What's a gardener to do in the fall? Loretta Aaron, one of OKC's best gardeners and my longtime gardening mentor, always reminded me that “fall is for planting.” Here are some of Loretta's ideas for what to plant now.
Asters The perennial aster is a much overlooked perennial and one that can take the Oklahoma weather in stride. Many of the new ones form neat compact mounds and do not require staking. They provide color in the garden when few perennials are in bloom and bloom before the chrysanthemums put on their show. The flea beetle may attack the foliage, so be on guard and watch for tiny holes.
Ornamental kale and cabbage plants The colorful ornamental kale and cabbage can also be planted now. These will add interest and color in the fall and winter plantings. Keep them well watered and they should take cold weather in stride. As days become cooler, color will deepen. Many will survive the winter. Should temperatures drop to the low teens in January and February, just place an old blanket over them for a few days and they will be around when the spring garden comes to life again.
Crocus Dutch bulbs will soon be in the garden centers. The first bulbs to be planted should be the crocus as they often bloom on the first warm day in February. Early planting will ensure a well-developed root system. Many gardeners prefer to plant crocus in the lawn. No need to disturb the turf. Just take a large screwdriver and push it down into the opening, top side up, then press down soil. Water and you will never know the turf has been disturbed!
Peonies Peony roots can be planted now, or if container grown stock is available, this can be planted. Root systems will establish over the winter months, and fall planting is preferable to spring planting. Choose the area for peonies carefully as they do not like to be disturbed after they are settled in. Avoid areas of dense shade or where they will have to compete with roots of large trees or hedges. Peonies prefer a deep organic soil. Plant shallow with just an inch or two of soil over the “eyes” or shoots.
Happy fall gardening!
About Loretta Aaron
For 21 years, Loretta Aaron, an Oklahoma City gardening expert, was a beloved and well-known gardening columnist for The Oklahoman. Loretta died in 2009. With the permission of Loretta's family, we will reprint some of Loretta's words of gardening wisdom.
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• Sept. 5 MOB Young Professionals Pizza and Beer at Joey's Pizzeria, 5:30 to 7 p.m. This event is open to young professionals age 22 to 35.
• Sept. 15 MOB Young Professionals Pedal, Poker & Pub Second Spokies Bike Crawl, 2 to 4:30 p.m. This event is open to young professionals age 22 to 35. For more information, call OKC Beautiful at 525-8822.