October 2012 Cuttings

October 2012 Cuttings

"Cuttings" is your source for garden updates and horticultural tips from the Reeves-Reed Arboretum's horticulture staff.  Check back monthly to find out what's blooming at the Arboretum, get the inside scoop on upcoming events, and learn some timely tips you can put to use in your own garden.


In the Gardens: Fabulous Fall Foliage!

Autumn is one of our favorite times of year here at Reeves-Reed Arboretum. We love the clear days, brisk nights, and most of all, the glorious hues of autumn foliage. Among the first plants to change color are the Florida dogwoods (Cornus florida) and oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), which lend reddish-purple tones to the landscape early in the fall. Soon, they'll be joined by the brilliant orange-red of sourwood (Oxydendron arboreum) and the clear yellow of spicebush (Lindera benzoin). Fall-blooming perennials like white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) and black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.) add their own colorful notes to the landscape. Come out to the Arboretum this October and savor the colors of fall with us!

White snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) and black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia sp.) grow abundantly, and are flanked by an oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) whose foliage has just begun to develop a lovely purple hue. (Photo: Shari Edelson)

The warm reddish tones of a Florida dogwood (Cornus florida) frame a view of the Arboretum in early October. (Photo: Shari Edelson)

October Garden Tips: Overwintering Tropical Plants

If you're like us, you probably have a hard time parting with the tropical and tender plants that have added so much color and structure to your garden over the summer months. But now that fall has arrived and the weather is beginning to grow cold, you have to come to terms with the inevitable: if you want those plants to survive the winter, they're going to need some help! Luckily, overwintering tropicals indoors is surprisingly easy. Here are some tips for successfully overwintering some common tropical and tender plants:

Tropical plants such as these cannas and coleus can be successfully overwintered by even beginning gardeners! (Photo: Shari Edelson)

Canna lilies (Canna spp.) – Among the easiest tropical plants to overwinter, cannas grow from a knobby underground root called a rhizome. In the fall, cut the foliage of your cannas all the way down to the ground, and use a spading fork to dig up the rhizomes. After shaking loose clumps of soil off the rhizomes, use a hose to wash off any remaining dirt. Use pruners to cut off any remaining stems or rotten root segments. Allow the rhizomes to dry, and then pack loosely into a wooden crate or cardboard box, wrapping in newspaper if desired. Store in a frost-free room, such as a basement or garage, until spring temperatures are reliably in the 70s. Now your canna rhizomes can be unpacked and replanted in the garden! Canna rhizomes should be planted hortizontally, in holes approximately 4-6" deep. Once the weather warms, you'll be surprised how quickly they grow!

Begonias (Begonia spp.) – Begonias love the humid, muggy weather of summer, and can be very sensitive to the onset of cold fall weather. Most begonias can be successfully overwintered inside, provided that you give them a warm – and most importantly, humid – environment. Using a shovel or trowel, lift the begonia from the garden, removing as much excess soil as possible from around the roots. Transplant into the smallest plastic or terra cotta pot that will accommodate the size of the root ball, using a lightweight potting soil such as ProMix. When bringing the begonia indoors, select a spot in your house that's warm, humid, and bright – a kitchen or sunroom will work nicely. The more humid the surrounding air, the happier your begonias will be. Consider placing a bell jar, glass cloche, or even an inverted mason jar over your plants to make a mini-greenhouse. Once nighttime temperatures have climbed to the mid-60s in the spring, your begonias can safely be returned to the garden.

Coleus (Solenostemon scutellerioides) – Coleus plants, valued for their vibrantly colorful foliage, are easy for even a beginning gardener to overwinter indoors. In early fall, before the first frost of the season, use a sharp pair of pruners to cut the top 3-4" off the tips of your coleus plants. Be sure to select sprigs that are not flowering, as these will produce much better results. Bring your coleus tips indoors and place in a small vase or drinking glass filled with water. Keep in a sunny spot, and before long you'll notice your coleus cuttings forming roots! In early spring, transfer your rooted cuttings into small pots, using a lightweight potting soil. Your coleus will continue to grow in its new pots, and can be planted out in the garden once nighttime temperatures are reliably in the 60s.


Volunteer in our Gardens!

Are you looking to lend a hand at Reeves-Reed Arboretum this fall? We're hosting volunteer work sessions throughout the autumn months! Join us on the morning of Saturday, October 13 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm for a morning of outdoor garden work!

To sign up, or to learn about other volunteer opportunities at the Arboretum, please contact Lisa Martin at l.martin@reeves-reedarboretum.org.


Join our “growing” volunteer posse! (Photo: Reeves-Reed Arboretum archives)