Gardening Basics

How To Prepare Your Lawn and Garden For Fall

Gardening expert Paul James offers advice on fertilizing, seeding and planting.

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Move your tender container plants indoors. Herbs usually don't do well inside unless there's plenty of light. Take cuttings of your potted annuals for potting up and overwintering indoors; the cuttings may not take, but it's fun to try!


Ready your container plants. Believe it or not, the most overlooked group of plants this time of year is container plants, and there are plenty of things to consider with respect to their care:

  • Annuals. By definition, these plants only last a year, but there are ways to extend their lives. You can, for example, take cuttings of various annuals and root the in either water or a potting medium such as vermiculite, perlite or soil-less potting mix.
  • Just remember to strip all but the top few leaves off the stem, keep the potting medium moist at all times and keep plants out of direct sunlight. Within a few weeks the plants should develop a dense mass of roots, at which point you can pot them up and grow them as houseplants. This doesn't work with all annuals, but it's fun to experiment.

  • Tropical plants. Many of them, including palms and bananas, make excellent houseplants throughout the winter months. A good move now is to make room for all your tropical plants indoors, because this is also the time of year when sudden drops in temperature can come seemingly out of nowhere. Woody tropicals such as plumeria and citrus can easily be overwintered indoors - or in the garage, as long as the temperature doesn't drop below freezing.
  • Perennials. Consider transplanting perennials from their containers directly into the garden. Carefully remove them from their pots, trim their roots a bit to stimulate the growth of new feeder roots, stick them in the ground and trim their top growth a little.
  • Herbs. They tend to look pretty shabby toward the end of summer, so either harvest and dry them or consider moving them indoors. Generally, though, herbs don't do very well inside unless they get a lot of natural or fluorescent light. (The same goes for most succulents, though cacti seem to fair best among them.)
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