Gung-Hoe Gardener: Time to Clean Out the Garden and Plant Bulbs Print


By N. Bower

Oct. 3, 2018:  Early October is a busy time in the garden. You should be cleaning up plants that are finished for the season. Daylilies and hostas are the first that come to mind.

Speaking of daylilies and hostas, this is a perfect time to divide them. First, dig up a clump, then take two garden forks, put the forks back-to-back in the clump, and pry apart. They separate very easily this way with little damage. 

All perennials that are not still blooming need to be cut to the ground. Use your fingers to comb through the daylily foliage to remove the dead leaves; in some cases, there will not be much of the plant remaining--this is ok. If your hostas are turning brown, remove the dead leaves and the flower stem or cut them down and clean up the area.

Next, you need to get out your bulb catalogues. I recommend John Scheepers, which can be found online.  You can plant your bulbs anytime through the end of November, as long as the ground does not freeze.

Be creative this year. Daffodils are tried and true, but you may already have enough of these. Try alliums or leucojum for a change. I stay away from tulips because they tend to bloom well only in the first year and peter out the following years. They also fall victim to squirrels and bunnies.

When planting your bulbs, refer to the instructions that come with them for depth, and plant them in groups, never individually. Dig a hole that will accommodate five or six, not touching, add a little bone meal, cover, and wait for a surprise in the spring.

Photo by N. Bower