Fall planting makes perfect sense. When you collaborate with nature, she determines the schedule. In gardening that means do the work now and wait for the result. Fall is the time for certain tasks that will yield beautiful results in your landscape next spring and summer.
If you are saving seeds, whether vegetables, annuals or perennials, fall is prime time. Many of the perennials can be planted right away. Other seeds will need to be stored. Keep them cool and dry until it’s time to plant them: place thoroughly dry seeds in zipper bags or other air-tight containers in the refrigerator. One good way to keep organized is to tape zipper bags into a notebook, labeling the pages with seed type, date and other pertinent info. The notebook can then go into the freezer.
Plant Hardy Perennial and Annual Seeds
Nature follows a fall planting schedule and so should you. When planting in fall for spring flowers, it should be done after a hard freeze (28 degrees), when the daytime temperatures are in the mid-forties. Take advantage of “end of season” sales on seeds of hardy types that can be planted in the fall. The packet should tell the best time for planting. To get started, here are a few suggested varieties:
- Perennials: dianthus (Dianthus sp.), lupine (Lupinus sp.), columbine (Aquilegia sp.), coneflower (Echinacea sp.), blackeyed susan (Rudbeckia sp.), cranesbill (Geranium sp.)
- Annuals: pansy (Viola sp.), snapdragon (Antirrhinum sp.), stock (Matthiola incana), alyssum (Loblularia maritima), sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus), calendula (Calendula sp.)
Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs
Buying bulbs is way better than buying pot-grown plants. The selection is far greater, and when you plant them in fall you get the whole bloom cycle in your yard rather than missing the half that happened at the garden center. Buy them as soon as you see them on the shelves (usually late September) to get the best selection. Wait to plant them until days are cool and nights are cold. In addition to tulips, daffodils, and iris, try crocus, allium, muscari, hyacinth and others.
Shrubs and Trees
In the South, Fall planting of trees, shrubs and perennials is the rule. This includes a huge variety of flowering plants. From dogwoods and flowering cherries to forsythia and azaleas, fall is the time to plant. The warm soil allows roots to grow while the cooler air slows top growth, giving these plants very mild conditions in which to acclimate to their new home and greatly reducing summer stress compared with those planted in spring.
Planting in fall is a great way to get a headstart on a beautiful spring landscape. The weather is cool, the leaves are in full color, birds are migrating…what better place to be than the garden!
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