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With September here, time to prepare for fall gardening

With nights cooling and new growth emerging on established shrubs, it’s a great time to plant vegetables, herbs, flowers, trees and shrubs. Fall planting means fewer plant losses next summer. Here are tips to make gardening easier.

Flowers special for Las Vegas: Plant ornamental kale and cabbage, but do it early so leaves expand for Jack Frost to paint to enhance their beauty. They are edible, but not tasty.

Winter flowers: Plant petunias, pansies, calendulas snapdragons, poppies, candytuft, begonias, stocks, sweet alyssum and violas early for more blooms that will continue into next spring. Avoid crowding them for more and bigger flowers.

Sweet peas: You’ll love their fragrance, so choose a sunny location, enrich the soil, soak the seeds overnight and plant. Keep the soil moist and provide support for climbing.

Groom roses: Remove crisscrossing branches, twiggy growth and spent flowers. Feed them along with sulfur and bone meal and then irrigate. In seven weeks, expect beautiful roses, but wash off aphids.

Perennials: Consider carnations, columbine, cornflower, coreopsis, feverfew, gaillardia, hardy asters, hollyhock, lupine, penstemon, phlox, Shasta daisy, static and yarrow for lazy gardeners. Plant earlier to generate more blooms.

Mums: Flowering buds are showing, so feed them. For larger single mums, remove side buds.

Bulbs: Select bulbs early and keep cool until planted. Choices include tulips, daffodils, ranunculus, anemones, crocus and hyacinths. Pre-chill tulips and hyacinths in the refrigerator six weeks for better blooms. Enrich the soil and plant them in a sunny location.

Iris: Plant new irises for prettier blooms next spring. For established plants, remove dead leaves and feed and water often. Divide older plants and harvest new rhizomes, trim leaves back and label for identification. Place rhizome at the soil surface so the sun stimulates new growth.

Winter veggies: It’s an ideal time to plant cool-season vegetables such as the salad, root and cabbage family vegetables, and include herbs. Enrich the soil and plant in a sunny location to get the best produce.

Pomegranates: Drought followed by heavy watering causes fruit to split, so keep the soil moist.

Houseplants: As daylight shortens, give them more sunlight. Expect summer leaves to drop, but winter leaves will replace them. Feed them for more growth. If you get fungus gnats, cover the soil with sand to eliminate them.

Trees: Feed trees to bring them out of summer syndromes and deep irrigate to flush away salts.

Shrubs: Feed them. Nip at new growth to keep bushes compact. Expect new growth to conceal summer damage.

Eliminate Bermuda grass: First, let it develop extra growth and then spray with Roundup. When applying herbicide, protect adjacent plants.

Fescue lawns: For a wintergreen lawn, feed now. Spread fertilizer evenly for a much prettier lawn and water it in.

Composting: Reduce half your waste going into the garbage by composting. Build a pit anywhere, fill with plant debris, keep moist and stir often to get humus fast. If it stinks, stir more.

Soil preparation: Improve soil anytime you plant. Incorporate organic matter with fertilizer and sulfur into the soil. Organic matter opens up soils, enables drainage, modulates soil temperature and provides food for microorganisms. Then irrigate to flush away the salts.

Nematodes: Examine old vegetable roots for large warty nematodes. To control them, work up infected soil, moisten it and cover with plastic for a month. Increased temperatures cook out invaders.

Pests: As the weather cools, insects want to enter your home. They enter through door openings, cracks and along foundations. Stop them with an appropriate insecticide. Follow label directions to get the best control.

Ailing agave and yuccas: If these plants show signs of declining, wiggle them. If they topple, you have agave weevils. Remove infested plants and use appropriate pesticides.

PLANTS FOR SHADY AREAS

Las Vegas is becoming a shady town with trees maturing, yards shrinking and double-story homes putting available light at a premium. With these changes, more residents are asking which plants grow well in shade. I’ll show you some “shady characters” to add to your yard at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd.

Linn Mills writes a gardening column each Sunday. You can reach him at linn.mills@ springspreserve.org or call him at 822-7754.

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