Fall is here and although the weather is still warm and sunny, it won’t be long until days get shorter and temperatures get cooler. As your garden starts to change along with the seasons, so should your gardening to-do list. To make sure you take care of the plants that are just starting their growing cycles and protect the ones that begin their dormant period, here are four key tasks you need to accomplish to prepare your garden for fall, according to garden experts.
Prepare for fall planting
Cooler weather doesn’t have to be the end of your gardening days. In fact, in certain parts of the country, it’s just the right time for blooming. More than that, certain plant varieties such as mums, grow better during cooler nights and shorter days.
To prepare your garden for the fall plants, clear your garden beds of the summer debris and add an extra layer of compost, till the soil and plant the seeds that might require a specific amount of time to develop before the first frost. Fall is also a good time to plant hardy trees and shrubs because they will have more time to develop their roots before the next vegetative period, namely spring. According to Chad Husby, Ph.D. and Chief Explorer at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, it is also a great period “to plant many hardy bulbs and perennials so that they can have a stronger start the growing season”. 18
Protect the more delicate plants
If the climate in your region is good for the vigorous and resilient plants, Husby recommends taking extra care of the less hardy ones when fall comes. This way, you can make sure they will safely and proudly come out of winter. According to Husby, herbaceous plants require extra attention and protection. “Layers of mulch or compost can help insulate them,” he shares.
Plants that bloom and rejoice in the cooler nights have to be pruned before new buds emerge. You will have to do it no later than September 22, otherwise, you might interrupt the blooming cycle, warns Joel Crippen, the Display Garden Horticulturist with Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County. When it comes to the plants that don’t do well during cooler weeks, these have to be cut all the way back and prepared for their spring awakening.
Fall is also a great time to collect seeds from your spring and summer flowers. But best do it fast before birds eat them or frost destroys them. To make sure they spring up, store them in a safe and cool environment like a paper envelope “until the late winter-spring sowing time”, but not before drying them properly.
You should know that different types of seeds require different storage conditions, so make sure you comply with the various temperature, dryness, and humidity requirements. “Fortunately, when storing seeds for a single season, one need not have ideal conditions,” Husby says, adding that the most important thing is to have consistent conditions, sans major fluctuations in temperature, humidity, or light. “The best places are consistently cool (not necessarily cold), dry, and dark,” he adds. “Refrigerators work well, but cool basements or cellars can, too.”