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Blackwelder column: Fall showing us its best and brightest colors

Fall leaf color seems to be the most brilliant it has been in years and many people are enjoying not only the color of the trees, but various blooms and other sources of color which dot the landscapes and fields in Rowan County.
Many have asked about plants that are blooming now along with other questions. Here are a few examples:
Q: Can I still plant pansies?
A: Pansies can still be planted now. Make sure that the plant beds are deeply tilled with ample soil amendments. Mulch newly set plants with a layer of fine bark. Dead head spent blooms throughout the fall and winter to allow maximum root growth. Fertilize with a water soluble fertilizer when temperatures fall below 60 degrees. Fertilization during unseasonably warm temperatures causes the plants to stretch and become weak and spindly.
Q: Can I plant goldenrod in my landscape? It’s such pretty wildflower; I see it along the roadways and it is stunning.
A: Goldenrod is available at some area garden centers. A dwarf cultivar, Little Lemon, is available at local outlets. It is a dwarf, compact plant that only reaches about 10 inches tall. You can also transplant the flower from the wild with good success.
Q: My neighbor has a shrub with purple fruit borne in bunches and is showy. What is that shrub?
A: The shrub is American beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana). Its loose growth habit with showy berries is a natural to attract birds and other wildlife. There are white cultivars of this plant.
Q: What is that shrub that turns brilliantly red along the interstate? These shrubs were green a few weeks ago now deep scarlet.
A: Those are winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus) planted along I-85 in Salisbury. It is a deciduous shrub that adapts well to harsh conditions.
Q: My pecans have started dropping now. Are they finished or will they continue to drop nuts?
A: The frost last week initiated a few of them to turn loose. Most pecan trees don’t drop their fruit until a serious series of frosts and well after leaf drop. Generally, around Thanksgiving most pecans are beginning to fall.
Q: Why are yellow jackets so bad now? We have them swarming around our home and I was stung while working in the yard.
A: Yellow jackets get extremely aggressive in the fall because food reserves are low from lack of flowers. Workers are feverously trying to feed the queen before extremely cold weather arrives so she can survive the winter.
Darrell Blackwelder is an agent in horticulture at the Rowan County Center of the N.C. Cooperative Extension; call 704-216-8970.
Web sites:
http://www.rowanmastergardener.com
http://rowan.ces.ncsu.edu
http://rowanhorticulture.blogspot.com/

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