We can expect afternoon rains and increased humidity through October, with two full months before the first hard freeze of fall. We have plenty of growing season left so let me share something I have done in my own yard to maximize plant growth and color intensity and to enhance our enjoyment of the fall season ahead. Because plants can look tired and pale following their exuberant growth during spring and summer, I highly recommend one last feeding with an organic granular plant food. If you are close to the garden center I have created a very specific plant food for the area called Ken’s “All natural Plant Food”. I know, not very original, but very appropriete and truly all natural.
A hearty meal will brighten flower beds, force more flowers from rosebushes, and bring out the richest blues and greens from all your trees and shrubs. When fed now, plants will be healthier, flush new growth, and look like brand new plants. This is especially important for plants that have been eaten by grasshoppers, caterpillars, aphids and other bugs.
Some of my favorite plants in local landscapes are the grasses of summer. Now, I’m not talking about lawns; I’m referring to ornamental grasses with majestic plumes that move freely in the wind. It’s odd that garden centers carry few if any of these grasses during the rush of spring planting; however, now through fall you will find a huge selection of ornamental grasses and many will be in plume and looking their best.
Ornamental grasses are extremely hardy. I use short varieties in rock gardens and showy containers and plant some of the larger specimens right in the ground, much like a shrub or small tree. All grass varieties are watered and fed the same way as other trees and shrubs. No lawn mowers here; prune them back close to the ground in late winter and watch their undulating beauty return in spring. To get the best plumes on any of these ornamental grasses it is best to give them at least five hours of sun per day during the growing season. Plants with no plumes yet should be give a good strong dose of my all natural plant food to encourage new growth.
Dwarf Ivory Feathers Pampas Grass, Cortaderia selloana, is the most famous of the ornamental grasses, and the largest. Its 6-foot tall flower stalks of white plumes are held above the foliage. Once established this drought-hardy variety thrives with little water. Because of it’s smaller stature it doesn’t take over like the larger pampas version.
Evergreen Deer Grass, Miscanthus transmorrisonensis, has fluffy beige spikes arching above the shimmering silver-green foliage. It grows quickly to its 3’X3’ size. The foliage remains evergreen well into winter, making it an excellent candidate for mass plantings and for large containers.
Japanese Silver Grass, Miscanthus sinensis , is definitely on my best grass list because of its gracefully arching top and silvery-white plumes. The dark green blades are highlighted with a creamy white stripe that makes this a great accent plant. It works well as a backdrop to Russian sage, salvias, and other medium height shrubs.
Little Bunny Fountain Grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides, is the shortest of the fountain grasses, growing to about one foot high. Its graceful plumes stand above the plant mass, displaying fluffy, buff-colored blooms. This grass provides terrific contrast when used among shrubs, in rock gardens, or in flowering container gardens. The dark green foliage turns a golden russet in fall.
Blue Dune Lime Grass, Elymus arenarius, has just been added to my yard because it has the most intense silver blue blades and because it is a vigorous spreader that can fill in large areas quickly. In summer it sports slender beige flower spikes that rise a foot above the 2-foot tall foliage. Although this grass is drought resistant, I find it looks best when maintained on a drip system.
New video classes has also been posted on my web site and YouTubes as well. Check all the photos and more out at wattersonline.com .
Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center.
The Delighted Grass