Snapdragons, pansies, and stock. Oh, my! It’s important to know which annuals will perform well for you before you take that trip to the garden center. With so many choices, how do you choose? Some annuals will not even bloom for you until Spring. So what is the point of planting now, you ask? October in the Valley offers us warm days and cool evenings; perfect weather to get roots established and give you an awesome show of color come Spring. Annuals planted now will also need much less water to survive due to cooler temperatures and rainfall (Lord willing!) Plants like sweet peas, foxglove, delphinium, columbine, and ranunculus are examples of these. Plants that will come alive in Spring while offering little color in the Fall are snapdragons and stock. Then, of course, you have the nonstop bloomers. Plants such as violas, pansies, Iceland poppies, and alyssum. These beauties will be blooming when you plant them and will last well into late Spring.
A few other cool weather bloomers worth mentioning are ornamental cabbage and cyclamen. Ornamental cabbage and kale is sold individually or in six-packs. While they may look gray in color now, planting them in October ensures that they put on all of their growth. When the weather cools, their color intensifies. Cyclamen can be planted in a shady location and will bloom until the weather heats up. They are a great option for pots and are best under dry conditions. The quickest way to kill cyclamen is to give them too much water, which makes them a great option during the drought.
Although bulbs won’t be planted until November, it is important to get in the nurseries now while there is a good selection. Bulbs like daffodils, narcissus, ranunculus, anemone, dutch iris, and freesia can be kept in a paper bag until it’s time to plant. Tulips, hyacinth, and crocus should be refrigerated for 4-6 weeks before planting. Bearded iris can be planted right away and are an excellent option in dry areas.
Along with ornamental gardens, October is the last prime month to get your veggie gardens in. Radish, beets, carrot, and peas can be started from seed fairly easily. For those looking to cut back on their water use, planting later in the fall minimizes the use of supplemental water and takes advantage of seasonal rains to establish plants. Another way to conserve water is MULCH, MULCH, MULCH! Veggies available in starter packs are:
- brussels sprouts
- swiss chard
Here are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure you get your bloomers and veggies off to a great start. Always make sure you have irrigation in place and good drainage. Adding organic compost can give your soil a much needed boost as well. I love using GreenAll Firmulch Soil Conditioner to add organic matter to poor soil, such as clay or hard pan. This soil will help loosen compacted soils, conserve moisture and improve soil aeration. Next, remember to use a good fertilizer. My favorite one to recommend is Osmocote. It is a slow-release fertilizer, sold in granular form. One feeding lasts a whole four months! Throw some in each hole while you plant or sprinkle around existing plants. Lastly, once your plants are in the ground, mulch around them to keep roots warm through the winter.
What will your FresYes garden be growing this season? Nonstop bloomers or veggies? Maybe both? Are you ahead of the game with your garden already planted? Or, are you like me, and can’t bear the thought of putting in your Fall plants until you can do it in a sweater? Since we are still in the high 90’s, I will opt for flowers before comfort. 🙂