Third Quarter Checklist for the Atlanta Garden


  • Proper watering is essential to the life of your perennial garden. For best results, use a drip irrigation system to prevent wetting foliage, or use a hose-end sprayer that imitates a subtle shower. You can soak the soil under the foliage at the roots without blasting away the mulch or soil.
  • Purchase water-soluble fertilizer in pre-measured packs to use in a spray bottle attached to your hose end.
  • Cut back aster, chrysanthemum, Joe Pye weed and other tall growing, late flowering plants, early in the season to create more compact plants.
  • If the garden is drought-stressed, withhold fertilizer. Fertilizers are chemical salts that can actually dehydrate plants. They also push growth in an already stressed plant.
  • Monitor insect populations. Aphids, whiteflies and spider mites tend to proliferate in hot weather.
  • Remove damaged foliage from hellebores.
  • Order garden seeds for spring sowing and plants for spring delivery. The best selection is available early.
  • Deadhead all spent blooms. Remove the clippings to minimize disease problems.
  • If mildew is a problem, cut back foliage and/or thin plants to increase air circulation.
  • This is peak butterfly season. If you want butterflies, do not destroy caterpillars! The Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar feeds on parsley, fennel and dill. Grazing caterpillars won't hard plants, so welcome the butterflies and the caterpillars to the garden.
  • Use stems of Artemisia foliage with cut flowers, which also keeps the Artemisia from becoming leggy.
  • Resist pruning peony foliage until early October so the plant can absorb energy to produce a healthier, more floriferous peony next year.
  • Plant Italian arum between the hosta. Their foliage will rise to provide winter interest as the hostas go dormant. The arum foliage will wither as the hosta arise in spring.

Photo Karin Guzy

Italian arum foliage rises in Fall and is evergreen throughout the winter months. In spring, the leaves wither, leaving behind orange seedheads from the white winter spathes to decorate the rising hosta leaves.
  • Divide peony, Siberian iris, hosta and daylily. Add organic material to the soil when replanting and keep it moist.
  • Feed chrysanthemums with liquid fertilizer every two weeks.
  • Buy spring-flowering bulbs for fall planting, but don't plant them until the soil temperature is 60 degrees or cooler. You can plant bulbs through January.
  • Remove old mulch and replace new mulch under roses to help prevent disease on next year's leaves.
  • Apply fertilizer to fall and winter-growing perennials such as lenten rose and Italian arum.
  • Check perennial nurseries for end-of-season sales. Bargain plants grown too long in containers may be potbound, so thoroughly loosen rootballs before planting.
  • Be sure azaleas receive enough water. They are setting blooms now for spring.