Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Western Mountains and High Plains

October, 2005
Regional Report

Store Summer-Flowering Bulbs for Future Planting

After the frost has killed the tops of dahlias, glads, cannas, and begonias, you can lift the plants from the soil with a spading fork. Carefully trim away dead stems and foliage (on dahlias leave a couple inches of stem), and brush or wash away excess soil. Fleshy tubers can be stored in plastic grocery sacks filled with vermiculite or sawdust. Store in a frost-proof but cool area. Gladiolus corms can be stored in mesh bags in a cool, dry location.

Breathe New Life Into Your Lawn

Lawns should be core-aerated in the cool weather of fall. Soak the lawn a day prior to aeration so the mechanical aerator removes deep plugs. Holes left from aeration allow for better air, water, and nutrient movement through the soil. This helps the lawn thicken up since root growth is more active during the autumn.

Add Spring-Flowering Bulbs to Your Landscape

To add beauty to your yard in spring, now is the time to plant daffodils, tulips, crocuses, hyacinths, alliums, and many other spring flowers. Plant them in locations that are visible from windows so you can enjoy their show of colors from February through June. Bulbs are short-lived if planted in poorly drained soils, so add compost prior to planting. When setting the bulbs, add some bulb fertilizer to promote strong root development.

Clean Up Houseplants

If you'e been "summering" some of your houseplants outside, remember to clean them up before returning them to the indoors. Gently hose them down with tepid water and a mild soap solution (1teaspoon mild liquid dishwashing detergent to a gallon of water). This will not only clean the foliage, it also will dislodge many insect pests and their eggs. Don't forget to check the undersides of plant containers for those piggyback pests including sowbugs, earwigs, slugs, and millipedes. Get rid of them so they can't take up residence in your home.

Keep the Water Garden Clean of Fallen Leaves

Remove all debris with a rake or net. Cover the pool during leaf fall or you'll have a swampy mess. Use old window or door screens that can be supported over the water feature with 2-by-4s. You also can use shade cloth to protect the water from blowing debris.


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