Fall in the Perennial Garden
Fall in the Perennial Garden
October is the perfect time to fall into your perennial garden. The weather is usually lovely on Cape Cod and it’s a good time to get the perennial garden cleaned up and rearranged before next season. Here are some of the things you can be doing in October: 1. Divide and transplant. Have your Hosta grown too large for their location? Have you realized that those taller plants should really be moved to the back of the perennial bed? Or perhaps there are things (Black eyed Susans! Obedient plant!) that have spread so far and wide that they are dominating the garden. Now is a good time to dig, divide and move perennial plants. Just be sure to water them in well once they are moved and keep track of the rainfall; water them once a week if it doesn’t rain, at least through the month of October. And don’t think that you have to replant every piece of a perennial that you’re editing down…if it’s a plant that spreads agressively you’ll only be creating even more editing and dividing for yourself in the next three years. It’s OK to throw a plant away! 2. Amend soil. Fall is the ideal time to apply an inch of compost or composted manure on your beds. This can be applied right over the reamins of last season’s mulch if there isn’t more than two inches of that remaining. But if the mulch was applied very thickly last spring you’ll want to rake it aside, add the compost and then replace the mulch. In the future, mulch should be spread only an inch to two inches thick. 3. Cut perennials down? This is a matter of taste and convenience. Some people like to have their perennial bed as trimmed and cleaned as possible going into the winter, while others prefer to leave the plants to provide shelter for butterflies, seed for birds, and places for frost and snow to fall. Others want to wait for the spring since they will need to do a spring-cleanup again anyway. There is no one right way here, but in general if a perennial plant looks green and vital in the fall that means that the leaves are still producing energy for the plant. Perennials that are brown, however, can be cut to the ground. 4. Organic fertilizer can be applied to perennial gardens in the fall so that it doesn’t have to be done in the spring. An application of Flower-tone can be spread in October and the nutrients will be available to your plants next season. 5. Leave woody plants in place. Russian sage, lavender, roses and other plants with woody stems should not be cut down at this time of year. Trim the deadwood off these in the spring.
On Sunday October 18th C.L. Fornari will be speaking about perennial gardening at the store – 1 PM to 2:30. Bring a notebook and all your perennial gardening questions!
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