Come autumn, practicing good garden sanitation is critical. Many a perennial plant health problem recurs because the pest or disease source is never removed. Many foliar diseases, such as mildews, overwinter upon the leaf litter cast forth during fall cleanup. Walk your landscape with an eye for pest or disease issues. Diseased material should be collected and disposed of via the trash can, or it should be burned. Never add diseased material to the compost pile, or you will have the same result again next season.
Another hygienic item to watch for this time of year are weeds. Yes, I said weeds. Weeds can also be a location for plant health causes to spend their winter vacation. In addition, winter annual weeds are germinating and spreading when they enter a semi-dormant state prior to the first snow. Hit them hard now; it will help take a little pressure off your springtime weeding tasks.
Lastly, it is a good idea to tidy up those herbaceous perennials, such as daylily or hosta, which are done for the season. Cut back fading growth, while leaving any growth still looking decent, in order to avoid large gaps in the bed. At Wellfield, we typically shred more woody-like stem material and reapply it to the flower bed to help speed up decomposition.
Normally, I like to sign off with a little play on words, but I think this time, I’ll keep it clean.
Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager