Fall planting is one of the best-kept secrets of a thriving landscape. Trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs planted in fall will give a glorious display of color the next spring. Lawns maintained through the fall will be lush and green late into winter and early in spring. And fall blooming plants, (such as mums, pansies and flowering cabbage) are an easy way to add dynamic color to celebrate the change of the season.
Trees, Shrubs, Perennials & Bulbs
Trees, shrubs and perennials planted in early fall develop strong root systems and store up nutrients during their winter hibernation. The cool night temperatures with plenty of sun during the day makes autumn a perfect time to plant, giving your trees, shrubs and perennials time to establish and prepare for the stresses of the next summer. Use “Soil Pep” and Root Stimulator when planted to encourage roots.
Many perennials and bulbs actually need some cold treatment (i.e. winter hibernation) to flower the next spring/summer. This concept is known as vernalization. There are some perennials that simply will not flower without having that cold treatment. Others, if exposed to a period of cold, will tend to flower earlier and have much more flower power per plant. At Gulley Greenhouse we vernalize these specific perennials for you, so that you never have to worry about this concept. However, planting them in your own garden in autumn will only help them to be stronger, have more flowers and create a stunning display in your landscape come next spring. All spring-blooming bulbs (such as tulips, daffodils, crocus, etc.) need to be vernalized, which is why they are sold at our garden center to be planted in the fall. Other perennials that benefit from a cold hibernation period include Columbine, Aubrieta (Rockcress), some Coreopsis varieties, some Leucanthemums (Shasta Daisy), Creeping Phlox, among others. Contact us at Gulley Greenhouse for recommendations of perennials and bulbs to be planted in the fall.
September/Early October is also the perfect month to focus some “TLC” on your lawn. If you give your lawn the fertilizer it needs to develop deep roots, you will decrease maintenance and increase savings on water. Fall fertilization maintains a healthy lawn through the winter months, and promotes early spring greening. Apply a lawn fertilizer (such as a “Winterizer” or “Lawn Food + Iron”) this time of year for that hassle-free healthy lawn you’ve been working towards.
Plants for Fall Color
And perhaps one of the best ways to spruce up your landscape in the fall is with fall-blooming plants. While many other annuals and perennials are petering out, fall blooming mums, asters, fall pansies and flowering cabbages are just coming into their prime. Fall mums and asters, (both perennials in Colorado), are extremely colorful and easy to care for, pansies and flowering cabbages are pretty cold resistant, and will tolerate mild frosts. Relatively drought tolerant once established, mums and asters will thrive in a sunny location with well-drained soil and will come back to bloom every year. Pansies, are classified as annuals, and are really somewhat biennial. Despite being paper-thin, delicate looking flowers, pansies are tough! They will survive mild freezes and will bloom into the early winter.
As the weather turns cooler, spend some time outside in your landscape this fall. It will be an enjoyable job and you will reap the benefits come spring! You can also find good deals at our garden center this time of year. We have some incredible sales with a large selection of trees, shrubs and perennials that are perfect for fall planting. Come and find some fall finery and get outside to plant!
FALL CHECKLIST (September & October)
Lawn & Garden
- Apply the last application of lawn fertilizer to cool-season grasses while grass is still green.
- Sow grass seed in bald lawn spots.
- Mow your lawn down to 1.5” to 2” with a catcher to prevent powdery mildew.
- Young Plants for Producers
- Empty & clean container gardens & patio pots.
- Harvest and dry herbs; cut in the morning for best flavor.
- Bring your houseplants inside as the nights grow cooler. Ensure that they receive enough light as the time and sun angle changes.
Trees, Shrubs & Perennials
- Keep deep-watering perennials, trees, & shrubs but stop fertilizing. Now is a great time to plant, using root stimulator and plenty of water.
- Add mulch to all flower beds, and around the base of roses, trees and shrubs.
- Cut back perennials as they bloom and go dormant.
- Prune summer & fall blooming trees and shrubs when they go dormant. Avoid pruning spring bloomers, as they have already set buds for next year’s blossoms.
- Wrap young or smooth-barked trees with tree wrap, starting at the base and moving up.
- Top-prune rose canes to remove bushiness that may break in a wet snow.
- Mound topsoil in collars around the base of roses and cover the mounds with mulch.
- Take tropical pond plants out of the pond, and move the hardy plants to a depth of 3’ or greater.
- Young Plants for Producers
- Remove debris from ponds and cut back on feeding fish.
- Dig up summer bulbs (dahlias, gladiolas, etc) as they die back and cut stems off. Dust with “Dusting Sulfur” and store in a cool, dry and dark location.
- Plant spring blooming bulbs! Don’t forget to use Dutch Bulb Food or Bone Meal when planting, and soak with lots of water.