Fairfield Harbour Garden Club

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Durant Ashmore Published 10:11 a.m. ET March 21, 2016 | Updated 9:37 a.m. ET March 3, 2017

All those white blooming trees you see everywhere... do you think they are pretty? If you knew what they actually represent, you would choke on your morning coffee and gag on your scrambled eggs. All those white blooming trees you see now are an environmental disaster happening right before your very eyes.

I’m talking about every white blooming tree right now, with only the exception of wild plums, which is a short multi-flora tree that seldom reaches over eight feet in height. All the other white flowering trees in today’s environment are an ecological nightmare, getting worse and worse every year and obliterating our wonderful native trees from the rural landscape.

If it’s blooming white right now, it’s a curse. This dictum especially applies to that “charming” Bradford pear your dimwitted landscaper planted in the middle of your front yard. Indeed, lack of smarts is what has led to this disaster. Bradford pear is worse than kudzu, and the ill-conceived progeny of Bradford pear will be cursing our environment for decades or possibly centuries yet to come.

When Bradford pear was introduced as an ornamental in 1964 by the US Department of Agriculture, it was known then that this tree possessed the weakest branch structure in nature. Also, the tree was assumed to be sterile. Bradford pears will seldom last more than 20 years before they bust themselves apart at the seams. That’s actually the good news.

In an attempt to extend the lifespan of this despicable tree, other varieties such as Cleveland Select, etc. were introduced. These trees will live for about 25 years. That’s little consolation for the resulting disasters that happened when these other pear varieties were introduced.

After 25 years the ill effects of the steep v crotch branch structure – which all pears possess - take their inevitable course of action and cause pear limb structures to crack, split and bust. You can’t fool Mother Nature, and people who plant pears will sooner or later regret that choice. Planting pears borders on  - if not crosses the line – of negligence.

However, the fact that Bradford pear trees are short lived and dangerous is not the real reason that these trees are such a disaster. The problem is that these trees are in fact not sterile. No two Bradford pears will ever reproduce among themselves, but they do cross pollinate with every other pear tree out there, including the Cleveland Select pear trees that were meant to be the salvation of flowering pears everywhere. The introduction of other pear varieties has compounded the problem to the point where it is almost too late to rectify.

Because of the cross pollination problem, pear trees have now proliferated exponentially across our environment. And, to make matters worse, the evil offspring has reverted to the ancient Chinese Callery pears which form impenetrable thorny thickets that choke out the life out of pines, dogwoods, maples, redbuds, oaks, hickories, etc.

When you see those fields of white flowering trees, please don’t get giddy with excitement over pretty white flowers. What you are looking at are Callery pears destroying nature. Callery pears have 4 inch thorns. They can’t be mowed down. Those thorns will shred John Deere tractor tires. They can only be removed by steel tracked dozers, decreasing the value of agricultural or forest land to the tune of $3,000 per acre.

And, make no mistake about this. That solitary Bradford pear growing in your yard is what caused this problem. Your one tree has spawned hundreds of evil progeny. If you don’t believe that, just take a little ride, and notice all the white flowering trees blooming these days. The closer they are to “ornamental” Bradford pear trees, the thicker they are.

If you want to save the world, cut down your Bradford pear trees. I could not be more serious about this.

For those of you who are regular readers, you have read this before. For you first time readers, welcome to the club. This is my annual “Bashing of the Bradfords” column. I appreciate all the support I have had in this campaign from readers who have sent me pictures of cut down Bradford pears and ground up pear stumps. It does my heart good to know that the message is getting out.

If you ever go visit a plant nursery and want to know if it is a good nursery or not, ask if they sell Bradford pears. All reputable nurseries are well aware of the evils of this tree, and refuse to sell them.  Don’t let someone talk you into a Cleveland Select or other pear tree, all varieties of “ornamental” pear trees are equally bad.

Save the world.  Eliminate Bradford pear trees.



