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Putting The Garden To Bed

Georgia Raimondi, author of The Passionate Gardener, shared some tips on wrapping up the gardening season on The Saturday Early Show.

The first step to cleaning up the garden is to pull up all your spent annuals and add them to the compost pile.

After the first hard frost of the year, cut back your perennial stems by about 2 inches.

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Bring in potted plants on chilly evenings so they can acclimate to temperatures indoors before the heat is turned on. Fall is also a good time to repot these plants because they may have become root bound over the summer and need to be transplanted into larger pots. Always use fresh soil when replanting, and never take dirt from the outdoors inside where insects and fungus can contaminate your houseplants.

Empty and clean out the terra cotta and clay pots with a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water and store them indoors. If terra cotta is left outside over the winter, it will crack.

This is a great way to save annuals and plants too large to bring indoors over the winter. Another benefit of cuttings is you can turn one plant into many. Here are some simple steps for propagation:

  • Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to remove healthy cuttings about 3 to 6 inches long from vigorous plants. Be sure to clip from a nonflowering shoot or pinch off the flower or buds.
  • Trim the cutting straight across just below the lowest leaf joint and remove all the leaves.
  • Dip the stem in a powdered rooting hormone available at any nursery.
  • Fill a pot with sterile moistened, well-draining, seed-starting soil.
  • Make a hole with a pencil about 1 inch deep. Place a cutting in the hole, firm the soil around the base and water it gently. Several cuttings can be planted in each pot.
  • Place some small wooden sticks in the pot; cover the pot with a large plastic bag with a few small holes poked in it.
  • When the cuttings have rooted, after about three to five weeks, remove the bag and repot the cuttings in individual containers. These new plants can go in the ground in the spring.
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After the first frost blackens the foliage, cut back the top growth several inches. Ease out the bulbs and dry them out upside down in a frost-free place so that the moisture drains easily from the hollow stem. Then pack them in boxes surrounded by peat moss or vermiculite, and newspaper. Cover them and store them in a cool place.

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Remove the fallen leaves from around the bushes. The spores of fungi on the leaves can cause diseases in the rose stems after the ground freezes. Bring in fresh soil and put it down around the stem up to about a foot in depth. Set a ring of chicken wire around the stem in the mound of resh dirt and fill it with salt hay. This will keep the rose bush from heaving out during the freezing and thawing of winter.

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