University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Fall News Article
Charlie Nardozzi, Senior Horticulturist
National Gardening Association, and
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
Storing clay pots for winter, checking houseplants for pests, and proper care of new trees are some of the gardening tips for this month.
Clay and ceramic pots can crack over the winter if left outdoors with soil in them or if they fill with rain. When the water freezes, it expands, and so does wet soil. Empty pots
and store upside down under a tarp or bring them in out of the weather.
Plants that summered outdoors may have brought in freeloaders that are now multiplying like crazy in our heated homes. Inspect the undersides of the leaves for webbing of spider mites. Leaf axils (where they attach to the stems) are favorite hiding places of mealybugs. Dark-colored scale insects hug the stems and veins of the leaves and can be invisible unless you look closely. Insecticidal soap is most effective on soft-bodied insects like spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. Scale is trickier to control and horticultural oil is the best option.
Evergreens don't go totally dormant so they benefit from a deep watering at this time of year. This helps prevent drought stress if the winter snow cover is scant.
Plastic spiral tree wraps and brown paper wraps can protect trunks from sunscald and gnawing by rodents. Put them in place before the snow falls so they will extend all the
way to the ground or else the critters can sneak underneath the snow and feed on the lower bark that's unprotected.
If you've recently planted a tree and it absolutely must be staked for a short period of time, be sure the ties aren't tight so the tree can sway in the breeze. Wind stress can
actually increase root growth and trunk girth and result in a stronger mature tree.
If you saved amaryllis bulbs from last year and they have had a dry rest period, watch for signs of shoot growth, which signals that it's time to pot them up. Use a pot only slightly larger than the bulb diameter. Set a bulb into moistened potting mix so one-half to one-third of the bulb protrudes above the soil. Place the pot in a warm well-lit spot, and don't water it again until the first leaf or flower shoot starts to grow. Follow this same process for newly purchased bulbs.
It's time to spread winter mulch. Cover the ground around tender perennials with rotted leaves, shredded bark, straw (not weedy hay), evergreen boughs, or other loose mulch. Take care not to smother the crowns with any material that will mat down. Mulch around trees and shrubs but don't let it touch the plants' bark or it can encourage rot and harbor mice and voles that are late on the prowl.  Mulching sooner than later will help hold some of this season's ground heat.  Only a couple inches of mulch will help prevent soil temperatures from large fluctuations—something plants don't like while trying to harden off this time of year. 

Other gardening tips for this month include stocking up on bird seed and suet for winter, setting up a heated bird bath, protecting small evergreens from either winter winds or road salt spray with a burlap screen, storing pesticides in dry and non-freezing locations, and making sure that stored summer bulbs such as gladiolus and dahlias don’t freeze either.

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