After a hot and dry St. Louis summer, gardeners are eager to reclaim their borders, containers and lawns. And fall is the perfect time.
LOUIS D’AGROSA, Garden Heights Nursery
◆ Soil temperatures will be warm. So when you plant a tree, shrub or perennial, roots are actively growing in the warm soil. And as the air temperature gets cooler, the plant begins to go dormant, but the roots continue to grow.
◆ Fall is the best time to revitalize your lawn. With the warm soil, grass seed germinates right away.
◆ Most perennials do very well when planted in early fall. They get a great root system growing before winter. If you plant something in autumn and then compare it to something that is planted the following spring, the fall planting will be more established.
◆ Fall is the best time to put compost down in the garden because it breaks down through the winter months and leaches into the soil. Then in the spring, all those nutrients will be available for your plants.
◆ A new trailing pansy called Plentifall can be used to cascade over the edge of pots or travel along borders.
JIM GRAELER, Chesterfield Valley Nursery
◆ Cut back on planting ground covers—shallow rooted plants—in early fall, as they won’t have a chance to get established and rooted before winter.
◆ Plant mums, pansies and asters in the first part of September. Pansies continue to provide a little bit of color through the colder months and then they will pop back up in the spring for extended bloom time.
◆ If you are looking at planting a vegetable garden next spring, go ahead and till up the area in November and December 10 to 12 inches deep, add manure, and let it break down over the winter. Then in the spring, till it again before adding your plants.
◆ Revitalize your turf by aerating, power raking and then re-seeding. Sometimes a soil test analysis can be useful to see if there’s a nutrient deficiency.
BABETTE BRIAGAS, Frisella Nursery
◆ Plants we don’t recommend for fall planting include roses, butterfly bush, Hydrangea, Crape myrtle.
◆ Any of your cool weather spring vegetables, like kale, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, lettuce and (the herb) cilantro also are good to grow in the fall.
◆ It’s a good idea to put mulch down, as it protects the plant roots during the winter and keeps the moisture in so they don’t freeze dry.
◆ September is great time of year to split daylilies, irises, hostas and peonies. In fact, we only order peonies for fall—it’s just a persnickety plant that does better when planted in autumn.
◆ Fall is the best time of the year to plant trees. Water them in really well, and the moisture will protect the roots through the winter.
NANCY PEDLEY, Kelce & Pedley Design
◆ When planting, incorporate super phosphate into the soil because it encourages deep root growth instead of encouraging growth on the top of the plant, so they aren’t susceptible to heaving out of the ground with the freezing and thawing over winter.
◆ We like to use ornamental kale and cabbages, in containers. These plants really hold up in the cold weather, and the colder it gets, the more intense the color. We also like to incorporate mustard greens and Swiss chard to add interest.
◆ Evergreens and boxwood will last all winter long in containers. Incorporating pansies for color gives you something nice to look during the colder months.
◆ Fall is the time to plant bulbs, but you need to think about the color of your existing spring flowering shrubs that are going to bloom, like azaleas, Rhododendrons, and your flowering trees when you make your bulb color selections. The Darwin series tulip is the only tulip I know of that comes back year after year. One of our clients has had hers in the ground for about 10 years now.