Fall can be a busy time of the year in the garden. This is the perfect time to move or to transplant peonies. Remember they should be planted shallow and in full sun for best flower production. If you have problems with peonies not blooming, this could be the problem. Iris can be divided and/or moved this time of year too. They are another plant that should not be planted very deep.
If you plan to bring clippings of annuals (i.e., coleus, impatiens, etc.) in the house in order to keep them over winter for planting again next spring, it is a good idea to do that soon. If you do this now, you will be more successful. If you root cuttings by placing them in a glass of water, make certain lower leaves are removed so there are no leaves in the water. Place on a window sill and after new roots start to develop, plant in soil.
If you brought your house plants outside for the summer, now is the time to think about bringing them back in the house. Make sure they are insect-free. Keep them isolated from other house plants until this has been determined — and treat them if you find evidence of insects.
When should you dig your tender bulbs to bring inside for winter storage? There are different answers for different plants.
Caladium, elephant ears, calla lily, tuberous begonia and Star of Bethlehem should be dug before frost hits them. If the begonia is in a pot, you can bring the whole pot into the basement if you want and withhold water until April.
Other bulbs should be laid out in a warm dry area and dried down. Tops should be cut off at that time.
Caladium needs to be kept at or near 70 degrees in storage. The rest do well in 50-degree temps in the cool part of a basement.
The University of Minnesota recommends these bulbs be stored in sphagnum peat or vermiculite. I have stored them successfully in cardboard boxes after being properly cured.
You don’t need to wait for frost to dig glads. They may be dug six weeks after bloom. Long-term curing for glads should be approximately three weeks. After three weeks, the old corm and cormels should be removed.
Drying and curing temperatures for such materials should be 60-70 degrees in a dry, well-ventilated area. Before storing corms, inspect for insects or diseases. Dust with an insecticide-fungicide mixture labeled for glads if needed.
If you experienced thrips in your glads this year, dust with carbaryl (Sevin) before storage, shaking the corms in a bag with a small amount of the dust (just 2 teaspoons per hundred corms). Store them flat in cardboard boxes, not touching each other. (This way when they start to sprout in the spring, the sprouts will start straight up and give you a nice heads up in the garden.)
Amaryllis should be brought inside before frost. Let the leaves die back naturally in a darkened warm area (basement).
If you want indoor winter bloom, start potting up and/or watering the amaryllis about six weeks before expected bloom. With careful planning you can have continual color from Christmas until tulip time (if you have enough bulbs).
To achieve this, as the first amaryllis starts to shoot a bud, pot up the next group. Remember, after bloom during the winter, you need to continue to water and fertilize the amaryllis until they can be planted outdoors again after all danger of frost in the spring.
Cut off flower stalk but keep all leaves intact as that is what rejuvenates the bulb for the next bloom. If you prefer to have your amaryllis bloom outdoors in the summer, keep them dormant until they may be planted safely outside.
Dahlias should not be dug until after we have experienced a hard frost. More about them next week.
Are you wondering what to do with your bountiful supply of winter squash? Harvest them when they are mature.
Give squash the thumbnail test to determine maturity. If your thumbnail doesn’t penetrate the skin easily, chances are the squash is ripe. Leave 2 to 3 inches of stem attached and harden them off for 10 to 14 days in a warm, dry environment to toughen the skin before storing them at 40 to 50 degrees.
Fruit without a stem will not keep. If frost is predicted, and you haven’t harvested your squash, put them in a pile and cover with vines. There is less chance for rotting if you store squash in a single layer, not touching each other.
Green acorn squash should be kept from light as it causes them to turn yellow. This same information applies to pumpkins.
Some of this information is taken from an old University of Minnesota bulletin.