Garden centers are well on their way to emptying out their nursery stock and that means half-price tables and lots of good buys for discerning gardeners. Fall is a great time for planting, so go ahead and indulge. Just use a little discretion when deciding what to buy. That’s the topic of this week’s podcast tip. Listen in, or read the show notes, below.
Is it Halloween already? Not quite, but that doesn’t mean the nurseries and garden centers aren’t moving out their plants to make room for holiday decorations – earlier and earlier.
It’s not all bad. There are some great sales going on now. Besides the incredible prices, which are the best part of shopping in the fall, you’ll be less tempted to buy plants you don’t want, the way you are when everything is in bloom in the spring.
It still pays to be picky, though. Some nurseries will put anything out there, no matter how battered it is from sitting in the sun all summer. Your purchases should still look healthy. There may be a couple of browning leaves or a stray weed, that’s to be expected from any plant at this time of year. But you don’t want straggly looking plants or plants that have obviously been neglected all summer, barely seeing a visit from the hose.
And what you especially do not want are plants with roots growing out the drainage holes.They are pot bound, for sure, and quite possibly stunted for like.
Although smaller plants can establish themselves faster, I’ve found that larger plants have more stamina to make it through the upcoming winter. It’s a toss up. The real deciding factor is how well you prepare them for freezing temperatures.
Give anything planted in late summer to fall a lot of water, right up until the ground freezes. Once the ground does freeze, you can add a 4 – 5 in. layer of mulch around the roots, to keep the ground cold and prevent the freezing and thawing that causes the plants to heave up out of the ground, exposing the roots and killing the plant.
Sometimes, even if I know where the plants permanent spots will be, I will still plant them in a small nursery bed or even in the vegetable garden, for the winter. If they’re all together, I’ll be sure to keep an eye on them. You don’t even have to take them out of the pots, if you’re using a nursery bed. Bury them pot and all and they’re that much easier to dig in the spring, plus their roots won’t be disturbed.
Don’t forget about trees. They’re on sale even earlier. No nursery wants to send them back to the supplier. Be extra cautious about inspecting them for problems. They cost more and the labor involved in planting them is is much more considerable, so don’t skimp and buy something that has lost most of its leaves.
Although most fall bargains won’t be in flower, you’ll still want to avoid bad impulse buys. Check the label before putting it into your cart. It may be something you’ve always lusted after – at half the price – but do you really have the growing conditions for it? Enough sun, a moist soil, afternoon shade, or whatever some of these prima donas demand. It’s not a bargain if it dies before it blooms.
Fall is such a great time to be working in the garden. Pull out some of those garden photos you’ve been taking religiously and see what spots might benefit next year from a few great fall buys this year. Then congratulate yourself for getting a head start, clever you.