Ciscoe Morris offers tips this week on planting garlic, keeping those hardy mums healthy and overwintering your pretty hanging fuchsias for next year.
It’s not too late to plant garlic, but don’t delay, as the bulbs need time to form roots before winter cold arrives. It’s best to purchase garlic cloves from nurseries, but if you can’t find any at this late date, buy organically grown garlic from a grocery store.
Garlic is easy to plant, but the soil must be loose and well-drained. Separate the cloves and plant the biggest ones, 4 inches apart, chubby side down, and cover the top with 2 inches of soil. Wait to fertilize until spring growth appears (usually in February), then apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer such as blood meal or fish meal every two weeks and keep the soil evenly moist until growth slows down around the summer solstice.
In late June, cut back on watering. Harvest when only three or four leaves remain on the stem. If you like hot garlic, consider growing hard-neck varieties. They don’t store as long as the soft-neck types, but they have much stronger flavor. Don’t even consider biting into a raw clove of “Korean Red” (aka “Korean Red-Hot”) unless a fire extinguisher is within reach!
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Hardy chrysanthemums add incredible color in the fall garden. The long-lasting flowers come in a wide variety of forms including pompoms, daisies, buttons, spiders and more; plus, you’ll find every color except blue.
Mums will put on a great show no matter where you plant them this fall, but they’ll survive into future years only if they are planted in full sun and well-drained soil. To keep your mums from becoming tall and leggy over time, cut the stems back as close to the ground as possible when growth begins next spring. Then, encourage bushier growth and profuse flowering by shearing the tip growth back a couple of inches when the stems reach 4-6 inches tall and repeat the process monthly until mid-July.
If you notice that the middle of the plant is becoming bare, wait until spring to cut divisions from the side of the rootball and toss out the middle. Feed every six weeks with an organic bloom fertilizer, and your mums will make your garden sparkle with color every fall for years to come.
Overwintering hanging fuchsias
Hanging fuchsias are easy to overwinter in an unheated garage. Since they’re such a valuable food source for hummingbirds, wait to move them into the garage until a freeze is forecast.
If the soil is drenched when you move them into the garage, allow them to dry out for a week or two before cutting the stems to 6 inches. At the same time, remove every remaining leaf from the stems. That will help prevent disease and insect problems, and it will prevent falling leaves from causing a mess in your garage.
Leave the plants in the same container and store them in a dark corner. Even though the plant goes dormant, it still needs slightly moist soil to survive, so check it occasionally. If your fuchsia feels light, place it in a shallow plant saucer filled with water to allow it to draw up moisture.
In spring, put your fuchsia outside on nice days and bring it back in at night. When growth begins, repot in fresh soil and prune the stems back to emerging new growth near the base. Feed once a week with a half-strength dilution of soluble houseplant fertilizer, deadhead regularly and enjoy another summer of spectacular blooms.
Ciscoe Morris: firstname.lastname@example.org;
“Gardening with Ciscoe” airs
at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING 5.