|Collect seeds from mature annual flower heads|
Start by checking the containers and soil for insects. Soak the planted pots in a tub of lukewarm water for 15 minutes to force the insects to leave. If there are burrowed insects in the pot such as snails or earthworms, repot the plant to remove them before bringing them inside.
If the plant became large and leggy over the summer, prune back the roots and the top before repotting in fresh soil.
Gradually help the plants get used to the low light in a home by putting them in shade for more and more hours a day before bringing them in. The best windowsill light is about half the light plants get outdoors.
Many plants you enjoyed this summer can have a second life if you take cuttings that you can replant next spring. We have had success with all succulents, begonias, petunias, Purple Heart, geranium, coleus, wire vine, impatiens, sweet potato vine, rosemary, pineapple sage, lavender, mint, etc.
Take 5-inch cuttings that end where a leaf grows. Remove almost all of the leaves below the top few. Put sterile potting soil mixed with perlite in a clean container with drain holes. Dampen the soil and let it drain.
Put holes into the soil with a pencil and carefully place one cutting in each hole. Water the soil and let it drain again. Check the cuttings every few days to make sure they are damp not wet or dry. Check for roots after 2 or 3 weeks. When the roots are well established put each rooted cutting into its own container of soil and put into bright light to grow out.
Herb plants such as parsley, thyme, oregano and chives can be dug up, potted and kept in a sunny spot for fresh herbs to use in the kitchen over the winter.
Live Christmas trees are fun to buy and have in the house before planting outside. This is the time to prepare the planting spot by deciding where you’ll want the tree to grow to its full, mature height, and digging the hole before cold weather sets in.
Dig and store summer flowering bulbs such as gladiolas, dahlias, caladiums, Elephant Ears and tuberous begonias. The mesh bags that onions come in are ideal for drying cleaned bulbs and tubers.
When they are dry enough to store in a frost-free location, put them in sand, peat moss or sawdust where they will remain dry.
Check them every few weeks, looking for disease or shriveling. Cut off any diseased spots and plunge shriveling tubers into water to plump them. Then, put them back into storage after the surface dries.
Many of these plants can also be brought indoors and treated as houseplants over the winter. Elephant Ears and Cordylines in large containers make a dramatic impact during the otherwise dull months for gardeners.
There are plenty of sunny days remaining and they are ideal for pulling weeds so they do not overwinter and return as giants next spring. Insect eggs are hiding in the flower and vegetable beds and it is a good idea to clear all the dead leaves and stems, eliminating insects’ winter homes.
Lilies and daylilies can be divided, moved and replanted now. Fall is also a good time to start a compost pile where sticks, leaves and dead plant material is piled and left to make soil amendment over the winter.
There is still time to plant spring blooming bulbs, pansies and perennials on sale at garden centers.