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Fall Preparation in the Garden

In Barb's Garden
by Barb Foster
by Barb Foster


Inspired to nuture, Barb Foster took up gardening over a decade ago. She has a particular passion for this areas hardy perennials.

Barb collects her own seeds, grows seedlings in a greenhouse and has 500 sq ft of growing beds plus numerous perennial flower beds in her Zone 1b garden in Chetwynd, B.C.

Barb writes weekly for the Chetwynd Echo.

August 31, 2008

Summer is going by so quickly! It is time already to begin preparing the perennials and shrubs for winter.

Avoid further nitrogen fertilization of perennials and shrubs in the garden. Water more deeply but less often, two or three hours of watering every ten days or so will encourage the roots to grow deeper in search of the water.

Let a few flowers go to seed, this will help perennial plants, and shrubs (particularly Roses) recognize that Fall is approaching.

Tender perennials and houseplants need to be brought into a sheltered area a few hours at a time to begin acclimatizing them to life indoors; but keep them isolated from other indoor plants for a while so that you can avoid bringing in insects and/or disease. Some of the house plants might like to be re potted and fertilized. Some (like Fuchsia and Pelargonium) need to be cut back and grown on in their pots (they like to be root bound). (New plants may be started indoors from the cuttings.) Some tender perennial bulbs (Dahlia,Gladiolus,Ranunculus, etc.) can be stored dried and dormant over winter in a cool dark place.

Begonia tubers need a very slight bit of moisture and should be packed in peat moss for winter storage. The Begonia should be allowed to go dormant outdoors before the first frost, stop watering and allow the foliage to die back, dry bulbs thoroughly before storage. A few Begonias could be trimmed back and potted for use indoors as house plants. Hardy Water Lilies may be removed from the pond before it freezes, cut back and store in moist sand or peat, in a cool dark place.

Now is a good time to prepare the site for new garden beds and for fall planting of bulbs. The Hardy Spring Blooming Bulbs can be planted any time in the Fall. However, I've found that sometimes the bulbs arrive after the ground is frozen. Not to worry! The planting holes can be prepared ahead of time and a small pot filled with dry soil placed in the hole. When the bulbs arrive the pots can be lifted, the bulbs dropped into the holes and the soil from the pots dumped over the bulbs. I have done myself, in a snow storm.

Some perennial plants could be divided now. The Peony, Oriental Poppy and Bearded Iris can be cut back dug up, divided and replanted if necessary in the late summer.

Potted perennial plants, shrubs, and trees can still be planted now, and next spring all you need to do is watch as your new flower bed comes into bloom.

Remember to stock pile leaves and evergreen boughs for winter mulch.

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