Ciscoe Morris, Seattle Times garden writer, says it's time to transplant shallow rooted shrubs such as Rhododendron; think about growing lemons indoors during the winter; autumn is a good time to buy trees that will add color to your yard in the fall.
The moderate temperatures and moist air in October make it a good time to transplant relatively shallow-rooted shrubs such as Rhododendron, blueberries, hydrangea and twig dogwood.
It’s always best to try to get as big a rootball as possible. Begin by digging a wide trench around the drip-line, or edge of the canopy. Dig down until you hit hardpan, or can tell that you’re getting to the bottom of the rootball, and then dig below the plant to free the rootball.
Cut any roots that extend beyond the drip-line or that were damaged in the digging process cleanly with a sharp lopper. Ragged or crushed roots left in place can cause problems later.
When replanting, dig a hole twice as wide, but no deeper than the rootball. Make sure to replant at the same depth as it was before transplanting. Water the shrub in well, and make sure it receives plenty of water until the fall rains begin. You may need to supply supplemental water through next spring when we experience dry periods.
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Grow lemons indoors
You can have your fruit, and a gorgeous houseplant too. All you need is a bit of room near a bright window and you can actually harvest ‘Improved Meyer’ lemons in your own home. The attractive small fruit are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange.
The fruit appear in summer, but if conditions are right, they usually ripen up well in the house over winter. The lemons have edible rinds and are juicier and sweeter than regular lemons, and the flowers that bloom in the house in winter are wonderfully fragrant.
Grow your Meyer lemon in a large pot, feed and water regularly, and keep it outdoors in full-sun during spring and summer. Then when temperatures begin to turn cool in late October, bring it into the house. Locate your lemon tree within 6 feet of a sunny window and away from radiators and other heat sources.
Spider mites can be a problem if the air in your house is typically dry. Raise humidity by placing the pot on a moist pebble tray, misting often, and as often as possible, wipe the top and bottom of the leaves gently with a sponge.
By the way, lemon chiffon pie made from the fruit is so delicious a single bite can make your hair stand on end. Don’t serve it if you suspect any of your dinner guests might be wearing a wig!
Plant fantastic fall color
The best time to buy trees for fall color is in autumn, and few trees color up as beautifully and hold on to their colorful leaves as long as do smoke trees (Cotinus).
Many home gardeners coppice smoke trees by cutting them practically to the ground resulting in a low-growing, bushy explosion of intense color; however, smoke trees allowed to grow tall make wonderful specimen trees.
If you are looking for a small tree, C. coggygria ‘Golden Spirit’ sports cherry yellow leaves that turn practically every color in the rainbow, while rarely reaching over 10 feet tall. A little bigger are ‘Royal Purple’ and ‘Velvet Cloak.’ These round canopied trees reach 15 to 20 feet tall and the dark purple leaves of summer take on deep shades of red and yellow and orange in fall. The relatively new hybrid ‘Grace’ can easily reach 25 or 30 feet tall. The large leaves emerge dark red in spring, turn lovely blue in summer and then turn magnificent shades of orange and purple in fall. Rarely seen is the king of the Cotinus clan. C. obovatus is an eastern U.S. native that can reach 40 feet or more. Its leaves are dark green in summer, but come fall, it puts on a such a magical display of intense colors, it’s almost impossible to look at without wearing sunglasses!
Ciscoe Morris: firstname.lastname@example.org;
“Gardening with Ciscoe” airs
at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING 5.