Prepare for the first freeze while enjoying autumn

The couple of moist cool fronts that passed through the state this last week make it feel like fall has arrived. This weather brings home the reality that our first killing freeze is likely to visit us in the next couple of weeks.

You need to be thinking about what tender annuals, tropicals, hanging baskets or container gardens you want to bring inside for the winter. If you have a hobby greenhouse or a garden room with lots of windows and skylights you are blessed to have better conditions to save more of your summer garden to enjoy inside until next spring. If you are like most folks with a conventional house with limited windows you will probably be very limited in what you can bring in or save until next year. This is the time to edit your collection of garden plants before they freeze. You might have some tropical crotons, weeping figs or palms on the patio to bring in to keep by the picture windows. You may have a pet geranium plant, begonia or special variety of tropical hibiscus you want to save until next spring. You can collect cuttings off these pet plants to root in the kitchen window or other well lit spot or try to save the whole plant in a well lit room or enclosed porch. Some semi hardy plants like certain varieties of lantana and gerbera daisies will survive outside in mild winters with an extra layer of bark or hull type mulches to provide an additional blanket of insulation for the winter ahead.

Don’t forget this is a great time to plant cool season annuals like pansies, viola, flowering kale and cabbage in sunny areas for great color and excitement right through the winter and into early spring. This is also the time to plant spring flowering bulbs like tulips, hyacinths, crocus and my favorite the narcissus or daffodils. Plant them in well drained soil about twice as deep as the diameter of the bulb and they will provide a great splash of color early next spring. This is also a great time to plant container grown trees. If you lost trees or experienced significant damage to your trees in the 100 year ice storms of the last 2 years this is a great time to plant your shade trees of the future. Enjoy the pretty autumn weather and don’t forget to soak in the beautiful fall colors of our trees and landscape.

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