Hello fellow readers,
How dry we’ve been! All summer long we’ve been dry with above normal temperatures and as we move into fall its starting off same-same. The Eastern Pennsylvania Weather Authority (EPAWA), who also covers Northern New Jersey, predicts fall to be warmer and dryer than normal. They provide an impressive scientific explanation based on sea surface temperatures illustrated with fancy charts and graphs that’s way over my head. Thankfully the EPAWA boils it down to layman’s terms. They predict the bulk of the warmer than average anomalies will occur in the first half of September and November and in the second half of October; with below normal precipitation continuing at least through mid- October. Needless to say lawns and plants are stressed. While lawns go dormant during dry spells and readily recover, plants have a tougher time.
Still, it’s a good time to dig in most species of new plants and divide others because of the cool nights. You’ll just have to maintain due diligence on watering until Mother Nature provides. And, to help established trees and shrubs impacted by the heat and drought stress, deep water them in the root zone once or twice a week. Turn your hose on a dribble for 2 to 3 hours; preferably in the evening or early morning to lessen evaporation. Wetting foliage using sprinklers wastes water and can promote the spread of disease.
While it’s tempting to fertilize to help boost the health of plants, Rutgers University advises not to fertilize woody plants until they are dormant. The surge in nutrients adds to plant stress as it can inspire new growth at the end of the season when the plant should be storing nutrients into its roots. Fall pruning is a no-no too unless you are removing broken or diseased branches.
How will all of these anomalies impact our fall color? Ideal conditions for stunning color is a moist growing season followed by a dry fall with sunny warm days and cool nights. Our summer dryness will likely dull fall foliage and cut the color short with early leaf drop. Not to mention the Oak trees defoliated by gypsy moth again this year. Still, where there’s a dense stand of sugar maple, red maple, beech and birch good color is expected. Take time to take in the cooler days, bright sunshine and splashes of color. Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com