Leonard Perry, UVM Horticulturist
and Charlie Nardozzi, Garden Consultant
Acclimatizing houseplants, dividing daylilies, and controlling slugs are some of the garden activities for this month.
Gradually condition or “acclimatize” indoor plants that have
spent the summer outdoors to lower light conditions. Move them to
a shady spot outdoors for a week, then move them into the sunniest
spot indoors for a couple of weeks before moving them to their
permanent locations. Dunk them in soapy water to clean the foliage
(a sink or bathtub is handy for this), and spray with insecticidal
soap if insects are a problem. Do they need repotting? Now is a
good time before bringing them in. Make sure if they’re still
outside to not expose them to early frosts or near-freezing
If daylilies are getting too large, perhaps not blooming well, it
may be time to divide them. Daylily clumps are so dense that
you'll need to slice through them with a shovel or spade. Or you
can just divide off half, or a chunk, leaving the rest. Separate
large clumps into smaller divisions, leaving at least three groups
of leaves or “fans” per clump. Trim leaves to about six inches
long and replant. Keep them well-watered if it doesn’t rain
sufficiently, and they will settle in by winter and bloom again
Legumes, such as beans and peas, have the ability to take
nitrogen from the air and use it for their own benefit. Rather
than pulling up the spent plants and adding them to the compost
pile, why not keep that nitrogen where it's needed by chopping up
the vines and tilling or digging them into the soil.
Fritillaries are less common spring-flowering bulbs that you plant in the fall as you would the more common daffodils and tulips. Their flowers come in a range of colors, and are generally bell-shaped, either in clusters or single. Plants range from six inches to the three foot tall crown imperials. The one foot tall checkered lily, so named from the generally purple checkered bell-shaped flowers, is one of the few bulbs that can withstand wet soils.
If slugs have been a big problem, consider raking leaves off your
garden beds and leaving them bare for the winter so the cold will
kill any exposed adults and eggs. You can trap slugs in rolls of
moist newspaper left in the garden, then discard. Or place small
boards where they hide under by day and you can find them. Other
controls include bands of egg shells or similar crushed and sharp
materials, copper products, diatomaceous earth or coffee grounds
sprinkled around plants, or traps with beer.
When the first frost blackens the foliage of dahlias (or if a
hard freeze is predicted), cut off the stems about 6 inches above
the tubers. Carefully dig the clumps with a spade or fork, and let
them dry out of direct sun and wind for a day (not too long or
they'll begin to shrivel). Store the tuber clumps whole (you'll
get larger plants), or make more plants by carefully separating
the tubers from the stem, making sure to include any "eyes"
(small, raised nubs near where the tubers attach to the main stem)
with each tuber. These are the future sprouts. Store tubers in
cardboard boxes or mesh bags filled with peat moss, vermiculite,
or sawdust. Keep them in a dark, 40- to 50-degree (F) location.
Return to Perry's Perennial Pages: Green Mountain Gardener Articles-- your reliable source of gardening information for over 50 years.