Hi Jennifer,

I am getting some questions as to this spread of the cotton-candy like cocoons we see in our trees in FH. Is this Fall webworm? If you agree I would like to send this notice out to the Garden Club so these people
can have the info to tell their neighbors. I think this is the culprit as tent caterpillars are Spring critters not Fall. Tks, Jean Paladini
Yes that's it. They're everywhere this season, the worst I've ever seen. Tom usually recommends doing nothing because its very difficult to be effective with spraying (height issues) and they won't harm the tree (not like the tent caterpillars up North). They're just unsightly.
I usually recommend taking a picture of the infestation so you can see if it is expanding during the next season. If it is, then BT is a good solution but timing is everything. You've got to spray when they're still in the larva stage and I think we've passed that threshold now. Most of the webbing is empty already. You can also cut out effected braches and take them to the dump as a sanitation practice.


The fall webworm differs from the Eastern tent caterpillar by the time of year in which it is seen, its feeding habits, and the placement of its protective tent.

In its larval state, the webworm is a 1-inch caterpillar, usually pale yellowish-green with a broad, dusky stripe down its back and a yellow stripe on each side. They are covered with long, silky gray hairs that arise in tufts from orangeyellow or black tubercles. The color of the head can be red to black. As an adult, the fall webworm emerges as a white moth with a wingspan of about 11/2 inches. Occasionally there are a few black or orange markings on the body and legs.
Adult fall webworms appear mostly from May to August and deposit egg masses of up to 1500 eggs on the lower surface of leaves of a host tree. As they hatch, larvae quickly begin spinning their webs over the leaves on which they feed. This web enlarges to cover more foliage as the larvae continue to feed. If a tree is heavily infested, it is possible to have several branches enclosed in webs. After feeding, the larvae drop to the ground to spin thin cocoons just beneath the soil surface where they will overwinter until the following spring, emerging as adult moths. Approximately 120 species of deciduous trees are host to the fall webworm, with mulberry, maple, crabapples, birch, chokecherry, walnut, and willow being most susceptible. The damage occurs in late July and August as the larvae feed on leaves while inside their tents. Immature larvae eat only the outer surfaces of the leaf and leave the leaf veins untouched, while mature larvae will consume the entire leaf right down to the petiole. Nevertheless, given the time of year that the feeding takes place, the fall webworm’s damage is more of a cosmetic problem to the tree than any serious health threat. If the fall webworm has infested a small tree or a recent transplant, some control measures may be warranted.



  • As with the Eastern tent caterpillar, removal of the web is the most reasonable method of control. If the tent can be reached, it is possible to either cut off the web or open it up and physically remove the caterpillars and destroy them by crushing or immersing them in an alcohol solution. Tents that are out of reach near the tops of taller trees can be left alone since any defoliation they cause will not affect the overall health of an established tree.
  • Bt (Thuricide or Dipel) or insecticidal soaps can be used but are effective only if sprayed inside the webs directly onto the caterpillars


JANUARY Master Gardener Tips



·         Prune off broken limbs on shade trees. 

·         Wait to prune spring flowering shrubs until after they have flowered.

Outdoor Planting

·         Plant heather, jasmine and other winter flowering shrubs as they become available.

·         Don’t delay planting a live Christmas tree, especially if it has already been in the house for two weeks.

·         Plant cool season annuals, such as Iceland poppies, pansy, snapdragon, viola, candytuft, calendula, and primrose.

Routine Chores

·         Winter is a good time to keep your garden in shape.  Pull up any dead plants that are left. Prune frost-bitten perennials and put them in your compost pile

·         Order seeds for spring gardening

·         Make note of any low spots, high spots, drainage problems and animal holes.

·         Think about changes in garden layout.  Make a list of flowers you want to add or move in the spring.

Pest and Disease


·         If temperatures allow, apply dormant oil spray to deciduous flowering shrubs and trees to control scale and other harmful insects that may be overwintering on them.  Make sure to give thorough coverage to smother them and always follow the directions given on the container.

Indoor Plants

·         Add slow release fertilizer on the soil around the base of indoor plants that fruit or flower in winter; work into the top ½-inch of soil.

