In the Garden, It's Time To . . .

Order bulbs , such as grape hyacinths, to help you visualize spring. It's also time to repot plants that have outgrown their space and to tidy up your perennials. www.iStockphoto.com
Order bulbs , such as grape hyacinths, to help you visualize spring. It's also time to repot plants that have outgrown their space and to tidy up your perennials. www.iStockphoto.com
Posted: October 05, 2013

Visualize spring with an order of bulbs. Leafing through catalogs with tantalizing photos of flowering bulbs can help you forget the cold weather that's sure to drive all but the hardiest souls indoors. Although you might think you have enough bulbs, there's always room for more. How about adding bulbs with fragrance? Narcissus 'Thalia,' a white daffodil with several blooms on each stem, has a sweet scent you're sure to love. Also, try smaller bulbs such as like Chinodoxa, grape hyacinth ( Muscari sp.), and snowdrops ( Galanthus). Be prepared to go gaga over hardy cyclamen. They are miniature versions of the tender cyclamen sold in winter as houseplants, except they can survive outdoors.

Rejuvenate container-grown plants. After a long, hot, rainy summer, most plants in containers have grown like crazy. Seeing roots trailing out of drainage holes is usually a sign that it's time to repot plants into larger containers. But if indoor space is at a premium, you do have another option. It involves pruning the roots, adding new soil, and replanting in the original container. Prune enough roots to leave one to two inches of space below and around the root mass so you can add enough soil to encourage new growth. Once you've settled the plant back in its pot, gradually prune no more than one-quarter of the stems and leaves to make up for the root reduction. Water each plant well.

Tidy up perennials. You can already see the effect of the recent colder night temperatures on perennials. Cut blackened and broken stems down to the ground. To encourage reseeding, break apart seed heads and sprinkle seed on the soil surface. In some cases, to keep the characteristics of a special cultivar intact, it may be better to throw the seed heads into the trash.


Patricia Schrieber is director of education for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society ( www.phsonline.org), and co-owner of Valentine Gardens ( www.valentine-gardens.com).

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