By Glenn DiNella
If you want to get the most out of your garden during the remaining warm days of fall, there are several things you can do.
First of all put deadheading at the top of your chore list. This cutting off spent blooms works wonders with coaxing your annuals and perennials into blooming more than they normally would. Summer annuals, such as geraniums, perform until frost if you keep deadheading and give them a boost with a little liquid fertilizer.
Even many hard-core gardeners don’t realize deadheading also works if you have large shrubs such as butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.);
smaller, summer-blooming trees such as chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus);
or crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica).
Although these plants usually keep blooming even if you don’t remove the spent blossoms, you can encourage bigger blooms more quickly and keep plants blooming well into fall if you prune the spent blooms and/or seed pods.
One fall chore my wife, Margaret, enjoys is dressing up our containers. The pots that looked great through spring and summer by late summer teem with dry, ragged, exhausted-looking plants.
You can cut some plants, such as this sweet potato vine (Ipomea batatas ‘Marguerite’), way back in late summer and they quickly sprout fresh new growth for fall. Margaret replaced tired summer annuals with tall lemon cypress, fresh fall mums, pansies, and parsley. The cypress might stay a year or two, until it outgrows the container. Mums come out in a couple of months. Pansies and parsley fill out over the winter and really come on strong in spring. Remember, gardening is a process.
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