- Don’t Stop Planting Just Yet
Fall is a great time for planting. In our Seacoast region, September through very-early-November is a good time for planting and transplanting perennials, trees, and shrubs because their roots will continue to grow below the frostline. The absence of foliage allows plants to focus all their energy on the roots where sugars are stored and the plant’s strength is developed. Sunlight is available but temperatures are cool, and rain is more plentiful – all excellent growing conditions. So take advantage of end-of-season sales, and install any plants you’ve had your eye on. Continue to water your plants as needed until the ground freezes, taking care not to overwater.
- DO Prune Herbaceous Perennials. Herbaceous plants die back to the ground every year, so DO cut them back in the fall when their leaves have shriveled and browned. Their above-ground growth largely or totally dies back in winter, and can be pruned to the ground, or to the base where they may retain a smaller tuft of foliage. Examples are Columbine, Daisy, Peony, Phlox, Poppy, Salvia, Delphineum, Culver’s Root, Allium, Coneflower, Joe Pye Weed, Nepeta, Sedum, Yarrow, Agastache, Lily, and Hosta.
- Do NOT Prune Woody Perennials. Woody plants are plants that have hard stems (thus their name), and that have buds that survive above ground in winter. Some of them even continue to grow through winter. Most trees and shrubs fall into this category, as do several smaller perennials and vines. Lavender, Rosemary, Sage, Wisteria, Ivy, Clematis, Russian Sage, Montauk Daisy, Climbing Hydrangea, Ornamental Grasses, Rose, Evergreens, Azaleas, Rhododendron, and others make this list. Do NOT prune these back in winter, but cut off dead wood in spring, and another pruning (for shape and health as needed) after they finish flowering.
- Compost and Mulch for Winter Protection and Fertilization AFTER the First Freeze
– Spread a 2-inch layer of compost over your garden beds. Let the winter freeze and thaw work the compost into the soil, preparing your beds for spring.
– Salt Marsh Hay, Lucerne Hay, and Bark are excellent mulches for winter protection.
– Gather and mulch fallen leaves, and add them to your compost pile.
- Put Away Garden Accessories
– Empty hoses of water, coil them up, and put them away in the basement, under a porch, or in a shed.
– Empty birdbaths and fountains and store them away.
– Empty pots of plants and soil, and store them upside down so water will not freeze and expand in them, cracking them.
Want more tips? See our entire Fall Garden Checklist.