Friday, September 10, 2004

Fall planting makes for colorful season

On the Greener Side


Dana DuGan

While autumn leaves may fall and begin to cover our gardens, plants and grass, fall still is a time for planting to establish good root growth.

Sure bulbs are obvious and should be popped into the ground now. Large bulbs need to be planted 6 to 8 inches deep, while small bulbs need only 3- to 5-inch holes. Planting many bulbs in one area will give you more color.

However, some plants should not be planted in the fall unless they are placed in very protected spots because they prefer the long, hot days of summer to stimulate best root growth.

These include some agastache, agave and buddleia, butterfly bush, pink oenothera, some penstemons, rosemary, red salvia, stachys, scarlet hedgenettle, quill fameflower, and some verbena.

Do plant peonies, poppies, irises, bare root roses, shrubs and ground covers. Divide and transplant over grown plants. Mulch and compost the garden.

Some gardeners say several inches or more of compost or steer manure worked into the soil each year is essential.

On the clean up and maintenance side, cover tomato plants at night, put walls of water back on if they?ve been removed, bring house plants back inside at night, and give a deep soaking to other potted plants. The deeper the soak, the better for the roots.

As you rake don?t forget to put your leaf rakings in a compost heap with grass cuttings and non-meat organic kitchen scraps.

Line up a bale or two of weed free straw to cover gardens with in a month or so.

When considering perennials for fall color, you should mostly avoid planting items that specifically are for fall. Chances are the first freeze will occur before they have a chance to bloom.

Instead, plant flowering shrubs such as viburnum and burning bush or late summer hardy plants like Japanese anemone, kale, New England asters and ornamental grasses. All of these will come back next year.

And a good way to make sure of that and any other new plants is to water well. By next summer plants will bloom more due to their larger, more established root system.

Then as the top of the plants go dormant in preparation for winter, plants require less frequent watering, which is an effective way of establishing a water wise garden.

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