GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - With winter just around the corner, now is the time to put your garden patch to bed.
Closing your garden areas down properly for the winter will not only help jump-start your Spring garden growth, but will also help ensure the protection of your precious perennials.
Here are Heidi Heiland's tips for success:
Remove annuals from containers and gardens
- Annuals will mold if left out. Roots can be left in the ground and tilled into the soil, which improves the structure of the soil.
- Remove completely anything that appears to be afflicted with disease.
Cut Back and Mark Perennials
- A first step is to decide which perennials should be cut back. Some plants can remain up for 'winter interest', such as Echinacea, Rudbeckia,, Chelone Sedum, Astilbe, and many of the grasses. A good rule of thumb is to cut back any plant that might harbor fungus or other diseases over winter, such as Peony, Iris or Monarda.
- Be mindful of leaving enough crown area around the plants, such as Coral Bells and Lady's Mantle, as their growth may be stunted if cut too far back in the Fall.
- Mark perennials using a stake, to identify perennials that are slow to emerge in the Spring, such as perennial Hibiscus or Platycodon. Reduce the risk of accidentally digging them up next Spring.
- Do not cut back semi-evergreen plants, such as Creeping Phlox, Pachysandra and Bergenia.
Move tropical plants indoors and dig up tubers
- Hibiscus, Oleander and Bougainnvillea will thrive in a sunny location indoors.
Hose them off well first, or apply a systemic insecticide to prevent bringing any pests indoors.
- Dig up Elephant Ear, Canna and Dahlia tubers to re-use for next season. Wash off the soil, label them, and place in a crate of peat moss. Store in a dark, cool area. Water once a month.
Soil Preparation and Amendments
- Healthy soil is crucial for healthy plants. It is equally important to pay attention to both soil fertility and soil structure. Fall soil prep preferred over Spring because the soils are dryer, and it's easier to see perennial crowns as you tend the soil.
- Turn compost or manure into the soil. Use a shovel or spading fork to flip the soil and break down clumps. Avoid rototillers, as they can unfavorably fracture the soil structure.
- This is the perfect time to empty your compost bin into border areas.
Continue Watering your gardens and trees until the ground freezes
- We often forget to water once the growing season ends, but our Spring flowering bulbs and evergreens need the moisture to get ready for winter. Soil conditions are especially dry this year, and evergreens in particular need weekly watering until the Winter season.
Apply winter mulch where necessary
- Salt marsh hay, weed-free straw or recycled leaves will help protect tender perennials over the winter. Once the ground is frozen and the plants are dormant, apply mulch.
Fall Planting Tips - Spring Bulbs and Garlic Gardens
- Plant iris, daffodil, tulip and crocus bulbs now for a burst of color in early Spring. Plant bulbs in clusters, pointy end up, in well-drained soil. A good rule of thumb is to plant the bulbs at a depth twice as deep as the bulb.
- Fall planted garlic is ready for harvest late summer, giving the bulbs a chance to mature properly. Garlic thrives in soils rich in organic matter, and with even moisture conditions. Use garlic 'seed' for planting, available at most nurseries. Plant each clove, pointed end up, at least 2" in depth. Use hay for mulch, removing some in the spring.
Holiday Lighting and Wintergreen Containers
- Now is the time to plan your holiday lighting strategy, and wintergreens displays, too!
Heidi's Lifestyle Gardens will be hosting its annual Wintergreens Workshop Friday, November 16th, from Noon - 8:00 PM, and Saturday, November 17th, from 9:00 AM - Noon.
Make your own spruce-tip containers, wreaths or tabletop centerpieces with unique embellishments. New this year: Heidi presents Horticultural Healing for the Holidays!
$20 workshop fee. Reservations requested.
For more information, visit: Heidi's Lifestyle Gardens