Arkansas Gardener Central zone report October 2012
We are all thrilled to put this summer behind us, and start moving forward. There are so many dead plants in landscapes across the state, that replanting is definitely called for. Fall is a great time to plant hardy trees and shrubs, perennials, spring bulbs and winter annuals. With trees, some it is quite apparent are dead, while others may have simply gone into early dormancy. You may want to wait until spring to assess if it is really dead or alive. Evergreen plants that are totally brown you can be sure are dead. If you know for certain a plant is dead, remove it now and consider replacement options. Prepare the soil well, plant, water and mulch. Hold off on fertilization until spring. Now is a great time to dig and divide spring and summer blooming perennials. There are also great perennial plants to choose from that can be planted now. By doing the work in the fall, we allow the roots to get established while the tops are dormant, and they will be in a stronger position by next growing season. Now is also a great time to seed wildflowers and many perennials including poppies, purple coneflowers, columbine, foxglove and the annual larkspur, Texas bluebonnets, bachelor’s buttons and cornflowers. What is in bloom in your garden? If you took care of your yard, you should have colorful perennials, shrubs and annuals now. Beautyberry (Callicarpa) is loaded with purple berries, and the foliage is turning a wonderful yellow. The burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is turning red, along with Itea and oakleaf hydrangeas. Roses are rebounding and the Knock-outs look particularly good. Perennials such as Toadlily (Tricyrtis), turtlehead (Chelone), Japanese anemones, and goldenrod (Solidago) are all blooming. The Hellebores are starting to put on new foliage growth for a winter bloom, and chrysanthemums and asters are readily available for instant color at nurseries. Summer annuals that survived the summer are still going, but if yours died, there are great options now at all nurseries, from pansies and violas, to snapdragons, dianthus, diascia, dusty miller, parsley, edible and ornamental forms of kale, cabbage, Swiss chard and beets. We can even find blooming petunias, callibrachoa and verbena now, which have been overwintering well and blooming through several light freezes. If your garden doesn’t have color in every season, you can quickly remedy the fall color now.
I spent the summer preparing a 30 x 55 foot 3 season perennial flower bed. I have two questions that none of my books answer fully. First, do you recommend a pre-emergence herbicide and if so which one. Also, I've been told that you can actually double your bed color by planting - example, summer blooming oriental poppies between your spring irises?
I usually don't use any herbicides in my flower beds. Right now, keep it weeded with a hoe and then mulch after planting. The main summer weed is grass which is not prevented by a pre-emergent herbicide. I usually have more problems with broadleaf winter weeds, which it is too late to use now anyway. Plus, be aware that pre-emergent herbicides can impact any flower seeds you may be planting. Double planting--or close spacing of spring ephemerals or short-lived cool season plants can work, but make sure you allow ample room for their root systems to grow and to become a mature size. Bearded iris doesn’t like competition, but spring bulbs can be interplanted around many perennials.
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