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Early Spring Gardening Projects

Bulbs are or soon will be blooming!  Enjoy the ones blooming this spring, take note of the varieties, then purchase bulbs in the fall.

Fertilize spring blooming bulbs with fertilome Bulb Food as they begin to emerge, and then again as the foliage is starting to yellow.

Yes, it is tempting, but do not cut bulb foliage back until the foliage has turned from yellow to brown.

Spent (faded) flowers and seed pods, should be removed as soon as possible after flowering, though.

Bulbs use the time after they flower to store food for next year and to develop larger bulbs.  If you cut the foliage back too soon, you are compromising future years’ flowering.

Replenish the organic mulch in your flower beds and around trees and shrubs.  A 2” layer of Cypress Mulch, Cedar Mulch, Pine Bark Mulch, Hardwood Mulch, Pecan Hulls, or Cocoa Hulls should be maintained around your perennial plants.  It is necessary to add to the mulch layer as the bottom layers of the mulch decompose.  The best mulches for annuals and vegetables are Alfalfa Mulch, Cotton Seed Hulls or Back to Nature Cotton Burr Compost.

Adding organic soil amendments to your soil creates a wonderful growing environment for your plants.  Appropriate soil amendments loosen the soil, add nutrients to the soil, and improve the soil structure- either making sandy soils better able to hold moisture, or making clay soils better draining.  Our favorite soil amendments are Back to Nature Cotton Burr Compost and Soil Mender Garden Soil Builder (formerly called Hu-Max). 

When preparing new flower beds, till in at least 2 pounds of Back to Nature Cotton Burr Compost or Soil Mender Garden Soil Builder per each square foot.  It is amazing how much better the soil is and how much better the plants grow in the annual beds where we till in the Cotton Seed Hulls (used as a summer time mulch) each fall, thus annually making the soil richer! 

Make a commitment to fertilizing your plants on a regular basis.  Depending on what kind of fertilizer you use, your plants may need fertilizing anywhere from once a week to just every 3 or 4 months.  Please ask for our recommended fertilizers!  Most plants, particularly annuals, bloom on new growth.  Thus, if the plant is not growing as a result of not being fertilized, your plants will consequently not bloom very much if any at all.  We have a plant food that will meet your plants’ needs and your needs- if you don’t have time to fertilize every time you water, we can help.

Our Favorite All Purpose Plant Foods:

“I have time to water my plants by hand and I remember to fertilize.”  Use:  Daniels Plant Food (our favorite plant food, what your plants have been grown with here at the greenhouse)- mix into the water and use at least once a week, or every time you water.

“I do not often water my plants by hand and I don’t have time or forget to fertilize my plants.”  Use: Proven Winners Time Release Plant Food- a slow release plant food; lightly mix it into the soil around your plants.  One application will last several months.

“I water my plants (by hand or irrigation) at least occasionally and will remember to fertilize my plants at least once a month.”  Use: Various granular plant foods (such as Hi-Yield Garden Fertilizer).  One application generally lasts one month.

“I want to help the environment by gardening organically.”  Use Daniels Plant Food (made from soybean seeds, it is organically based (it does have some added nitrogen)), or fertilizers from MYKE, Fox Farm, Grow More, or Espoma.

As always, read and follow all label instructions when applying plant foods.

Along with the wonderful potting soils we use to plant up the thousands of baby plants we grow each year, we also are offering Pro-Mix potting soils:

Pro-Mix Outdoor Planting Mix is a complete peat/compost-based growing mix specially formulated for flowers, vegetables, and shrubs.  It contains mycorrhizae (from the makers of MYKE), a natural soil-borne fungi that promotes better plant growth and ensures strong plant establishment.  The mycorrhizae significantly broadens the root system to capture the available nutrients in the soil.  Therefore, this mix is ideal for amending low nutrient, poor quality soils, as well as being used for container plantings.  Contains Canadian sphagnum peat moss, organic compost, shrimp by-products, seaweed and/or softwood bark, limestone, and mycorrhizae (from the makers of MYKE). 

Pro-Mix Potting Mix is specially formulated for plants grown in hanging baskets and outdoor planters. Ideal under hot, sunny conditions, it contains water-saving gel to hold extra water and reduce watering frequency. It also contains a long-lasting fertilizer to ensure continuous plant feeding up to 9 months, saving time and effort for homeowners.  Contains Canadian sphagnum peat moss, water saving gel, long-lasting fertilizer, perlite, limestone, macro and micronutrients, and a wetting agent. 


Rake fallen leaves and debris from your flower beds, taking care not to step on emerging perennials.

Remove any winter mulch as the plants come out of dormancy.

Cut back ornamental grasses ASAP.  If you wait much longer, the new grass will be coming up and it will be difficult to cut the old off without giving the new a “buzz cut”!

The task of cutting back ornamental grasses is made much easier by tying the foliage of a clump together with a piece of twine (get the twine as tight as possible).  Then, use hedge trimmers or a weed whip (or hand pruners if you have strong hands), and cut the grass off about 3” to 5” above the ground.  Your tied up bundle of grass can easily be taken to the compost pile now.

We do not recommend burning off ornamental grasses.

Ornamental grasses can be cut back in the fall, but their beauty adds so much to the winter landscape that most people wait until late winter or early spring to cut them back. 

Though technically “woodies” because of their woody growth, here at Arnold 's Greenhouse we refer to Buddleias (Butterfly Bushes) and Caryopteris (Blue Mist Spirea) as perennials because they are best treated as such in our climate. 

Buddleia and Caryopteris will leaf out from their old, woody growth, but they are best trimmed back to about 6”-12” tall (leave several leaf buds below your cut) to stimulate new growth.  Your pruned plants will typically have nicer, more prolific foliage and bloom much better than unpruned plants.

