Soil conditions in the fall are often better for digging than the muddy situations we often face in spring. Fall planting also allows plants to establish themselves and start growing – and possibly produce more first-season blooms than if you wait till spring to plant them.
Here are some tips to give perennials a head start on next season:
- Divide! Perennials that have been in place 4-6 years or that have overgrown their space, may be divided into 2 or more plants. This process rejuvenates plants and provides more plants to enjoy in other areas of your yard. Separate them with a shovel and move some of them to bare spots in your garden beds that receive the same levels of sun/water as where they were originally planted. Ornamental grasses especially benefit from this process, as they often appear to die out in the middle. You may remove the dead area and cut the thriving portion into sections for re-planting.
- Soil Prep! Clean up the beds of weed debris. Remove weed roots, encroaching turf grass, and old debris that may have seeds. This will help your reduce weed issues in the Spring. If needed, now is a great time to amend the soil with well-rotted manure or peat moss. Even adding organic matter in just each new area you are planting and where you have been dividing, will be of benefit for roots to establish themselves and grow.
- Post planting : Water! Most likely your sprinkler system has already been winterized, so you will need to manually water these newly planted perennials. Check the soil moisture throughout the fall/winter and be sure to hand water them if Mother Nature doesn’t provide enough. Mulching around the plants will also help moderate the soil temperature and retain moisture throughout the winter. Fertilize with a root-developing fertilizer…..they will benefit from 0-20-0 super phosphate fertilizer scattered around the plants at recommended doses and lightly cultivated into the soil. Next spring you’ll have stronger plants with more flowers.