49 September 9, 2006
We have been lucky that this has been an early fall with plenty of rain. Trees and shrubs take up lots of water to prepare the plants for winters’ drying winds. If we do get a week without a good soaking rain, then you should be watering your trees and shrubs.
Many of you put your houseplants outside for the summer. Unfortunately, it will soon be time to bring those plants inside. While your plants were outside, they may have been the home for any number of insect pests. Outdoors, many natural predators kept these insects in check. When you bring the houseplants indoors, the natural predators are gone and the warm dry air indoors will create the perfect environment for insect population to explode. Before you bring your plants indoors, you should spray them with an insecticide to kill any of the insects lurking on your plants. The spray should kill most insects. To be on the safe side, you should apply a systemic insecticide to the soil. This type of insecticide is absorbed by the roots and taken up into all parts of the plant. This insecticide remains effective for up to 6 weeks. This gives your plant the extra protection that is needed to control spider mites and scale. Once applied to the soil, it takes about a week for the systemic insecticide to get up into the plant. If you apply this insecticide now, you will have your plants protected from insects. If you are like most of us, you will wait until a frost warning before you bring the plants back into the house. By treating the plants with a systemic insecticide now, you won’t have to worry about bringing insects into the house when you hurriedly bring the plants back into the house.
I have talked to a number of people about planting grass seed. Many people ask about covering the grass seed with soil. You can cover the grass seed with soil if you want to do so. The covering of soil helps to hold in moisture and it also helps to protect the seed from being washed away in a light rain. The rule of thumb is that you cover the seed with about ¼ inch of soil. A top quality loam should be used to cover the seed. You can use bagged topsoil or you can use any existing soil you have as long as the soil will not clump up or pack down. When this happens, it is harder for the seed to push up through the soil.
For many years, fall was the traditional time to transplant or to plant trees and shrubs. If the plant loses its leaves, then you can transplant your shrubs once the leaves have fallen. You should try to avoid transplanting broadleaf evergreens in the fall. The process of digging up the plant leaves some of the root system in the soil. When the plant is set into the ground, it needs time to get a root system re-established in the ground. At the same time, broadleaf evergreens need to be taking up water to help them survive the winter winds. This is not to say that you cannot transplant broadleaf evergreens in the fall. It is just that it would be better for the plant if you waited until March or early April to transplant these plants.
Remember that transplanting should not be confused with buying and planting shrubs in the fall. Container grown trees and shrubs have all of their root system growing in the container. Planting these shrubs in the fall is an excellent time to plant shrubs. It gives the plant the fall and the spring to push out a stronger root system before the heat of the summer. When you plant in the fall, mix compost or peat into the soil. Use this mixture of soil and compost to fill in around the root ball of the plant. Use a plant starter fertilizer to encourage root growth and your plants will be off to a healthy start. If you are planting trees, be sure to buy a tree staking kit to help hold the tree steady after it is planted.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.