IT’S A GREAT TIME TO GO PLANT SOMETHING!

36As summer ends and fall begins it is a great time of year to add new plants into your garden. The cooler temperatures make it easier for new plants to establish, and there are still at least 6-8 weeks of the growing season left before cold weather and the potential for frost arrives. It also gives you an excuse to be outside in this beautiful autumn weather.

I am adding about 20 new plants to my ornamental garden this fall. This may sound like a lot of new plants to the average homeowner. However, when you consider that my ornamental garden contains over 260 individual plants representing over 100 different species and varieties, this is in fact a relatively small number of new plants. I am also the type of gardener that believes if you can see the ground, there is room for another plant. And most of my new plants are in fact replacements for plants that had not performed well or had died.

35Planting success is mostly a matter of selecting the right plant and putting it in the right spot. The first step is to determine what you want the plant to do. Screen out the neighbor’s house? Attract butterflies or birds? Or maybe just look pretty. Then you can decide what you want the plant to look like. Size? Flower color? Flower season? Foliage color? Texture? Evergreen or deciduous? Lastly, you must determine the growing conditions in the site that you have selected. Sun exposure? Heat and cold tolerance? Soil conditions? Irrigation? Don’t skip this step. Most of plants that I’m replacing this year failed because I paid too much attention to function and appearance and not enough to growing conditions. You now have enough information to select the right plant for your spot. I like to do this by going to the nursery and looking at the plants they currently have available, carefully reading the tags, and making a selection based on my criteria. This all sounds good except, because I am a plant nut, I almost always come home with a bunch of extra plants that I just had to have and I now must try to figure out a place to plant them.

37Planting is easy. Dig the hole at least twice as wide as the pot and about 1/2″ shallower than the top of soil in the pot. Place the plant in hole. Then install drip irrigation and backfill with the soil removed when digging the hole. Build a water retention basin with soil about 2″ deep around the outside edge of the planting hole. Water the plant in with liquid fertilizer to settle in the backfill and give the plant some nutrition to grow on. Water everyday by filling the basin for at least 2 weeks and once a week with liquid fertilizer. Then just let it grow.

Now, go plant something!

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