In regions such as ours where winters are distinct, fall heralds the close of the growing season. The last of the seasonal crops are ready to be harvested, foliage changes to brilliant colors of red and gold and berries that will provide winter food for the wildlife begin to ripen. Fall also provides a final burst of color as an encore to summer’s heady display. As sure as the season brings us another school year and a season of football, it also brings on chrysanthemums, the mainstay of the fall landscape. Rich colors from red to yellow and pink to purple, with many shades in between, are abundant well into the season until frost call a halt. Along with chrysanthemums, pansies, ornamental cabbages and kale, perennial asters, daisies, and ornamental grasses provide rich color and texture in the garden.
Fall is not only a reason to enjoy nature’s final color palette, but is also the ideal time of the year to plant for next season’s display. Most shrubs, trees and perennials benefit from fall planting. Cooler air temperature, warm soil, and adequate rainfall provide ideal conditions for planting. Also, with plants not creating new growth, they can put energy into growing their root system. Generally roots will keep growing until the soil temperature gets down to around 40 degrees (which normally does not happen until mid December.) These conditions provide less stress for the plants and stimulate vigorous growth the following spring. Once planted, you should provide a root stimulant such as Esbenshade’s root stimulator and an ample supply of water. Watering should be done thoroughly and deeply to encourage root formation deep into the soil. Provide a 2”– 3” layer of mulch after planting. Mulch will enhance the planting appearance, keep down weeds, conserve water, provide a consistent soil temperature and prevent root damage throughout the upcoming winter months. Fall is for planting many shrubs, trees and perennials as well as young, flowering bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths and hundreds of other flowers in thousands of color combinations are waiting to be planted to herald the arrival of spring.