Q: The weeds in my garden are out of control by the end of summer. Can I do anything to avoid getting them next year?
A: Try to prevent them from going to seed. The seed will survive the winter and produce the same weed problems next year. Weedwack this month and clean up the plant debris. Mulch the beds for the winter and be sure to use a pre-emergent weed preventer in early spring, such as Greenview Weed Control or Preen.
Q: My trees look sickly this summer and I was told to wait until Fall to fertilize. What should I use?
A: Espoma Tree-tone is great for most trees, or Holly-tone for acid-loving plants. If you don’t see the plant listed on the Holly-tone bag, use Tree-tone instead. Jobes fertilizer spikes are another option, available for all types of trees.
Q: How do I get my mums to return next year and look as good as when I first bought them?
A: Start fertilizing with perennial food when you see the first growth appear in the spring. Continue to cut them back until July 4th for bushy, perfect-shaped plants that bloom on time in the fall. Mums left in pots or planters over winter will not come back again next year. They have a better chance of survival when planted directly into the garden.
Q: What are the white sleeves I see on the tree trunks this time of year?
A: White sleeves are used to prevent buck rubbing- that’s when deer scratch the velvet of their antlers on the tree trunks to relieve their itch. Unfortunately, young trees are their favorite for this ritual and they can be severely damaged or killed by the deer. Buck rubbing becomes an issue early in September, so wrap your trees early and leave them wrapped until early spring.
Q: Can I still prune my boxwood hedge?
A: A light pruning of long pieces is okay this month, but shaping should be put off until early Spring. If possible, wait until March or early April to avoid damage due to Winter sensitivity.
Q: When should I prune my Hydrangeas?
A: In general, it’s best to wait until Spring to prune shrubs that bloom in the summer. Wait until new growth is visible, and only cut branches that had flowers on them last year. A lot of the mophead Hydrangeas bloom on last year’s wood, so the branches without flowers this year will be the ones to bloom next year. If you cut the entire plant back, you may not get any flowers. However, the “Endless Summer” series of Hydrangeas bloom on both old and new wood, so all branches may be cut back. Be sure to know what kind you m ay have before shopping down this woody ornamental.
Q: Until how late in the fall can I still plant perennials?
A: Roughly six weeks prior to ground freeze. Any time in September or early October is still safe but the later you wait, the less root growth will occur before winter. Apply a 2″ layer of mulch around new perennials to help keep the roots warm through the winter. Be sure to water them after planting and continue to water until the ground freezes. Use a root starter once a week for 3 weeks after planting to promote strong roots, such as bonemeal, rock phosphate, or Bonide plant starter.
Q: What should I do with my tender, Summer-flowering bulbs, corms, and tubers?
A: Remove them from the soil and allow for them to dry. Then place them into a brown paper bag with some peat moss and store in a cool, dry place where the temperature stays above 40 degrees.
Q: When should I bring in my tropical plants for the winter?
A: Before the first frost and check them for any insects that may be on the plant. Trim back any spent blooms and unattractive branches. Apply Safer insecticidal soap to ensure that you don’t bring any pests inside. Then apply Bonide Houseplant Systemic every six weeks during the winter months to build the plant’s immune system against any soil-born insects.
Q: When is the best time to harvest herbs?
A: Harvesting can be done at any time. If you have potted herbs that you would like to bring inside, do so now. Be sure to also check for pests.