Saturday, September 3, 2016

Plant and Divide for Next Year

It's early September, by no means the end of the garden season, but for many, it's the beginning of putting in new plants, moving some around and dividing overgrown clumps.  Read the how tos on my Denver Post Punch List below.  

Just a FYI...I'll write two Punch Lists for the Denver Post this month, my next one will be on September 17th, then I'll continue with a monthly Punch which will be in the first Saturday of the month in the Life & Culture section. It will run October through February.  

Fall is a great time to move plants
September 3, 2016 Denver Post Punch List

Labor Day may be the unofficial end to summer, but the garden says otherwise. Keep your harvest basket close and garden gloves on for late season planting. But really, where did the summer go?

Fall Planting
  • Want a head start on next year’s garden? Easy—go shopping or divide and replant overgrown plants early this month. 
  • Trees, shrubs and perennials generally establish well in the fall with warm days and cooler nights. Get them in the ground sooner rather than later for optimal root growth.
  • Inspect the landscape –look for bare ground planting opportunities. Replace plants that didn’t survive the season.   
  • There are great deals at local garden centers–shop wisely, read the plant tag to make certain it will work in your space, soil and light conditions. 
  • Just because the plant may look a bit weary from being in a pot all summer, it may be fine once it gets established with your good care.   
  • Also, it is common to find garden center plants with circling roots inside the container or growing out the bottom.  
  • Cut off outgrowing roots. Then remove the plant from the container, it is easier if the root ball is moist.  
  • Untangle or tease excessive or girdled roots before planting. In some cases you may need to use sharp scissors or a knife and make vertical cuts through the root ball. This method helps new root growth to establish in the surrounding soil. 
  • Dig your planting hole— wide and not too deep.  
  • Loosen up the soil and improve drainage. Mix in some well-composted soil (store bought bagged is fine) with the native soil, but not so much that the roots remain in the area with amended soil.

     Fall Dividing
    Cutting compacted roots will allow new roots to grow and establish much better
    • Fall is also a good time to divide, move or share and replant established spring to early summer blooming perennials like salvia, catmint, daylilies, daisies, coreopsis and bee balm—wait until spring to divide and replant late summer or fall bloomers.
    • Dividing plants is necessary when foliage seems sparse, the flowers are smaller than normal, or the center of the clump is dying out or hollow (especially noticeable on ornamental grasses, spring is best for dividing grasses).  
    • Water the plants a couple of days before dividing and cut the foliage down to six to eight inches for ease of move. 
    • Dig the new hole location first and amend the hole as described above.
    • Move mulch away from the plant.   
    • Use a straight edged shovel and dig straight down in a circle around the entire plant. If growing right next to other plants in the landscape you may have to dig closer to the plant.
    • Use a shovel to lift up and divide the entire root ball, or dig down into the plant and take out sections including roots.
    • Re-plant at the same height where they were growing. Fill in soil around the root ball, water well, additional soil may be needed after watering, then mulch. 
    • Some plants do not like to be divided because of their long tap root or woody shrub-like structure – butterfly weed, lupine, clematis, false indigo, lavender and baby’s breath. An excellent resource on dividing - Clemson University Dividing Perennials
    • While shopping for plant deals also pick up some mums, asters, pansies, and other late bloomers. 

    Tree/Shrub Fall Planting and Care   

    • Fall planted trees and shrubs take longer to establish than smaller rooted perennials. Plant no later than mid-October. 
    • Unlike planting a half-priced perennial, tree and shrub fall planting require careful selection, planning, soil preparation and care through the winter. Pass on buying pricier landscape plants if post planting care including watering can’t be maintained.
    • Planting evergreens in the spring is the recommended time of year. If fall planted and the roots aren’t established because of lack of water or quick temperature changes, the foliage or needles may burn, suffer injury or die entirely.
    • As we head into fall many trees appear stressed from lack of water, insects, disease or injury – some are losing their leaves early or turning colors already. Scorched leaves are evident on lindens, maples and others.
    • Check to see that trees are getting moisture in the root zone to a depth of one foot. Do not over water all at once to compensate for lack of summer watering. Maintain a regular watering schedule through the fall and winter.
    • Consult with a professional arborist, trusted garden center or Colorado Master Gardener for help diagnosing problems. 

    Vegetables and Containers
    • Regularly water and fertilize outdoor ornamental and vegetable containers. As long as they are growing, producing or blooming, they need regular care and maintenance.
    • Continue direct seeding quick maturing cool-season vegetables like lettuce, spinach, arugula, beets, kale and radishes in open areas of the garden. Keep the seed bed moist by watering at least twice a day on warm days.
    • Be ready for rapid weather and temperature swings this month. Nights in the forties can set back warm-season vegetable ripening. Light weight sheets and blankets are quick go-to covers. Invest in floating row covers for warmth and quick drying the next day. Avoid covering plastic directly over plant foliage—it transfers the cold to the plant.
    My sincere condolences to Colleen O'Connor's family, including her Denver Post family and friends. I did not know Colleen personally, but have read her many outstanding features and articles over the years.  

    "The bitterest tears shed over graves
    are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone."
    ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe ~

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