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WHAT’S BLOOMIN’

Tips to make sure your important plants come back next season

Friday, September 13, 2013 - 12:01 am

I'm watering essential perennials and a few choice container plants again today in an effort to extend their season and protect the important plants from “drying up and blowing away.”

By Friday the 13th, when you read this, we may be in the middle of a storm where it is “raining cats 'n' dogs” and what I'm saying here will be totally unnecessary. But in case that doesn't happen, here are a few tips to make certain that your important plants do come back next season, and are kept healthy and happy in the meantime:

•Water deeply all perennials every week or 10 days until rain falls. Use the tuna can method so you will know if you have added enough water when using a sprinkler.

•Let the grass go dormant unless you have spot planted grass seed, totally over seeded a spotty lawn, or actually planted a new lawn. In any of these situations, close your eyes to the water bill and go for it — everyday.

•Don't forget to give your trees a good soaking every other week until rainfall. They can become stressed and fall prey to pests and disease, too.

•Any garden area that has annuals or plants that you can just give up on this season, remove the annuals, and maybe add mulch to the area to keep it looking nice till winter.

•Hanging plants can be kept watered – or not as you wish. It is almost autumn so giving up on those for this season will save you time and a bit on your water bill.

•If you have perennials planted in containers as I do, keep them watered every day or every other day

•This is a good time to think about redoing some areas in the landscape and if you do add plantings, be sure to keep them watered until winter and freezing temperatures come our way.

•A lot of you are thinking of redoing spring bulb gardens or adding more bulbs. Wait till later in the month or early in October to begin doing this.

•Some bulbs are favorites of squirrels and other rodents. After planting new bulbs or replanting an area, lay strips of chicken wire flat over the area and cover with a layer of soil or stone or lay a brick on the edges to keep it from being moved around.

•You can lay down mulch but remember some very small rodents burrow under mulch for winter protection so you will want to rake most of the mulch away from the bulb beds before winter. If you don't do this, they will feast on the bulbs, grow fat, and have babies thinking you did all this just for them.

•If you are planting new trees or shrubs this fall, do not pile mulch around the root zone. These same rodents I referred to above (voles) are small rodents that look for heavily mulched areas to burrow under then they feed on the young roots and tender bark of trees and shrubs in winter. These little critters can kill an older tree over time by doing this, which is one reason we advise never to make a mulch volcano around the root zone of trees.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to jaf701@fron tier.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.