Easy Fall Planting
Fall is the second-best time to plant – with some saying it’s the best!
We typically have late-summer and fall sales. Check out current plant sales here.
LATE-FALL SOWN PERENNIAL SEEDS
Sow perennial plant seeds, that need stratification, after a hard frost – below 25 F. Stratification is 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.
Be sure to mark the spot you planted. 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.
Perennial plants to sow after a hard frost:
- Blue and Breezy Flax Seeds
- Russell Lupine Blend
- Sundial Lupine Bluebonnet
- Colorado Blend Yarrow
LATE-FALL SOWN ANNUAL SEEDS
You’ll get earlier blooms and reduce time in the late winter/early spring sowing seeds indoors. 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 and before snowfall. You may also sow in late-winter between snow fall. The snow buries the seed and insulates them, helping to retain moisture.
Mix the seed with a bit of sand before sowing. This helps the seed spread evenly and gives you a better visual of where you have sown.
Mark where you planted with labeled garden stakes to avoid damaging emerging flowers.
Annuals plants to sow after a hard frost:
- Bachelor Buttons
- California Bluebells
Info Source: Botanical Interests
Garlic is one of the easiest to grow crops. Garlic is planted in the fall. They start to grow their roots this fall and then emerge next spring. We recommend adding compost to your planting area two weeks before planting your garlic.
Join us for our How to Grow Garlic class September 24th!
FALL-PLANTED FLOWER BULBS
Bulbs are really as easy as dig, drop, and done. 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.
If you have a presence of voles, mice, chipmunks, or squirrels we recommend planting them with a granular animal repellent.
Fall is a wonderful time to plant in you landscape. 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, there is less disease and pest stressors, and your plants will put more energy into root growth than foliage.
We recommend mulching around your new landscape plants, leaving a couple inches open around the stems to help retain moisture when they are establishing themselves.
PLANT TREES, SHRUBS, AND EVERGREENS
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.
Deeply water your plants until the ground freezes. 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.
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 after ground freeze to protect their roots.
When planting, mix in a slow release fertilizer – like Biotone. When the top couple inches of soil are dry, that’s when you should water. Water deeply so the plant roots reach deeper into the soil and create a more robust root system before winter weather.
Dividing perennials (PDF List of perennials and dividing time):
These cooler days are perfect for dividing perennials. Divide or move perennials if they are crowded or not performing well in their original spot.
A good rule of thumb to follow:
“Blooms late-summer/fall, divide them in spring. Blooms spring, divide in the fall.”
REDUCE WINTER DAMAGE
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, which will cause the plant to die. Shrubs and evergreens can also experience animal damage from hungry animals so use a granular or spray animal repellent or fencing.
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 and tree winter protection.
SOWING TURF GRASS
Mid-August through mid-September is an ideal time to start new grass from seed. We carry high quality seed from Ramy Seeds in Mankato. If it seems daunting to keep the soil moist to sprout grass this time of year or it’s too late, you can wait until late fall – after we have our first frosts – to sow seeds that will sprout in the spring when the weather warms and spring rains help keep the seed moist.
PLANT COVER CROPS AFTER HARVEST
Cover crops are also an option if you are done with your garden space until next spring or before you plant garlic in late Sept. or Oct. It’s best to start growing cover crops as soon as you can but many crops will grow into late fall. Plant a quick growing crop like peas, oats, radishes, or buckwheat.
A cover crop is used to slow erosion from wind and rain, improve soil health, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, break up compacted soil, and increase biodiversity. Using a cover crop can reduce the amount of compost you need to prepare your garden soil for next year.
Read our post about Living Soil which covers best practices for healthier soil and head over to the University of MN Extension article with a cover crops selector tool to choose a cover crop for your soil goals. For example: If you fertilize with liquid fertilizers you probably have excess nitrogen in your soil or if you grew peas ( nitrogen fixers) in an area then you’d choose a cover crop that adds other nutrients.
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
Three Plant Needs
Water, Sun, and Soil (Nutrients).
Where does soil pH level come in?
Plants need nutrients and have a balanced relationship with elements in the soil which will contribute to the health of plants.
Plants also have pH level preferences. The soil pH level can affect the uptake of nutrients. Depending on the plant, if the soil pH is not ideal then you may have a stunted and unhealthy plant – and it’s not because there isn’t nutrients in the soil.
Put Away the Fertilizer – For Now
If you are noticing any issues like yellowing leaves, no fruit production, growth seems stunted, and not blooming, checking the pH is highly recommended first before using fertilizers.
For example, you may add fertilizer to your garden but it still has little effect on your plant health if for some reason your soil pH is off. Too much fertilizer can also inhibit nutrient uptake because of soil nutrient imbalances. In addition, nitrogen and phosphorous runoff is a huge environmental pollutant, especially to our waterways and lakes.
Testing your soil nutrients is good gardening practice and could save you money in the long run. If you know your soil pH is within the proper range and your plant is showing nutrient deficiency symptoms, use a slow release fertilizer (like Bio-tone) for in-ground plants to avoid excessive nutrients and run-off.
What is Acidic Soil?
The range of pH is from 0-14. Acidic soil is considered anything below 7.
Very Strong 5.0
Many 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 pH or above. Water coming from hoses in this area are usually more basic, which increases soil alkalinity.
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.
Acidic Soil Loving Plants
Plants that prefer slight acidity, 6.0-7.0 range:
Most plants! Each plant has a pH range it can tolerate and many plants can handle down to 6.0.
Plants that prefer 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
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 prefer 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
Strawberries 5.5-6.5, Grapes 5.5-7.0
Coneflowers 5.0-7.5, Cosmos 5.0-8.0, Gladiolus 5.0-7.0, Lupine 5.0-6.5
Plants that prefer 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
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.
Changing 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. Add both of these amendments in small stages and increments as to not shock the plant if it’s already planted. Read the instructions on any product you use to properly adjust the pH.
Favorite supplements to adjust the soil pH that 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.
Adjust Soil pH with Organic Matter
Add any type of compost to your garden beds. 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 during the growing season. Reach for compost first when wanting to add nutrients, improving soil aeration, improving water retention, and adjusting pH.
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’re having troubles with keeping your soil more acidic, don’t fight it! Choose plants that will tolerate more neutral or alkaline soils. There are plenty out there!