Easy Fall Planting
Fall is the second-best time to plant, with some saying it’s the best! There are flower seeds you can sow after hard, killing frost for earlier blooms next season. Landscape plants, like perennials, trees, shrubs, and evergreens benefit from the less stressful cooler weather, reduced pest and diseases, and focus their energy on root development. Garlic bulbs and fall flower bulbs are also planted in the fall and they are as easy as dig, drop, and done
FALL SOWN SEEDS
Sow perennials after a hard frost, below 25 F, that need stratification, the process of seeds being in a cold environment and then breaking dormancy once the weather warms. This ensures that they will not sprout until the following spring.
Mark the spot. Label the area of sown seeds with stakes. If we have a dry winter and less rain in the spring, make sure to water your seeds in the spring to keep soil moist.
We get a shipment of the next years seed from Botanical Interests in late summer, and they provide a list of perennial and biennial varieties that need stratification for higher rate of germination. Sow these after a hard frost to avoid early germination.
- Blue and Breezy Flax Seeds
- Russell Lupine Blend
- Sundial Lupine Bluebonnet
- Colorado Blend Yarrow
You’ll get earlier blooms and reduce time in the late winter/early spring sowing seeds indoors and transplanting seedlings when warm enough. The moisture from melting snow will greatly reduce your need to water in the spring.
Tips for sowing annual seed:
Sow the seeds after a killing freeze but before snow. You may also sow in late winter between snow fall. The snow helps bury seeds and insulates them, helping to retain moisture.
Mix the seed with a bit of sand before sowing. This helps you space your seed more evenly and gives you a better visual of where you sow your seed.
Mark where you planted with labeled garden stakes to avoid damaging emerging flowers.
Annuals to sow in the fall:
- Bachelor Buttons
- California Bluebells
Info Source: Botanical Interests
Garlic is one of the easiest to grow crops. The bulbs are planted in the fall and they are start to emerge early spring. They don’t mind hot summer weather, require little watering if we have consistent rain, and need well-draining soil. We recommend adding compost to your planting area two weeks before planting your garlic. Download our Growing and Storing Guide below or pick up a copy in the store when you get your garlic bulbs.
FALL PLANTED BULBS
Bulbs are really as easy as dig, drop, and done. Each bulb packet will tell you the depth to plant and timing since they have different depth needs. When planting, make sure the soil is well-draining (soil doesn’t stay soggy more than a day) and use Bulb Tone to get their roots off to a healthy start before the ground freezes. Amend your soil with compost or top soil if it’s compacted or not well-draining.
Fall is a wonderful time to plant! The heat of the summer is done and the cooler weather is less stressful for the plants during transplanting. The soil also stays moist longer, which requires less frequent water for you! We always recommend mulching around your new landscape plants, leaving a couple inches open around the stems, and wait to do heavy mulching (more than 2 inches), until the ground is completely frozen.
Trees, Shrubs, and Evergreen
Trees, shrubs, and evergreens can be planted up to 6 weeks before ground freeze (average ground freeze is beginning of Dec.). If the trees or shrubs are dormant by the time of planting, you may not need to water if the soil stays slightly moist. Make sure to mulch 2-3 inches around the root zone and wrap your tree saplings Oct. 31st or as soon as possible after that. If you have issues with rabbits or deer around, get a hard plastic mesh tree guard. You’ll be happy you did because if animals chew around the entire tree diameter, it’ll cut off nutrients to the tree. Shrubs and evergreens can also experience animal damage from hungry animals so use a granular or spray animal repellent or fencing.
Deeply water your plants all the way up to ground freeze. Only water when the top 2- 3 inches are dry. It’s usually 5 gallons of water every week to two weeks depending on your soil type, size of the plant, and weather.
Here is an extra note about evergreens. It’s very important evergreens have adequate water before ground freeze or you may experience browning of needles the next spring. Evergreens do better when planted early fall instead of late fall to help them take up moisture before freezing. They slowly lose water from their needles over winter and if they are in an area of high winds and/or bright, all day sun, it dries them out quicker. Read more about evergreen winter care.
