How does Your Garden Grow?

Louise Grabell, Pinal County Master Gardener
With the monsoon season coming to a close, look at the new growth around your estate. While you were inside, your plants and shrubs have been pretty active. Trumpet vines and catclaw have both reached soaring heights. Tombstone roses are out of control. Palo verde and mesquite branches are heavy with leaves. During August, our landscapes were on fire with blossoms: lantana, oleander, gardenia, crepe myrtle, bougainvillea, vinca, etc. However, things are about to dry up as we enter the glorious days of autumn. There are things you need to do to get ready for your fall plantings.
This is a good time of year to amend your garden soil once again. The rains of summer have leached out most of the fertilizer. Don’t forget your containers, too. Get out there and clean the place up! Your garden may be harboring weeds along with spent summer annuals. Remove them all! Dead-head your perennials while you’re at it, especially the geraniums which will provide you with a profusion of new growth in the cooler fall days ahead. Get out the hoe to loosen and turn the soil which has become packed down with the summer rains.
Now that all that work has been done, your green thumbs are ready to plant. May I suggest chrysanthemums for your garden? They are perennial and provide a gorgeous profusion of blooms. I don’t know why they are not available to us in the nurseries in spring because mums planted then are huge mounds by fall. Now’s your chance to pick out the ones you favor the most. I have even had good luck with hothouse varieties that have wintered-over well outside and are already blossoming. If you have some shady spots that are well-watered, try impatiens. Those colorful red and white kale plants are very interesting in the right setting. Snapdragons love the fall weather, and will probably return in spring for an even showier array of flowers. Cool weather is a good time for planting new trees around your estate as well as cactus.
No pruning now…except where absolutely necessary. If it’s not in your way, let it stay. The new growth encouraged by pruning will not survive the freezing winter nights ahead. End of January or beginning of February is a better time to prune. Did you fertilize your citrus around Labor Day? If you haven’t done that by now, put this newspaper down and go outside to do it! And speaking of pruning, don’t cut those low branches off your citrus trees because they actually provide exposure protection for the trunk. Remember that every time you prune citrus, you lose future fruit.
Master Gardeners invite you to visit their website: for all up-to-date information and events for your community. Want to become a Master Gardener? A new training course begins this November. See the website for information. Garden questions? You can reach our very own Garden Helpline by calling Pat at 407-6459.
Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.