Look to the future when planning your fall garden. Putting in some extra work and planning now will pay off in ready–made spring blooms
By Jeanne Baker, MLA, Landscape Designer
Fall is officially here. The nights are cool and the trees are starting to change. There are beautiful flowers that wait to bloom until the temperature drops and the days shorten. Take advantage of this opportunity to add color by planting fall blooming perennials in containers, flower boxes or perennial beds. Containers are the perfect way to extend the growing season and bring color to your entrance. Remember to plant a mix of different species in your container and play with color. Choosing plants with contrasting color and form will stand out from a distance inviting a closer look.
Excellent container plants are chrysanthemums, asters (‘Purple Dome’), pansies, ornamental kale, purple fountain grass and Japanese blood grass. To plant, partially fill your container with potting soil or Styrofoam and insert plants still in their nursery pots. Protect your containers from an early frost by covering or moving them to an unheated garage. This will typically allow you to have beautiful plantings through Thanksgiving. Once the weather turns and an extended period of freezing temperatures is predicted, remove potted plants from their container and place pots in holes in the garden, water well and mulch heavily. Plants can over winter and be planted in a permanent home in the spring or repotted in containers.
Work now to insure a vibrant spring sale
If you want to sell your home next spring, now is the time to get a head start by planting spring flowering bulbs. The more planning you do now, the less work you’ll have come March and April. Pairing bulbs with compatible perennials will keep your beds looking neat even when after your bulbs have bloomed and their foliage have started to droop and yellow. The key is picking bulbs and perennials that require similar growing conditions, such as sunny/dry, moist or shady. Plant the bulbs with their companion perennials so that spreading plants will grow in over the spent bulbs. Suggested combinations:
- Sunny/dry locations – pair daffodils, tulip and/or hyacinth with peony, cranesbill or lamb’s ear to cover. You can plant dianthus in front of bulbs/perennial companions.
- Moist locations – pair Spanish bluebell, fritillaria and/or quamash with astilbe, cardinal flower or brunnera to cover. Can plant mazus and/or coral bells in front of bulbs/perennial companions.
- Shady locations – pair wood hyacinth, windflower or toad lily with hostas, celandine poppy or ferns to cover. Can plant sweet woodruff in front of bulbs/perennial companions.
For more on bulb/perennial companions go to: http://www.gardengatemagazine.com/extras/083/bulb_companions.php
Fall is the perfect time to plant new trees and shrubs
Give the new plants time to start acclimating to their new environment during their dormant period before spring and the demands of new growth. Be sure to follow planting instructions carefully. The top of the root ball of a B&B plant should never be below ground level. Water thoroughly and apply 3 inch layer mulch. If you haven’t yet selected a tree/shrub the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT) has excellent online references to help you decide.
Try using Plants of Merit if you are looking for something different that you aren’t likely to see in everyone’s garden. Plants of Merit have all been tested by MOBOT and local horticulturalists and have proven to be reliable performers with excellent plant characteristics but are underutilized in our region.
Want to browse and look at all the trees there are to choose from that like a wet and shady location? Use Plant Finder Search. Plant Search is the garden’s most extensive plant database search engine. It allows you to search by plant type; cultural requirements, such as sun, water, and planting zone; plant characteristics, like height, width, bloom color and time; uses for plant; features of flowers, leaves and fruit.
With a bit of planning, some imagination and digging power, you can enjoy your fall garden now and potential buyers will enjoy your efforts next spring.