This past week was heaven for me as the summer that I wanted extended was given another week. I took advantage of every moment, being outdoors as much as possible. As we look around and see the trees changing, we are reminded that we are a breath away from autumn and the full color swing will be here before we know it. Sometimes this season is a little depressing to me as I know the end of another growing season is coming to its exit. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the fall season as long as it doesn’t get too cold too quickly. I want to enjoy the season and still be able to take hikes and enjoy everything around without bundling up quite yet.
As I venture out into the garden, I am noticing various fall work that needs to be done. Mostly it is dividing some perennials that have overgrown their space and are in need of thinning. Since the weather has been nice, what better time to get out there and start digging some up for replanting.
Items in my yard that happen to need dividing are iris, phlox, veronica and coneflower. Every year is a different option as things mature at different rates. Hostas are easier for me to divide in the springtime, so I let them go for now.
When preparing to divide perennials, remember to have a sharp knife and pruning shears along with a pointed spade. These tools will just make the process much easier.
Iris enjoy being divided in that fall season since they are a late spring bloomer. Find a clump that has gotten too big for its space or one that has a dead center forming. These are tell-tell signs a perennial is in need of dividing. Dig in with a spade around the outer edges being careful not to damage the roots or bulbs being dug. Very carefully loosen the soil around the roots and find the healthiest bulbs. These are usually the ones that circle the outer edge as the ones closer to the center are older and less vigorous. Make clean cuts in the bulbs to separate them from older roots. These will usually have just one growth point to keep them healthy. Remove any dead leaves and cut the leaves back to about 6 to 8 inches tall. This process is usually called fanning.
Once your roots have been trimmed and cut, place about six roots tubers back into the space to begin growing once again. If they are in the ideal location, it won't be long before they start spreading again and blooming in record time.
Other perennials that have roots, over bulbs or tubers can be divided in a similar fashion. Dig the plant up and remove any dead or dying tissue and then make 4-inch squares from the root balls which will be the new plant that goes in the ground. Don’t use any material from the center of the old clump as this is usually old and dying plant matter and should be discarded. Once dug, trimmed and divided, plant the 4-inch section back into the ground to form your new plant come the spring season. Many of these perennials will bloom in the new year.
Plants that are good to divide in the fall season are heliopsis, coneflower, garden phlox, maltese cross, delphiniums and iris just to name a few. Items I like to save for spring are hosta, chrysanthemums, sedum and monkshood as most are fall bloomers. Other items I just like to leave alone are the gas plant and baptisia as they do not like to be disturbed once they have become established and rarely need dividing.
Depending on how ambitious you feel, this is also a good time of year to redo certain areas of the garden. Keep in mind that this process is much more work than you ever allow yourself time. If you plan that it will take three days, make sure you have nine to play it safe.
This time of year is also a good time to think about preparing your outdoor houseplants to return indoors. Makes sure you spray them for any insects once a week for three weeks before coming indoors; this will take care of the bugs at hand and any hatching eggs that may be on the leaves or in the soil before bringing them inside.
Need more spring bloomers in your garden?? This is the perfect time to cash in on some bargains and gather some spring bulbs from the local market and get them in the ground. I realize it is tough to plan for the spring season already, but come April you will be glad you made some advanced decisions!
Make the most of the season at hand as this too will go by very quickly. The sooner you get these projects done, the sooner you can plan for your winter hibernation. At least that is what I will be planning for, along with reading through garden magazines to get new ideas for next year! Autumn arrives this week, so don’t miss a moment of it!