MY GARDEN PATH: Like it or not — fall has arrived

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ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press My favorite perennial sedum is called Autumn Joy.

We are fortunate to be able to grow many succulents in our area. All they require is lots of sunshine and not too much water. My Autumn Joy blooms faithfully at this time every year. One of the easiest succulents to grow is a long blooming annual called portulaca, or moss rose. This one even reseeds itself if left in the ground in fall.

Unfortunately, the ash aphids have made their yearly appearance. These tiny blue flying pests are out and about as they look for mates. They will soon lay their eggs on the local ash trees and then croak. Just keep your mouth closed when you’re out for a walk or bike ride and you’ll be OK.

Mid- to late-September was cooler than normal, but Mother Nature finally blessed us with some warm days during the last week of the month. Sadly, our first frost is due, very soon.

We’re seeing gorgeous fall colors everywhere we look. The trees and shrubs are putting on a wonderful show. The colors appear once the leaves stop producing chlorophyll. This is triggered by the shortening of daylight hours and the cooler temperatures. Trees that dropped their leaves right away have done so because of being too dry.

Be sure to leave the rose hips on the plants as these help the plants to survive the winter. I don’t know how this works, but it does. Most perennials do fine when cut back now. Just don’t do this with chrysanthemums. These are “borderline hardy” in our area and get through the winters better when left uncut until spring.

Be sure to bring any houseplants back inside before they freeze. Most can’t take the cold night temperatures. If you want to save any coleus plants over winter, either dig up the whole plant … if you have room inside for it, or take cuttings. I do the latter and it’s super easy. Just take a cutting or two of each variety you want to save and after removing the bottom leaves, plop them into a glass of water. After they have grown about an inch of roots, plant them into small pots with potting soil and keep on a sunny windowsill until late next May when they can go back outdoors.

Continue planting those fall bulbs right up until the ground freezes. Don’t try to play “catch up” next spring by planting them then. It won’t work as these bulbs need many weeks of cold temperature in order to bloom.

You may be running out of time to prune those trees and shrubs. This job needs to be done either before the leaves fall or afterward. Just not during.

Those of you who love garlic may want to grow your own. It’s easy. Just buy a clove or two, pull off the individual pieces and plant in a sunny area. Instead of doing this in the spring, this needs to be done in October.

Gardening: Cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes!

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently serving as secretary for the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column appears in The Press every other Sunday from early March until late October.

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