Some perennials are late to come up in the spring.  Don’t give up on the late risers!  For example, hardy Hibiscus generally does not come up before the middle of April.

Keep an eye out for some fairly hardy annuals that sometime winter over here- Cannas, Dahlias, and Verbena are some annuals that often make a surprise appearance in the spring!

Plant your perennials now!  Perennials love the cool growing conditions of early spring.  We grow most of our perennials in cool winter temperatures, and all of the perennials on the benches in the retractable roof greenhouse are subject to nearly as cool temperatures as the outdoors.

Some perennials may suffer frost damage to the foliage if a frost comes, but in most all cases, the plant itself will be just fine! If a frost is predicted, you can protect your new plants by covering them with a sheet or blanket for the night.


There are numerous annuals that are quite cold tolerant:  Old standbys like Pansies and Violas (Violas are actually perennials).  Both of these are winter hardy here, but the summer heat kills them off, so we sell  them as annuals.

Try some more unique cold tolerant annuals, such as Ostespermum (all of the varieties of Osteospermum that we grow have good heat tolerance), Nemesias, Stocks (wonderfully fragrant!) and Snapdragons.


Prune roses as needed as soon as you see the leaves beginning to emerge.  Prune out dead canes, diseased canes, weak canes, and canes growing towards the center of the plant or crossing other canes. 

Begin applying preventative fungicides for Black Spot just as soon as your roses begin to leaf out.  With Black Spot, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!  Bayer All in One Rose and Flower Care is by far the easiest product to use to keep your roses from getting Black Spot.  It is a systemic insecticide, systemic fungicide, and fertilizer, all in one product that is applied as a soil drench around your roses every six weeks.  Its one weakness is it does not contain enough fertilizer (roses are heavy feeders), so we recommend a supplemental fertilizer, such as Daniels Plant Food or Bayer 2-in-1 Rose Fertilizer and Insect Control.

If you would rather not use the Bayer All in One Rose and Flower Care, you can use a combination of products to get the same results:  Fertilome Systemic Fungicide (used every 10 to 14 days) and Bayer 2-in-1 Rose Fertilizer and Insect Control (used once a month).

Watering your roses with a soaker hose, drip irrigation, or hand watering at the base of the plant only (and early in the day), will all help avoid spreading fungal diseases.

If you are wanting to garden organically, we have a selection of organic Rose Food, organic fungicides, and organic insecticides. 


Check the soil moisture before working the garden.  Don’t work the soil if it is too wet- test for wetness by grabbing a handful of soil and squeezing it- if it holds together like clay, it is too wet; if it crumbles like a cupcake, it is ready for planting.

Fertilize your garden before planting at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per 100 square feet.  Use a balanced fertilizer, such as Hi-Yield Garden Fertilizer, with an analysis of 8-10-8 .

Too much organic matter is essentially impossible.  Take the opportunity each spring to till in Soil Mender Garden Soil Builder at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per square foot.  Or use, Back to Nature Cotton Burr Compost (a blend of cotton bolls/burrs and cow manure).  Your veggies will reward you!

Have a soil test performed on your garden soil if you have not had a soil test in the past five years.  Soil test kits are available here at Arnold ’s Greenhouse, or you can take a soil sample to your County Extension Agent for the agent to send into K-State for analysis.

Numerous cool season garden veggies can be planted now.  The following veggies thrive in cool temperatures, and if not planted soon, they will bolt instead of producing a crop when hot weather comes on.

Plant Asparagus, Potatoes, Rhubarb, Onion Sets, Garlic, and Horseradish. 

Plant Cabbage, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Leeks, Onion Plants, and Lettuce from small plants.

Use MYKE Vegetable Garden at the time of planting your veggies.  MYKE will not colonize plants in the cabbage or beet family, however.

Soon, you can also plant Beets, Turnips, Carrots, and Peas from seed.

Make successive plantings of the same vegetable, 1 to 2 weeks apart to extend your harvest.

Potatoes are best planted from certified seed potatoes.  All of our seed potatoes are certified seed potatoes.

Cut potatoes into 1 ½ to 2 ounce pieces (approximately 4 to 6 pieces per potato); making the pieces this size, it will be virtually impossible to not have an eye on a piece of potato.  Having this large of pieces of potatoes will ensure that your potato plants will come back from a frost (smaller pieces will result in less reserve for the plants). 

Cut your potatoes and lay them out to dry indoors or outside in a dry spot, for one to two days.  A protective “skin” will form, keeping the potatoes from rotting in moist soil.

If you want to plant your potatoes the day your cut them, all cut surfaces must be dusted with sulfur before planting, otherwise they are very prone to rotting.

To increase the sugars in the potato (and thus the energy the potatoes have), store potatoes inside a warm area for 1 week before planting.

Small onion sets will result in the best onions as they are less prone to bolting than are large onion sets.

Large size onion sets are great for harvesting early as green onions.  Left in the ground, large onion sets will bolt mulch sooner than small onion sets.

Onion sets are for varieties that have pungent flavor.  They grow to medium size and keep well.

Onion plants make the giant, prize-willing onions that are mild and sweet.  Most varieties of onion plants do not store as well as the varieties of onion sets.

Watch your cole crops, particularly cabbage, for cabbage worms.

The first sign will likely be small whitish to yellowish colored moths.  The moths will lay eggs which will develop into cabbage worms which will eat holes in your cabbage.

At the first sign of moths of cabbage worms, spray with Thuricide.  Thuricide contains Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis sps. Kurstaki) is organic and harmless to humans.  Bt kills the cabbage worms (and all other worms and caterpillars) by destroying their digestive system.  A second application, 14 days later, may be needed.

Do you want the first homegrown tomatoes in your neighborhood?  Plant an early maturing tomato, such as ‘Early Girl’ or ‘Fourth of July’, and use Wall-O-Waters around your plants.  Wall-O-Waters work by insulating your tomato plants against cold temperatures and protecting them from frost.

