It's Fall Planting Time!
Fall is a great time to plant shrubs and trees, ground covers and many perennials. The residual warmth in the soil encourages root growth, while the shorter days and cooling temperatures reduce stress on the foliage. This will result in stronger growth when spring arrives and easier maintenance during the warmer summer weather, when the more extensive root growth will be better able to glean water from the soil.
Many perennials benefit in the same manner from fall planting. The iris family plants are best planted or divided in early fall, and a number of other perennials can be divided now too. This gives them time to settle in before their bloom time arrives again.
Fall is also a good time to think about ground covers. Remember, if you don’t plant something in that bare dirt, Mother Nature will. You may not like her choice of plants. Wild grasses, field daisies, dandelions and a flock of other plants we call weeds will cheerfully populate any bare soil you provide. Do a little homework to find the best choice of living ground cover plants for your situation. Adaptable creepers range from those with tiny leaves to shrubby sorts up to about a foot high or even more. They need to grow fairly rapidly to cover the soil with a thick carpet of foliage, be hardy enough to not be harmed by winter cold, and look tidy and attractive in all seasons. Lots of plants fit that description.
Spring blooming bulbs actually require the long cold and wet days of winter in order to develop and bloom properly in the spring. Bulbs will be appearing soon for daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, crocus and a variety of other early bloomers. Plant them as soon as the soil begins to be damp with fall rains, giving careful attention to soil preparation, fertilizing and proper planting depth. Who doesn’t love these bright, cheerful blooms to usher in spring?
To complete the picture before the bulbs bloom, add some pansies and violas this fall. You might even be able to sprinkle seed over the bulb planting now to have complimentary spring flowers beginning soon. I love the way these cheerful little faces appear here and there in my plantings. Or plant the bulbs under a pretty ground cover planting.
If a growing ground cover is not for you, at least use a good mulch, such as compost, bark mulch or rock, to discourage weed growth and prevent erosion during winter rains.
Fall doesn’t mean the end of gardening fun at all. It’s a time to get a head start on next year, while enjoying the fall color and the pleasant days of September.