Autumn Reminders


by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener



Well it is that time of year where we gardeners look forward to a break from the work of watering and weeding but are also sad to see the end of our beautiful flowers and fresh produce. While harvesting the last of my tomatoes yesterday many other fall “things to get done” came to mind.  Here are a few that may also be on your list or may have slipped your mind.

If you have been lucky enough to have been able to keep last years poinsettia alive, now is the time to start keeping it in total darkness for fifteen hours each day.  It will take about eight to ten weeks for the red bracts to start showing.

Be sure to clear your lawn of tree leaves so they will not become matted and smother the grass.

The above-ground parts of evergreens are particularly susceptible to drying out over the winter through a process called transpiration.  When the ground is frozen the plants’ roots are not able to take up water to replace that which is lost through the tops.  As a result the leaves, buds and twigs dry out.  Fighting the winter battle will be made easier by making sure the plants have plenty of moisture before the ground freezes.  Give them an extra drink if rainfall has been short.

The sunny days of winter are a welcome sight to us humans, but they can cause trouble for some landscape plants such as young thin-barked trees.  The bark tends to split vertically on the sunny side of the tree because as the temperatures quickly drop at sundown the outer bark cools down and contracts faster than the inner bark.  Therefore the outer bark must split to accommodate what’s underneath it.  You can protect the tree by wrapping the trunk with a commercial tree wrap.  I like to use a section of black plastic flexible drain pipe.  Purchase the size that will fit around your tree plus a couple of inches and the length you need to cover.  Cut a slit in the length of the drain pipe and fit it around your tree.  In the spring I take it off and save it for the next winter.

Apply mulch to strawberry plants, but don’t do it too soon because that could cause the crowns to rot.  Apply the mulch when plants become dormant but before temperatures drop below twenty degrees fahrenheit.

Making some fun memories with my Granddaughter! Jack-O-Lantern tip…spray your pumpkin with bleach to keep the fungus at bay.

Winter mulch is not critical for all garden plants, but it can mean survival for some of the less hardy ones.  Winter mulch protects against wide temperature fluctuations in the soil and prevents extreme cold temperatures from harming plants.  The soil has a tendency to heave when subjected to wide temperature changes, pushing the plant roots out of the ground.   Shallow-rooted plants or newly planted stock that have not had a chance to develop a solid root system are most subjected to the heaving process.  Using 2 to 4 inches of mulch such as bark chips, straw or pine needles will give your plants enough protection.

Dig tender flower bulbs to put away in storage.  Wait until the leaves of Gladiolas  turn yellow after a frost, to dig the corms.   Keep an eye on night time temperatures as tuberous begonias, geraniums and caladiums will need to be dug up before we have a killing frost.  Canna and dahlia roots can be dug after we have had a heavy frost.

Last, but not least, carve a Halloween Jack-O-Lantern!


As always, Happy Gardening!


More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at  The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.


Scale Insects

  by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener     Scale insects are sap-feeding insects named for the scale or waxy, shell-like covering that hides their bodies.  There are more than 60 different kinds that occur in Indiana and yet are many times not noticed or ignored until tree or shrub branches start to die.  When …

Read More >

Ribs @ Rogers

Ribs. Brisket. Pulled Pork. Chicken. Is your mouth watering yet? Then you missed a great opportunity to have a full-on feast. The first ever Ribs @ Rogers event was a great success! The David Rogers Memorial Park filled up early in the morning with 14 vendors firing up their grills. I was lucky enough to …

Read More >

Compost Tea

  by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener     Any gardener worth his or her salt knows the many benefits of a good compost.  But what about this stuff called compost tea?   Well, it is something you can use on your plants as a foliar application or as a soil drench and it’s a way …

Read More >

Get your official copy of our

Destination Guide

Request Printed Guide

View E-Guide

Stay informed and sign up for the


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.