Panic or procrastinate?

Horticulture Hints

With the deluge of rainfall we have received, many gardeners are feeling pressured and worry about getting fall garden work completed. But don’t panic, some garden chores can wait until drier weather.

Working wet garden soils can compact the soil, so don’t play in the mud. Delay until weather dries out to finish your fall garden cleanup tasks. Place vegetable plant remnants on the compost pile, rather than tilling into the garden. (Exception – do not compost any plants that are diseased, as the home compost pile will not destroy disease pathogens.) Removal of the plant debris also eliminates hiding places for some insects and helps reduce insect populations.

Wait until late winter or early spring to prune off dead stems of flowers and ornamental grasses. Old stems of sedum and coneflowers can be attractive through the winter and can provide seeds and winter protection for wildlife. When cutting back herbaceous plant material, rather than trim off at ground level, leave a few inches of stem to help protect plant roots over the winter.

Lifting of tender bulbs such as caladium, cannas, gladiolus, dahlias, and calla lilies is one chore that cannot wait. Once the top part of the plants have been singed by frost, the foliage and stems will begin to decay. This rotting can then spread to the bulbs if not dug in a timely manner following a frost.

Did you know? Tulips not planted yet? Ideally bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and crocus should be planted as soon as possible, but they can be planted up until the ground freezes.

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Horticulture Questions? Contact McCormick at yvonne@iastate.edu for information or advice.

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