Fall Gardening Tips for Zone 4

Fall Gardening Tips for September Through November:

Below are fall gardening tips for gardeners in zone 4. Your timing may be different depending on your location. These same tips have been featured in a recent newsletter. To sign up for our newsletter please visit our website and enter your email.

Fall is a great time to plant hostas!

Hosta roots continue to grow until the ground is frozen. We have planted Starter TC hostas as late as the second week of November in Minnesota while it was snowing, and they did great.

The one exception might be with fragrant hosta varieties that evolved further south in eastern China from H. plantaginea. However, these fragrant varieties are often hybridized with more cold tolerant hostas so it is difficult to predict. To over winter well, they might need to get more established before planting or make sure you cover them through the winter.

Hostas planted now will come up looking fresh in the spring. A cold winter dormancy triggers plant hormones, called vernalization, that make the plant better.

Do not fertilize after July 31st. Your plants need to slow down so they can go dormant.

We recommend you label your plants before winter with a durable plant identification marker. The styrene labels that come with our plants or from other vendors get brittle, break, or come out of the ground easily.

From our experience and those of our customers, it is very frustrating to not be able to remember your plants’ names. Our IDeal Garden Markers business offers unique stake and nameplate options, custom engraving, and labeling services and products.

fall gardening tips

Water your plants in the fall.  Dry conditions during this period before dormancy leave the hostas subject to crown rot. In addition, oxygen in the root area creates healthier plants. Remember that hostas planted under trees may need extra water as the tree’s foliage may prevent the water from getting to the hostas, and their roots compete with hostas for what moisture there is.

Slugs: You will get “most bang for your buck” by putting down slug killer just before the slugs lay their last batch of eggs. In Minnesota that is often around the second week of October. For more information on slugs and other hosta pests, see our Hosta Pests Info page.

Foliar Nematodes:  These microscopic worms that leave brown streaks in your hosta’s leaves start to appear as early as late June in the south and the third week of August to the third week of September in the north. HostasDirect, Inc. has never had a foliar nematode reported in the plants we have sold in 9 years. More information on Foliar Nematodes here!

With our Starter TC and Advanced Starter, you are assured of a clean plant as they are grown in sterile clean room environments and virus tested.

Our Mature Divisions were all started from Starter TC – and we have never had one complaint.

Removing blooms or seeds: To help the bees and other pollinators, we recommend you please leave your blooms on your plants until the blooms expire. Then, you can cut off the blooms before they go to seed. Removing spent flowers before seed production will allow more energy to go into the plant.

Should you cut off your hosta’s foliage before winter? Doing so saves a lot of work in the spring. In addition, some gardeners think cutting off and removing foliage creates less of a haven for foliar nematodes, fungal diseases and slugs, and your yard looks clean in the spring.

Fall Gardening Tips for November or December:

Do NOT use wood chips for winter cover! Wood chips may cause your plants and their roots to rot.

For HostasDirect’s recommended winter mulch method, see our Overwintering Perennials Page.

Cover some perennials just after the ground freezes!  Covering is cheap insurance to protect your investment of time, money, work and emotion. We recommend covering all first year perennials you purchase from us. In particular mini and smaller hostas (as they have more shallow roots), hostas and coral bells planted later in the season, and fragrant varieties of hostas. Beware of voles and mice.

How and what to use for covering plants: In the first year, after the ground is frozen, protect your hostas and coral bells with 6” to 1’ of straw or leaves (in a bag or secured by other means so they don’t blow away). This helps stabilize soil temperature and moisture ranges, reduces freeze / thaw, and prevents hostas from growing too early in the spring only to be damaged by frost or snow.  See an illustration of this method here.

The benefit of snow: Snow acts as insulation and keeps the soil temperature warmer and more even. We worry when there is little or no snow and the temperatures are very cold and prolonged!

If you follow the above fall gardening tips, your plants should come up looking fresh in the spring. Please note that these tips are for Zone 4. Your timing could differ based on where you are located.

Gardening Tasks for July

July is a great time to get out and enjoy your garden. By July most of the hard work of spring is completed and this leaves you with plenty of time to sit back and enjoy all your hard work.

We’ve put together a list of six gardening tasks for July to keep up with as your garden progresses through the growing season:

1.     Keep up with deadheading flowers. This not only makes your garden look nice, but also encourages some plants to continue blooming. Who wouldn’t want more flowers?water plants-gardening tasks for july

2.     Make sure your garden has plenty of moisture. The hot summer days can sometimes be quite daunting on plants and they may need more water on hot days. It is recommended that one inch of water per week should be good for hostas. Spread this out over two or three days of watering throughout the week for best results. You don’t want to drown your hostas with too much water at one time. Plants in containers will need to be watered more regularly than ones in the ground. Hanging baskets, especially, dry out quicker and will likely need to be watered daily. If possible, collect rainwater to water your plants.

3.     Keep up on the weeding in your garden. A little time now could save you a lot of time down the road. I’m sure we can all agree that weeding is not the most fun task out there, but it is important. Not only does it help with the appearance of your garden, it can also help prevent slugs and other pests. A clean garden is less likely to have a pest problem than one covered in weeds. Spending ten minutes weeding your garden once per week is better than spending an hour doing it once per month. Do not let the weeds go to seed!

4.     If you haven’t done so already replace/place mulch in your garden. This is one of the important gardening tasks for July because the mulch will help keep moisture in the soil around so they don’t get as dried out, especially on the hot days. Mulch can also help keep slugs away from your hostas.

5.     You can continue fertilizing your hostas throughout the month of July, but we recommend not doing it any later than July 31st.

6.     Bring a lawn chair out to your garden. Sit back and enjoy your hard work.

That concludes our list of gardening tasks for July. It really isn’t too bad, is it?!

Keeping up with these six gardening tasks for July will keep your garden in tip-top shape throughout the summer. It really is a great month to enjoy your garden when most plants will be in bloom and most of the hard spring work is over.

Enjoy!

Comment below on how your garden is doing this year so far. We’d love to see pictures!

Watering Your Lawn and Garden

Watering FlowersIs your grass turning brown? Are your garden plants starting to wilt? No rain clouds in sight? Here are the tips and tricks you need to know to keep your trees, lawn and garden beds green and growing through the hot, dry summer.Tree Roots

How often and when?

Water your lawn and garden deeply but infrequently. Watering only briefly but often leads to shallow root growth, so encourage your trees and plants to grow deep, drought-resistant roots by watering thoroughly until the soil is soaked to a depth of four inches. Water in the early morning to minimize evaporation and reduce the risk of fungal diseases, but if your plants appear distressed, water immediately.   Mulch around your plants to retain soil moisture.

Plants with special needs

Plants that you just bought or transplanted need more help to survive the heat of summer than plants that are already established. Water them well at the time of planting and at least once a week for the remainder of the season. Perennials should be watered at planting, again on the next day, then 3 days later, and then weekly for the rest of the summer.

PlantersPlants in containers as well as those within the overhang of your roof also require more frequent watering. The best technique for watering trees is to just allow a hose to run slowly for several hours near the drip line of the tree, uphill if on a slope. For plants, water with a sprayer nozzle or watering wand.

Methods of wateringSprinkler

Automatic irrigation systems may be the best option for those who travel, but they are expensive and often overwater. Drip irrigation systems are also expensive to install, but use water efficiently. Sprinklers work well on level surfaces but cover only short distances.

Sources:

http://www.sustainable-gardening.com/inputs-tools/water/how-to-water-your-garden

http://www.lowes.com/cd_Watering+Tips_1263913689_