Most people don’t think of the fall season as a time for gardening, but it is! Before you get started planting, though, you need to know the hardiness zone for your area. In 2012, the USDA created the plant hardiness zone (see the map here ) to help gardeners determine which plants are most likely to thrive in a specific location. Ohio has three different hardiness zones. Our area falls into the 6a zone. So what does that actually mean? Well, that means plants in our neck of the woods should be able to withstand average winter temperatures from -10 to 0 degrees F. Each plant or seed pack should have the hardiness zone listed somewhere on the packaging.
What can I plant then?
Fall is a great time to get ready for spring! Most stores and nurseries begin selling spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils, daylilies and irises in the fall months. In fact, I just saw some bulbs at Walmart the other week. Make sure to plant the bulbs in a bright area with plenty of drainage. Spring bulbs need to be planted before the ground freezes, so shoot for around September or October. The bulbs need the cool temperatures to spark the process that causes them to flower. Better Homes and Garden has a fantastic article that tells you step-by-step how to plant the bulbs. Remember, the bulbs need to be split every few years (also done in the fall) so you don’t have to go crazy buying plants at the store! A few years ago we had more Irises than we knew what to do with.
You can also plant some beautiful fall perennials/annuals to give your flower beds some color. This is something we are working on at my house this year. The most traditional fall flower is the Mum. They are so popular they have their own festival! You can check it out here. If you want a perennial, choose the hardy mum, if you want an annual chose the florist mum. Asters are another popular fall flower. For a great list of fall annual/ perennial flowers look here and here.
Take care of your bulbs.
Bulbs are so easy, you basically plant them and forget about them right? Well, not so fast! As the plant matures the bulb will divide and spread on its own. This is great until you get too many flowers crowded into one area. Remember those Irises I told you about? We had over 500 bulbs in a very small area; they were so crowded a bunch didn’t bloom. That is how we knew it was time to divide them. If the blooms start decreasing, it may be time to divide. The Spruce has a wonderful article that takes you step by step through the splitting process; find it here.
Should I prune in the fall?
This is also the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs. This allows time for their root systems to establish themselves before the ground freezes and before spring. Trees and shrubs will last for years and can get pretty big in size, so make sure you plant them in a space that allows for them to grow as they mature in size. Speaking of trees and shrubs, contrary to popular belief you don’t want to prune your plants in the fall. Pruning promotes growth, and doing so in the fall can weaken the plant as they are trying to go dormant before winter. We made this mistake when we first moved in to our house with one of the rose bushes. Pruning is best done in the dead of winter or early spring. Good Housekeeping has a nice article here that explains the ins and outs of pruning.
As you can see there is plenty to do in the garden during fall. Personally, fall gardens are my favorite! I would love to see pictures of your fall gardens. Feel free to send them to Val@rivervalleycu.org. For more visit my blog at https://www.rivervalleycu.org/val or find me on Facebook!