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Fall Is For Planting!

September 26, 2013
In much of the country fall is ablaze with asters and goldenrods, and almost like clockwork, the familiar insect visitors to these plants are making their appearance. In many eastern states, you might be seeing the common goldenrod soldier beetle, while in the west, late blooming flowers are typically alive with a grand diversity of small leafcutter, long-horned, and green metallic sweat bees.

Just watching this final big show before winter is reason enough to be out in the garden or in a local natural area. But another reason is because it’s time to plant! Whether from seed or transplant, in most areas fall is an excellent time to expand your pollinator habitat. Many wildflower seeds for example need exposure to cold winter temperatures before they germinate in the spring. Similarly, new transplants that would wither at the peak of summer can set down roots with less stress in cool fall temperatures. To maximize your planting success, here are a few tips:

  • If you live in a cold climate, sow perennial wildflower seed in the fall, but save your annual wildflower seed for spring.
  • To reduce frost heaving of new transplants, cover the entire planting zone with several inches of mulch.
  • Many perennials like beebalm, purple coneflower, and most native grasses can be divided in the fall, but like new transplants, they will benefit from a thick layer of mulch and extra water before the ground freezes.

Information on what plants are best for pollinators in your area, as well as a directory of native plant nurseries and seed dealers can be found in the Pollinator Conservation Resource Center. To find sources of native plant materials near you, select your region and click on ‘Native Plant Nurseries.’ Also, when shopping for plants remember to ask if the plants you are purchasing have been treated with pesticides.

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