The people's voice of reason

October Potpourri

Hip, Hip, Hurrah. Fall is in the air with wonderful times at tail gate parties, football games, Halloween, and county fairs. Fall is also a great time to be planning for our flower gardens with winter annuals such as pansies, and other winter annuals. However, certain perennials will be more showy in the spring if we plant them now so they will form a bigger root ball, thus a stronger, healthier plant. Let's look at the following suggestions:

1. Cone flower which is readily available now at certain garden centers. These will die back after the first hard freeze, so cut them back and wait for a bigger and better plant in the spring.

2. Daisies, perennial asters, dianthus, all types of salvias and biennials such as foxglove, delphinium, holly hock.

3. Asian lilies must be planted now for spring bloom.

4. Irises need to planted in the fall. Of course there are 2 groups of iris, one which are grown from bulbs, and the other grown from rhizomes, which are fleshy underground stems, or rootstock. In our area, irises are shallow planted, with just enough soil to cover the bulb or rhizome.


1. The plant has yellow leaves. There are several causes for this malady which could be that the annual has run its course and is on the way out. But we also look to other causes such as to much water, lack of proper water, lack of fertilizer. Many times we have planted it in highly alkaline soil which is a low ph, too acid which is a high ph. Most ornamentals today need either neutral or slight acid soil. Soil test kits are available in garden centers and are inexpensive to test your soil. Soil can be amended with lime to add alkalinity or aluminum sulfate to add acid or iron.

Yellowing leaves can also suggest pests are sucking the under side of the leaf such as aphids or whiteflies. Too late to spray these pests in the fall as they have formed a hard shell around their bodies making them almost immune to garden insecticides. If this is the case, you must spray all plants, shrubs, grass, fencing and trees after a hard freeze with Volk oil. This dormant oil is not a poison, but it works by coating the eggs so that they can not hatch. The only thing in my flower garden I want to multiply are the plants, not the pests.

2. Roses appear to be not thriving. The fall is a friend to the rose family with a blush of new blooms. One malady that befall roses is crown gall. Dig down around the crown, and you may see the bacteria disease, Agrobacterium tumefaciens. These are tumor like growths near the base of the bush. The galls should be sheared off and the wound sealed with landscape paint or putty. Note that the utensil used to shear should be disinfected to avoid spreading the disease.

Roses can also be infected with powdery mildew and black spot. For powdery mildew, snap off the infected leaves which will appear to have blister like nodules which develops into a powdery grayish white fungus. Apply insecticidal soap or liquid or wettable sulfur to curb the problem.

Another problem for the rose bush is call black spot. This is most prevalent in the south where there is plenty of moisture, and high humidity. To control this fungus, use the insecticidal soap or the sulfur treatment on a weekly basis. Make sure you have cut out all infected leaves.


Cockscomb, Celosia cristata, bears flowers which resemble rooster combs and those, celosia agentea plumose, which have feathery flame-like flowers. These are showy annuals from the tropics and bloom from June until frost. They are excellent cut flowers and also dry easily, holding their brilliant color. If you have dried hydrangeas, add dried cockscomb to the mix for accent. They are easily grown from seed, and seedlings in 4 or 5 weeks can be transplanted. For the cockscomb plants, do not pinch back, as the large velvety comb like bloom head will be dwarfed. For the flame like bloom, pinched plant will encourage bushier plants with more blooms.



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