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Master Gardner Tips – Fall Garden Preparation

Now is the time to begin planning your cooler weather gardens and to think ahead to what types of plants and shrubs you want for the spring.  What’s their purpose?  Whether it’s moisture absorption away from the foundation,  herbal or vegetable gardens, or just luscious fall color, the sooner you know what your objectives are, the sooner you can begin your planning list.

Love butterflies?  If you enjoy butterflies, start looking for the caterpillars in early Fall.  Many nurseries say to let them feed to their heart’s content in your garden.  Your plants will recover.  Remember not to spray any of your Butterfly Bushes with pesticides.  If you have Butterfly Weed planted, you should begin seeing the Monarch butterflies coming back through on their way to Mexico.

Rose bushes can be cut back now for fall blooms.  Be sure to cut away all dead stems and leaves – they could disease the rest of your rose bush.  You should get lush blooms well into December, up until the first frost  — some of the finest of the year.  Once temperatures have cooled down a bit, transplant any rose bushes you have growing in pots.

Be very cautious about pruning shrubs in North Texas.  November can often remain very mild, and shrubs often do not get a strong signal to go dormant.  Shearing them back too early might stimulate growth, which is not a good idea just before winter.

Begin preparing for the plants that will be brought indoors for the winter months.  Make sure they are pest-free.  Lighting adjustment is important, so consider carefully where to put them for adequate light.  Transplant any that look root-bound from being outside, or in pots they’ve outgrown.

In November, here’s a fun project to do indoors:  Two bulbs, the Amaryllis and Paper-white narcissus, are easy to force for blooms during the holidays.  Place them in a sunny window, or sufficient artificial lighting.  Paper-white narcissus can also be planted in gravel or stones.  They make wonderful spots of light and life, and during the winter can also be used to start seeds or cuttings for future houseplants.

Perhaps you’ve been considering a greenhouse.  In North Texas, they can provide the serious gardener wonderful opportunities for growing plants over the late fall and winter months.  Many greenhouses can be achieved fairly simply, and offer much pleasure and reward.

If you love the look of a green lawn, November would be the time to throw out rye grass.  Not only will you have a beautiful lawn throughout the winter, but rye grass stablizes any bald spots from excessive soil erosion.  Of course, be prepared to keep mowing….

Enjoy this wonderful season of beautiful fall colors and planning for a lush Spring!

Adapted from Gardening Texas by Gill & Groom