The first day of fall in North Texas is never reflected in the thermometer, no matter how much we hope it will be. But hang on. The temperatures will start inching downward in a week or two. And rain will once again bless our gardens.
Now is a great time to start making a list of your fall garden chores and deciding what bulbs to plant later this year for spring flowers. Our fall garden list this year includes finally building a new fence between us and the neighbor slightly uphill. Take advantage of our mild fall and winter weather for any hardscaping projects – such as new garden paths, constructing raised beds, building or repairing fences and gates. If you don’t have to rake a lot of leaves, now is a great time to add a fresh layer of mulch to your flower beds. If you are blessed (cursed?) with an abundance of leaves to rake, like we are, it is best to wait until the leaves fall and are raked up before adding new mulch.
Bulbs that return year after year in this area are daffodils, crocus, species tulips, Dutch iris, Luecojum and hyacinths. Buy them early for the best selection, but hold off planting until late November to early December.
Fall is a great time to plant shrubs, trees and perennials as it gives them time to get established before the heat of summer.
If you have perennials that need divided, now is a great time to do so. Hostas, daylilies and irises all benefit from periodically being divided. My preferred method for digging and dividing is to use a pitchfork to dig, then soak the plant and root ball in diluted seaweed water for a bit to loosen the roots. The roots should be able to be gently torn apart. If you are dividing iris rhizomes, cut back the blades to 2-3 inches before replanting.
Iris rhizomes can be found at the nurseries in the fall and online suppliers ship this time of year. Soak the rhizomes in diluted seaweed water for about 15 minutes before planting. Irises need to sit high in the soil to bloom best, so be sure not to bury them deep or cover them with mulch.
This is also a great time to mail order daylilies. Oakes Daylilies continues to be my favorite online supplier. They always send amazingly large plants, plus take requests for a bonus plant. If you are unable to buy and plant daylilies now, never fear. Oakes ships in the spring, as well.
Don’t forget that we can grow a variety of vegetables through the winter here in North Texas, including beets, lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chard and carrots. Cool season annual herbs that thrive in our winter weather include cilantro, chervil and cutting celery (Apium graveolens). Independent garden centers stock vegetable plants and seeds that can be planted now.