It’s October and the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler. That means it’s time to plant fall flowers! Not sure when to plant them and which will last? We answer those questions for you below!
** When to plant **
Planting them at the correct time is critical for the best result. Too early and they are susceptible to the heat, but too late and they will not have the appropriate time to mature before the onset of winter. For central and north Alabama we recommend October 15th – October 31st.
** Flowerbed Preparation **
Preparing your beds and selecting the best varieties will guarantee the results you desire. Bed preparation begins with removing all summer plants, including their roots, and any bark mulch. Make sure your beds are raised and well drained. Many annual flowers have trouble with root diseases that are brought on by poorly drained soil, so eliminate that issue by adding compost and topsoil to help improve elevation and drainage. Till the bed to a depth of 6-8 inches incorporating any new amendments. Make sure you mark all irrigation heads before you begin tilling or it could result in damage of unseen irrigation heads. Spread a slow release fertilizer onto you bed surface and rake lightly to mix.
** Which flowers to use **
Consult with your local nursery on the best varieties of flowers available for your area. Pansies are the cornerstone of most winter annual beds but violas have become popular due to less maintenance. Pansies should be planted in offset rows and about 8 inches apart so they will grow together at maturity. Plant’s roots should be level with the soil surface. Do not bury the root ball, this can result in issues later. Once planting is complete you can use pine bark mini nuggets to mulch the beds. This will help control weeds and evaporation. Water the bed with a shower head nozzle under low pressure but be sure not to damage plants.
** Keys to keeping them alive **
Flowerbed preparation is a major key to keeping your flowers alive. Be sure to read the instructions above very carefully!
The biggest killer to any flowers or plants is that owners forget to water them! It’s not only important to make sure they have enough water, but wet soil keeps roots warmer than dry soil.
If there’s a high chance for a heavy frost or snow, put a bed sheet or tarp over the flowers to protect them from direct contact with the cold condensation. Be sure to remove the protection as temperatures begin to rise again.