Time to hunt for slugs and other October tips | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

The second week of October is a good time to search out and destroy newly laid slug eggs, especially while planting bulbs or harvesting from the vegetable garden.

The second week of October is a good time to search out and destroy newly laid slug eggs, especially while planting bulbs or harvesting from the vegetable garden. The eggs will look like tiny pearls in clusters of 50 to 100. Under stones or mulch and along the edge of lawns is often where the eggs lay hiding.

Q. I loved your article about year-round container gardens last month (Sept. 4) but want to know how long my perennials can survive in a large container that is 24 inches wide and about as deep. I have grown hosta, euphorbias and evergreens in this pot for years but the plants always seem to decline in health after a few years. T.H., Olympia

A. Potted perennials and shrubs can get too chilly, too dry and too hungry after several years trapped in a container. October is a good month to remove overgrown potted perennials and shrubs, score or cut into the crowded root ball and replant them into your garden beds. Do not wait until spring because freezing winter weather is very hard on a root bound plant trapped in a pot.

If the potted plant is an evergreen shrub you can try root pruning or shortening all the roots by one-third. Then add fresh potting soil and replant the old plant back into the container. Every potted perennial will appreciate a blanket of compost mulch this time of year to help insulate the roots from the coming cold.

If you do decide to empty your pots now, there is still time to replant with fall flowers such as mums, winter pansies and ornamental cabbages and kale. Add a few mini pumpkins as a mulch and poke a cut branch of maple leaves or autumn berries into your new fall planting and celebrate the change in seasons.

Q. What plants need to be fertilized in the fall? I did feed my lawn a fall and winter lawn food a few weeks ago and it looks better than it has in years. K.L. Renton

A. Fall is a good time to fertilize the lawn but please do not fertilize any of your other plants in October. The shorter days and colder nights are Mother Nature’s way of coaxing plant life into a long winter nap so they will not suffer from the freezing weather ahead. Fertilizing keeps plants awake and producing tender new growth.

Spreading compost or mulch on top of plants is preferred over sprinkling a fall fertilizer. Compost is not a fertilizer but rather a soil conditioner that will provide some slow-wrelease nitrogen when the weather warms up in spring.

Q. When it comes to fall clean up, what perennials do I cut back and what do I leave alone? I have some ornamental grasses that still look great – when do these need to be cut back? B. Email

A. Here’s a rule of green thumb – when it’s brown cut it down. If it’s green, leave it be. This means you can leave the ornamental grasses, sedum autumn joy and Rudbeckia seed heads for the birds to enjoy all winter but in early spring when you see the forsythia in bloom cut back the brown clumps of ornamental grass to make way for the new spring growth.

Do not prune evergreen grasses like black mondo grass, sedges or carex. Always collect the soft damp leaves of hosta and cut back delphiniums now to discourage overwintering slugs.

October is a good month to dig up and remove perennial plants or shrubs that did not perform well or were just too demanding. Fill the empty spot with fallen leaves and debris to rot over the winter so the soil will soften up and be ready for a new plant in the spring.

More in Life

See Binetti host Container Wars daily at show

Time to take a trip around the world — just by making… Continue reading

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe tells us how many bones dinosaurs have

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

Polo and Tugs got out of Monica Sauerwein’s house on Jan. 27. They were later found thatafternoon. Thanks to someone, Tugs was found and taken to a vet to see if he was chipped. Polo returned home on his own not long after. Submitted photo from Monica Saurerwein.
What to know about pet licensing

Licensing your pet is one of the best ways to ensure lost pets make it back home. Renton Animal Control and RASKC are important resources for pet owners in and out of Renton.

Search no more, you’ll want to read ‘Hero Dogs’

You felt like such a loser. It was a feeling that didn’t… Continue reading

Photo gallery: Renton readers’ snow day

For these Renton residents, it was a Febrary winter wonderland

‘Moon Over Buffalo’ could cancel if snow becomes unsafe

The Renton Civic Theatre performance is scheduled for both Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains how volcanoes erupt

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

Readers are antsy to start planting, get out in the garden

The second week of February has some gardeners confused. Is it spring… Continue reading

Third times a charm? New restaurant set to open on MV highway

Weather permitting, Mezcal Fresh Mexican Grill opens Thursday, Feb. 7

Whether you like mystery or humor, this book has it for you

You didn’t recognize the number. So you didn’t answer the phone. That’s… Continue reading

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains clouds

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

You won’t be able to let ‘Maid’ go

That thing? You’re ready to let it go. It sparks joy, but… Continue reading