Relax a little. Here is what you can stop doing now in the landscape:
- It’s time to stop doing a few things in the landscape. Stop any major pruning, as it may encourage new growth which would not be hardy for the winter. Light hand pruning, whole branch removal, etc., can still be done as needed. Stop deadheading roses.
- Deadheading encourages new growth, and at this stage, we want the roses to begin to shut down, stop growing, and begin their process to harden-off for the winter.
- If you have annuals or perennials that you want to self-seed, or want their seed heads to remain for the birds to enjoy, you should stop deadheading those in September as well.
- Stop feeding woody plants (except for using starter fertilizers / root stimulants for newly planted trees and shrubs), again to not encourage new growth.
*You can keep feeding the annuals and perennials as needed this month to keep them growing for appearances and more flowers.
“Can fruits and berries be planted in the fall?”
Sure can! We’ll have the columnar Urban Apples, as well as a small selection of other apple and pear choices. You’ll also find the Brazelberry Series including 4 types of dwarf blueberries and the thornless Raspberry Shortcake.
“Are the berries on junipers safe?”.
Well, let’s just say it’s probably best if the kids and pets don’t eat them. They are bitter and not very palatable, but never the less, shouldn’t be eaten. Now, juniper berries are actually used for many things, and have been for centuries, including aromatherapy, soaps, food flavoring, and of course, the flavoring for Gin. But it’s also used as a diuretic, and eating the berries will cause severe increases in urinating, diarrhea, and intestinal pain. So, show the kids what they are, and tell them to look but don’t eat. On that same token, some Taxus (Japanese yews) will also produce berries that are a bright red and very fleshy. Do not eat these berries. The fleshy fruit on the outside actually is edible, but the seed on the inside is highly poisonous. Birds can eat them and be okay, as they do not crush the seed and it passes through them. But, it’s not the same story for others. Do not eat the berries from Japanese yews! Bottom line: tell the kids to never eat berries from plants unless you have approved it.
“What is the big flower I’m seeing right now growing along the roadsides, with the large purple flowers on top? Is it a weed or can it be grown in the garden?”
Well, it actually is a weed; Ironweed, that is. And yes, its domesticated cousins are available for you to plant in the perennial garden. Joe Pye Weed is a bold tough perennial that you can count on for great hardiness and late summer colors. It’s a great pollinator plant for late flowers, as well as planting goldenrod for late pollinator flowers. And NO, goldenrod does not make you sneeze and get your allergies in a bind. That would be ragweed. Speaking of pollinator plants, fall is a great time to plant pollinator plants for next year and years to come…milkweed included! Amazing how many planted milkweed for the first time this year, and actually saw Monarch butterflies on their new plants! Trust me…plant it and they will come!
“We are going to plant a couple trees this fall. Do I need to put those trunk sleeves for deer protection on the new trees? We don’t see many deer in our area.”
Yes! I say if you have deer within 10 miles of your house, don’t take a chance with younger trees; use tree trunk protectors September thru mid -spring to protect against and buck deer rubs. As a matter of fact, when you’re finished planting the trees, do not walk away from them without applying the protectors. We’ve seen bucks come in later that evening and destroy new trees. If you have heavy populations of deer, I’d go the extra step and use a deer repellent, or fertilize with Milorganite, which is a natural fertilizer and works nicely to help repel deer.
“Did I hear you say something about applying a grub killer this week because of so many beetles?”
Yep! The past two summers (having good soil moisture) has actually increased beetle populations all around our area, including the Northern Masked Chafer (which is the largest % of grubs we see in the lawn / soil) and Japanese beetles (also seen in our lawn / soils). If you applied a grub preventer earlier, you should be good to go. If not, and you did notice higher populations in your landscape this summer, you may want to apply a grub killer at this time. You can still apply the preventers this week and get good control (last week to apply these and be effective), or switch to the ‘grub killers’, which can be applies now thru early October. If you didn’t notice an increase in beetle populations, don’t worry about grub controls.
“My magnolia is infected with scale – so much the houseplants I’m summering underneath have sooty mold. What do I do?”.
Move the houseplants and try a very, very light soapy solution for rinsing off the mold. For the magnolia, now is the time for spraying magnolia scale as the crawlers are active. Use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil right away, again in 10-14 days, and again in 10-14 days. I would use the oil as a dormant spray late in the fall and again next early spring if the scale is pretty heavy. As for systemic control like OPTROL, Bonide or Fertilome’s Tree and Shrub Insect Control – yes, they add a great backup to all this, and can be applied this fall or next spring. By the way, October is a great time to apply the systemic control to boxwood for spring insect control (psyllids and leafminers).
“Can you give me an idea of what annuals or perennials I should not deadhead as the season ends, to allow seeds for the birds?”.
Certainly! Many of the ornamental grasses, sunflowers, coneflowers, black-eyed Susan, cosmos, cleome, gaillardia, coreopsis, zinnias, marigolds, asters, snapdragons, four o’clocks, goldenrod, penstemon, monarda, celosia, millet, etc., are just a few of the many perennials / annuals that will produce seed heads for the birds to enjoy.