·         Add a little fresh soil, too, if there is room

·         Keep tender plants, such as amaryllis, poinsettia, and kalanchoe in a well lighted, draft-free area away from heat.  Water when dry.

·         If a potted plant has gotten too dry and resists water, try immersing the pot in a dishpan full of water until the air bubbles stop rising.  (You may have to weight it down.)  Remove and place on a saucer to collect excess water it may have absorbed.


FEBRUARY Master Gardener Tips

Most ornamental trees can be pruned in late February, except maple, birch and walnut. Select relatively warm days in late February or early March where the weather is predicted to not be very cold for a few days.

• Prune hardy shrubs and trees that do not bloom in the spring. Flowering shrubs that bloom on new wood need shaping before growth starts. ( Abelia, Arborvitae, Beautyberry, Eleagnus, Gardenia, Althea, summer Hydrangea, summer Spirea, Sumac, Japanese Keria, Butterfly Bush and Yew).
•If pruning roses. Reduce size by 1/2 to 2/3, eliminating all crossing canes and dead diseased wood.
• DO NOT prune Azaleas, Oak Leaf Hydrangeas, Forsythia and spring blooming Spirea. They set their buds in fall, many blooms will be lost if you prune before they bloom.

Routine Chores
• Begin dividing perennials
• Plant fruit trees and bareroot roses
• Finish up using dormant spray on roses and shrubs always read the label for directions
• Plant regional bulbs like: amayllis, crinums and calla lilies
• Pot up saved tubers and corms like: begonias and cannas
• Weather permitting, you can start dividing perennials
• This is a good time to add organic matter and fertilizer to your flower and
vegetable beds, turn the top 6 to 8 inches of soil.

House Plants
• Start feeding houseplants in February use (slow-release granular).
Re-pot root bound houseplants to a larger pot. Check the leaves of your
houseplants for insect problems like scale, mites and mealy bugs. If you detect a problem, use appropriate control. Systemic granules are ideal

Starting Seeds Indoors
• You can start your flower seeds indoors now for Ageratum, Asters, Calendula, Companula, Candytuft, Carnations, Centurea, Chrysanthemums, Coleus, Coreopsis, Dahlia, Gerbena, Geraniums, Impatiens, Pansies, Petunia, Salvia, and Snapdragon.
• You can start your vegetable seeds indoors now for Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Leeks, Onions and Spinach in mid to late February. 

Use vermiculite or a good potting mix for seeding not garden soil.

MARCH Master Gardener Tips

Master Gardener Tips for March

Although a severe case of spring fever makes a gardener do strange things, one temptation to resist is to work in the soil if it's wet. Think twice before you work in wet soil. Compaction problems are unforgiving.

What to Prune: Prune deciduous spring flowering shrubs after flowers fade; quince, spirea and forsythia all flower on old growth. Do not prune shrubs that haven't bloomed yet such as azaleas and Indian hawthorns. Prune roses before bud break. -probably late March .when forsythia is in bloom Toward the end of the month, prune freeze-damaged oleanders in Coastal
regions. On Rabbiteye blueberry bushes, prune to maintain 6-9
branches per plant.

What to Plant: You may continue to plant seeds of the following perennials: columbine, hollyhock, coreopsis, daisy. phlox. larkspur, poppies, and dianthus. In mid-March plant coreopsis. Sweet William can also be planted this month.  The following vegetables can be planted this month: beets,
carrots, Chinese cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, Swiss chard, turnips, potatoes,cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Containerized roses can be planted anytime between March
and May.

It’s a a good time to plant ornamental shrubs and trees.  Plant a tree for Arbor Day! This year in North Carolina , Arbor Day is Friday March 20.

What to Fertilize: You may start to fertilize shrubs now.  Fertilize asparagus beds early in March before spear growth begins.

Before planting your vegetables, fertilize your garden as recommended by your soil test results.  Apply the recommended amount of lime if this was not done in the fall.

