By April Sorrow
University of Georgia
Fertilize in AugustAnnual flowering plants or blooming perennials, like roses, should receive their last fertilizer application in August. “Hold off on any further fertilizer applications to flowering shrubs and summer annuals,” Westerfield said. “And resist the temptation to prune any woody shrubs during fall months. Doing so could cause a late flush that could easily suffer cold damage later on.” Fall is the time to prune annual flowering plants and perennials like iris’ and day lilies. Cut back the foliage after stalks have browned out and withered over. Iris’ can be moved in August, too, shortly after the leaves brown.
Transition flower bedsTransition flower beds to display continuous fall color. Pull petunias and marigolds and plant cool-season annuals like pansies, snap dragons, mums or ornamental cabbages, he said. Choose colors that complement each other. A solid bed of white pansies in front of dark green hollies, for example. Fall is also a good time to replenish mulch. Three- to four-inches of organic mulch, like straw or wood chips, should be added to beds. Mulch insulates roots and helps retain soil moisture. This protects the plant from cooler winter temperatures and Georgia’s dry climate.
Add new plantsIf you are planning to add new plants to your landscape, fall is the perfect time. “Cool temperatures are easier on newly installed plants,” Westerfield said. “It gives the plant time to root out, prior to the hot temperatures of spring.” Westerfield reminds home landscapers to know the mature size of the plants they install. Select plants that fit the site you have chosen and won’t outgrow it. And be sure to follow proper planting procedures. “Don't place shrubs in a straight row but in clusters,” he said. “Stagger them when laying them out. Try to cascade plants so the larger shrubs are in the back and place the smaller plants toward the front.” When determining where to plant your shrubs, remember the rule of three; always plant in groups of odd numbers: three, five, seven, etc. Keep an eye on irrigation, too. Even though fall temperatures are cooler, plants may still need additional water from irrigation. “The moisture will help prevent plants from suffering cold damage when temperatures plummet,” Westerfield said.
(April R. Sorrow is a science writer with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)