We have some very nice tomato plants available now of ‘Early Girl’, ‘Fourth of July’, ‘Jet Star’, and ‘Summer Sweet Grape’! 


Spray ASAP for Peach Leaf Curl (if you haven’t already done so).  If you have ever seen emerging peach and nectarine leaves that are puckered, swollen, distorted and reddish-green color, you have seen peach leaf curl. Uncontrolled, this disease can severely weaken trees because of untimely leaf drop when leaves unfurl in the spring.  The disease also indirectly causes the fruit to be smaller or disfigured.  This disease is caused by a fungus (Taphrina deformans) that overwinters on peach and nectarine tree’s bark and buds.  Fortunately, peach leaf curl is not that difficult to control if the spray is applied early enough. You must spray for peach leaf curl before the leaf buds have started to swell & crack open (once the bud scales swell and crack in the spring prior to leaf out, the fungus gets into the meristem and is impossible to control).  Peach leaf curl can be controlled by a single fungicide application either in the fall after leaf drop or in the spring before bud swell.  There are several fungicides labeled for this disease including Bordeaux , liquid lime sulfur, and chlorothalonil (contained in various fungicides).  Thoroughly cover the entire tree during application.  Note that it is much easier to achieve good spray coverage if the tree is pruned before spraying.

Prune fruit trees, grapes, and brambles. 

Now is the perfect time to add to your orchard or berry patch.

Take notice when selecting fruit trees and berries, as many varieties need another variety to cross-pollinate.

Have Bonide Fruit Tree Spray on hand.  As soon as 80% of the flower petals have fallen, begin a rigorous spray schedule of Bonide Fruit Tree Spray every 10 to 14 days.

Following this spray schedule, you will eliminate insects and diseases that would otherwise damage the fruit.


Apply fertilome Horticultural Oil Spray to all trees and shrubs to kill over wintering insects.  

The sooner it can be applied, the better!  The temperature must be above 40 degrees when the oil is applied.

The oil needs to coat all plant surfaces, thus if applied before the plants leaf out, less spray will be needed than if the spray is applied after the plants leaf out. 

Apply Bayer 12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed as a soil drench.  Very, very easy to apply.  For use ONLY on ornamental trees.  

Bayer 12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed gives you one year of systemic control.  It will only guard against future problems, not kill current pests.  

Bayer 12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed is excellent to use on lilacs to prevent borers.

Bayer 12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed is NOT for use on fruit or nut trees.  (Most systemic products are not labeled for edibles.)

  All trees can be pruned now, except for:Birch, Beech, Elm, Dogwood, Willow , Flowering Plum, Flowering Cherry, and Maple.  These trees are all best pruned after they have leafed out.  Excessive sap is likely to “gush” out of these trees if they are pruned before they leaf out.

Take care to not excessively prune spring blooming trees, as any pruning you do now will remove blossoms.

The flowers of spring blooming shrubs (generally classified as those shrubs that bloom before mid June), are formed on “old wood”.  Wait to prune spring blooming shrubs until after they have flowered.

If you enjoy the berries that follow some spring blooming shrubs, such as Viburnum, take care to not prune them after flowering, however.

Lightly (or not so lightly, the choice is yours) prune ‘Endless Summer’, ‘Endless Summer Blushing Bride’, 'Endless Summer Twist N Shout', and ‘Penny Mac’ Hydrangeas.  Unlike other Mophead and lacecap Hydrangeas, these varieties will bloom on new and old wood.  Thus, you will have flowering every year on these varieties, regardless of how cold our winter was.  Since they bloom best on new wood, take the opportunity to prune them to stimulate new growth.

Apply a solution of Aluminum Sulfate and Copperas to any Hydrangea macrophylla or Hydrangea serrata planted in Alkaline soil to turn the flowers blue this year.  This application is recommended only if your Hydrangeas have been planted for at least two or three years.  Please ask for a Hydrangea Guide when you visit this spring for more information.

Evergreens can be pruned now.  Since most naturally have a good form, just shear or clip off any winter damage.  Most winter damage is in the form of dessication, often seen as dry, yellow-brown foliage on Boxwood, for example.

Mulch tree and shrub plantings with hardwood mulch, such as cypress, cedar, or pine bark.  Take care not to have more than a 3” layer of mulch- thus you will need to check the depth of the existing mulch around your trees and shrubs before applying additional mulch.

Keep the mulch a couple of inches away from the trunk and stems of your woodies.  Beware of the “mulch volocanoes” (mulch mounded up around the trunk)!

Existing trees and shrubs should be fertilized in both spring and fall.

As trees and shrubs begin to leaf out, they can begin to make use of fertilizer (sap is running up the tree from the roots).

Most tree and shrub fertilizers are in granular form- be sure to water them in well.

We recommend Fertilome Tree & Shrub Food, as well as several organic Tree & Shrub Fertilizers.

MYKE mycorrhizae is beneficial not only to new plants at the time of planting, but also to existing trees and shrubs that have been planted less than five years, and trees and shrubs that are struggling in the landscape.

To use MYKE on existing trees and shrubs, make several 6” to 8” deep holes around the dripline.  Fill the holes up with MYKE and water in.  You cannot use too much MYKE since it is not a fertilizer, so do not hesitate to use an ample amount.

MYKE needs only be used one time!  J

Unwanted fruit on ornamental trees CAN be done away with before it even forms!

Spray Florel Growth Regulator when the trees you would like to eliminate fruit on are in the mid to full bloom stage.

Wet blooms thoroughly, just before the Florel starts to drip off. 

Do not spray Florel if rain is in the 24 hour forecast.

Take care not to get the Florel on the blooms of any fruit trees.


