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Ahhh….fall is here. Even though temperatures in the Midwest have remained unusually high, it’s time for gardening tasks that mark the end of the growing season.
Prepare a cup of herbal tea and read through these planting tips. This is the perfect time of year to plan for next year. Plant in fall, for spring color!
Why Plant in Fall?
There are several reasons for prepping now for a colorful spring:
- Fall has more mild days for working in the garden, compared to spring when temperatures can still fluctuate wildly from day to day.
- Rainfall is typically plentiful enough that you don’t need to water as often.
- The soil is still warm, which encourages roots to grow and become established.
- Weeds are dying down, meaning there is less competition for nutrients in the soil.
- There are fewer pests to cause damage to bulbs and plants and less likelihood of disease.
- Fertilizer isn’t needed. It encourages new growth, which isn’t what we want at this time of year.
Plant about six weeks before the first hard frost. In the Midwest, that’s toward the end of November, making October perfect for planting. Check out your zone on this map.
Bulbs to Plant in Fall
Plant these hardy bulbs now, for gorgeous color in early spring. Generally, bulbs are placed in the ground at a depth two to three times the diameter of the bulb. For example, plant most tulip bulbs at a depth of six to eight inches. Place in the ground with the pointy end, or nose, up. Cover with dirt and add a couple of inches of mulch.
Perennials to Plant in Fall
Planting perennials in the fall creates bigger and healthier plants in the spring. Adding early blooming perennials to areas with bulbs doubles the color in the garden next spring. As bulb flowers die back, the perennials take their place.
Plant before a hard frost. Don’t fertilize. And add a couple of inches of mulch to blanket the new plants. Water only if there is less than an inch of rainfall per week.
- garden phlox
Shrubs and Trees to Plant in Fall
Autumn is the perfect time to plant shrubs and trees. The warm days and cooler nights allow them to spread their roots and settle in before becoming dormant during the winter. And trees and shrubs planted in fall handle heat and drought better the following year.
Make sure you know how large the shrub or tree will get when full grown and leave ample room when planting. Dig a hole twice as wide as the plant’s container and deep enough that the root ball sits slightly above ground level. Add shrub or tree. Fill the hole half way with soil, then water well. Fill in with the remaining soil. Water again. Mulch with two to three inches of a bark based mulch, leaving a couple of inches of space around the trunk. Water two to three times a week, then taper off as the weather and soil cool down.
- knockout roses
- camellia sasanqua
- oakleaf hydrangea
- Japanese maple
- honey locust
Enjoying the Rewards of Fall Gardening
The effort put forth in the garden, during fall, reaps big rewards next spring. Plan for next year and then grab a shovel! Create new beds, add a fresh focal point, divide perennials and tuck that tree into the ground.
Watch next week for the Fall Gardening Checklist. And happy gardening!
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