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PLANTING

Plant cools season annuals such as pinks, snapdragons and ornamental cabbages and kale early in the month. Wait until temperatures have cooled to plant pansies and violas.

Complete planting these fall vegetables early in the month: radishes, spinach and turnips.

Last chance to sow wildflowers in order to have blooms next spring. Always purchase “fresh” seed.

Purchase spring-flowering bulbs while selection is good. Chill tulip and Dutch hyacinth bulbs at 45°F for 60 days prior to planting.

Daffodil and grape hyacinth require no special handling but should be stored in a cool location until planting (soil temperature below 55°F). Recommended daffodil varieties include Ice Follies, Fortune, Charlton, Cheerfulness and Tahiti.

Fall is a great time to set out perennial herbs, including thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley, lemon balm, pineapple sage and Mexican mint marigold. Work a few inches of compost into soil prior to planting and mulch the plants after planting.

FERTILIZING AND PRUNING

Remove annuals that have completed their life cycle. Leave seed pods to self-seed next year (cleome, cosmos, four o’clock).

Continue to feed topical plants in containers and hanging baskets with water-soluble fertilizer. Cut back or repot overgrown houseplants and fertilize with same fertilizer.

Spring and summer-flowering shrubs and vines (including climbing roses, wisteria, etc.) should not be pruned at this time because they have already established their buds for next year’s bloom. Prune these plants immediately after they stop blooming next year.

GARDEN WATCH

Watch for brown-patch fungus on St. Augustine lawns. Water only in the mornings and apply turf fungicide at first sign of fungus.

Watch for cutworms and looper caterpillars on young leafy vegetables. Products containing Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) are safe to control these pests. Control aphids with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

Attention, Christmas cactus owners! To initiate flower buds, give the plants bright light each day followed by 12-14 hours of total of darkness at night for 30 days starting mid-month. And keep night temperatures under 65°F.

For more information about the Ellis County Master Gardeners, visit https://txmg.org/ellis/.

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