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FALL IS THE TIME FOR PLANTING AND SALES
Autumn is the best time to put in a new landscape. The temperatures are mild (important for the plants and the gardeners) and there is a maximum period of time between planting and the next summer so that root systems can develop. It is also the time when many retail garden stores have good sales on plant material. Here are some ideas to consider.
Groundcovers such as Asiatic jasmine, monkey grass, English ivy, and dwarf Ruellia can be slow to fill in your planting site if you must use small plants or rooted cuttings. The late summer sales often offer 1-gallon size stock at small plant size. Even Asiatic jasmine will fill in a bed in one growing season if you plant 1-gallon plants on 18-inch centers.
Bermuda grass and buffalo grass seed will germinate and become established if you can get it planted this month. If you wait too long, however, and the air and soil temperatures cool, the germination and/or survival rate may be reduced drastically. If the site will not be ready until October, consider seeding rye or fescue for a winter grass to look good and protect the soil from erosion. The cool weather grasses (fescue and rye) will die in May, just in time for ideal planting time for Bermuda and buffalo grass seed.
Sod can be applied any time as long as it is obtained from a reliable supplier. It is relatively difficult to tell dormant but healthy sod from dead sod so do not gamble on a purchase from a roadside or little known vendor if the sod looks dormant.
Soaker hoses are also called leaky hoses. They are the black hoses made of recycled composite material that “leak” or “sweat” water out in manner similar to drip irrigation, if you turn the faucet to a low flow rate. One-quarter turn is usually ideal. I like soaker hoses for new plantings because they can be strung out in a new bed to provide water to every new tree, shrub, and perennial. They also work well in annual beds. They are less expensive than a regular drip irrigation system and are just as efficient. Xeriscape trees and shrubs do not need permanent irrigation because once they are established they survive perfectly well without irrigation. For annual and perennial beds, if you use soaker hoses they can easily be moved to the new configuration if you decide you want to change the planting pattern.
Buy trees and shrubs that are on sale now and later this fall, but be more discriminating on perennials. Some of our favorite summer blooming perennials are cold sensitive. Established lantanas, plumbago, rock rose, and blue salvias survive most winters. The tops freeze but the roots survive intact. In a severely cold winter, the cold sensitive plants placed in the landscape in late autumn may not survive. In the same sales, if iris, daylilies, shasta daisies, phlox, and the cold-hardy spring-blooming perennials are available at a good price, buy them. Late fall and even winter are ideal times to plant them.
Timing is even more important for annual flowers. Zinnias, marigolds, moss rose, purslane, and vincas will bloom until cold weather arrives in November. Petunias planted now or later into the fall will probably make it into December when the first hard frost usually occurs. Begonias usually die in cold weather but may survive all winter and for several years if the winter is mild. Snapdragons, stocks, dianthus, and calendula planted after September 15 will bloom for a period in later autumn and again in spring until hot weather kills them. Pansies are the best winter blooming annual for the sun but cannot survive September or October hot spells so should not be planted before November. For the shade, the cyclamen and primulas bloom spectacularly all winter but they are just as heat sensitive as pansies. Plant them after November 1.