Every fall, gardeners everywhere set out to prepare their perennial gardens for the season, and to make sure that they are ready for the long winter ahead. The process involves everything from actual planting of things for the following spring to digging up, covering, cutting down and mulching beds. The key to a successful garden every year lies at least in part, in how well a garden can survive the winter. In essence, the preparations that one does for their fall perennials amounts to preparing them for their long winter sleep.
Here is a look at some of the most important things that one will need to do to prepare those perennials for fall.
Divide and separate - Many perennials, particularly wildflowers and bulbs will spread throughout the growing season. By definition, perennials come back year after year. When they do, they spread or produce additional bulbs or plant sections, and those will need to be thinned periodically.
- Making the Separation - To do that, one will need to gently dig deeply enough into the ground to reach the root ball or root balls. The best way to separate things is with your hands, if possible. If you are going to separate daylilies, Canna lily rhizomes or other tubers, you may need to use a sharp garden knife in order to make the cleanest possible cut.
- Transplanting the Divisions - As long as you live in a zone for which the perennials you have separated are hardy, you can transplant them elsewhere in the garden. Ideally, you should do this so that they have some time to adapt to their new conditions before the ground freezes and halts all growth.
Dig Up Non-Hardy bulbs, rhizomes and tubers - For people living in zones where winter is cold, it will be necessary to dig up tropical summer blooming bulbs. You can dig them up once there is a light freeze. Then cut off the dead growth. Be sure to remove all excess dirt and wash the tubers off before storing them. Once they are thoroughly dry, you can pack them in sawdust or peat moss and place them in a cool and dark place.
Plant spring bulbs and wildflowers - Spring bulbs should be planted before frost. This will allow them to grow a while and establish roots. Bulbs that can establish a root system before a frost will bloom the following spring. Wildflower seeds can be broadcast so that they will sprout come spring.
Some simple maintenance will prepare your perennial garden for fall and ensure that it will rest well over the winter. The care you take to protect your plants over the winter will determine if things come back the following spring, and how they do when they do return.