Spraying: Spray the following landscape shrubs for the following insect pests: euonymus-scale, juniper-spruce spider mites and hybrid rhododendron-borer.

Start your rose spray program just prior to bud break.

By Master Gardener Audrey Von Dolln

APRIL Master Gardener Tips


·         Blossom end rot on tomatoes may be caused by a calcium deficiency.  Have a soil test done to learn the pH of your soil and see if you have to add lime to prevent blossom end rot.


·         Prune spring flowering shrubs, such as forsythia, azalea, spirea, and weigela, immediately after flowering.  If you wait until summer or fall to prune, you will be removing next year’s flowers!

·         Prune stringy Nandina domestica by cutting the longest canes close to the ground.  New canes will come up from the base to give this old-fashioned garden staple a fuller look.

Outdoor Planting

·         When selecting summer annuals to transplant, look for short, bushy plants with green leaves, well-developed root systems and more buds than flowers.

·         To give summer flowering bulbs a head start, you may wish to plant tuberous begonias, caladium, cannas and dahlias in containers indoors and water.  Store in a cool, bright area indoors, but keep out of direct sunlight.  Water when the soil feels dry.  Apply a water-soluble fertilizer according to label directions.  Move the bulbs outdoors to their summer locations when all danger of frost has past.



·         After danger of frost is past, around April 15th, plant seeds of sweet corn, pole beans, lima beans, snap beans, cantaloupe, cucumbers, summer squash, pumpkins, and watermelons.

·         After danger of frost is past, plant herbs directly into the ground or in containers.  If using peat pots, break away the uppermost rim of the pot before planting and make sure the pot is completely covered.

·         Wait until the end of the month to plant tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

Routine Chores

·         Divide or transplant spring-flowering bulbs after they have finished blooming.  Dig deeply and remember to keep as much foliage as possible.

·         Notice empty spaces in the landscape where you want to plant additional spring bulbs in the fall and make a note of these areas in your garden journal.

Pest and Disease Management

·         Continue spraying roses for insects, mildew, and deer.

·         Scout these shrubs for insect pests and use proper control

o         Euonymus – scale

o         Hemlock and juniper – spruce mites and aphids

o         Boxwood – leaf borer

Indoor Plants

·         After your Easter lilies have faded, plant the bulbs in your garden.  Choose a sunny, well-drained location and cut the foliage back.

Shrub roses, such as Knock Out or Carefree, are low maintenance.  They have good disease resistance and require little pruning.  They need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day.  It is important that morning sun dry the dew to prevent black spot.

“Home Vegetable Gardening” is available for download at the Craven County Extension Service www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/pdf/ag-06.pdf

MAY Master Gardener Tips

Fertilize summer flowering trees like Crape Myrtle and Rose- of-Sharon this month.  Do not forget to side dress or fertilize your vegetable plants six to eight weeks after germination.

Plant summer annuals like begonia, geranium, marigold, petunia and zinnia this month.  The following vegetable plants can be set out this month: eggplant, pepper, tomato and sweet potato.  The following vegetables can be planted this month: beans, lima beans, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, okra, southern peas, pumpkin, squash and watermelon.

Prune your shrubs after they finish flowering.
Prune any hedges that have outgrown their desired shape.
Begin pinching your chrysanthemums and continue through early July.
Pick off azalea leaf galls as they form.
Do NOT cut back spring bulb foliage until it turns yellow .

Spray only when the pest has been identified and then with the appropriate chemical Use pesticides sparingly.
Check landscape shrubs for the following insect pests: arborvitae-bag worm, azalea-lace bug, boxwood-leaf miner, euonymus-scale, hemlock and juniper-spruce mites, and pyracantha-lace bug .
Spray vegetables if insects or are observed: Continue with rose spray program.

Clumps of Cannas should be divided every three or four years to encourage flowering.
Set root sections 5-6” deep, 15” apart.

Crape Myrtles
Watch plants carefully for evidence of aphids. They can be found along
stems or on the underside of a leaves Spray as needed. (Insecticidal
soap, horticultural oil, or chemicals are available). These aphids leave a sticky residue on which black sooty mold forms. If powdery mildew occurs, apply fungicides.

