- Dig tender bulbs after foliage freezes. This includes canna, elephant ears, dahlia, gladiolus, and calla lily.
- Take cuttings of pineapple sage, basil, coleus, and geraniums that you want to have for next year.
- Lift tropical plants, such as hibiscus and angel's trumpet, from beds and shift into pots for winter storage in an unheated room.
- Bring tropical houseplants indoors when temperatures remain below 50 degrees F.
- Prune plants before bringing them indoors. Cut plants back by at least half. Pruning encourages new growth that adapts to the indoor conditions, so you have less leaf loss.
- Remove insects on foliage by spraying leaves with a garden hose. Be sure to spray directly beneath leaves -- lots of insects like to hide there. Also, watch for insects that have nestled in drainage holes of pots by submerging the bottom half of pots in water for 15 minutes.
Test Garden Tip: Indoors, store plants in a sunny room that allows you to close off heat for the winter. This will reduce heating bills, watering chores, and pest outbreaks.
Planting. It's safe to plant trees and shrubs until the ground freezes. Roots will continue to grow as long as the ground isn't frozen.
Pruning. Avoid pruning roses, shrubs, and evergreens this late in the year. Cutting plants now encourages new growth to emerge that will suffer winter damage, since it won't have time to harden off before cold weather arrives.
Note: It's okay to remove dead branches on plants, along with any storm-damaged limbs.
Watering. If summer was on the dry side, water perennials, shrubs, and trees that were planted in the last 12 months. Newly planted perennials may die during their first winter because they lack sufficient moisture during their first year of growth.
Lawn Care. If grass is growing, keep mowing. Reseed bare spots in your lawn and overseed thin areas. Or, for an even better start to your lawn in spring, aerate cool-season grass using a core aerator, which yanks a plug of soil from the lawn. The resulting hole allows air, water, and fertilizer direct access to grass roots. If aerating and overseeding are on your fall to-do list, aerate first.
Weeds. Tackle weeds with herbicides. Broadleaf weed control will kill perennial weeds (dandelions, plantain, clover, etc.). Preemergent herbicides stop fall-germinating weeds (henbit, chickweed, etc.).