Remove dead leaves and thatch to stimulate new growth.

Core aeration may be performed so long as the soil moisture is correct (not too wet and not too dry).  Core aeration greatly benefits compacted lawns.

If you did not apply fertilizer in the fall, do so as soon as your lawn has been mowed 2 to 3 times.

Apply a ¼” to ½” layer of Soil Mender Garden Soil Builder or Back to Nature Cotton Burr Compost over the surface of your lawn to add natural nutrients.  Thatch needs to be removed before the Soil Mender Garden Soil Builder or Back to Nature Cotton Burr Compost is applied.

Lawns may be seeded in the spring, though fall is the optimum time for most lawn seeding.

Overseeding should be done before weed seeds have the opportunity to overtake bare spots in your lawn.

If you didn’t apply weed killer on your lawn last fall, you will likely have a plethora of dandelions, henbit, and chickweed in your lawn this spring.

You may spot treat those pesky weeds this spring with Fertilome Weed Free Zone.  Then… remember to apply Fertilome Weed & Feed this fall so you don’t have to spot treat weeds next spring.

Crabgrass is a warm season annual grass that generally germinates in mid to late April.  Apply Fertilome All Season Lawn Food and Crabgrass and Weed Preventer (contains Barricade) anytime between the first of March and early April to prevent the crabgrass from germinating. 

Some easy reminders as to when to apply pre-emergent crabgrass control is: 1) when redbud trees are in full bloom. 2) before forsythia quit blooming. 3) right before “Tax Day’- April 15th.

  Do not apply pre-emergents if you are overseeding or reseeding your lawn!

Mid Spring Gardening Projects

~  The best time to apply dandelion killer is in the fall.  The second best time is right after the first flush of flowers in the spring.  Spot treat for dandelions by spraying with Fertilome Weed Free Zone.  Mix Hi Yield Spreader Sticker in your sprayer with the Fertilome Weed Free Zone to make your spray cover a larger area and to increase its effectiveness.  **It is always best to have two sprayers- one for herbicides (weed and grass killers) and one for all other sprays (fungicides, insecticides, and fertilizers).  Please note, Fertilome Weed Free Zone (as well as all other broadleaf weed killers) will kill ALL broadleaf plants, be they weeds or your prize plants!

~ Fertilize your spring blooming bulbs with Hi-Yield Dutch Bulb Food as the flowers fade.  Over the next few weeks, your bulbs will be storing food for next spring’s bloom.  Remove the seed pods only (no foliage yet) from spring blooming bulbs.

~  Plant strawberries, rhubarb potatoes, onion sets, and onion plants as soon as possible.  Plant seeds for carrots, peas, radishes, turnips, rutabagas, and kohlrabi.  Bareroot crowns of asparagus are also available.

  ~ Warm season vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant can often be planted by mid to late April.  Okra, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, and watermelon should not be planted until the very end of April or first part of May.

  ~ Remember to rotate your veggie crops in your garden.  Many soil-borne plant diseases are specific to certain types of plants.  So, if you can keep from planting the same crops (and related crops) in the same place this year as you did the past few years, you will greatly minimize your likelihood of having soil-borne diseases attack your plants.  For example, tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes are all related, so don’t plant any of them in the same place any of their relatives have been planted the past few years.  Using a sheet of plastic “mulch” over the soil will also minimize the chances of having soil borne-diseases attack your plants (because the plastic mulch keeps water from hitting the soil and then splashing up onto your plants’ leaves).  For disease prevention help and to up your yields of tomatoes, we recommend Better Reds Plastic Mulch!

By the end of May, it will be strawberry picking time!  There’s still time to plant strawberry plants to get your own strawberry patch started!  We have 4 varieties of June Bearing Strawberries and 2 varieties of Everbearing/Day Neutral varieties.  All of the varieties have been selected for their disease tolerance and ease of growing in our soil and climate.  K-State has a wonderful strawberry growing guide,

If you are planting strawberry plants this spring, please keep the flowers picked off of your June Bearing strawberry plants- allowing them to bear this year takes away from their energy stores to produce good runner plants.  So, sacrifice your berry cravings this year to enjoy bountiful crops of June-bearing strawberries in coming years!  If you are planting Everbearing strawberry plants this year, keep the blossoms picked off for the first 4 to 6 weeks to help them get established before producing fruit.

~  Apply Treflan Pre-emergent Herbicide granules at the time of planting to drastically reduce the number of weeds in your garden.  Treflan keeps weeds (and all other plants- be they good or bad!) from coming up, thus do NOT use Treflan in a garden where you have planted seeds until the seeds have germinated.  Treflan will give you about 4 to 6 weeks of pre-emergent weed control.

HY Turf & Ornamental Weed Stopper with Dimension can be used on any flower beds (not on fruit or veggie gardens).  HY Turf & Ornamental Weed Stopper with Dimension will give you about 3 months of pre-emergent weed control in your flower beds.

~  Prune Roses and apply Bayer All in One Rose and Flower Care every four to six weeks.  Bayer All in One Rose and Flower Care is by far the easiest product to use to keep your roses from getting Black Spot.  It is a systemic insecticide, systemic fungicide, and fertilizer, all in one product that is applied as a soil drench around your roses every four to six weeks.  Its one weakness is it does not contain enough fertilizer (roses are heavy feeders), so we recommend a supplemental fertilizer, such as Daniels Plant Food or Bayer 2-in-1 Rose Fertilizer and Insect Control.

If you would rather not use the Bayer All in One Rose and Flower Care, you can use a combination of products to get the same results:  Fertilome Systemic Fungicide (used every 10 to 14 days) and Bayer 2-in-1 Rose Fertilizer and Insect Control (used once a month).

