Evaluate your existing plantings:
Now is a great time to get outdoors and evaluate your plantings to determine what plants need to be replaced and which plants need to be divided. Removing old plantings will also help with reducing spots for insects to overwinter, allow for you to put down some fresh mulch (pine straw, hardwood much, chipped leaves), and add winter color like pansies, ornamental cabbages, snapdragons or some spring blooming bulbs.
Test your soil:
This is also a great time to get your soil tested! Soil testing is essential in understanding the nutritional content of your soil and how your plants will benefit. Most plants like a pH of 6.0-6.5, however you will not be able to tell what the pH is of a soil simply by looking at it. Getting it tested is one of the first steps in having your space ready for planting. Since soils in Georgia are naturally acidic, adding correct amounts of lime will help raise the pH to get it in range for your plants. Lime can take a little bit of time to incorporate to raise the pH. Testing in the fall and making an application now (if recommended) will get you closer to having the space ready for the spring.
Taking a sample is a quick and easy process. You will need: a clean hand trowel or shovel, a clean bucket, and the space located where you would like to test. Take 10-15 samples (4 inches for lawns or 6 inches for gardens/ornamentals) all throughout the space and mix it in a clean bucket. Bring about a zip sandwich bag full of the mixture into our office for analysis. Cost is currently $9.00 per bag.
Plant spring blooming bulbs:
A wide variety of bulbs will grow well in Georgia. While most are grown for their flowers, we have quite a few that are grown for their foliage. The ideal time to plant bulbs depends on when they bloom. Spring blooming bulbs should be planted now! The ideal site should have good drainage, a pH of 6.0-6.8, at least 6-10 hours of direct light per day, and a space there they will be aesthetically pleasing. See below some options (this is not an exhaustive list).
- Lily of the Valley
- Hardy Cyclamen
- Spanish Bluebell
- Rain Lily
- Spring Snowflake
- Giant Onion
Check out Flowering Bulbs for Georgia Gardens for more information.
Please let us know if we can help as you evaluate your current or new plantings spaces! I hope you will be able to get outside to enjoy the wonderful fall days ahead!
This post was written by Kim Toal, Fayette County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent