Melinda Myers: Fall is for Planting!

Melinda pansy pic

Autumn is a great time to plant...

The soil is warm and air is cooler making it easier on plants as they adjust to their new location and the person doing the planting. Here are just a few ideas for adding immediate and long term beauty to your garden.

• Add cool season annuals like pansies, snapdragons, ornamental kale and stocks to brighten the fall garden.  Consider adding cold hardy pansies like 'Icicle' or 'Cool Wave.' They provide color in the fall garden, survive most winters, and are back blooming in the spring just as the snow melts.

• Create or purchase container gardens filled with fall favorites. Set them by your front entrance, on the patio or deck. You will enjoy this last bit of color and the pollinators will enjoy the nectar and pollen as fall fades to winter.

• Fall is also a good time to plant perennials, trees and shrubs.  Consider adding new plantings to enhance your existing landscape or replace those that have outgrown their location or were damaged by this summer’s storms and extreme heat. The soil is warm and the air cooler, so the plants are less stressed and establish more quickly. Give new plants plenty of room to reach their mature size. Those small transplants will eventually grow to large specimens. Temporarily fill the voids with annuals if you want immediate results. Each year you’ll need fewer as the plants grow.

• Plant trees so the root flare, the place where the roots curve away from the trunk, is even with or slightly above the soil surface.  Dig a hole the same depth as the distance from the root flare to the bottom of the root ball. Make the hole 2 to 5 times wider than the root ball.  Roughen the sides of the hole and backfill with the existing soil.  Water thoroughly and spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch over the soil surface, keeping the mulch away from the tree trunk.

• Follow a similar planting procedure for shrubs.  Plant these so the crown, the place where the stems meet the roots, is even with the soil surface. And be sure to keep the mulch away from the stems.

• Plant daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and other bulbs in fall for extra color next spring.  Add them to perennial and mixed borders. Start planting spring flowering bulbs after the night-time temperatures hover between 40 and 50 degrees.  Be patient…waiting until the soil cools reduces the risk of early sprouting that often occurs during a warm fall. 

• Set the bulbs at a depth of two to three times their height deep.  Check the label for recommended spacing for the bulbs you are planting. Then cover them with soil, sprinkle on a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer like Milorganite and work it into the top few inches of the soil. Water.

• If you are tired of critters digging and eating your bulbs plant those animals tend to ignore. Daffodils, hyacinths, Fritillaria, alliums, Camassia, glory-of-the snow, snow drops, and grape hyacinths are a few to consider.

 

Take advantage of the fall weather to add color and beauty to your landscape this fall and for years to come.
For more ideas and tips on fall planting and plant selection, join me at Pasquesi Home and Gardens in Lake Bluff, IL on September 10 at 11 am - Noon, followed by an hour of Q & A for a FREE 'Fall is for Planting' seminar. 

 

Written by, gardening expert, Melinda Myers. She is a nationally recognized gardening expert and author with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. We are pleased to share Melinda’s articles with you!