Susan Worthey does a lot of digging, planting and nurturing a wide variety of plants at Verona’s Mississippi State University Extension Service Research Center. Here, the research associate answers questions about fall gardening with the Daily Journal’s Patsy Brumfield.
Q. What kinds of plant choices are home gardeners looking for this year?
A. Fall gardening got started about mid-August, but it’s still time to get young plants into the ground to get established before we have a frost. This year, I see a lot of people interested in plants that are colorful, attractive but also edible. I’m thinking about the purple mustard as a good example – it’s so bold and leafy, but great to eat. Cabbages, chards and kales also continue to be popular for both roles.
Q. What kind of calls does the Research Center get from the public this time of year?
A. Fall is a transition time and it can be confusing about what to do in the garden or yard. We get a lot of calls asking what’s appropriate this time of year, about preparing for spring and how to treat their lawns before winter gets here. Most staff at local garden centers are trained to answer your questions and to get certain plants, if you ask them to.
Q. What’s the most important advice you give to folks who like to work in their yards?
A. Pruning – as the seasons change, people think they need to get out and start pruning their shrubs and trees. That’s not true. They actually can do a lot of damage by pruning some plants now – lantanas and crape myrtles, for example. Don’t cut them back until late winter because if water gets into their crowns now, they can freeze and rot. Each plant is different, so do your homework to make sure what you do is at the right time. There’s no “one time” to prune everything.