Gardener's Notebook - Fall but much to still enjoy

The Yorkton and District Horticultural Society has not planned any meetings just yet, even though this would be when our meetings would be beginning.  Things are different, aren’t they!  But be sure to visit our website at www.yorktonhort.cawhere we will keep you up to the minute with what is happening with the group, as well as give you a chance to see interesting articles and pictures!

Chilly nights, shorter days…fall is coming, isn’t it!  But there is still so much beauty to enjoy.  One thing I noticed was the lovely City plantings around town; have you taken time to admire them?  They are a wonderful mixture of all kinds of flowers, and they look beautiful!  Thank you to the City workers who cared for them on those hot, hot days: your efforts resulted in amazing planters.

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In our own yards, the flowers are still bravely bright and beautiful, or maybe they look even more so because we know the season is coming to a close.  It is a shame to pull them out before frost, but one thing we always have to remember is that when it freezes, they’re done.  And that leaves a lot of clean-up all at once.  Consider working ahead, even a little bit.

This is the time of year, too, when we must think about which plants we are hoping to over-winter, and how to do so.  Let’s talk about an old gardening favorite, geraniums.   If we have the luxury of space and bright windows, we might bring them in and keep them as a houseplant.  If we go this route, we must check the plants to be sure they are fit, no bugs or disease.  We should trim them back by about two thirds.  And we should bring them in before there is a very drastic change in temperature.  Don’t wait until the first hard frost and then haul them in.  They’ll be looking around our homes thinking “what’s this, why is it so warm and dry in here?’ and then they’ll go into shock and maybe drop their leaves.

For many gardeners, a more practical solution is to take slips and nurture them over the winter. This is fine solution to keeping those special geraniums, and gives us small houseplants to care for all winter.

 Some gardeners prefer to let the geraniums go into a dormant state over the winter.  I know gardeners who do this and have great success, so we can chat about how it is done and you can decide if this method is the one you would choose.  This is what I have been told: we should pot up the plant before frost, and cut them back.  Take a breath; we are supposed to cut them back to half their size!  Then, we cover the plant with a paper bag, or just store it in a cool, dark location.  We should check it every four or five weeks and if it is visibly drying up and shrivelling, give it a bit of water.  But otherwise, we leave it alone.

Around March or so, it’s time to bring the geraniums out into the light.  At this time we start watering them again, and the plants will start their growth for spring.

A variation of this process is to hang the bare geranium roots in a cool, dark place, or store them layered between newspapers.  Then we would bring them out at around the same time as the dormant method, plant them up, and proceed as normal.

As the saying goes, beautiful things are seldom easy.  Keeping your geraniums is a work in progress. But I know many gardeners take great pride is keeping their geraniums for a number of years, especially if they are very interesting or special plants.

Thank you to our friends at Yorkton This Week: you are all amazing!  Let’s pray for health for all and a few more weeks in our gardens before frost!  Have a great week!

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