Western Mountains and High Plains
Favorite or New Plant
If the heat and drought have left your landscape looking barren, don't fret. You can add color this fall with asters. The Frikart hybrids, (Aster X frikarttii) such as the variety 'Monch', will bloom for an extended period from late summer until frost. They're hardy to USDA Zone 4 and can grow to 4 feet tall, depending on the variety. To keep the plants from getting tall and floppy, it's helpful to pinch them in early summer and stake or cage the taller plants. 'Alma Potschke' is a New England aster (Aster novae-angliae) with beautiful warm pink blooms on a more compact 3-foot plant.
Asters grow best in full sun on well-drained soil. Locally purchased, container-grown plants can be planted now to fill in bare spots, or you can plan on purchasing plants in spring to redesign your garden. Combine asters with ornamental grasses, goldenrod, coneflowers, and Joe-Pye weed for a handsome display.
Clever Gardening Technique
Powdery Mildew Remedy
The shorter days and longer nights of fall, combined with cooler temperatures, are favorable to the development of powdery mildew. This fungal disease causes a white, powdery substance to form on the leaves of annuals and perennials such as squash, phlox, and bee balm. Left untreated, powdery mildew will weaken plants.
Instead of turning to pesticides for control of this disease, here's a homemade recipe that will help prevent powdery mildew from taking over. Passed down by my grandmother, it really works and is very environmentally friendly.
1 quart water
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Pour into a spray bottle or tank sprayer. Apply to infected plants. Spray both upper and lower surfaces of the leaves. Works best as a preventive and reduces the spread of the disease.