You can plant perennials up to 6 weeks before ground freeze (average ground freeze is beginning of Dec.) but sooner the better for transplanting success. Just make sure they are watered until freeze and heavily mulched to protect their root systems once the ground is frozen, and no sooner. Smaller potted perennials tend to have shorter root systems before they are established in your soil. When planting use a slow release fertilizer, like Biotone, and keep the deeper soil moist, not soggy. When the top couple inches are dry, it’s safe to water. The plant roots will reach deeper into the soil and create a more robust root system if you water longer and deeper and can reduce watering frequency.
Fall is also a good time to split perennials that have bloomed in the spring or early summer. Iris and peonies, in particular, should be split during the fall months. You can split other perennials but the rule of thumb is if it blooms late summer or fall, split in the spring and vice versa. Don’t transplant perennials while in bloom but if you absolutely need to split them, wait a few weeks after blooming. Dividing perennials (PDF List of perennials and dividing time)
Fall Landscape Shrubs for Autumn Color
Don’t overlook these shrubs that will give you a wonderful show and variety to your garden in the fall! We can help you look ahead into the fall (summer isn’t over yet!) and pick out some plants that have wonderful autumn color.
Here are a just a few examples of shrubs that have pleasant fall colors you can plant now if you want to keep the colors going all the way to snowfall – and some beyond!
Tiger Eyes® Cutleaf Staghorn Sumac
This sumac grows about 6′ wide and 6′ tall and the foliage is beautiful all season long! The brilliant chartreuse green foliage is in the summer giving way to the fall when it’s leaves turns orange, yellow, and scarlet color. This plant definitely has an oriental look to it! It’s drought resistant, can take full sun, and is a zone 4 so it will survive the winters here!
Photos: Courtesy of Bailey Nursery
Native Glossy Black Chokeberry
This native deciduous shrub grows about 5′-7′ tall and wide and starts off the spring season with small white flowers! It is adaptable to most soils, wet or dry, and can grow full sun to full shade! *However, more berries will be produced and growth in full sun. The 1/4″ black superberry fruit it produces has 400% more antioxidants then blueberries. Great for pollinators and birds, there is plenty to love about this plant. Autumn colors are orange, red, and purple and their natural fullness make a great informal hedge planted in mass.
Berry photo: Courtesy of Bailey Nursery
Orange Rocket Barberry (Really any barberry!)
We wanted to add this shrub because it provides color from spring through fall. The new leaves come out coral orange, turn green, and then a bright red in the fall, always adding warmth and a pop of brightness to your landscape. It grows 4′-5′ tall and 2′-3′ wide and likes full to partial sun. Tolerant of most soils other than slow draining/wet areas. Can take drought conditions once established and great can tolerate road salts and pollution well. Most barberries have wonderful fall color transitions so check out barberry as a great barrier plant in your contemporary or rustic garden.
Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood
This one we are also focusing further into the fall season and winter. We don’t want to take away from the adorable white berries that adorn the plant in late summer but sometimes it’s what’s within that gives us the real beauty. The dropping of its dramatic red and orange foliage in fall reveal bright red twigs that stand upright against the mostly colorless landscape. They can get fairly big at 9′ tall and 5′ wide. It’s great for mass planting, wetter areas, and its roots work well to create an embankment for erosion control. Plant in full to partial sun and hopefully somewhere you see often in the winter! Really easy care and cutting back old stems in the spring will give you best color on new growth.
Winter photo: Courtesy of Monrovia
Birch leaf spirea autumn colors
Spirea is a spring/summer flowering shrub that works well for your border plantings and provides spring blossoms as well as great fall foliage. Some spirea varieties can also bloom spring and fall. Two Spirea came to mind when thinking of fall color. Magic Carpet Spirea (See image on the right ) that turns a rich russet red in the fall after its summer season mature bright gold foliage or the Tor Birchleaf Spirea that turns gold, red, and purple in the fall. The Tor Birchleaf grows in compacted mounds and is deer resistant, fragrant, and attracts butterflies. The Magic Carpet grows full and bushy, is an early bloomer, and has brightest colors in full sun. Planting them en masse and paired with other perennials would create a more dramatic effect in your landscape. Ask us about which varieties can be pruned after first flowering to try for continued blooming into fall.
