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Question: Which fall bulbs will work well for forcing into bloom indoors this winter?
Answer: Small, early-blooming bulbs are among the best bets. Crocuses, grape hyacinths, snowdrops, early daffodils, dwarf irises, and tulips bloom well in containers after they have been given a chilling treatment. Hyacinths are also easy to force into bloom indoors. They'll even bloom without soil!
Question: Can I prune my lilac this fall to get better blooms next spring?
Answer: Lilacs form flower buds for the next year during the summer. If you prune now, you'll remove at least some of next year's blooms. If the plant needs just a little shaping or thinning to remove a few stems, it's best to do it right after it finishes blooming in the spring. You can also cut lilacs entirely to the ground to rejuvenate the whole shrub, but do it in mid- to late winter. It will likely take several years for the lilac to rebloom after such a severe pruning.
Question: I planted some mums and they've finished flowering. When do I cut them back?
Answer: Cut your mums back to the ground anytime after frost kills the foliage. I'd wait to trim them, though, until frost hits. That said, you can certainly cut off the faded flowers; doing so will help your plants look better between now and frost.
Question: When's the best time to cut back my butterfly bush?
Answer: Trim your butterfly bush anytime after it goes dormant --- so from winter to early spring.
Because butterfly bush blooms on new, current-year's growth, you can cut it back as far as you wish. In fact, many gardeners in Zones 4 and 5 cut their plants all the way to the ground; new stems grow from the roots each spring.
Question: Are there any shrubs I can plant that have fragrant flowers?
Answer: Good news: There's a plethora of fragrant-blooming shrubs for spring and summer.
In spring, look for Korean spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii), lilacs (Syringa selections), and various types of Daphne.
In summer, try Abelia, butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus), and summersweet (Clethra alnifolia).
Continued on page 4: September Questions