If you prefer a more Earth-friendly approach, then you can use the Fertilome Systemic Fungicide (used every 10 to 14 days) to prevent fungal diseases such as Black Spot and Powdery Mildew.  Fertilize with Daniels Plant Food or Osmocote.  Use organic or chemical insecticides as needed to treat insects.

Once a year, apply Fertilome Tree & Shrub Systemic Drench as a soil drench.  Very, very easy to apply.  For use ONLY on ornamental trees.
Fertilome Tree & Shrub Systemic Drench gives you one year of systemic control.  It will only guard against future problems, not kill current pests.
Fertilome Tree & Shrub Systemic Drench is excellent to use on lilacs to prevent borers.
Fertilome Tree & Shrub Systemic Drench is NOT for use on fruit or nut trees.  (Most systemic products are not labeled for edibles.)

~ Apply a solution of Hi Yield Aluminum Sulfate and Hi Yield Copperas to any Hydrangea macrophylla or Hydrangea serrata planted in Alkaline soil to turn the flowers blue this year.  Only use this solution on hydrangeas that you are wanting to turn blue AND that have been planted in your garden for at least two or three years.  Please ask for a Hydrangea Guide when you visit this spring for more information!


September Gardening Projects

Refresh your garden and patio with the colors of fall!  Create a neat and easy fall display with some straw bales, corn bundles, gorgeous mums, Indian corn, unique gourds, and awesome pumpkins!

Discontinue fertilizing established perennials and roses for the fall/winter. 

Bring in any houseplants that spent the summer outdoors before a frost occurs.  Carefully check for any insects that are on your houseplants.

Check for and remove any diseased plant foliage in your garden.  Take care to remove diseased rose foliage (such as foliage with black spot), and diseased tree & shrub branches.  Place all diseased plant foliage in a trash bin- do not compost it (diseases can overwinter in compost bins and in the garden, causing problems in future years). 

After you have completed harvesting from your veggie garden, remove any rotted vegetables.  Squash bugs can overwinter in old vegetables, creating problems next year.  Squash bugs can also overwinter in straw, under boards, and other debris.  Likewise, do not put Squash bug infested plant foliage or fruit in the compost bin.

Take cuttings of any annuals that you want to root indoors for planting next spring.

Divide and move perennials.  Be sure and use Annual and Perennial MYKE and fertilome Root Stimulator at the time of planting!

Dig and store annual bulbs (such as cannas, dahlias, gladiolas, freesias, tuber roses, elephant ears, and caladiums).

Plant a plethora of spring blooming bulbs (alliums, hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, crocus, grape hyacinths, crown imperial, and more!)

Harvest remaining summer vegetables, including green tomatoes, before the first frost occurs.

Pinch off green tomatoes that are much too small to ripen before frost.  This will funnel the plants’ energy into ripening the larger fruits.

Light frosts will not hurt cool season vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli.

Harvest any herbs you want for drying or freezing.

Cure winter squash for storage.  Place in a cool, sheltered, shady spot for about 1 month for the skin to cure and harden.

Clean up any fallen orchard fruit.

Pick pears before they are fully mature. Store them in a cool, dark basement to ripen.

Plant trees and shrubs!  Use Tree & Shrub MYKE at the time of planting (and receive a 5 year Warranty on most trees & shrubs purchased at Arnold ’s Greenhouse with MYKE!)  Also use fertilome Root Stimulator for the first few times you water.  Mulch trees and shrubs with a 2” layer of wood mulch (such as Cypress , Cedar, or Pine Bark Mulch), keeping it away from the stems.  Trees and shrubs planted in the fall get a head start.  Cooler weather and fall rains help them establish a good root system that will support the surge of vigorous growth once spring arrives.

Fertilize Trees and Shrubs with fertilome Tree & Shrub Fertilizer.  This is a granular fertilizer that needs to be watered in well after application.  Apply fertilome Tree & Shrub Fertilizer in the fall and in the spring. 

If you have not had your soil tested for a few years, take a soil sample to your county extension agent for a soil analysis.  The analysis will tell you what, if any, soil nutrients your soil is lacking.  By having the test performed in the fall, you will have all fall and winter to add needed nutrients. 

Piles of leaves and lawn clippings… can turn into rich Compost!
Any disease-free and insect-free foliage can be composted.  It is really quite easy to make your own compost, and there’s nothing better for your garden than rich compost.  Leaves make wonderful compost material- they are plentiful and nutrient rich- they are made up of lots of complex chemicals that, once broken down, plants love.  Leaves can be composted into rich humus for the garden.  You can pack leaves in bins made of landscape timbers, but you can also make compost with leaves in something as simple as a wire cage.  It doesn’t really matter what you make compost in, it’s the ingredients and the process that make the difference.

The recipe is simple.  It just takes organic matter like leaves.  You can use grass clippings or even vegetable scraps from the kitchen (avoid grease, animal fat, or dairy products).  And, keep it moist, consistently moist, but not sopping wet.  Turn your compost pile every couple of weeks (with a pitch fork).  And, of course, it takes time, generally about six months to create compost.  But, you can accelerate the process by adding a source of nitrogen, either in the form of a granular fertilizer, or manure, or even green grass clippings.  And, turning your compost pile often will also help hasten the journey to your own compost!

Getting Rid of Dandelions
In October, apply a post-emergent broadleaf weed killer, such as Fertilome Weed Free Zone or Fertilome Weed Out to kill dandelions and other broadleaf weeds in your lawn.  Fall is by far the best time to kill dandelions, as they are small, young, actively growing plants now.  You can use the granular form of Fertilome Weed Free Zone or Fertilome Weed Out, or you can use the liquid form.  If you choose to use the granular form, it must be applied to wet grass and weeds (so an early morning application when your lawn is wet with dew is ideal).  If you choose to use the liquid form, apply it only on a calm day so material does not drift onto desirable plants.  Broad leaf weed killers don’t know the difference between a dandelion and a pretty flower, so they will kill any broad leaved plant (basically, they will kill anything except for grass).  Regardless of whether you use a granular or liquid application, you must wait at least 24 hours after application to mow (to make sure the broadleaf weeds have had enough time to absorb the weed killer). 

