7. Winterizing Cold Tender Plants - We gardeners love a challenge. And for me, one of those challenges is growing plants that aren't typically considered cold hardy for my area. Beautiful hummingbird attracting Salvia (Salvia greggii and greggii hybrids), Hummingbird Mint (Agastache), culinary Rosemary (Rosmarinus), and South African succulents like Ice plant (Delosperma) are some of the plants with which I stretch the boundaries of cold hardiness.
Here are a few ways to overwinter new transplants:
- Plants being grown in areas at the edge of their cold hardiness, need protection for the first couple of winters to allow them to grow a mature crown (junction of root and stem). Full cold-hardiness comes with maturity. Provide extra insulation to protect these young plants from extreme winter temperatures. I like to mound up pine needles over 6 to 12 inches of the stems. (If pine needles are unavailable, coarse textured leaves from deciduous trees are excellent.) Leave in place until late March, then remove.
- Don't cut them back. Leave the plant stems standing and cut back in mid-spring. With succulents like Ice plant, it is vitally important to allow them to dehydrate over the fall months by not watering them after September. In wet climates, make sure they are well mulched with gravel so their stems are not in direct contact with bare dirt.
8. Preparing new beds for next year - If you're looking to expand the flower beds in your landscape, dig and prepare them in the fall. Spread ample compost (3 to 4 inch layer), Yum Yum Mix and Planters II and roto-till down to a depth of 8 to 12 inches. Come spring, the soil will have broken down the amendments leaving it soft and ready-to-plant.
9. Sowing wildflower seeds - The optimum time to sow perennial wildflower seeds is during the late fall and winter months. Prepare the area by racking off weeds and debris. Then loosen the surface of the soil with a bow rack leaving furrows to accept the seeds. Ideally, you should wait to sow your seed mixes just before a good snow.
10. Collecting seeds - Late summer and fall present motivated gardeners many opportunities to collect seeds from our gardens and surrounding wildlands. I spend a great deal of time harvesting seeds. It's a great way to bring new plant species into your landscape and learn about the life cycles of our garden cultivated and native plants.