Sunday, October 27, 2019 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Fall Planting of Bulbs and Pansies

Fall Planting
Brian Jervis: Ask A Master Gardener

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Q: Winter is so dreary for us gardeners. Any suggestions for something to lift my spirits? CH
A: You are right to some degree. After all the anticipation of spring: the planning, the planting, the waiting, and the fighting off the predators who seem determined to destroy our beauties, many gardeners find themselves with nothing left but memories this time of year. But here are a couple of things you can do to keep your gardener blood pumping through the coming winter.
If you have never planted pansies you are missing out on a true winter beauty. We are fortunate in Tulsa since we have a variety of local growers who produce pansies for our local market. If you are a fan of “local,” pansies can’t be beat. They are also available in a large variety of colors: even an orange and black if you are so inclined (Go Pokes!).
Pansies require no special planting instructions, just loosen the soil, sprinkle in some garden fertilizer and plant: usually about 4-6 inches. It won’t be long before they will start to fill in with beautiful flowers.
Watering is something that can be overlooked during the winter, but your pansies, will still need to be watered from time to time depending on the conditions. With proper care, your pansies should be beautiful throughout the winter and early spring.
One of the main challenges we can experience with pansies is that they tend to really come on strong about the time we need to begin pulling them out to prep our spring garden beds. But if you don’t, you will likely miss some opportunities in the spring when the new shipments of flowers start arriving in the nurseries.
Planting bulbs is something else you can do now, but you’ll have to wait till spring to see the results of your efforts. We plant bulbs in the fall because they need the winter “chill” period to prepare them for spring blooming.
Tulips, gladiolas, and daffodils are great choices and come in a variety of colors. Planting bulbs is pretty simple with the depth of the planting hole depending on the height of the bulb.
First, loosen the soil, then dig a hole about 3 times the height of the bulb. Place the large end of the bulb down in the hole; sprinkle with a little fertilizer, cover, and water in. After that you can pretty much forget about them. Just remember where you planted them so when you start planting your spring flowers, they won’t get disturbed.
Then, sometime in the spring (depending on what you planted) these green shoots will start coming out of the ground alerting you to what is coming.
After they have bloomed and the flowers have disappeared, leave the leaves alone until they turn brown since they will still be helping to store nutrients for the next season.
Nothing like a little winter color and the anticipation of spring flowers to help gardeners get through the winter.

Garden Tips
- Remove green fruit from tomato plants when frost threatens. If they are green but full sized, they will ripen indoors. They do not need to be in sunshine to ripen indoors.
- Use a cold frame device to plant spinach, lettuce and various other cool-season crops for production most of the winter.
- Take tropical water garden plants indoors when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees. Also, stop feeding fish in the pond at this water temperature.


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