On newly seeded turf, the new grass must be well established before you can treat it with a post-emergence broadleaf weed killer. You usually can treat if the new grass is 2” to 3” tall and has been mowed at least three times.

So, take a little time and apply Fertilome Weed Free Zone or Fertilome Weed Out this October so that you can have a lush, beautiful, weed-free lawn next spring!

Just FYI, Crabgrass and other annual grasses are controlled with a pre-emergent weed killer in the spring.

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes
Tomatoes certainly slow down when the weather cools.  If you’re not ready to see the end of homegrown tomatoes, try one of the following “tricks” to ripen your own tomatoes indoors.  

The following is recommended by Dr. Chuck Marr of K-State:
“Right before the first freeze is forecasted, harvest full-sized tomatoes that have reached the mature green state.  Fruits will be pale green with five white star-shaped streaks reaching from the blossom scar on the bottom of the fruit upward on the tomato.  These tomatoes will ripen gradually over time.  Store them in a location where the temperature doesn’t drop below 50 degrees F and check them periodically for rotted fruit.  If you want them to ripen faster, move them to a room-temperature location.”  

The following is recommended by Michigan State University :
“Green tomatoes will usually ripen if they are removed from the vine and wrapped individually in newspaper.  (Wrapping the tomatoes helps to prevent rotting and
provides the proper atmosphere for ripening to occur).  Allow tomatoes to ripen at room temperature or slightly cooler. It may take awhile for totally green tomatoes to ripen.

If at all possible, green tomatoes should be harvested before the first frost.  Green tomatoes hit by a light frost should ripen if treated as outlined above.  However, if they are hit be a heavy frost, they will not ripen and should be used as soon as possible in the green state.”  

The following is recommended by the University of Minnesota :
For unripe green peppers and tomatoes.

“Pick ripe, nearly ripe and mature green fruits before frost occurs. Mature green tomatoes are those with a glossy, whitish green fruit color and mature size.

Select fruits only from strong healthy vines, and pick only those fruits free of disease, insect or mechanical damage.

Remove stems to prevent them from puncturing each other.

If dirty, gently wash and allow the fruit to air dry.

Store tomatoes and peppers in boxes, 1 to 2 layers deep, or in plastic bags with a few holes for air circulation.

If you have a cool, moderately humid room, simply place them on a shelf.

Keep fruit out of direct sunlight. They may be stored in the dark.

As tomatoes ripen, they naturally release ethylene gas, which stimulates ripening. To slow ripening, sort out ripened fruits from green tomatoes each week. To speed up ripening, place green or partially ripe fruits in a bag or box with a ripe tomato.

Ripe tomatoes keep in a refrigerator for about 1 week but will lose their flavor. Green peppers keep for 2 weeks. Green, mature tomatoes and peppers stored at 65-70 degrees, will ripen in about 2 weeks. Cooler temperatures slow the ripening process. At 55 degrees, they will ripen in 3-4 weeks. Storage temperatures below 50 degrees will slow ripening, but results in inferior quality.

If tomatoes and green peppers are stored where the humidity is too high, the fruit will mold and rot. If humidity is too low, the fruit will shrivel and dry out. Since homes vary in humidity levels, you will need to learn by trial and error what works best.

Tomatoes and green peppers ripened indoors are not as flavorful as vine ripened fruits. However, compared to store bought, you will be delighted with your own home ripened tomatoes.”

Digging and Storing Annual Bulbs
Annual bulbs deliver a lot of “bang for their buck”.  They have the advantage of annuals in that most varieties will flower most of the summer, yet they multiply and can be dug in the fall for planting again in the spring, thus giving you years of enjoyment.  For all this “fun”, a little work is required in the fall.  Information on when to dig and how to store the bulbs for the winter is provided for the most common summer blooming bulbs.

  Unless otherwise noted, follow these steps for digging and storing summer bulbs.

After the first frost has damaged the top growth, dig the bulbs.  Be careful when digging the bulbs to not damage them- any place that is damaged during digging has the potential to rot.  Remove all foliage and lay the bulbs out in a cool, dry location for a week or two (in a garage or under a tree is perfect).  Once the outsides of the bulbs have dried, dust the bulbs with sulfur and store them in vermiculite or peat moss in paper sacks or shoe boxes.  Make sure the bulbs are not resting against each other.  Store in a cool, dry location for the winter (an unheated basement is usually good).  Check monthly to make sure the fleshier bulbs (begonias and dahlias) are not getting too dry.  If the bulbs begin to shrivel, spray them lightly with water and put them back into storage. 

If you grew your bulbs in containers, you may just want to move the containers indoors.  Let the soil dry out and store in a cool, dark place until early spring when you can begin watering them again (but don’t move them outdoors until the nights are consistently above freezing).

Summer blooming annual bulbs:
Gladiolus and Freesia- Dig six to eight weeks after bloom is finished, or when frost kills the foliage.  After digging the corms, cut the tops off close to the corm and spread the corms out in the sun to dry for a day.  The corm you dig will be a brand new corm that the plant has made this year, with the old corm shriveled and still attached to the bottom.  There may also be many small cormels that can be saved but will take three years growth to reach flowering size.  Keep the corms in open boxes for three weeks in a well-ventilated, warm place.  After this three week period, the old corms and stems will separate easily from the new.  Store for winter in open well-ventilated containers in a cool place (above 40 degrees F).

