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From The Ground Up

Fall Is The Time To Replant Perennials

By Pamela Redwine

The last day to place your MSU cheese order is Friday, October 15.   The cheese will be ready for pickup at the Extension Office the first week of December. 

Now is the time to divide perennials!

Early fall is a great time to divide and replant perennials. Refrain from dividing those that are just beginning their bloom cycle, like swamp sunflowers, chrysanthemums, hardy ageratums, goldenrod, and asters to name a few. You may divide the fall bloomers later in the fall after flowering is complete or these can be divided in early spring before new growth begins.

Fall is also a great time to plant purchased perennials or plants you have obtained by swapping your divisions with a neighbor.  Matter of fact, you could organize a perennial swap party!  Get all your gardening buddies together and share perennial divisions from your gardens. What a great way to thin out your perennials that have lost vigor due to overcrowding, or show barren and dead centers. You can rejuvenate your perennials and add to your collection at the same time!  The new plants you receive are likely to grow well for you because they were growing already in your area. They also add a sentimental dimension to your garden because you associate them with the friend or relative who gave them to you.

A few tips when dividing your perennials:

1. If the soil surrounding the perennials is dry, water it deeply, as the perennials will be easier to dig and divide if the soil is moist.

2. It is all right to divide a thick mat of perennials with an axe, sharp spade or machete. You will sever some roots but that’s ok. If you can tease the clumps apart with your hands that’s even better. Blasting the clump with a strong stream of water to remove the soil can also make dividing thick clumps easier.

3. Cut back any excessive top growth. Cutting the foliage back somewhat allows the “pruned” root system a better chance of maintaining the reduced top growth until new roots can form.

4. After planting your new “babies” water deeply and mulch. Continue to water these new plants well during dry periods of no rain this fall. It is critical that water be monitored closely until these plants have “rooted in.”

5. It really is not necessary to fertilize these plants now. Fertilize in the spring when you first observe new growth from the crown.

Dividing overgrown, mature clumps of your perennials, sharing with friends and purchasing new plants this fall for planting is a great way to get a jump-start on spring. Even though your garden may look asleep after the first killing frost, the perennials you have planted will continue to grow underground developing a strong root system to support all those flowers next spring and summer.

Overseeding Southern Lawns

If you want your lawn to be green throughout the winter, then now is the time.  Seeding should be done when soil temperatures reach around 70 degrees, which as a general rule will occur around the middle of October for much of Mississippi.

The turf species of preference for winter overseeding warm season turf species lawns should be perennial ryegrass.  Perennial ryegrasses are much finer textured than annual ryegrass cultivars, generally have much better color throughout the winter, not as prone to clumpiness, and do not produce as many unsightly seed stalks in the spring.  Seeding rate for home lawns with perennial ryegrass should be 8-10 pounds per thousand square feet.  If you opt for the less expensive but also much less desirable annual ryegrass increase this by another two pounds.

Good reasons for winter overseeding lawns in Mississippi are rather limited.  The first is the need to provide some type of ground cover for a new home site where it is too late in the fall to establish a permanent lawn. Another may be that you have had your permanent lawn damaged in some way that it will be vulnerable to additional winter injury if not overseeded.  And lastly you must have a green lawn all year. This is a somewhat questionable good reason as overseeding strong healthy permanent lawns with cool season grasses will delay spring green-up and can possibly thin the permanent turf.


Now is the time to be planting onion seeds in the garden. Make sure the soil is not compacted over the seed since onions have a strange way of emerging and are not particularly strong seedlings. The tip of the onion plumule (first leaf) will remain with the seed and the bent over leaf will emerge from the soil. The tip is later released to grow upright, but the seedling is delicate while “in the knee”. Plant the onion seed about an inch apart in the row. You can thin them to three or four inches in December and use the thinned green onions to flavor the stuffing for Christmas turkey.


You can eat your pumpkin after it has done its duty as decoration if you take a few precautions. Never place the pumpkin directly on the ground. Soil dwelling fungi and bacteria need close physical contact in wet conditions to invade the pumpkin. Dew provides enough moisture to let this happen.  Keep the pumpkins in the shade as much as possible. Cooler temperatures will slow the decay process. Delay the cutting process as long as possible. Carve the jack o’lantern on Halloween and use a battery powered light instead of a candle. Candles tend to burn the flesh above the flame. Discard the burned area if you have to be authentic with your light source. Be prepared to use the pumpkin as quickly as possible after the trick or treaters have stopped. Pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread makes a delicious November first breakfast.

Article Source: Horticulture Tips by: Wayne Wells, Lelia Kelly, & David Nagel

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