It’s time to hang up hummingbird feeders. A solution of one part sugar to four parts boiling water can be used. Do not put hot liquid, honey, or red food coloring in your feeder!

Centipede Lawns Care Suggestions
These should be adjusted to suit your particular home lawn conditions.
Mow lawn at height of 1 inch at time of initial greenup. Mow before grass gets above 1 1/2 inches tall.
DO NOT apply nitrogen at this time. Yellow appearance may be an indication of iron deficiency. Spray with iron (ferrous) sulfate (2 ounces in water per 1,000 sq. ft.) or a chelated iron source to enhance color as needed. Follow label directions.
Weed Control
Apply pre emergence herbicides to control crabgrass, goose grass, and foxtail.
Apply by the time that dogwoods are in full bloom. Apply post emergence herbicides in May as needed for control of summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as knot weed, spurge, lespedeza, etc. Do not apply until 3 weeks after greenup.
Centipede grass is sensitive to certain herbicides (e.g. 2,4-D), so follow label directions and use with caution.
Insect Control
Check for white grubs and control if necessary.

Audrey Von Dolln Craven County Master Gardener Volunteer

JUNE Master Gardener Tips

Deadhead Flowers
"Deadheading" the spent flowers can prolong the bloom period of both annuals and perennials. Cut off the faded flowers of phlox, shasta daisy and daylilies to encourage a second flowering.
Dogwood Trees
Dogwood borer is a serious threat in this area and will shorten the life of dogwood trees. Inspect tree trunks for split/peeling bark or small entry holes. The borer is most active in June/early July. Control by spraying the trunk and lower limbs of trees with pesticides labeled for borers in June and repeat the spray at least 2 times at 10 day intervals.
Bag worms
Juniper, arborvitae and Leyland cypress are susceptible plants. Spray with
pesticides labeled for bag worms. Later, when the worms are inside bags, remove the bags and destroy them.

Tomato Problems
The first step in controlling an insect problem is to correctly identify the pests.
1. Cutworm: Most cutworms cut off stems of plants at or near the soil line. They curl up into a tight C shape when disturbed. Guard the plant base from cutworms with a wax paper collar about 3" high (2" above ground & 1" below).
2. Aphids: These plant lice cause the greatest damage when they suck juices from and inject saliva into plants. They usually feed in clusters. Several applications of insecticidal soap are quite effective.
3. Tomato Horn Worm: Take off by hand. You may notice parasitic wasps are giving you help in killing them.
4. Early Blight: This disease produces brown to black spots on older leaves. If severe, the fungus also attacks stems and fruit. Sanitation is the best control.
Remove all diseased plant tissue on the ground. Do not plant tomatoes in the same place next year.
5. Blossom End Rot: This disease is sometimes caused by a calcium deficiency in the developing fruit. The affected area darkens and enlarges in a widening circle. The calcium deficiency may be due to a lack of calcium uptake from the soil or to extreme fluctuations in water supply. Make sure your soil pH is between 6.0 - 6.5.  Since blossom end rot is also associated with extremes in water supply, it is important to try to regulate the moisture supply in the soil. Plants need 1" of water per week.

Don't forget to fertilize or side dress your vegetables as needed.

The following vegetables can be planted in your garden in June: beans, lima beans, southern peas, peppers, sweet potato, pumpkin and tomato.

Prune climbing roses after they bloom and fertilize at this time.
Prune narrow leaf evergreens like juniper and arborvitae and the big leaf hydrangea when the flowers fade. Trim dried up foliage of your spring flowering bulbs. Continue to pinch your chrysanthemums to encourage branching.

Late June is the ideal time to take semi-hardwood cuttings. Azaleas, cotoneaster, camellia, holly, pieris, red-tip photinia and rhododendron cuttings should be taken in June or July.

