It’s time to get busy – especially if you’ve been thinking about adding more water-wise plants to your garden. 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. But to get those transplants well established, 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 the drought continues into 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.
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• Elsewhere in the garden, clean up the summer vegetable garden and 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.