2015-11-05 / From The Garden

Green Thumb Autumn To-Do List

By Cynthia Gibson


Amaryllis can be purchased as a bulb and planted in ordinary soil. The will bloom close to Christmas if planted the first week of November. Amaryllis can be purchased as a bulb and planted in ordinary soil. The will bloom close to Christmas if planted the first week of November. Fall cleanup is always a chore, made only more unpleasant by dropping temperatures. When the weather still allows for working comfortably outside, and the only gloves needed are of the gardening variety, the time is nigh to take advantage of the waning golden days of autumn and prepare your yard for the onslaught of winter. And when the yard gets too chilly, there is plenty of inside "holiday" gardening this time of year (think: amaryllis and paperwhites) to keep your green thumbs busy.

Outdoors

Here’s a to-do list of items to get done before the first serious frost:

.Use Roundup® on tough weeds. It works best when temperatures are above 50 degrees.

.Bring in geraniums and other house plants that were outside in the warmer weather.

.Thin radishes, carrots and beets and sprinkle the bed with an insulating inch of compost. They will continue growing next spring.

.Plant garlic and onions.

.Plant spring bulbs; any kind of bulb fertilizer is highly recommended.

.Dig up sweet potatoes and store them in a cool dark place. .Dig up dahlia bulbs and store them for the winter in a cool dark place, in sawdust. Don’t let them freeze.

.Buy pine bark mulch or use pine needles to mulch flowerbeds.

.Cut hydrangeas back.

.Prune back roses to a foot high, then mulch for winter.

.Mulch the bases of climbing roses. (If they are three years old and thriving, no need to wrap them for winter. If they are young, wrap them in bubble wrap and secure with duct tape.)

.Double-check to see that tools are all indoors. Pull all garden stakes, metal or wood. (They will last far longer.)

.Turn birdbaths upside down and take in all non-weatherproofed garden ornaments.

.Place grass seed, seeds of any kind, and birdseed in small metal garbage cans so they are mouse and rat-proof.

.Invest in a small solar powered birdbath for the birdies during the winter. They are great and the birds will love you!

Indoors


Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Amaryllis: The Holiday Drama Queen

The mature amaryllis is probably the most striking of all the indoor holiday flora. If you plan on having this dramatic bloom as part of your decorating scheme, or if you’d like to give it as a gift, timing is key: It takes a least a month for the flower to bloom. There is still plenty of time for the smaller and more delicate paperwhites, which require half the time to reach their fragrant peak.

The amaryllis, by the way, is native to South Africa and is also called a belladonna lily. From garden shops, nurseries, big box home stores, the Christmas Tree Shop, and supermarkets, stores on Aquidneck Island are now wellstocked with amaryllis in various stages of readiness—and prices.

New versions for 2015 are Lagoon, Exotic Star, Minerva, and Carmen. Add to that the fact that the introduction of strong shades of pink into the blossom with marvelous color combinations. They are more than décor for the holidays; if you have been invited to be part of a holiday meal at the table of friends or family table, take that potted amaryllis with you as a hostess gift. You could accompany your offering with a beautiful Advent calendar.

What to look for:

Size matters: For both amaryllis and paperwhites, the larger the bulb, the better the bulb.

The assembly kit: Bulbs come packaged with the pot saucer, and growing soil. Growing time: five weeks.

DIY: Any of the garden stores will sell excellent quality bulbs with a terrific selection of colors, as well as decorative pots and saucers.

Growing tips

Bulbs can grow on rocks or planted in soil.

Pots need a hole in the bottom for drainage (waterlogged roots will rot.)

Stake the stalk, secured with twine or ribbon, when it hits its growth spurt.

Southern exposure is best.

The amaryllis is thirsty; water liberally. Use bottled water so the color and leaves will be strong and colorful.

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