Saturday, September 27, 2008

Late season decisions

Save or compost?

Today I pulled all the worst-looking spent annuals and biannuals out of the pots and beds in my version of fall clean-up. I’m not a big fan of cleaning up the garden, but there’s nothing beneficial about some ratty-looking petunia stems, and the birds can do without some of these biannual seedheads. I tend to treat biannuals as annuals anyway; I never trust the term.

And I’ve been assessing the container situation, thinking about the following:
1. Should I transition completely to fiberglass pots, wich are lighter and much more attractive than they used to be?
2. Should I give up completely on such annuals as petunias and certain nicotiana which look terrible at this time of year, focusing instead on plants like lantana, diascia, heliotrope, and almost all the foliage plants? These and some others soldier on well into October. Calibrachoa is a good long-lasting petunia alternative.
3. How am I going to successfully save all these colacasia? There are at last 4 that I feel I MUST save, but it’s iffy and a pain. The Thai giant has to be I suppose; otherwise, it will never achieve an impressive size. I have a feeling that I should just start some of these from plants again rather than make the possibly frustrating effort.
4. And it looks like I’ll have to buy more containers just for bulbs. Lilies are in permanent residence in many; I’ve given them their last boost of fertilizer to get them through the winter.

I’ve also planted my last perennials: sweet autumn clematis, a hart’s tongue fern and the Husker Red penstemon. And in a burst of optimism, I fertilized some of the foliage containers, in the hopes of October longevity.


Anonymous said...

I have two colacasia that are at least 8 feet in height with a few leaves almost 4 feet wide. How can they be saved?

Do you dig them up now? How do you get them to go into hibernation?

EAL said...

You need to cut them back after the first frost and save the tubers in a container with peat moss, possibly in the basement. Just as you would dahlia tubers.

Other people keep them growing under lights, but I believe they cut them back first.

I'm dubious about the whole procedure, but I know it can be done.

Cindy, MCOK said...

EAL, if you don't want them for yourself, you might post them on Craigslist or Freecycle.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I feel about petunias like you feel about mums. Not worth the effort.

Rhonda said...

I've just started the gardening thing and have only planted veggies so I'd say go with you gut....LOL.....Take care.

Linnea said...

Lovely blog!

y. choi said...

You could produce a healthy compost from the annual scraps but it may not amount to much unless you keep adding to it.
Fiberglass is definitely the better choice as they tend to be less prone to cracking during the colder months, but they are a lot more expensive than stone or ceramic. Also, calibrachoa are much more sustainable than the regular breed of petunias and they're also a lot more delicate looking in my opinion. I would plant calibrachoa any day over the regular petunias. I also get a lot of complaints about keeping petunias alive, calibrachoa have proven to be a lot more hardy.
As for the colocasia, saving them might be a pain in the ass but I always find it more gratifying to see them flourish in the later years.

I have a family owned nursery in New York and the season has slowed down tremendously but I still enjoy seeing what plants will last during these last months before the frost takes over. I'd love to hear how long the husker reds and clematis go til.
Good luck with the rest!

Anne said...

I sympathize with the dilemna of shovel pruning. Most especially for the ones that cost a small fortune, i.e., anything from Monrovia... buuuttt.... i do it anyway. Life's too short to have plants you don't absolutely love! and I consider it 'zenning' the garden. If its not happy and thriving, don't fight it. Find it a new home, even if its on the compost pile!

Cheers! Anne