It's August, the weather has cooled a bit here and the summer monsoons where I live in New Mexico have begun. The kids are starting back to school and I feel the onset of fall. I'm getting that garden planning itch again! It happens 2-3 times a year... This time, it's time to start ordering bulbs and perennials for fall planting. I'm always planning how my garden will look better next season and I suppose most of you do the same. Fall is the perfect time to plant for established growth next spring!
Take a good look at your garden now and think about areas you need to fill in. Do you need late season color, early spring blooms? Are there bare spots or places where plants like poppies or tulips go dormant and you need a filler to keep your garden alive with color? I find the best time for next years planning is in the fall when bloom time and plant combinations are fresh in my mind.
You may be disappointed with a plant combination you chose last season. Fall is the perfect time to rearrange. Get rid of overgrown plants and revive areas with new color or foliage combinations. Think about areas in your bulb or perennial garden you want to develop. What size, shape and bloom color do you need? Plant them this fall and watch your pans come to fruition come spring.
Shrubs and trees do take years to mature and fill their place. You can get a jump start by planting them this fall. When spring arrives they'll be much more hardy and will require less babying.
Fall is the perfect time to mail order bulbs, perrenials, shrubs, hedges and trees. We're winding down the season and if you're anything like me you're just not ready to quit quite yet. Sure there's clean up to be done, but I find more planting helps to finish those mundane cxhores. As I clean out I plant new!
Ordering online or by mail
Ordering plants online can be a bit scary. How are the plants shipped? Will they be good quality? Will they arrive at the right time and will I be prepared to plant them then?
Fear not! I've ordered in fall for years and have had tremendous results!
Plant Quality and Guarantees
Nurseries do differ in what and how they ship so make sure you do some research, but almost all reputable mail order nurseries do guarantee their plants to grow or your money back. I've never had trouble collecting on that promise and I have used it a time or two for certain plants. I also admit, a bit grudgingly as a then new gardener, that I should never have ordered those specific plants for my climate. Nevertheless the nursery did stand behind it's guarantee.
How Plants Are Shipped
Some plants will be shipped bare root, others as potted plants. This depends on the plant variety and I've actually found preference to bare root plants. They do look dead when they arrive (they are actually dormant), but I assure you that unless they have visible signs of disease like rot they'll thrive come spring.
*Note - If you do get any plants that look like the crown has rotted either ship them back immediately or just phone the nursery and they'll ship out new ones.
When to Plant
While you never know exactly when your plants will arrive, they are shipped to you at the proper planting time for your gardening zone. If plants arrive and it's not convenient to plant immediately just make sure you follow the directions included in your shipment for keeping your plants viable until you can plant them. If you've planned ahead you will know where they go and it'll take you little time to get them in the ground. A Saturday afternoon will usually give you ample time to get this done.
Keep in mind these companies have been in business for years and years and have shipped bare root and potted plants for eons. They do know what they're doing and most of them do it very well. They'd be out of business if they couldn't fulfill your planting requirements.
Gardening Budgets and Selection
You can't beat the cost and selection of ordering by mail! Most mail order companies offer plant varieties you'll never find anywhere else. The selections seem endless and I've been amazed what I can grow in New Mexico. Take advantage of fall specials and free shipping and you get a double bang for you buck. For about half of what I spend on a trip to the garden center on a single spring garden binge, I can have more variety and many more plants shipped to me at home.
Get on the Mailing Lists
Make sure you're on the mailing list for the following nurseries at least! You'll get a catologue several times a year. Take it into the garden with you,look around and plan accordingly. Then hop online and place an order or order by mail, but use the online resources for their help with plant combinations and companion planting. They offer great suggestions you may not have thought of before. Remember - pictures will help any gardener no matter how experienced.