Fall is for planting!

Fall is for planting! Fall is the second important planting season of the year and some growers think it is the best season for planting trees and shrubs. It is definitely the season to plant hardy mums, ornamental kale, cabbage and asters for fall color, pansies and tall fescue for fall and winter color and spring flowering bulbs for spring color.

With our day and night temperatures moderating and a few well placed fall rains this is a great time to plant container grown or balled and burlapped trees and shrubs. They are able to get established and rooted into their new home, in your yard, during this milder fall weather and are better prepared to face the heat of next summer than trees and shrubs planted just before or during the searing heat of our Oklahoma summers. Even after the leaves have dropped on new deciduous trees the roots will still be growing and expanding their root network to pick up more moisture and nutrition from the soil that is their new home. Dig your hole about one and a half times again as deep as needed and twice as wide as needed, amend the removed soil with about 1/3 sphagnum peat moss or good compost and fill the hole back to the depth needed. Carefully place your new tree, without busting the soil ball, fill in around the tree with amended soil, then water in the new tree thoroughly. You may need to loosely stake or tie the tree, depending on its size to keep it straight and upright until it is well established.

There are several important things you can do to take care of your lawn in the fall. Apply a pre-emergent weed killer or herbicide to kill winter weeds before they germinate. You can apply the weed killer alone or as part of a weed and feed product as you apply the final lawn fertilizer of this growing season. If you want a green lawn all winter this is the time to sow tall fescue or rye grass to overseed your summer lawn in sunny areas to grow a green lawn that will look nice all winter until the heat of late spring wears it out and gives new life to your summer lawn. Do not apply a pre-emergent weed killer to any area where you have just sowed or plan to sow grass seed this fall.

There are many flowers which provide great fall color including many of the plants you already have planted in your yard from spring and summer that are enjoying a burst of new growth and flowers. The flower we most identify with fall in Oklahoma is usually hardy mums. I have visited many greenhouse growers and garden centers across Oklahoma the last couple of weeks and the crop of fall mums is looking really great this year. The early varieties are just coming into flower and there will be varieties blooming all the way until the first hard freeze, usually in early to mid November. Few plants make such a significant impact as soon as you buy them when added to your container gardens or flowerbeds. You can immediately liven up your place with red, white, bronze, pink, yellow, orange, purple or multicolored chrysanthemums. You can also plant fall asters, flowering kale and flowering cabbage to provide fall color and nice contrast to the hardy mums. The early Pansy crops are available now and can be planted now or over the next couple of months to provide color for the rest of the fall and more importantly through most of the winter. Few things cheer me up as much on a short, cold winter day as the beautiful and colorful pansy flower “faces” greeting me in my yard. This is also the time to shop for the best of the spring flowering bulbs. Plant your daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, crocus and the many specialty bulbs over the next couple of months to enjoy a great flower show to welcome the start of spring 2017. Take advantage of the beautiful fall weather to enjoy time in your garden and to do some fall planting.

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