"September Song" by Joan G. Hauser September 2009
Vacation's Over for House Plants
As temperatures begin dipping into the 50ís at night, itís time for houseplants to return from their garden rest cure. Check them closely for insects, and signs of disease. See if they need re-potting; plants tend to spread out during their summer holidays. After taking them inside, set plants in a sunny window. Donít worry if they drop leaves as they get used to their winter quarters.
Save Your Own Seeds
A month or so before planting them next spring, run a seed test by placing about 25 seeds on a few layers of moist paper towels and rolling up loosely. Store in a warm place and check every two or three days. Most seeds will germinate between 10 to 14 days. If they donít, discard the original batch.
This year, after ordering the usual daffs, and tulips, consider some delightful minor bulbs. Their low flowers, usually three to five inches tall, will provide the first burst of spring color next year. Among others, consideróin order of appearance from the end of January till mid-April-ó snowdrops (Galanthus) glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxra luciliae), Crocus, winter aconite (Eranthus cilicica), snowflakes (Leucojum vernum), Scilla, and grape hyacinth (Muscari). Plant in groups or clumps in well-drained soil three to four inches deep and the same distance apart. Since these bulbs bloom so early, they will flourish and multiply in areas that become shady later in the season.
Invite Annuals In for the Winter
Cuttings are another way to go. If you have good light, you can bring in zinnias, marigolds, begonias, and many others. Pinch off flower buds, root cuttings in vermiculite, and cover with a clear plastic bag to retain moisture. (Make sure leaves do not touch the plastic for they will rot. ) Keep the rooting medium moist, but not soggy and place away from direct sunlight for up to 10 days. After the roots have grown at least one inch, transplant into individual pots, and after 2 or 3 days, move into direct sunlight.. Geraniums are different. Root in moist sand and be patient. It can take as long as one month.
Plant Them Now
This is the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. New growth has begun to harden off so extra nutrients are available for root development. Dig a hole four to six inches larger than the root ball. Add enough backfill, a combination of top soil, peat moss or other organic matter, and sand combined with bone-meal at 1/2 cup per bushel of soil so the top of the root ball is approximately equal to the surrounding soil. If the plant is balled or burlapped, remove only the string. Water the backfilled hole thoroughly before inserting plant. Mulch, and water very well at least once a week to encourage root growth.