Those first chills of fall signal that it's time to get to work in the garden. Here are some things we recommend paying attention to.
Here in central Texas, those first cool mornings of fall are a welcome reminder that summer is coming to an end and the season of all things pumpkin spice is upon us. But here in the nursery, they're also a reminder that the fall planting season has officially begun, and that means it's time to get to work! In this post, we'll offer some recommendations for how you can make the most out of your time outside enjoying the cooler weather in your garden.
Flowers and vegetables
Roses. September is a great time for pruning your rosebushes. Some species--like Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses--will flush with more blooms through the fall with a little early season trim. Just remember never to trim more than a third of the overall plant. And be sure to fertilize!
Wildflower seeds. You might not be thinking much about bluebonnets and other spring wildflowers in the fall, but most of the seeds produced by those flowering annuals and perennials over the summer are already in the ground at this point. That means now is the time to plant if you have in mind to over-seed any of your flower beds for next year's wildflower season. Same for spring blooming bulbs. Planting now rather than waiting till early spring follows nature's course for germination, giving those seeds plenty of time to germinate as soon as the ground begins to warm up.
New fall blooms. Meanwhile, it's also a great time for adding new seasonal color with cool-weather blooms like Asters, Calendulas, Pentas, and Petunias. Most can go in at any point in the season, though a few--like Pansies and Cyclamen--should be planted closer to the end of October.
Winter vegetables. Late fall is also the best time for planting cold-loving crops like cilantro, lettuce, cabbage, and mustard greens.
Brown patch. After the higher summer temperatures (especially wet summers with elevated humidity), you may notice circular brown patches with green in the center scattered in St. Augustine turf. If so, you're probably seeing the effects of an invasive fungal disease that shouldn't be ignored; it will only get worse. Brown Patch responds well to treatment with products like BioAdvanced Fungus Control for Lawns and Ferti-Lome F-Stop. The sooner you treat, the better.
Grub worms. Another contributor to browning yards this time of year are beetle larvae that feed on grass roots. If you notice irregular brown patches that peel away easily from the soil (because of root consumption), or if you find the worms themselves, be sure to treat your lawn with a product like BioAdvanced Grub Killer Plus, which will also take care of modest infestations of sod webworms, ants, and army worms.
New sod. The fall is an excellent time for installing new sod, because the cooler temperatures and rainy weather patterns common to central Texas this time of year create ideal growing conditions for grass root systems. This leaves plenty of time for grass root systems to become well established before going dormant with the first winter freeze--which typically happens around late November in our region. This prepares new grass to make excellent use of soil nutrients in the spring.
Fall fertilizer. This is also your last best chance to apply a round of lawn fertilizer to existing turf grass to increase coverage and density before the spring. You'll want to make sure that you use a fall formulation, however. (These blends tend to be lower on nitrogen and higher on phosphorus and potassium compared to spring and summer blends.) This will boost overall grass health and fortify root systems against colder weather.
Weeds. While you're at it, you might consider putting down a granular pre-emergent herbicide to block the germination of any lingering hard-to-kill weeds like crab grass and grass burs that may have already dropped their seeds to the ground. You'll want to do this again just before the ground warms up at the end of winter, too.
Trees and shrubs
Crape myrtles. The transition from summer to fall is a great time for removing "spent" flowers and seed pods from your crape myrtles to promote new growth and additional blooms throughout the fall growing season.
New planting. Getting larger plants like trees and shrubs in the ground in the fall is very wise. That's because here in central Texas, we usually have wet and mild winters that are easier on new plants than our hot summers can be. This means that plants that go in the ground in the fall effectively have two full growing seasons (the fall and the spring) to become better established before the onslaught of summer heat. It also means that, come springtime, these trees and shrubs will have a serious advantage over plants that are only going into the ground at that time--which is when most people wait to plant.
Cold weather prep. We realize, of course, that new plants are more susceptible to frost in the event of a hard freeze over the winter. This is what keeps most customers from planting until the spring. But in our experience, it's better to gamble on planting early than on waiting till spring. Chances are that if you have frost blankets at the ready and follow our instructions for cold weather care, your new plants will do just fine--barring a "snow-pocalypse" like we had in 2021. Meanwhile, the fall is a good time to make sure you have a solid winter plan.
Fruit, citrus, and nut trees. On a related note, the fall offers a final opportunity for fertilizing fruit and citrus trees before the winter. These are high energy consumers! If you need a product recommendation, our staff will be happy to help you select something appropriate. Also, be sure you're deep-watering these trees regularly (moisture extending at least six inches into the root zone) to ensure that they're getting adequate access to these nutrients throughout the fall.
You'll want to visit us often throughout the season for information and inspiration, in fact. The fall is always so colorful around the nursery--and we're eager to take care of your planting needs this year!