Dahlia- When the first frost has blackened the foliage, cut off the stems 6” above the ground.  Gently fork out the tubers and discard surplus soil and broken roots.  Stand tubers upside down for a week to dry.  Place the tubers in a layer of peat moss or vermiculte in deep open boxes and cover the roots (but not the crown) with more peat moss.  Store in a cool place (above 35 degrees F).

Tuberous Begonias (Non-stop Begonias)- Dig the tubers when the foliage turns yellow and allow the tubers to dry with the foliage still attached.  Then, remove the foliage and store in vermiculite for the winter in a dry, cool place (above 50 degrees)

Caladiums and Elephant Ears- Dig before hard frost.  Follow general directions.  Store above 55 degree F.

Calla Lilies- Dig the tubers up when the foliage has yellowed and dried up.  Follow general directions.  Store above 35 degrees F.

Cannas- Dig after hard frost.  Follow general directions.  Store above 45 degrees F.  

Fall Planted Pansies
Plant cheery, WINTER HARDY pansies & violas in the fall for blooms this fall AND next spring, and even some in the winter!  We have had flowers on our fall pansies in our display gardens in the winter during warm spells!! 

Pansies are typically grown as annuals in Midwestern gardens. It is probably best to think

of these plants as winter annuals, i.e., planted and flowering in the fall, over-wintering (and blooming during warm winter spells), flowering again in the spring, and deteriorating in the summer. Pansies are cool season plants; they prefer the cool weather of fall, winter and spring. The plants are very tough. Flowers are usually not damaged until temperatures fall below 15 degrees F and leaves don't freeze until temperatures drop below 10 degrees F. The root system will survive through the winter.

The following spring, your fall planted pansies will produce up to 30-50 flowers per plant at a time; whereas spring planted plants may only produce 4-6 flowers per plant at the same time.  Fall planted pansies must develop a good root system to overwinter. 

Follow these tips for the most success with your fall pansies:

*  Plant them into the ground as soon as possible- preferably by the end of September.  Planting them ASAP gives them as many days as possible before the ground freezes to get rooted in.

*  “Butterfly” the roots when planting.  To butterfly the roots, loosen the roots by pulling or slicing the lower ½ or 1/3 of root ball apart.  Gently spread the roots apart atop the soil in the hole, and firmly pack soil around the root ball, ensuring that the crown of the plant is not covered with soil.  By loosening the roots, the plant will know that it is no longer in a small pot, and it will thus send its roots out into the soil.

*  Use Annual and Perennial MYKE at the time of planting!  MYKE is a beneficial mycorrhizae that attaches to plant roots, causing them to grow many more roots than they would on their own.  This in turn causes stronger growing plants that are more drought tolerant!

*  Use fertilome Root Stimulator the first three or four times you water.  The rooting vitamin will encourage root growth, and it contains a light fertilizer to get your plants off to a healthy start.

*  To further protect your plants, apply a light layer of wood mulch, straw, or fallen leaves.  This will help keep weed seedlings from germinating and will insulate the soil.

*  Do not plant where the soil will be boggy or poorly draining. 

*  Plant your pansies where they will get at least 6 hours of sunlight.  A southern exposure is often best.

*  Plant your pansies in microclimates, such as near your foundation or a sidewalk, to further help them overwinter. 

*  Fertilize your pansies with Daniels Plant Food (use it at least once a week, or more often for better results and more blooms!). 

*  Remember to water during the winter if we get a dry spell and the ground is not frozen.

*  Plant spring blooming bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, then plant pansies over the bulbs- you’ll have twice the color in the spring!  Color coordinate your pansies with your spring blooming bulbs for an eye appealing display in March and April!

*  Snow is a wonderful insulator (think of it as a blanket for your plants), so be happy when the snow falls on your pansies! 

*  Plan to replace your pansies with summer annuals in May.  Pansies and Violas like cool weather, and they will stretch, go out of bloom, and eventually die when the weather turns hot (usually mid June to July).

*  Fall pansies are a great value because you get so many months of bloom!!

Fall Planted Flowering Cabbage & Kale
Flowering cabbage and kale are cold tolerant plants.  They will survive frost, but not prolonged freezing temperatures.  Mulch and snow cover will help to protect the plants and prolong their beautiful foliage, but they most likely will not survive the winter in our climate. 

Fall Planted Mums
While Chrysanthemums are considered to be perennial in our climate, fall planted mums are not always hardy in our climate.  Since they are often in full bud or bloom (or past blooming) when they are planted in the garden, they may not have sufficient energy or enough time to get rooted in to survive our winters.   

For the most success in overwintering your mums, follow these instructions:

Plant your mums as soon as possible in the fall.  Use Annual & Perennial MYKE at the time of planting and use Fertilome Root Stimulator the first 3 or 4 times you water your mums.  Mulch them with a thick (3” to 4”) of organic mulch (wood mulch, straw, or fallen leaves).  Do not cut the dead leaves and stems off your mum until it is starting to leaf out again in the spring- the old foliage helps protect it during the winter.  Plant your mum where it will have well-drained soil- a raised bed or at the top of a slope is excellent.  Do not plant where the soil will be boggy or poorly draining.  They need to be planted in a full sun location.  We have fertilized your mums with Daniels Plant Food; however once you have planted your mums using the MYKE and Fertilome Root Stimulator, you should not use supplemental fertilizer on your mums in the fall. 

Make sure your mums are well watered at Thanksgiving time before the ground freezes.

Mulch with an 8” layer of straw or loose leaves around Christmas time, to provide extra winter insulation.

Next spring (for successful overwintered fall mums as well as new ones you may plant in the spring):  Some recent research has suggested that it isn’t actually necessary to pinch your mums.  However, most people tend to agree that pinched mums are bushier and better blooming.  So, follow these instructions on pinching your mums:  Once your plants have reached 4” to 6” tall in the spring, remove 1” to 2” of new growth on every shoot (pinch right above a leaf).  After the plants have grown another 3” to 5” tall, it’s time to pinch again.  Continue this pinching practice until mid to late July.  This may seem like a drastic measure, but come fall, you’ll be rewarded with compact, bushy plants that are robust with flowers.       

