Fourth Quarter Checklist for the Atlanta Garden


  • As the heat of summer eases, don't be fooled into thinking the garden no longer needs watering. If dry conditions exist, continue to irrigate in compliance with local watering regulations.
  • As temperatures drop, begin to move and divide plants. Spring bloomers are best divided now.
  • Add a layer of compost to the garden.
  • For the best bloom, feed chrysanthemums every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer.
  • Lightly prune and shape Lantana camera ' Miss Huff', but wait until new spring foliage appears before cutting it back.
  • Purchase fall bulbs and chill them in the refrigerator until planting time.

Photo Karin Guzy

Fothergilla and maple are a pleasing combination in the autumn, reflecting the colors of fall chrysanthemums in the garden.

Photo Karin Guzy

Larkspur and poppies can be seeded in November to germinate in spring. Do not use pre-emergent in areas where these plants have grown as it will prevent reseeding. Also, avoid heavy mulch that may smother seedlings.

  • Sow seeds of hardy annuals such as larkspur, bachelor's buttons and poppies.
  • Plant fall bulbs. Add bulb fertilizer to the soil. Remember that tulips are not perennial in the south, except for smaller species tulips.
  • Plan for plants that make good partners: daffodils and daylilies, bleeding hearts and hosta. As the foliage of one perennial dies out, the other comes in. In this way, you have a continuum of foliage and flower, and cleanup is decreased.
  • Plant pansies, snapdragons, dianthus, kale and parsley.
  • Keep fallen leaves from accumulating on new plantings.
  • Cut out old wood on climbing roses. Plant new roses and mulch them for winter.
  • Add compost to the garden if you didn't do it last month.
  • Continue to plant fall bulbs.
  • Remove and compost leaves. Keep the pile watered to hasten decomposition.
  • Organize the garage or potting shed. Sharpen and clean garden tools. Scrub and stack containers by size.
  • Put your garden to bed by mid-month. Clean up fallen leaves and add mulch. A 3 to 5 inch layer of fine textured mulch, such as pine straw or shredded bark, does a better job of conserving water and protecting plants than a coarse-textured mulch such as pine nuggets.
  • After the first frost, dig and store dahlia tubers. Label individual varieties. Store in perlite or peat moss. Do not let the bulbs touch.
  • Be vigilant about winter weeds, such a chickweed, that can quickly overrun perennials.