I hope you had a lovely Summer with time enough to enjoy & play in your little garden paradise! And now it’s almost Fall & what does that mean to us West Coast gardeners?
Now, as you may know, here in coastal California, FALL is the best & most horticulturally correct time to put plants in the ground. Why? Because our rainy season is almost upon us & because of our mild Winters where temperatures rarely go below freezing.
In the natural California environment, California annual wildflowers dropped their seeds onto the ground last Spring or Summer. Now, as the rains begin, these little seeds begin to sprout & grow rapidly during our cool, rainy Winter. This is their proper time to grow, producing vigorous happy roots below ground & lush foliage topside on their way to an explosion of Springtime bloom. (Annuals that prefer to grow in the cool season are called hardy annuals & that’s just what our Native annual wildflowers are!)
Our beautiful California native perennials & shrubs are also best planted now to benefit from the coming rainy season. Most of our native perennials are drought tolerant but must be established first. This means they need root systems solidly established deep into the soil before they will thrive with no water the rest of the year. Plant native perennials in the Fall & you’ll be rewarded with healthy, fast-growing natives next year.
CLICK HERE for a list of California natives best planted now.
Just as California native annuals are best grown during our wet, temperate Winters – before the dry season begins – the same goes for so many classic cottage garden hardy annuals. Of Mediterranean origin, Winter is their natural growing season & Spring their blooming season. Plant them now thru February & watch your garden burst into full & glorious bloom come March & April. (Just when everyone else is rushing to nurseries to begin their planting).
One huge benefit is you don’t have to worry about watering them! (Just bait for snails). Another for us coastal gardeners is many of these darlings will self-sow right after they’ve finished blooming, bringing a second & third crop (with water) to bloom again next Summer & Fall. An endless parade of prettiness! That’s why they’re classics!
*Agrostemma githago ‘Milas’
*Agrostemma githago ‘Ocean Pearls’
*Centaurea cyanus “Bachelor Buttons”
Lathyrus odoratus “Sweet Peas”
*Linaria reticulata ‘Flamenco’
Malcolmia maritima “Virginia Stock”
Nigella (various species)
Papavers (giant Poppies)
Besides California native annuals & cottage garden classics, South African annuals can be planted now for Spring or Winter bloom. Here’s a couple:
If you want your perennials fat, happy & established for Spring & Summer bloom, this is the very BEST time to plant them. They’ll love the deep watering they’ll receive from the rains & grow large, vigorous root systems, not so easily achieved by hand watering or even drip irrigation. Spring blooming perennials like Campanulas, Columbines, Delphiniums & Nicotianas will be two or three times the size of those you plant in the Spring & will thrill you with far more blooms over a longer season. Grasses too, will fill out by Spring.
If you want biennials like Foxgloves, Canterbury Bells, Hollyhocks & Verbascums to grace your garden with their classic Spring showing, they MUST be planted now. If you wait till Spring – as so many folks do – you’ll have missed the boat. Boo-hoo!
Here along the coast, there are quite a lot of plants that bloom in the Winter, putting a smile on your face and inviting you outdoors and into your garden during the darkest days of the year. Some sub-tropicals and South African perennials & shrubs bloom only during the rainy months. Others will repeat bloom all year around. Many Winter blooming annuals will self-sow again, returning several times a year along the coast. Aren’t we lucky!!
Click Here for our full list of winter bloomers
Choosing and bringing home new plants is ever so much fun. In order to make sure your new garden members thrive and look their best, you’ll want to give them as much support as possible. And it’s easy when you keep up with your Fall gardening chores. Chores yes, but these chores get you outside into the fresh air and are good for all that ails you! Dishes or gardening … hmmmm … I choose ... gardening!
That’s it folks. Happy Fall!