Colorful leaves are a reminder to think about fall planting for spring

The trees have been showcasing a spectacular and ever changing chorus of fall colors the last few weeks as we make the annual march of time towards winter. Frankly the fall colors have been much more colorful than expected after the kind of drought we have endured this summer. The yellow colors have been especially bright and impressive this year with poplars, pecans and walnuts among those dressed in bright yellow right now. The maples were impressive in red and bronze tones but are almost done. The ornamental pears are the trees closing out the fall foliage show in reds and bronzes. Soon the yellows, reds and bronzes will all be gone and we will be left with lots of leaves, rich in nutrients, on the ground and the brown tannin filled leaves on the oaks and the few other trees that cling to their leaves into winter.

This fall color is like a big message board encouraging all of us to plant more trees and shrubs. This is a great time to plant container grown or balled and burlapped field grown trees. Add new trees and shrubs to your yard or take advantage of this fall planting season to replace trees or shrubs lost in the recent ice storms, hard freeze of last winter or the recent summer drought. Visit with your nurseryman to select the right tree for your location. You can select for size, summer color, fruit, fall color, bark, speed of growth, soil type or many other factors.

This is also the planting time for pansies and spring flowering bulbs. The pansies will provide a great show of color and hope all through the winter. They will eventually “wear out” as the heat intensifies late next spring. The spring bulb crops should be selected, purchased and planted now. We won’t see them at all through the winter as they hide under ground. During the winter they will be growing roots and the new leaves and their spring flowers will be getting positioned to spring from the ground at the start of next growing season as the days get longer and the temperatures warm up.

The crocus and the grape hyacinth are usually the first to raise their flowers from the ground as if to announce that spring is getting close. They will be followed by the narcissus or daffodils as they trumpet the actual arrival of spring with their yellow, orange or white flowers waving in the wind. The daffodils are followed by the sweet scent of hyacinths and the majestic floral displays of the tulips. It is hard to believe that so much beauty and color can come so quickly from those bulbs you plant this fall, but it does. You are not able to enjoy the spring flowering bulbs next spring unless you think ahead and plant them now. There are also many varieties of lesser known bulbs that you may want to try as well. Many of the bulbs, like most varieties of hyacinths and tulips need to be replanted each year as most won’t come back in future years and if they do, their flowers are not as impressive in those future years. The daffodils are the exception, and a great choice for Oklahoma, as they will often naturalize and come back in impressive fashion year after year.

Enjoy the chorus of tree colors this fall, the uplifting charm of pansies this winter and plant spring flowering bulbs for a symphony of early spring color.

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