In the Garden:
Plant larkspur seeds now for a beautiful display like this one next spring.
Plant Spring Blooms in Fall
You've heard it before, "Fall is for planting!" I've been urging gardeners for years to consider the many benefits of fall planting, especially here in the lower south where our winters are mild and the summers are brutally hot and long. Much fall planting promotion is centered around the fall vegetable garden, bulbs, perennial herbs and woody ornamentals. I'd like to add seeded flowers to this list.
Fall is a great time to plant seeds of wildflowers, for example. Whether those wildflowers are truly going to be grown "wild" in a meadow or placed artistically in a flower bed with the "civilized" flowers, it's time to get those seeds in the ground.
There are a host of wildflower mixes for various parts of the country, including the lower south. For best results, choose species most likely to thrive in your area. While it's fun to plant stuff from places we have visited, if a flower is not common to your area, there is probably a reason for that. If there was a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Blue Spruce Trees and Columbines, I suspect they'd have to put up a chapter in every southern state!
Most wildflowers like full sun and good drainage, but there are exceptions. After choosing the species for your area, make sure to put them in a location where they are likely to thrive.
For a wildflower mini meadow, you may want to mow the area very closely and then rake out the shredded plant clippings from the surface. This raking should disturb the soil surface just a little. Then scatter the seeds and water the area well to settle the soil in around the seeds.
Depending on the site conditions, another light raking may be helpful after seeding but before watering to move the seeds into better contact with the soil.
Water as needed to keep the soil moist for a few weeks while the wildflower seeds get off to a good start. Nature tends to provide us with adequate moisture most winters to carry them through to spring for their big blooming debut. But if not, be ready to help out a little with a hose and sprinkler.
Other Fall-Seeded Flowers
There are some other great spring flowers that can be seeded in the fall. Poppies are one of my favorites. There are so many types that do well in the lower south, including California poppies, Shirley poppies, breadseed poppies, Iceland poppies, and corn or Flanders poppies. Rake the soil surface to break up any crusting. Then scatter the seeds sparsely around the garden and water them in well.
Sweet peas are another great flower for fall seeding. They come in many colors and plant heights. If you want fragrant flowers, make sure and check into the particular cultivars you are planting because some are quite fragrant and others aren't. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep and maintain even moisture until they are well established. Here in the lower south, fall-planted peas usually do fine through our mild winters and will outperform their spring-planted counterparts.
Larkspur is yet another great choice for fall seeding. Their tall bloom spikes are great for cutting or just enjoying out in the garden. They come in a range of colors -- from pink to blue to white. Plant larkspur seeds 1/4 inch deep and maintain moisture until they are up and going.
These are a few of the more common fall-seeded flowers to get you off to a great start. Take advantage of some of our wonderful weather now that fall has broken summer's grip and head outdoors to start the seeds of next spring's bloom show.
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