall season? You will create space for new Fall plants when you remove those from the summer arrangements that are not cold tolerant: potato vine, impatiens, begonias, vinca, salvia, marigolds, celosia and the like. In their place cold tolerant, freshly blooming Fall plants can be used to freshen your containers: mums, asters, ornamental kale, pansies, snapdragons, ornamental peppers, rudbeckia, grasses – your local garden centre should have a nice selection for you to choose from. With consistent watering, even a little fertilizer now and then, these fresh arrangements will take you to Hallowe’en.
Can I bring my outdoor plants indoors for the winter? Some, yes. Be selective on what you choose to bring indoors. Some plants are susceptible to pests in the overly warm environment of our winter homes. Reconsider bringing in large quantities of impatiens, begonias, other bedding plants etc. Stick to over wintering tropical plants, houseplants you put outdoors for the summer, geraniums and other hardy, woody type annuals. To bring indoors, in early September move the plants to a semi-sun location, eventually to a shady spot, for a few weeks. The idea is to gradually move the plants out of the sun to get them use to the lower light they will experience indoors. Even if you plan to put a plant in your sunniest window or a sun room, it is still going to experience lower light as the winter sun is a weak sun, plus most homes now have new windows with low-E glass, thus cutting the amount of sun your plant receives. Spray your plant preventatively for pests prior to bringing it in (Insecticidal Soap) and monitor it while in your home. Pest outbreaks can happen at any time throughout it’s time in your home. Water as needed, taking care not over water – the reason for the demise of most houseplants.