Posts tagged burning bush

Keeping a pot in the house

   Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith, offered the following on keeping mum pots in the house and other fall advice for Iowans:


Feel free to ask questions:  Master Gardeners love to visit.  If a M.G. doesn’t have an answer, he/she will be eager to do the research for an answer as well as satisfy our own ongoing curiosity of all plants living—and sometimes dead.  Following are some common fall inquiries:

·         Most trees can be trimmed between December and February.   Hold off on fruit trees until late February.  Clean instruments between trees to prevent disease transfer.  Cut outside of the “collar”.  Maximum trimming should be 1/3 of the tree.

·         Grape Hyacinth may send up shoots now:  it should be o.k.

·         Saving Dahlias and Callas:  do not store in plastic bags as moisture will create mold.  Layer the bulbs, but don’t allow them to touch by putting vermiculate between them.  Cure the bulbs in a warm area for a few days then store at 45’ in the basement.   Do not allow the bulbs to freeze.

·         Oleander can be trimmed.  Cut ¼ off to main branch.

·         Clematis:  some of rabbit’s favorite food!  Try fencing with chicken wire.   No need to mulch.

·         Burning Bush:  can be trimmed any time, but recommend after leaf loss.  Vibrant color this year possibly due to excess spring moisture.

·         Spirea can be trimmed now.

·         Geraniums can be left potted in a sunny window for the winter.  Or, shake off the root dirt and hang upside down in a paper bag in the basement or unheated attic. Dip roots in water monthly.  In February, cut away dried area leaving nubbins.  Dip in Root Tone after potting to initiate growth.

·         Mums:  generally not winter hardy.  Root system won’t withstand Iowa’s freezing winter.   Can keep in pot in the house if cut back.  Plant in the spring on the south/sunny side of the house.

·         House Plants:  will probably have little new growth as they use spend energy adjusting to being moved inside.  

·         Routinely monitor animal management strategy.  In years of high animal population and limited food (think last winter!), they will eat almost anything.

·         Pest –free debris from fall clean up can be composted.

·         Do not fertilize now.  Improve the soil with the addition of shredded leaves, well-rotted manure, or other organic matter.

·         Drain garden hose and put away. 

·         Direct sunlight and freezing temperatures can diminish efficacy of liquid pesticides and fertilizers.


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Autumn alternatives

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Brenda Garbe:


WOW! Has it been cold the last couple of mornings when I stepped out the door!  And have you noticed how daylight comes much later?  Summer is fading way too fast!    But, the kids are back in school and the leaves are commencing to turn so it must be time to consider that the frost will soon be on the pumpkin.  The “summer” wreath will be replaced by the “fall” one this weekend. Here are some suggestions for fall decorations from the garden:

            Pumpkins are the first thing that we tend to think of when decorating the house and landscape for the fall season.  I’d like to add a couple of different suggestions that you may not have considered. 

            In addition to the usual stalks of corn and colored corn decorating the front entry, consider the colorful Celosia (cockscomb) for a material for wreaths or swags.  Or tuck some in with your corn stalks when binding.

            Helichrysum (strawflower), Limonium (statice) and Achillea (yarrow) are other common garden flowers that dry easily and last for a long time.  A light spray of clear acrylic will help hold any stray petals or leaves in place.  Rudbeckia may turn prematurely black when summers are cool, and makes a perfect addition to any Halloween display and will stand for a long time.

            My current favorites are the small ornamental odd-shaped gourds and the larger apple, bushel and birdhouse gourds.  The small ornamental gourds are often colorful and distinctly shaped with a wide range of colors and surface textures.  Add them to a fall display, wire them onto a wreath frame or even mount them on spikes like a garden fantasy display.

            Have you considered the branches of Euonymus alatus (burning bush) or Cornus Species (red –twigged dogwood) to bring out a fall decorating scheme?   These shrubs are grown primarily for their red colored stems that  stand out against the dreary winter landscape.  Incorporate your designs in front of your standing shrub or decorate it with some dried flowers or a grouping of big gourds  and pumpkins.

            Let your creative juices flow.  Use some native grasses, buy a straw bale from a farmer.  Have some fun!


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Lazy days of summer

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:


LUV having the windows open!  LUV keeping the air conditioner off!  LUV sitting on the deck without bugs!  LUV having to mow the lawn only once a week!  It’s August.  Summer is winding down.  The cicadas are singing.  The robins are readying for their southern migration.  Soon we’ll experience the vibrant burst of burgundys and yellows and oranges.  School starts in a couple of weeks.  Are you ready for some football? 

            How are you going to tend your garden and yard for the rest of the lazy hazy days of August? 

Now is a great time to tour your yard looking for bare spaces or…….a good excuse to

  • create a new bed or add plants. How about peonies?  Choose a spot with sun and drainage.  Plant the “eye” (bud) about two inches deep.
  •  Or dig and divide your (or your neighbor’s—with their permission, of course) overgrown iris, poppies and other spring blooming perennials.  A good rule of thumb is to move spring blooming flowers in the fall and fall blooming flowers in the spring. 
  • Plant a tree!  Fall planting takes advantage of favorable soil temperatures and moisture conditions that promote the root growth needed to sustain plants through their critical first year in the landscape. 
  • It’s best not to prune now.  Pruning will stimulate unwanted late season growth.
  • Think fall flower arrangements.  Invest in a Burning Bush, a Bayberry Bush or a Red-twigged Dogwood.  All have colored stems that will stand out in dreary winter landscape. And those reddish branches create an outstanding compliment to fall groupings of gourds, pumpkins and dried flowers.
  • Mid-August through mid-September is the best time to repair, replace or start a new lawn.  Lawns with fifty percent or more weeds should be replaced.  Always purchase quality lawn seed.  All grass seed mixes should contain several varieties of bluegrass, fescue and rye grass.

So, get up off that couch.  Get out in the yard.  Enjoy this great time of the year.


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