It’s Fall! My friends north of the Mason Dixon are already wearing gloves and jackets. But I’m in Dallas and that means 75-85 degrees in the daytime with maybe some 90 degree days thrown in there to boot.
If you are a child of the 80’s, you probably remember sitting at the Clinique counter getting diagnosed with seasonal colors pallets – Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. My mother was a cult follower of this belief, so anything other than orange lipstick was forbidden. But thank goodness beauty scientists came to realize we weren’t plants. Back to the topic:
Now, whether you’re a master gardener or brand new to it all, the first thing you need to know, no matter where you live, is what hardiness zone you live in. Dallas pretty much rides the line between zones 7 and 8. Why the zones? They tell you what the lowest temperature that a plant can survive in. A tropical species won’t survive a winter in Alaska. For me, there’s a chance that winter temperatures will drop somewhere between zero and 20 degrees. Now, they won’t stay there, but there could be enough of them to kill off a fortune in flowers.
As you can see above, we are smack dab in the red zone. So, instead of working on my nonexistent green thumb, I’m now focused on the right color. Now that you know YOUR zone, you now have to decide WHY you’re planting. Not so much a philosophical why, more like:
- I want some color near my front door
- I want to hide a tree stump
- I want shade in the summer
- I want to grow my own blueberries
- I want to have herbs at my beck and callAll those “why’s” are valid because you don’t want to try and establish a shade tree in the heat of summer. You’ll spend all your time watering it. And I mean all. Your. Time. Plant your plants at times when they will thrive.
3 RULES OF THUMB (I just can’t help myself):
1. Vegetables: Fall is the time for lettuce, chard, radishes, greens, peas, kale and beets. I won’t be specific because I don’t know what zone you’re in—that’s going to be your homework. (and frankly, I’m just learning my own.) 2. Flowers: Fall to me means bulbs! My FAV are all the different types of daffodils. (Southern Living has a great article here). There are early bloomers, late bloomers, and even some with ruffled petals. The best part about them is they will multiply every year. Tulips are stunning, just don’t expect them to grow in numbers every year like your daffodils. Hyacinth and crocus bulbs are fun. And I always stash some Paper Whites to force their blooms at Christmas inside.
*Tip: Plant your mums and pretty pansies in the fall. If you choose to put your mums in the ground they may, I said may, come back next year. Plant your pretty pansies in the fall too. They will be in bloom all winter and have a great, big growth spurt when temperatures warm up before any other annuals.
- 3. Flowering shrubs and trees: Go ahead and plant them too. Cover the roots in burlap to help them through the winter. Be sure to water them well and put four to six inches of mulch on top of them to protect the roots. When Spring rolls back around you’ll be glad you spent so much time with your shovel this season. (you can actually buy the burlap squares above HERE)
Whew, I’ve got some work to do! Let’s be honest, a call to my brilliant landscape artist will help the process move smoothly as well. Wink.