Left photo: Courtesy of Behnkes
There are many plants, other than shrubs, that can provide you extended seasonal color and eye appeal in your landscape or garden. The garden is an evolving thing so when you have time to take tabs on when plants are blooming or changing color, why not add more plants for fall interest?
TOP 5 TIPS for Summer Plantings
1.MOST IMPORTANT! – WATERING
Proper watering is vital to plant survival. Proper watering doesn’t mean watering everyday. At least 1″ of water a week spring through fall season is the recommended amount. Frequency will vary depending on type of soil you have. For example, clay soils need infrequent yet thorough watering. This is because the water doesn’t percolate quickly through the soil. However in a sandy soil, water percolates easily. This requires thorough and more frequent watering.
Every one to two weeks, a slow stream of hose water for 5-10 min around the root zone should give you a deep thorough watering of trees and shrubs.
Perennials should be watered every 3-7 days depending on soil type and weather.
Check the soil regularly by pushing your finger a couple inches into the soil before you water. If the soil is moist, wait to water. Remember, even drought tolerant plants need a couple of years to become fully established and need deep thorough watering. Searing heat and windy days may require increased watering frequency.
2. PROPER PLANTING TECHNIQUE
Make sure to follow our planting guide (See image below) on the back of our Winter Hardiness Warranty Slip that comes with all trees and shrubs. Mix in compost and slow release fertilizer with beneficial fungi, bacteria, and nutrients, like Bio-Tone, into your native soil to help newly planted shrubs, trees, and perennials get off on a strong start.
Use 2-3 inches of mulch around your plants to help retain water and keep soil cool during hot and dry days. Mulch around the root zone and keep the mulch 2 inches away from the stem or trunk of the plant.
4.READ THE LEAVES
Summer-planted plants may wilt regularly if you are under- or over-watering, or from heat stress. Water sensitive plants, especially new perennials with shallow root systems, will tell you if they need more water. If there is slight wilting during the day yet they have moist soil, they may be succumbing to heat/light stress if no other signs of pests or disease are present.
If they are still wilting after the sun is going down, they are most likely under-watered if the soil is dry or the roots have already been stressed from over-watering. The best method to quickly learn how much water you plant needs is to check it regularly. Your plant will start establishing it’s roots and watering frequency may decrease.
5. PLANTING TIME
Planting on a cloudy day is less stressful on new plants. If the cloudy day is followed by a day or two of rain, all the better! You can also plant in the evening. That gives it half a day before it gets blasted with the summer sun.
We also made a video of planting a shrub to show how to properly plant.
Additional landscape plant heat stress remedies:
Acidic Soil Loving Plants
Water, Sun, and Soil (Nutrients). These are plants three basic needs.
Plants need nutrients and a relationship with elements in the soil can determine the health of plants. Soil pH is important to the uptake of nutrients and related to some common issues that may arise. For example, you may add fertilizer to your garden but still have little effect on your plants if for some reason your soil pH is off.
The texture of the soil is an additional variable (loamy, silty, sandy, or clay) and another topic all together. There is a method at the bottom of the post that will also improve soil texture/aeration.
Now, we will go over acidic soil ranges, what plants grow best in acidic soil, and what you can do to improve your soil’s pH.
What is acidic soil?
The range of pH is from 0-14. Acidic soil is considered anything below 7.
Very Strong 5.0
Most plants like to grow within the 6-7.5 pH range for optimal nutrient uptake. In Southern MN, you may notice a lot of clay soil with lime, which tends to be more alkaline, 7 or above. Water coming from hoses in this area are usually more basic (increases alkalinity) as well.
