Fall is for planting; plant sale and talk is Tuesday

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 5, 2018

By Amy-Lynn Albertson

Rowan County Extension Director

Fall is one of the great highlights in the gardening year. For many gardeners, fall is the best time of the year. The temperatures are much more suitable for outdoor activity, compared to the heat and humidity of the summer.

The Davidson County Master Gardener Volunteers will be hosting their annual plant sale at the Historic Southern Rail and Freight Depot in Lexington Saturday, Oct. 6, 8 a.m.-noon. They will have lots of native perennials, ornamental perennials and other flowering plants.

If you are feeling that your garden is getting a little overgrown, now is the time to divide your spring and summer flowering perennials. Some signs to tell you that a plant needs dividing are flowers smaller than average, centers of the clumps that are hollow and dead or when the bottom foliage is sparse and weak.

Plants that are growing and blooming well, leave alone, unless more plants are wanted. Plants with vigorous spreading root systems such as asters, bee balm, lamb’s ear and purple coneflower can crowd out their own centers. These plants can be pulled apart or cut apart with shears or knives. Divide plants into clumps of three to five vigorous shoots each.

Plants with clumping root systems have roots that originate from a central clump with multiple growing points. This group includes astilbe, hostas, daylilies and many ornamental grasses. Often you will have to cut through the crown with a heavy, sharp knife.

Keep at least one developing eye or bud with each division. Never allow your divisions to dry out. Keep a bucket of water nearby to moisten divisions until they are plants. Trim all broken roots with a sharp knife or pruners before replanting.

Plant the divided sections immediately in the garden or in containers. Replant divisions at the same depth they were initially. Mulch the area with pine straw or bark mulch for winter protection.

One of my all-time favorite perennials is the Salvia genus of plants. Salvias, also called sages, are easy to grow, bloom abundantly and are great looking in the landscape.

One of my favorites is Salvia farinacea. Blue salvia is a cinch to grow, flowers profusely all summer, and is wonderfully drought tolerant. It’s an excellent choice for both beds and borders and containers.

Culinary sage features wonderfully scented silvery-gray leaves and spikes of lilac flowers in early summer. It’s a key ingredient in many container-garden combinations as well as Thanksgiving stuffing and even a few desserts.

If you would like to learn more about salvias, come to the Rowan County Extension Center on Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. to hear Beth Leonard, owner of Beth’s Greenhouse, talk about all things salvia. Following the free lecture on salvia, the Rowan County Master Gardeners will have their annual plant sale. This is an excellent place to find pass-along plants, native perennials, trees and shrubs as well as get expert advice.

Some of the plants they will have available include iris, beautyberry, azaleas, butterfly bush and hydrangeas.

The sale starts at 3 p.m. and runs until 5 p.m.; get there early for the best selection.

To register for the salvia program, please call the Rowan County Extension center at 704-216-8970 by Monday, Oct. 8.