The following spring:
Once your fall garden mums start re-growing... remove the old stems.  This is the time to start feeding your fall garden mums with Daniels Plant Food.

Your fall garden mums can be divided every other year in early spring. This helps maintain their vigor. A quick way to divide a year-old mum clump is to look down at it and imagine it's a big pie, then use a sharp shovel to cut the mum pie in half vertically and horizontally. Next, cut each of the quarters in half, winding up with 8 chunks. Dig up each of these sections and plant them elsewhere in the garden in a hole enriched with compost. Snip out at soil level any hard, woody stems and all but 4 to 5 of the young succulent stems. Then tamp down the soil, and water. 

Another way to divide an existing clump is to insert a shovel to its full depth into the soil around two sides of the plant, make a third insertion on another side, angling it to get under the rootball, then lift the whole clump up and out of the hole. Loosen the soil around the roots with a trowel.

On the outer rim of the rootball you'll notice lots of new shoots with small, young hair roots, snip these rooted stems from the mother plant and place them in water for later planting. Because of the large number of young rooted stems that can be taken from the periphery of a year-old mum clump, you don't even need to bother with any of the woody center portion. Compost it instead.

That's it. As you can see fall garden mums are very easy to grow. They'll provide you with constant color until the first hard freeze.  And remember, we enjoy mums for what they are: beautiful, long lasting fall color which no other plant can rival. So, even if your fall planted mum doesn’t overwinter, remember how much you enjoyed it during the fall!

**For the Hardiest Mums, we suggest planting ‘Igloo’ Dendranthemums in the spring.  These are true hardy mums, hardy down to zone 4 (we are zone 5 to 6 here in Kansas ).  Planted in the spring, they will over winter.  The only limitation to the ‘Igloo’ series is there are just a few colors currently in the series.

Fall Planted Asters
While Asters are considered to be perennial in our climate, fall planted asters are not always hardy in our climate.  Since they are often in full bud or bloom (or past blooming) when they are planted in the garden, they may not have sufficient energy or enough time to get rooted in to survive our winters. 

For the most success in overwintering your asters, follow these instructions:

Plant your asters as soon as possible in the fall.  Use Annual & Perennial MYKE at the time of planting and use Fertilome Root Stimulator the first 3 or 4 times you water your asters.  Mulch them with a thick (3” to 4”) of organic mulch (wood mulch, straw, or fallen leaves).  Do not cut the dead leaves and stems off your aster until it is starting to leaf out again in the spring- the old foliage helps protect it during the winter.  Plant your aster where it will have well-drained soil- a raised bed or at the top of a slope is excellent.  Do not plant where the soil will be boggy or poorly draining.  They need to be planted in a full sun location.  We have fertilized your asters with Daniels Plant Food; however once you have planted your asters using the MYKE and Fertilome Root Stimulator, you should not use supplemental fertilizer on your asters in the fall. 

Make sure your asters are well watered at Thanksgiving time before the ground freezes.

Mulch with an 8” layer of straw or loose leaves around Christmas time, to provide extra winter insulation.


Late Fall Gardening Projects

Late fall is the best time to apply postemergent weedkiller to take care of those pesky dandelions, henbit, chickweed, and many other broadleaf lawn weeds.  Here’s K-State’s info guide on Henbit & Chickweed,  Here's K-State's info guide on Dandelions

You can treat all your broadleaf weeds (dandelions, henbit, chickweed, and the like) in late October or early November, by applying a postemergent weed killer, such as the great Fertilome Weed Free Zone.  We have the granular Fertilome Weed Free Zone with Fertilizer, which would be best applied using a broadcast spreader (such as is used to seed lawns).  OR, we also have the liquid Fertilome Weed Free Zone (which does NOT have fertilizer); it can be applied with a pump up or mechanical sprayer.  If you have a large area to cover and do not have a mechanical sprayer (such as a boom sprayer attached to a four wheeler), than the granular form is likely your best option.  Be careful to not apply ANY of the postemergent broadleaf weedkillers on any desirable plants (such as your flowers or garden), as it will kill everything except grasses (ornamental and lawn grass).  If you have reseeded/overseeded any patches of your lawn this fall , you’ll want to have mown the new grass at least twice (this “mowing it twice” is just an indicator of the new grass being mature enough so as to not be damaged by the broadleaf weed killer).

If using the liquid:  Delay mowing 1 to 2 days before and 1 to 2 days after application.  Apply at least 4 hours (6 to 8 hours would be best) before rainfall/irrigation to ensure the chemical has time to get absorbed into the weeds.  Treated areas may be reseeded two weeks after application. 

If using the granular:  Mow lawn to normal height 2 days before applying.  Delay mowing again until a few days after application.  Water lawn thoroughly at least 1 to 2 days before application to sustain moisture until the next watering.  Apply when broadleaf weeds are young and actively growing, preferably in the morning when dew is on the grass.  At the time of application, moisture on the weed leaves (from dew, rainfall, or irrigation/watering) will aid in the effectiveness (as the granules will “stick” to the foliage).  If lawn is not moist at the time of application, sprinkle lightly with water before making the application.  Avoid application when temperatures are consistently above 90 degrees F (shouldn’t be a problem in late Oct/early Nov! J ).  Do not water lawn again until at least two days after application, at which time a thorough watering should be made.  

As is mentioned in the K-State publication, you’ll likely need to spot treat (using the liquid FL Weed Free Zone in a pump up sprayer) or simply hand weed out any late germinating Henbit, once you see any of it in the spring.  Any late germinating Dandelions that you see in the spring are best most effectively killed after they have flowered the first time in the spring.