Other factors that affect soil acidity are rainfall, nitrogen fertilizers, plants like pines, and subsoil acidity. The best way to know your soil acidity level is a quick home test. We have soil pH tests plus soil nutrient tests. If your plants are thriving than you probably wouldn’t need to test it unless you are curious.
Plants that enjoy acidic soil:
Plants that enjoy slight acidity, 6.0-7.0 range:
Most plants! Each plant has a pH range it can tolerate and many plants can handle 6.0.
Plants that tolerate strong acidity, 5.5:
Trees and shrubs – Raspberry 5.5-7.0, Pears 5.5-7.0, Peaches 5.5-7.0
Vegetable and Fruits- Potato 5.5, Squash 5.5, Garlic 5.5-8.0, Carrot 5.5-7.0, Sweet Peppers 5.5-7.0, Tomatoes 5.5-7.5, Cauliflower 5.5-7.5, Cucumber, 5.5-7.0, Pumpkin 5.5-7.0, Eggplant 5.5-6.5, Sweet Potatoes 5.2-6.0, Rhubarb 5.5-7.0
Flowers – Begonia 5.5-7.0, Black-Eyed Susan 5.5-7.0, Clematis 5.5-7.0, Marigold 5.5-7.5, Nasturtium 5.5-7.5, Pansy 5.5-6.5, Snapdragon 5.5-7.0, Zinnia 5.5-7.0, Fox Gloves 5.5-6.5, Cyclamen 5.5-6.5
Plants that tolerate very strong acidity, 5.0:
Trees and shrubs – Spruce 5.0-6.0, Juniper 5.0-6.0, Blackberry 5.0-6.0, Apple, 5.0-6.5, Serviceberry 5.0-6.0, Fothergilla 5.0-6.0, Magnolia 5.0-6.0
Fruits – Strawberries 5.5-6.5, Grapes 5.5-7.0
Flowers – Coneflower-Purple 5.0-7.5, Cosmos 5.0-8.0, Gladiolus 5.0-7.0, Lupine 5.0-6.5
Plants that tolerate extremely strong acidity, 4.5:
Trees and shrubs – Azalea 4.5-6, Blueberry 4.5-6, Hydrangea-Blue flowered 4.0-5.0, White Pine 4.5-6.0, Rhododendron 4.5-6
Flowers – Lily-of-the-Valley 4.5-6.0
As you may have noticed, plants have a range of pH that they will grow in and thrive. Those plants that have very strong and an extremely strong acidic soil needs, may need additional amendments to keep soil pH down. If you are noticing any issues like yellowing leaves, no fruit production, growth seems stunted, and not blooming, checking the pH is recommended first before using fertilizers.
What can you do to change soil pH?
The best way to improve soil pH is through addition of amendments and adding organic material. To increase acidity, add sulfur, and to decrease acidity, add lime. With both of these amendments, you will have to do it in stages as to not shock the plant. Read instructions on any product you use since each may differ.
These are our favorite supplements to use to adjust the soil pH and will not shock the plants if used as directed:
Epsoma Soil Acidifer – Organic, Safe, long-lasting, and won’t burn the plants if used as directed. Repeat in 60 day intervals if needed.
Epsoma Berry Tone for Berries – Organic, Good if you need to slightly increase acidity, Use early and late spring, Use on blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, Will help produce bigger plants and more berries.
Ways to adjust soil pH by adding organic material:
Add compost, manure, and peat moss to your garden beds. If you add compost and manure your soil, it may become more neutral so the addition of peat moss, which is acidic (3.0-4.5) can help temporarily adjust acidity. This is best to do in the fall since it takes more time to adjust the soil pH using this method but feel free to feed plants with top dressing of compost/manure during the growing season which is another great way to improve the soil’s aeration.
Modifying your soil’s pH will take some time. Depending on the type of soil you are working with, the addition of supplements and organic material may be needed year-after-year.
If you test your soil and notice you have troubles with keeping your soil more acidic, choose plants that will tolerate more neutral or alkaline soils. There are plenty out there!