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News is that our growing season is coming to a close and there are still a good number of things to get done in the garden. Instead of spouting off random information I figured you might prefer to test your gardening knowledge. Following is a fall gardening quiz with the answers following.
1. What is the best method to get my Hydrangeas to bloom next year?
a. Cover the plants with leaves or mulch.
b. Do not cut back the existing canes.
c. Put up a burlap screen to cut off winter winds.
d. Select a Hydrangea that blooms on new as well as old wood.
2. What plants may need protection in winter?
a. Boxwood, Rhododendrons and other broad leaf evergreens.
b. Perennials, trees and shrubs planted after October 1st.
c. Evergreens that may be exposed to salt spray.
d. Plants that deer like to eat.
3. Cleaning up fall leaves is important because…
a. Voles, moles and mice will live under leaves.
b. They are more difficult to remove in spring.
c. They can cause disease issues with some plants.
4. Which of the following is a good method to improve lawns organically?
a. Core aeration in spring and fall.
b. Cutting lawns 2 ½” tall all summer long.
c. Cutting lawns to 1 ½” on the final cut of the season.
d. Fertilizing in November.
5. What of the following tasks are best done in fall for a vegetable garden?
a. Top dressing with compost.
b. Planting a cover crop.
c. Controlling weeds.
d. Tilling the soil.
e. Testing the soil Ph.
6. What perennial plants should be cut down in fall?
a. Hostas, Daylilies and Daisies.
b. Black eyed Susans, Sedum and ornamental grasses.
c. Russian Sage, Lavender and Butterfly Bush.
7. Bone meal is a good fertilizer for bulbs because…
a. It helps develop roots.
b. It releases nutrients very slowly.
c. It smells so good.
8. These are important things to consider when planting spring flowering bulbs.
a. Planting bulbs right side up.
b. Bulb size.
c. Planting depth.
d. Soil consistency.
True or False?
9. Now is the ideal time to bring in your houseplants.
10. Now is an ideal time to prune your trees and shrubs.
11. Now is a great time to fertilize your lawn plus get rid of pesky lawn weeds.
12. Now is a great time to plan for a fall landscape planting.
13. Now is a good time to plant lawns.
14. Now is a good time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials.
15. Fall is the best time to mulch perennial gardens.
16. Tulip bulbs planted now will last forever.
17. Daffodil bulbs prefer moist to wet soil conditions.
18. Squirrels love to eat flower bulbs.
19. There is nothing you can do now to protect shrubs from insect damage next year.
1. All of the above. There are many families of Hydrangeas that all bloom in differing conditions but blooming problems generally are associated with macrophylla or big leaf Hydrangeas. Most of these plants bloom on old wood requiring some of the stems (canes) to survive the winter. Newer varieties bloom on new wood so protection of canes isn’t required.
2. Again all of the above. Wilt-Stop is a product that helps protect evergreen plants from drying winter winds and salt spray. Under extreme conditions a burlap screen may be necessary to protect these plants. If deer are an issue, sprays and/or protective screens may be necessary.
3. For all three reasons you should clean up fall leaves and plant debris.
4. Your lawn would benefit from all of these.
5. Provided you would like an early start in spring it would be advisable to perform all of these tasks in fall. If not, certainly prepare areas where you intend to do early spring plantings when soils would usually be too wet to work in.
6. A. Certainly. B. If you prefer however they do provide some winter interest. C. Do not. These sub-shrub plants should only be pruned in spring after they begin to sprout new growth.
7. Bone meal will not release nutrients until it has had time to decompose in the soil for a period of time making it a long-term plant food. (It does not smell good)
8. Spring flowering bulbs do have a top and bottom, and will not persist in wet or boggy soils. Proper planting depth is important if for no other reason to discourage critters from digging them up. Be careful when purchasing flower bulbs. Larger bulbs offer bigger flowers and longer life but may cost a bit more.
9. False. They should have been brought in weeks ago before they adapted to cool outdoor temperatures. Be sure to treat houseplants with Horticultural Oil and Systemic Granules for control of unwanted pests. (This is advisable for plants never taken outside as well)
10. False. Pruning stimulates growth that (at this time of year) would not have time to harden before winter. Wait until after Thanksgiving when plants are completely dormant.
11. True. Fertilizing now and using a liquid lawn weed control will allow grass to fill in weedy and bare patches.
12. False. Now is an ideal time to plan for next spring. Any good plan will require time. Proper bed preparation requires dry weather to work the soil. By now, time and dry weather are in short supply so plan ahead for best results.
13. False. The ideal lawn planting time is mid August to October 1st but you can still plant grass provided we get dry weather to work the ground. (Never work in mud that can ruin soil structure)
14. True. The air may be colder now but the soil is still warm and roots grow well into the fall. Plants, now going into dormancy, will be less affected by transplanting during this time of year than any other.
15. True. In spring by the time the ground dries out perennials have grown large making mulching very difficult. Once you cut down frozen perennial foliage in fall spreading mulch is easy to do. Be sure not to bury Peonies, Iris or evergreen perennial plants that are sensitive to mulch cover.
16. False. Tulips do not naturalize and have a very short life span. The larger the bulb the longer the life. Some spring bulbs do naturalize and become perennial like Daffodils, Scilla, Muscari and Allium.
17. False. No spring flowering bulbs prefer wet or soggy soils. Locate bulbs only in well-drained soils.
18. False. Generally squirrels only dig them up. Voles are the most likely culprits when bulbs are eaten. Voles also frequently damage perennials and shrubs in winter by eating bark and roots. Place poison bait now to control voles in the garden.
19. False. Bug-B-Gone Tree and Shrub Insect Control is a systemic insect killer absorbed by shrubs and trees providing protection from pests for a full year. Applied now, trees and shrubs will be prepared for next spring when insects appear and begin feeding. Plants that benefit most would be Azaleas, Rhododendron, Pieris, Magnolia, Birch, Dogwood, Pines, Spruces and Viburnum.
Well, how did you do on your gardening quiz? No matter what your score I know if you follow this advise your gardens will have perfect marks next season.
Now go outside and have fun in the dirt!