Well, we got the pumpkin carving over with for another year---and next will be turkey carving. Don’t forget, to set your clocks back to standard time Sunday morning. Anyway, I know you have a lot of questions, so here are a couple that I hope you will find interesting and helpful.
GARDEN QUESTIONS FOR CENTRAL ILLINOIS
Q: How should I prepare my Hydrangea that was planted this spring, for winter? Do I need to cut it back?
A: You must protect the canes from winter injury by covering them in the fall with a bushel basket or leaves held in place by chicken wire or something similar. It is not necessary to cut your hydrangea back at this time. In the spring, you can prune them if they have winter injury, but only to remove injured tips. Some common species, such as Hydrangea pancilata “Grand flora’ and the hills of snow type, bloom on new wood, and can be pruned in the early spring. On a few other types, particularly the common greenhouse or French varieties, the buds originate near the tips of the canes. These should be pruned after flowering, or not at all.
Q: How can I keep the squirrels and rabbits from digging up my bulbs?
A: They are most likely to steal the smaller bulbs that are planted just a few inches underground. After planting bulbs, lay chicken wire flat across the soil and place the mulch on top. Rabbits are attracted to tulips and many nibble the tender shoots that emerge from the ground. To deter rabbits, select daffodils instead of tulips, or try a taste repellant.
Q: What should I do with my Canna Bulbs in order to keep them for next year?
A: Wait to dig up your cannas from the ground or container until after the first frost. Then, carefully dig up the bulbs and remove any dirt from them. Inspect them carefully and discard any diseased or unhealthy looking bulbs. Separate any bulbs that will do so easily. Take the remaining bulbs and place them in a paper bag, packed loosely with paper and store them in a cool dry place until next year.
Q: Is it too late to fertilize my lawn?
A: It depends. If you fertilize three or four times a year, then a November application is needed. If you fertilize only once or twice a year, then the fall application should be done in September.
Q: When is the best time to prune my butterfly-bush (buddleia)?
A: Spring is the correct time to prune the Butterfly-bush (buddleias). They should not be cut back in the fall because of the danger that a severe winter will injure them and necessitate still more pruning in the spring.
If you have other questions about your garden or landscape, feel free to contact a Master Gardener volunteer at the University of Illinois Extension office in Charleston at 217-345-7034. You can also check out the many horticulture webpages at the U of I Extension’s website by visiting http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/ . And be sure to like the Master Gardeners’ Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/ColesCountyMasterGardeners.