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Season Changes

Filed Under:
October 15, 2018

Host: Gary Bachman, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist


We’re beginning the fall season, and the landscape has started to transition today on Southern Gardening

Southern Gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Day lengths are decreasing, and very soon night time temperatures will also. These are important and powerful environmental cues for our landscape plants. Trees, shrubs, and flowering perennials are storing vast amounts of sugars in their root systems to fuel the growth next spring. 

A good example of this strategy is when we see the leaves change color. Plants and trees are harvesting valuable nutrients from their roots to use next year and will discard only the parts of leaves that cannot be used again. Who says people are the only ones that can recycle? 

Maintaining good plants nutrition is vital to good plant survivability. Now is a good time to have your soil tested. Soil test kits are available at your local county extension office. When you have your test results back, you’ll have the proper recommendations. In the past, it was recommended not to used high nitrogen fertilizers going into winter as this may encourage new growth and have cold weather damage the plant. Current research suggests that using fall fertilizers having high potassium are actually more beneficial than worrying about nitrogen levels. This makes sense when we consider the plants response to the environment. Applying high levels of nitrogen will not overcome the environmental signals of decreasing temperatures and daylight. 

Maintaining good soil moisture is also essential moving into the winter months. Trees and shrubs can actually desiccate during the winter if the soil is allowed to dry out. And if this happens, the damage doesn’t usually appear until late next year or beyond.

Until next time, I am Horticulturist Gary Bachman enjoying our Southern Gardening.

Southern Gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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