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Over the Garden Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

Plenty of Time to Plant

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Down the Garden Path

Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator

The spring bloom season has just about finished, yet there is plenty of time to plant. Gardeners have all of July, August, September and into October to establish plants. Assuming we get the typical August heat, try to avoid August for planting as that is pretty hard on the plants and difficult for the gardener to manage. Garden Centers and Retail Nurseries have lots of plants available and depending on where you like to shop, there can be some good bargains to be had.

While most perennials have already bloomed and may not be 'showy' right now, remember you are buying for future blooms. Plants should be worthy of the purchase price, even at discounted prices, so take a few minutes and examine what you are interested in. Leaves should be of good color for the variety. Browned edges may indicate a lack of water at some point. Tap the plant out of the pot and look closely at the roots. The roots should be white and healthy looking, not dried and brown or wet and rotted. By now perennials will be root bound and that is expected and easily corrected back home when planting. The very early spring perennials may not look very good at all as they can be nearing the end of the growing season. They can still be planted and established in the perennial bed. Taking a close look can also reveal whether or not you might be able to divide the plants and save some additional money. The size of the container can influence the condition of the plant. Small pots can quickly dry out and the root system is limited in size. Larger containers buffer the growing conditions a bit more.

Trees, shrubs and evergreens are also still available, most of them being sold in containers. These have either been grown directly in the pot or field potted. If you are interested in replacing a tree or planting one for the first time, balled and burlapped trees that were dug this spring are also available.

The same visual rules apply, leaves should be in good condition and you should see some annual growth at the ends of the branches and twigs. Trunks should be free of damage. Smaller caliper trees can also be available in containers. The same caution applies to containerized trees as all other plants, be sure to spread the roots out to avoid a circling and later a girdling root.

Retailers have taken some of the annuals and potted them up into a larger container providing larger, fuller plants for the patio, front porch or flower bed. If you have renovated or created a new flower bed, plants will look much more established after you are done. A final thought is that if you have resisted planting impatiens this year because of the Downy Mildew disease that has started to show up in the Chicagoland area, go ahead and plant unless you know you had Downy Mildew in your plantings last year. Retailers all have suggestions if you would like to try alternatives.

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