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Perennials prefer planting in October

Add drought-resistant color to your garden – and save money and time, too.

October is the best month to plant perennials in our area. As the name implies, perennials grow back year after year with little effort – if they get a good start. Many popular perennials (such as bearded iris or Shasta daisies) can be divided and replanted; share extras with friends, helping gardening dollars go further.

▪ Preparation is key to perennial success. Before replanting perennials, add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on fertilizers until spring.

▪ Keep the transplants well watered (but not soggy) for the first month. During the cooler months to come, they’ll develop strong roots.

▪ Clean the summer vegetable garden and compost disease-free foliage. If in doubt, throw it out. Keep fungal diseases and noxious weeds out of the compost.

▪ Harvest pumpkins and winter squash. If left whole, pumpkins can keep several weeks; store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and away from heat. Carve just before Halloween.

▪ Plant winter vegetables now. 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 also is the time to plant seeds for many spring 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.