JULY Master Gardener Tips

Remove suckers between the main stem and branches. It encourages bushier growth. Water tomatoes from below to prevent fungal infections. Cultivate and remove weeds from base of plants.
Insects and pests
If your insecticidal soap supply is gone when you notice ants and aphids on your plants, you might try a few drops of dish detergent mixed with water and spray it on them. Little red spiders can be sprayed off plants with a fine spray from the hose.  Watch for bud worms feeding on the buds of geraniums, roses and petunias. It lays one egg per bud and the hatched larvae feed on it as it grows. It takes on the color of the plant it is eating.
For heavy infestation, try spraying with Bacillus Thuringensis. Repeat weekly until no more damage is being done.
If you have plants in pots or baskets remember that they require extra watering.
You should add a liquid fertilizer about every three weeks unless using a time release product - then every two months.
Continue deadheading. Divide bearded iris from mid-July to the end of August.
Early in the month, prune back the canes of once-flowering roses as they finish blooming. Cut them back by a third and thin out any weak branches and old, thick canes.
Continue to change hummingbird feeder solution and clean the feeders at least every other day. Clean bird baths frequently to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching.
Butterfly Gardens
To attract a variety of butterflies and moths to your garden you need a mixture of spring and summer nectar-producing flowers for them to feed on as well as larval food. Butterflies lay their eggs on plants that the newly hatched caterpillars will eat. Phlox, Black-eyed Susan, Coneflower, Purple Verbena, Pentas, Lantana, Butterfly weed and Butterfly Bush are great nectar sources. Parsley, fennel, Queen Anne's lace and dill are favorite larval food.

Pond Care
Remove any debris from the surface of the pond.
Top off your pond with de-chlorinated water, as needed. Check your submersible pump regularly for blockage.
Remove spent flowers, yellowing foliage and excess plant growth at least once a week.
Fertilize water lilies and other flowering plants with special pond tabs.
Remove over-exuberant floating plants.
Clean filters as needed. Once water temperatures reach 60 degrees F, switch from high carbohydrate food to a high protein food. Under normal conditions, the fish should be fed once per day with what they can consume in five minutes.
Surrounded by a 2-inch mulch, herbs will last longer due to the added moisture retention. Continue to harvest basil, parsley and oregano and remove any seed pods that begin to form.
Continue to employ good water practices. Water early in the morning to lessen the chance of many foliar diseases. Water down to the roots and you won't have to water as frequently and your plants will be healthier or more able to withstand a dry period. Most lawns will need 1 inch of water each week. Be aware that Centipede grass requires less water and nutrients than other grasses. With Centipede grass, less care is better than too much. If you have an irrigation system on a regular schedule, think about installing a rain sensor to automatically turn your sprinkler system off when it rains. Use mulch to retain water and keep roots cooler. Bark, wood chips, gravel, compost or other materials are all beneficial.

Audrey Von Dolln -Craven County Master Gardener Volunteer

AUGUST Master Gardener Tips

Fertilize mums for good bloom in cooler weather. Revitalize annuals with liquid fertilizer. Continue fertilizing roses each 5 to 6 weeks. Discontinue fertilization of flowering shrubs, including azaleas.

Water plants deeply and early in the morning. Before watering, run all the hot water from the hose to keep from scalding plants.

Sow seeds of perennials, bi-annuals and cool-season annuals such as pansy, poppy, foxglove, wall flower, and Sweet William. Most wildflowers can be planted now. Cover the seed lightly and keep constantly moist using a fine spray. It may be wise to cover or shade the seeds and seedlings during the hottest part of the day. Plant the following fall vegetable plants this month: beets, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, radish, rutabaga, spinach, squash and turnip.

