Fall Is The Fresh Start Season For Oklahoma Gardeners!

This is fresh start season in the garden.  If your spring plantings never got done, if you had a crop failure from bugs, disease or neglect, if the weeds got out of control this is your chance for a fresh fall start.  Many folks think all garden color planting is in the spring and don’t realize there are some great crops for fall and winter color.  You can buy hardy mums in bud or bloom at your local garden centers and plant them now in your flower beds, front porch urn or decorative patio pots to provide color until we get our first relatively hard frost or freeze, usual in early November.  Hardy mums are heavy drinkers and dry out quick and often, so be prepared to water them thoroughly more often than most plantings, even every day or two until they get rooted deeper into their new home with more soil.  Hardy mums can provide a smorgasbord of color in many different flower styles and sizes.  Select yellow, white, red, orange, rust, pink, purple, bronze and many flowers that evolve in colors from bud to full bloom.  Hardy mums do best in full sun or limited shade.

The color from hardy mums will deteriorate rapidly after a hard freeze but pansies will  survive all but the hardest freezes.  Pansies will actually grow and flower in the full sun most all winter until the heat of next spring wears out the winter pansies.  The quicker you plant the pansies the more vegetative growth you will get before the really cold weather of winter.  Pansies will actually grow all through winter, but at a slower rate of growth as we get colder.  They will flower all through the winter.  Few things can lift your spirits like the color and charm of bright colored pansy faces peeking through the snow or ice on a cold winter day.  The more vegetative growth you get from your pansies to make a bigger mound or canopy of healthy plant will lead to more pansy flowers all winter long.  Some pansy flowers are all one color like yellow, blue or purple but most have a charming mix of petals where three upper petals may be white, yellow or some other color and the lower petals may be another color like purple, burgundy or any of many other colors.  The contrast in petal colors not only provides garden color but almost gives pansies personality that adds to their charm and landscaping impact.

Ornamental kale and ornamental cabbage do flower but it is not the flowers that put on the big show in late fall and well into winter.  It is the beautiful and unique foliage in tones of green, gray, pink, purple and while that thrives in cool, even cold weather.  The gorgeous foliage can be the center of attention in large decorative pots near your front entrance, patio or in flowerbeds.  The sooner you plant them, the more vegetative plant you will grow before their growth rate slows down in really cold weather.  Like pansies, kale and cabbage will look good and add color all through the late fall and winter before withering as the temperatures heat up next April or May.

You can also think and plant for the long term by planting trees and shrubs.  The roots will grow in winter with modest watering and mulching and gives your trees and shrubs a chance to be better established and rooted in by the time they face their first challenging Oklahoma summer.  This is a beautiful time in the landscape.  Spend time in your yard and in our parks to enjoy the fall surge of flowers, the last burst of growth for this growing season and be ready to enjoy the symphony of fall colors as the days get shorter and night temperatures finally start to cool down.

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