I’m so relieved and encouraged to see the turf grass rejuvenating after the horrible beating it took all summer long. Are these cooler temps here to stay? I’m still hoping for our typical week of warmer weather in October.
Foliage may look dry and shriveled, and sometimes it has gone dormant prematurely. All are measures taken by the plants to survive the heat with relatively low rainfall. No need to worry. These plants should bounce back nicely, especially by next spring. The shallow rooted evergreens may not have drooping leaves, but I can assure you they felt the stress over the summer just as much as your Hydrangeas. If the rains continue, then there’s nothing to do. If the rains seem to stop, then giving plants some extra water will help. The cooler temperatures also help to keep the moisture in the soil.
PLANTING & TRANSPLANTING This is a perfect time to install new plants. Though most should be planted before November, there are quite a few deciduous trees and shrubs that can be planted even in November or December.
If TRANSPLANTING, I recommend taking the following steps…
1. Water the plant really well for at least 1 week prior to moving.
2. Create the largest rootball you can manage. Have burlap and hemp on hand in case you need it to hold the soil tight to the roots.
3. Pour water in the new hole; let it drain.
4. Sprinkle hole with a combination of Bio-Tone (for root growth) and Soil Moist. You only need a very small amount of the Soil Moist. It’s my insurance in case I neglect to water for a short period of time.
5. Plant at the same depth. Water thoroughly to remove any air pockets.
REMOVE DAMAGED FOLIAGE… Many summer stressed perennials will perk up during these fall months. If you remove the old foliage, the new foliage will look like a brand new plant. If your herbaceous Peonies have succumbed to powdery mildew, do cut them back at the base. Other perennials with powdery mildew should be cut back to 3” ht as well.
When sprucing things up for the fall, keep in mind the effect you want during the winter months. The black seed heads of Rudbeckia are quite striking against the snow, and the foliage of ornamental grasses is graceful blowing in the wind. Dormant foliage will also provide another layer of insulation against the cold, and a habitat for wildlife. It is your personal taste that matters the most.
PRUNING… September is also a good time for pruning trees and shrubs that bloom on new wood. The new growth encouraged by pruning will have sufficient time to harden off before the winter cold settles in our area. Plants that bloom in the spring on the previous season’s growth should be left alone until after blooming in the spring. Most notably, this group includes Azalea, Rhododendron, Lilac, Viburnum, and most of the spring flowering trees. If you are unsure, please send me an email, and I’ll be happy to advise which group applies.
SPRING FLOWERING BULBS… This is the ideal weather for planting spring flowering bulbs. Healthy bulbs feel nice and firm, just like the way you want fresh garlic to feel. If you can squeeze the bulb even a little bit, then the bulb is not quite as healthy. The plant may survive, but it may take several years before flowering. Remember – DO NOT USE BONEMEAL, since this attracts the rodents who love to nibble your bulbs. I can’t tell you how many bulbs have been transplanted or damaged by industrious squirrels.