Hot, dry weather encourages red spider mites. If you aren't sure the pest is on your plant, place a sheet of white paper under the plant and shake. If you see little bugs crawling, you have spider mites! These pests can destroy a plant quickly. A good strong spray from the water hose every 3 to 5 days will discourage these pests. Apply chemicals, if necessary. Juniper often are affected by spider mites.
Lantana lace bugs may become a problem. They create crisping and browning of the leaves and lack of flowers. Treatment with a granular systemic insecticide may be used. Early detection is important.
Weeping White, White Lightning, Weeping Lavender, Imperial Purple, Patriot Rainbow, Denholm Dwarf White, Radiation, Dallas Red, Gold Mound, New Gold and Lemon Swirl are varieties of Lantana that are less susceptible to the insect.
Phlox and Crape Myrtle are prone to powdery mildew in this weather. Spray with fungicide. Practice good sanitation by raking up infected leaves and put in the trash. Many pests are harbored in the mulch and debris of infected plants.
Continue spraying roses with a fungicide to curtail black spot.

To prolong harvest of herbs, do not let the plants flower. Prune out old canes on roses to force new growth. Continue dead-heading perennials and annuals for longer blooming period. It is not a good time to prune shrubs.

Check the level of mulch on beds. Heat and moisture allow soil bacteria and fungi to break down mulching materials. Beds need 2 to 3 inches of mulch to combat the heat and drought. Do not apply mulch up against trunks and stems.

Audrey Von Dolln - Craven County Master Gardener Volunteer

SEPTEMBER Master Gardener Tips

- Deadhead plants to keep them blooming longer.
- When perennials have passed their prime, cut them back. This will encourage more basal growth.
- Pull out annuals that are in decline. Don’t forget to turn over the soil as you
remove them.
- Set out some new mums to spark up your gardens for Fall.
- Start planning locations to plant new Spring flowering bulbs.

Spring flowering bulbs can be divided and replanted this month.
Divide peonies, bee balm, day lilies, pinks, daisies and coreopsis.

September is a good time to set out landscape plants. New mums, asters,
goldenrod, pansies, and Mexican sage plants this month will add color to your fall beds.
Transplant any evergreen trees or shrubs that need moving this month.
Plant the following fall vegetables in September: mustard, onion, radish and turnip.

Do NOT prune shrubs in September or October.
Root prune any trees or plants you plan to move next spring.

Fall is a time of transition in your garden. As your summer plants die off, pull them out. Cut back perennials once they've passed their prime. Remove "weeds" and leaf debris as they accumulate under plants since they can harbor disease and insect pests over the winter. Don't think that just because the air is colder and the days are shorter that your garden maintenance is over.

Severely cut back underwater oxygenating plants. Trim away dead leaves on water lilies and marginal plants. You may want to cover the pond with bird netting to prevent falling leaves from decomposing and fouling the water.
Always check your pots and plants for insects before you bring them indoors.

Your beautiful Mandevilla cannot withstand freezing temperatures. You may want to cut it back and bring it indoors or propagate a few cuttings to make some new plants to set outside when the weather warms up.

Now is a good time to pick and dry basil, oregano, sage, parsley and tarragon. I like using the microwave for drying as the herbs maintain their color. Once dried, store them out of the light and in glass containers. Pot up a few small herb plants in a planter to enjoy them indoors this fall.

Centipede Lawns
Don't use a nitrogen fertilizer this month. Use a soil test to see if your lawn will benefit from the addition of lime or minerals.

Audrey Von Dolln - Craven County Master Gardener Volunteer

OCTOBER Master Gardener Tips





·         Do NOT prune shrubs.

Outdoor Planting

·         Plant or transplant peonies.

·         Continue planting pansy plants.

·         October is a good month to plant shrubs and trees. 

·         Late in month when weather is cool, start planting spring bulbs: tulip, daffodil, crocus, and hyacinth.




Routine Chores

·         Most flowering shrubs can be propagated by means of hardwood cuttings.  Make cuttings of mature wood 6-8” long.  Dip basal ends in a rooting hormone.  Set them in good clean damp medium or soil, leaving about 2” above ground.  Or, place cuttings in large nursery pots.  Keep cuttings moist until rooted. 

·         Cut back herbaceous perennials after frost has killed the tops.

·         Take soil samples from your lawn, plant beds and vegetable garden for testing to determine the pH level of your soil and to find out which nutrients are needed for the types of plants you are planting.

