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 have an ornamental pear and an edible pear tree in my yard and they are both doing the same thing. The tips of the branches are turning brown, almost black. It is all over both trees, but just on the tips. Do you think someone has sprayed and they are getting sick from that? What can I do about it? We haven't sprayed anything in our yard, but I can't say that about my neighbors.
You have many options. I assume you want annual flowers –which means you will replant every year, but that gives you new opportunities every season. For full sun you can plant lantana –comes in red, orange, yellow and multi-colored; penta – red, pink or white; zinnias –a huge color range; angelonia – pink, purple or white; petunias –look for the wave type or Bubblegum pink is a strong performer in pink—but they do come in red, purple and white colors too. Callibrachoa comes in pink, purple, orange or yellow and looks like a miniature petunia. These are all summer annuals and you need to hold off on planting until mid April—give the soil a chance to warm up. Incorporate a complete fertilizer—I like the slow release forms like osmocote, dynamite or similar product, at planting, then use a water soluble form like Miracle-Gro, Peter’s or similar every week to ten days if you really want to push them. I have good intentions to fertilize that often, but usually don’t do it more than once a month. Annual plants benefit from regular fertilizer but they will still bloom if you aren’t as diligent. Of course, keep up with watering and mulch the plants to discourage weeds.
I bought this beautiful hanging basket of Million Bells in the spring and it had a million blooms. I have watered and fertilized it and it has not had over 50 blooms since purchase. It's in a shady spot. Should I move it to the sun?
You have nailed the problem on the head. Million Bells is Callibrachoa, a plant related to petunias. The more sunlight they get, the better they bloom. They will not bloom in the shade. Do keep up with fertility, as callibrachoa can slow down with blooming when it gets hot and dry if it is lacking in nutrition. If you have had it in deep shade, gradually expose it to full sun or you may sunburn it.
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