Soon you’ll have to start making choices about which of your container plants to bring indoors and which you won’t. Sometimes I have to just shut my eyes. I don’t have room for everything and so I migrate to the favorites — the geraniums and a few asparagus ferns that I use in large planters to add interest and some subtle texture.

Because these plants have experienced their summer growth spurt, most are slightly overgrown. Cutting them back by about one-third helps to keep their size manageable and just seems to benefit the plant. This step also helps to keep the indoors tidy as many plants will drop leaves naturally when moved indoors.

If your plants have grown so large that they need to be repotted make quick work of it by following a few basic rules. First cut back the plant by about one-third. For woody shrubs, release the rootball from the pot and use a small pruning saw to cut the root ball back all the way around the ball. How much you cut off depends on the original size of the ball. For example, if it is 8-inches across cut it back to 6 inches. Re-pot the plant in a container at least 2 inches larger in diameter than the original. Fill in around the root ball with fresh potting soil and water it well to reduce air pockets. 

You can use a little root stimulator or water soluble fertilizer to refresh the plant then simply feed once a month. The last step is to find a bright sunny location for the plant to spend the winter months.

Geraniums and other non-woody plants and shrubs can be cut back and allowed to stay in the same pot if they aren’t root bound. You could refresh the top 2 inches of potting soil in these pots to ensure good health and growth indoors. Be sure to dust off plants during the winter months and take the time to rough up the surface soil a few times to allow some air to reach roots.

Fall planting

Now is a good time to organize any trees, shrubs and perennials that you might want to plant this fall. Soon the fall shutdown of the trees will signal another season coming to a close. I’ve ordered some bare-root peonies to replace some weary roses that have been on the edge of death for far too long. New plantings in this area will give that whole corner new life, so to speak.

I’ve been doing a few necessary chores — limbing up trees along the ditch and cutting back very overgrown shrubs. Jobs that sometimes need doing just so one can see out to the road.


Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is a master gardener.