Fall might signal the end to the summer gardening season, but it doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance to plant. Fall flower planting creates an array of color during a seasonal change and prepares for the spring season and warm weather that will come in the following months. Flowers planted during the autumn season will grow and bloom until hard frost while other fall plantings prepare for a colorful show of flowers in the spring.
Fall Mum Planting
The autumn season is when most people think of mums–hardy perennials that provide vibrant colors in yards and landscape decorations. Most garden centers and nurseries begin selling falls mum around the end of the summer season. These beautiful flowers will bloom during the cooler temperatures of fall while many summer flowers will die off.
Plant mums in a location that receives full sunlight and soil that drains well. The best time for planting mums during the autumn season is in late August through early September. This will allow time for the roots to become established before the winter cold snap and your mums will stand a better chance of surviving the winter and returning in the spring.
See Tips for Choosing and Buying Fall Mums for more information.
Fall Bulb and Corm Planting
Planting of bulbs for spring flowers should be done during the fall. This allows plenty of time for bulb root systems to develop before winter and in preparation for the spring thaw when bulbs will produce shoots and flowers. The best time for planting spring bulbs in the fall is after the soil temperatures have dropped below about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending upon fall weather and your particular region, the best time for bulb planting generally occurs in mid to late September or October.
For bulb planting, you should choose a site that will receive six hours of direct sun. Plant the bulb with the narrow, pointy end upward. Plant the bulbs at an approximate depth of three times the bulb’s width.
Tulips–Ideally, tulip bulbs should be planted between September and November–sometime before the ground freezes in a sunny, well-drained site. Plant tulip bulbs according to directions printed on the package. Tulip bulbs can be planted about an inch deeper than recommendations. You should add aged manure or bulb plant food after putting the bulbs in the ground. You should water the bulbs thoroughly after you have planted them. You should plan on extra watering for your bulbs on dry winter days.
Narcissus and Daffodils–The names narcissus and daffodil can be used interchangeably for this beautiful flower which is also planted in the fall. Daffodils are bright and sunny yellow flowers that most people associate with the Easter season in the spring. Daffodils bloom between March and May in most planting zones. Daffodil bulbs are perfect flowers if you want to add variety to your landscape. They can be planted along hedges, in rock beds and underneath trees for pretty spots of color. Do not plant daffodil bulbs against the foundations of buildings or under the eaves of a home. The building or home can block the plants from receiving correct amounts of water during the growing season. Plant daffodil bulbs during the month of October.
Crocus Corms–Crocus is not a bulb, but is instead a corm. Crocus is often considered and referred to as a bulb plant. This is because crocus corms, like tulip and daffodil bulbs, are planted in the fall in preparation for flowering in the spring. Crocus corms should also be planted in the fall along with other spring bulb plantings. Crocus plants will easily rot in wet soil that holds in too much water so they should be planted in a location that drains thoroughly.
See also Bulbs, Corms, Rhizomes and Tubers: What’s the Difference?