·         Divide hostas, day lilies, bearded iris and other clump-forming perennials that are overgrown.  Move to a new location or pot them up as “pass-along” gift.

Pest and Disease


·         Store garden pesticides in a secured, dry location that will not freeze.

·         Putting the garden to bed properly can prevent many of next year’s insect and disease problems.  Thoroughly clean plant debris out of the garden.  Never dispose of disease or insect infested debris in a compost pile.

·         Pull out all annuals that have completed their life - cycle.   

·         Add organic matter and turn over soil to decrease insect and disease populations.

Indoor Plants

·         Bring in the last of any houseplants you summered outside.

When you decide that your gardening season is over, clean garden tools before you store them for the cool season. 

NOVEMBER Master Gardener Tips

- You can still set out pansies, calendula, candytuft, foxgloves, snapdragons, stock, and sweet alyssum.
- Sow seeds of larkspur, bachelor's buttons, sweet peas, and California poppies in full sun. They will ready to bloom in Spring.
- Violas, added to the border or container, will give you lots of color until late Spring.
- After chrysanthemums have stopped blooming, cut stems back close to the ground and dispose of stems and leaves.
- Reduce peony botrytis blight and hollyhock rust. Remove and dispose of all old stems and leaves this fall.
- Clean up rose beds. Cut out dead branches. Rake up all diseased leaves and dispose of them. Do not place diseased stems or leaves in the compost pile.
- Inspect trees and shrubs for bagworm capsules. Remove and destroy them to reduce next year's pest population.
- If scale appears on Hollies, Cleyera, Camellia, Ligustrum and Indian Hawthorn, spray with horticultural oil.
- To have blooms at Christmas, plant amaryllis bulbs now. The pot should be about 2 inches wider than the bulb. Fill the pot with potting soil and set the bulb so that the top third is above the soil line.
- Plant Spring-blooming bulbs now, such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, Spanish bluebells, and grape hyacinths. Fertilize with bulb booster or superphospate while planting. Mark their places, so you don't disrupt them.
- Dirty flower pots can carry disease in them. Before reusing, scrub the pot clean with a brush and soak it in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water for 10 minutes.
- Clean, oil, and store garden tools. Disconnect and empty hoses before a freeze.

DECEMBER Master Gardener Tips

- Using yard greens for decorating.
To keep the greenery material fresh:
* Use sharp, clean pruners
* Immediately place cut ends into water and keep immersed for 24 hours before using in decorating
- Rock gardens - Remove all leaves from around your rock gardens. Moisture retention will cause surrounding plant stems and leaves to decay.
- Winter Damage to Plants - Winter damage results from drying, freezing and breakage. Keep plants watered during dry periods.
- Bird Feeders - Bird feeders should be cleaned monthly with hot sudsy water to prevent the spread of wild bird diseases.
- Poinsettias - Once you bring your poinsettia home, keep it in an area that receives bright light and has a constant temperature of about 65/70 F. Keep it watered but not soggy.
- Blueberries - Cut out any dead or weak canes of blueberries between now and February. Use sharp pruning shears.
- Plant propagation - Hardwood cuttings of your landscape plants like forsythia (yellow bells), flowering quince, weigela, holly and hydrangea can be taken this month.
- Fertilizing - None needed on plants outside.
- Irrigation - Cut back irrigation of lawn and shrubs. Since plants are dormant and not transpiring, they need much less water in winter.
- Winter annual care - Pinch snapdragons and deadhead pansies, calendula and stocks. These are relatively heavy feeders, so give ample amounts of blood meal, compost or cottonseed meal and watch them bloom.
- Bulbs - Now is the time to force bulbs such as paper whites, daffodils and tulips.

- Count back four to six weeks from when you want them to flower as a guide for planting.
- Clean up - Now is a good time to clip away dead foliage left on daylilies. Pampas grass can be cut back to 12 inches from the ground; do not cut your hydrangeas back unless you know yours is the type that blooms on new wood. Most hydrangeas bloom on old wood and cutting them back now will destroy next year's blooms.