Get a Jump On Spring This Fall

For some gardeners the emotional side of the garden season runs something like this.

December/January:   Giddily pour over seed catalogs looking for the new and wonderful while visions of glorious    gardens dance through our heads.

March/April:  Enthusiastically prepp486ing beds for the green babies to come.

April/May:   Plant, water, and lovingly tend new or returning garden denizens.

July:   Haul hoses and sprinklers around, again. Driest month ever!  And why do weeds grow no matter how much rain?

September/October:   Longingly dream of packing away the trowel and trug and swearing that if the weeds want the garden so badly they can have it.

You can understand why suggesting they haul out the shovel to plant yet MORE plants in the fall might be a hard sell.  But there are some excellent reasons why you should consider it, at least for a lot of perennials.

When you plant perennials in the fall, sure they will only be around a short time to enjoy before they die back for the winter, but they aren’t sitting there doing nothing under the snow.  All winter the roots continue to grow and establish.  The result is that in the spring when the plant returns it is bigger and hardier than it would be if planted in the spring, especially for the early spring blooming perennials.

Fall planting offers new plants warmer soil to start and fewer weeds to compete with along with less volatile weather.  No lambs and lions to deal with in September.  And despite the gardening fatigue, in the fall you have more time, time to assess your gardens to see what needs to be edited out or where a new plant would look good.

Good perennials to plant in the fall include:

  • Aster
  • Astilbe
  • Balloonflower
  • Bee balm
  • Campanula
  • Catmint
  • Columbine
  • Dianthus
  • Echinacea
  • Goldenrod
  • Geraniums
  • Lady’s mantle
  • Lamb’s ear
  • Monkshood
  • Penstemon
  • Sea holly

To succeed with fall planting be sure to plant at last six weeks before the first freeze.  Do not fertilize the plants.  You don’t want to encourage a new flush of growth that will only be nipped.  Spread mulch around the base of the perennials to protect them and remember to water them well.

Fall is a great season to add new and interesting plants to your garden for yourself, the birds and pollinators.  Plant a bit more love in your garden this fall.

References

Horticulture. How late can you plant perennials in the fall. 10.15/13. Accessed 8/1/17.  http://www.hortmag.com/weekly-tips/qa/how-late-can-you-plant-perennials-in-the-fall

Costa Farms. Plant Perennials in Fall for a Bigger Spring and Summer Garden. N.d. Accessed 8/1/17.  http://www.costafarms.com/get-growing/news/plant-perennials-in-fall-for-a-bigger-spring-and-summer-garden

Birds & Blooms. Gardening Basics: Planting perennials in Fall. N.d. Accessed 8/1/17. http://www.birdsandblooms.com/gardening/gardening-basics/gardening-basics-planting-perennials-fall/

 

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