When it comes to planting, most of us automatically think of spring, since this season is most associated with planting seeds, seedlings, and other plants that will benefit from traditional early and late spring rain showers. However, in California fall is actually a great time to plant trees and shrubs. October is a perfect time to plant native shrubs, such as California wild lilac (Ceanothus), lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia), and manzanita (Arctostaphylos), to your garden. In addition, other plants which are “California-friendly”, such as Texas Ranger, calliandra, and salvias, do well if planted now. Below are some recommendations for making the approaching fall planting season a successful prelude to next year.
Adding Color with Flowers
Annual flowers, such as snapdragons, geranium, nasturtium, and Iceland poppies perform nicely and can flourish during our cooler Southern California winter months. These flowers will bloom when planted, and then bloom again during springtime. Wildflowers are another popular fall-time planting idea. Look or shop for wildflower seeds now and sow them soon so they’ll be ready for our November and December rains.
Vegetables are Great for Fall Planting
Garden hobbyists who restrict their vegetable planting to spring are missing a prime opportunity for delicious home-grown produce. Early fall is also a great time to start many types of vegetables and the fall growing season offers some advantages of colder weather, which help produce additional sugars in the vegetable, leading to a sweeter taste. Try to plant now or very soon so the plants grow well enough to have an established root system before colder temps and diminished daylight begin.
Crops that do particularly well in the fall are carrots, leaf lettuce varieties, and kale, which actually develop a more intense flavor due to the colder fall and winter temperatures. Other root crops that do well in fall include radishes, green onions, garlic, turnips, parsnips and beets.
Soil Preparation and Protection Tips
If you choose to plant your fall trees, crops, flowers, or shrubs in beds that already grew summer plants, it’s a good idea to enrich the soil by adding compost or mulch before planting. Organic mulch can help keep soil temperature cooler, which many of these plants prefer. To help control and contain rain water, raised plant beds are a plus.
Fall is a great season to beautify your garden and plantscaping, and with a little effort, you can even enjoy fresh vegetables and flowers from your garden for several more months. And as an added bonus of sorts, it’s always a treat when Thanksgiving and Christmas décor and meals feature your very own flowers or produce!