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Garden Checklist: October is planting time for water-wise perennials

Sedum is among plants recommended for drought-tolerant gardens.
Sedum is among plants recommended for drought-tolerant gardens. Bigstock

Consider this your window of opportunity for a water-wise conversion.

October is the best month to plant perennials in our area and many perennials are naturally drought-tolerant. It’s also a great time to divide and replant overgrown perennials such as bearded iris and Shasta daisies. But to get those transplants well-established (and water-wise), preparation is key to success:

▪ Before planting perennials, add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to the planting hole or bed, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring.

▪  Keep the transplants watered (but not soggy) for the first month as they become settled. During the cooler (and hopefully wetter) months to come, they’ll develop strong roots. If we have another dry winter, remember to irrigate these transplants occasionally – they’re growing underground.

▪ Some perennials to consider for the drought-tolerant garden: bearded iris, yarrow, sedum, artemisia, coneflower, snow-in-summer and phlox. Also consider those fragrant herbs that double as bee and butterfly plants: rosemary, oregano, thyme, lavender and sage.

▪ Elsewhere in the garden, clean up summer leftovers. Pull out spent tomatoes, squash and other summer vegetables that are no longer producing. Compost disease-free foliage.

▪  Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.

▪  Plant winter vegetables. From seed, plant beets, chard, collards, leeks, mustard, peas, radicchio, radishes and spinach. Set out transplants for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and leaf lettuce.

▪  Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden including cornflower, nasturtium, poppy, portulaca and sweet pea.

▪  Set out cool-weather bedding plants including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.