Tips to get garden in tiptop shape for fall

By T

Don’t allow plants with green fruit or berries to suffer from lack of moisture. Hollies will frequently drop their fruit under drought conditions. Some vegetables such as cucumbers or eggplants also become bitter if underwatered during peak growing times.

l Coleus and caladiums require plenty of water this time of year if they are to remain lush and attractive until fall. Fertilize with ammonium sulfate at the rate of l/3 to l/2 pound per 100 square feet of bed area, and water thoroughly.

l Rejuvenate heat-stressed geraniums and begonias for the fall season by lightly pruning, fertilizing and watering.

l Now is the time to sow seeds of the many cool-weather vegetables, greens and herbs that thrive through New Mexico’s relatively mild winters. The fall and winter cool season is often more dependable for growing these crops than the spring season.

l Remove weak, unproductive growth and old seed heads from crape myrtles and roses to stimulate new growth for fall beauty.

l Prune out dead or diseased wood from trees and shrubs. Hold off on major pruning until mid-winter. Pruning now may stimulate tender new growth prior to frost.

l Sow seeds of snapdragons, pinks, pansies and other winter flowers in flats for planting outside during mid-to-late fall.

l Prepare the beds for spring-flowering bulbs as soon as possible. It’s important to cultivate the soil and add generous amounts of organic matter to improve water drainage. Bulbs will rot without proper drainage.

l Continue a disease spray schedule on roses as blackspot and mildew can be extremely damaging in September and October.

l Christmas cactus can be made to flower by supplying 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness and cool nights (55 degrees F) for a month starting in mid-October. Keep plants on the dry side for a month prior to the treatment.

l Plan to plant wildflowers in early September and October. Check supplies now and order seed for planting in open sunny areas. Consider bluebonnet, Indian paintbrush, coneflower, fire-wheel, black-eyed Susan, evening primrose and many others. Soils should be lightly cultivated prior to planting.

l Divide spring flowering perennials such as iris, Shasta daisy, gaillardia, rudbeckias, cannas, daylilies, violets, liriope and ajuga. Many problems showing up this time of year include leaf scorch.

A uniform yellowing or browning of the edges of leaves on broadleafplants or the tips of evergreen needles is a symptom of a condition called scorch. This problem occurs most commonly on linden, maple, ash and cottonwood. The problem usually is more severe on the south or southwest side of the tree or on the side nearest a source of radiated heat, such as a brick wall or street. Severe scorch can result in premature leaf or needle loss.

Prolonged dry periods accompanied by warm, dry winds, create an imbalance in trees in which moisture is lost through transpiration faster than the roots can supply it to the leaves. This results in the drying out and death of leaves and sometimes branch tips. Some added watering of such trees can help.

Tom Dominguez is an agent with the Quay County Extension, NMSU Extension Service. He can be reached by calling 461-0562 or emailing