As we enter the early part of autumn, we are sometimes faced with hot, dry conditions. Even into October, we can have many hot days left before autumn brings on some cool. What will we see in our landscapes when these conditions prevail?
Faded foliage color: This is not at all unusual as the season begins its turn from summer to fall. You may notice the sun direction changing which has a huge impact on the color of foliage. You may even notice that plans are not pushing out as many new leaves as they did earlier in the season. This is all very normal in the landscape. Some varieties of Hosta, especially the varieties with blue-toned foliage, may not even be recognizable as blue at this point. This is because what makes the leaf color blue is a coating on the leaf of the plant and this wears off as the season progresses.
Early fall color: When under stress, plants can go into early dormancy. This is typical especially for a newly planted landscape. Relocation is stressful for plants. Consider that prior to a installation, plants are cared for in a nursery where they have optimal conditions—water that perfectly suits their needs and maybe a shade cloth to protect them from direct sun. Once a plant is removed from this and brought to a home for planting, a plant not only has to adapt to the new site conditions but begin to press out roots to establish. A plant will sacrifice leaves to send energy to roots and to the core of the plant, which is why some amount of leaf-drop or early fall color on plants in a new installation is not usual.
Hydration: Even if temperatures begin to moderate, it is important to maintain a regular watering schedule or to monitor the amount of rainfall to ensure consistent plant hydration. The key is consistent. Plants want an inch of natural rainfall per week on a regular basis—not a quarter inch one week and two inches two weeks from then. Properly managed irrigation systems will even-out the hydration factor and keep your plants from stress. When plants have less stress for survival, their energies turn to better root growth, better flowering, better resistance to pests and disease.