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Herbs such as basil, parsley and thyme can be planted year-round in Southern California and brighten up a drab fall garden bed. Courtesy photo.
Home and GardenNews

Autumn planting tips and ideas to liven up the garden

REGION — Autumn officially arrives Sept. 22 are you ready?

With the colorful season come falling leaves, heavier clothing, and hopefully, getting your fall garden in order.

In Southern California, we are lucky to have mild temps for the most part — give or take a few months — when temps could dip into the freezing zone. But, don’t think about that now.

Instead, as you put away your summer toys, bathing suits and other seasonal items, you might want to ponder fall gardening, and what home-grown goodies to plant in time for the holidays. Let’s get some ideas for your fall garden from a few experts.

Great ideas

According to Cristin LaFromboise, color and foliage buyer, at Armstrong Garden Centers, 2200 E. Route 66, Suite 200, in Glendora, now is the perfect time to get busy with outdoor planting.

“Going into the tail end of summer, sometimes the garden starts to look a little tired,” she said.  “It is a great time to pop annual color into pots for instant color. Vinca and zinnias are the best choices to stand late summer heat.

“In Southern California, you can also put herbs in year-round.  Basil, parsley and thyme are popular ones right now.”

She said as summer turns to fall, it is wonderful time to plant cooler season veggies such as lettuce, kale, broccoli and cauliflower, which are all edible fall favorites.

As for what kinds of bulbs, she suggests homeowners plant spring-flowering bulbs in the fall.  Freesia and hyacinth are fragrant, and ranunculus, daffodils and iris make great cut flowers, she said.

LaFromboise said fall is also the best time to plant trees and shrubs.

“With our mild winters, it gives time for plants to develop roots, and acclimate to their surroundings. Also, fall is the time for the best selection of annual color in Pansies and Snapdragons.”

Echinacea is a perennial of the Asteraceae family and known for its medicinal properties including enhancing the immune system. Courtesy photo.

Of course, if you want to create a special fall garden that will be easy to maintain, LaFromboise recommends planting perennials now. You can also plant gaillardia, rudbeckia and echinacea, all of which provide vibrant fall color and can come back for multiple years.

Additionally, you can never go wrong with succulents especially in SoCal’s mild climate and to conserve water.

“Succulents are very on trend,” she said. “Not only do they require less water; they are also very easy to care for. The selection improves every year as far as shapes, colors and textures. They can be grown in containers, or in the ground and many also can be grown indoors.”

Easy plantings

Over at Anderson’s La Costa Nursery, at 400 La Costa Ave., in Encinitas, Nursery Manager Steven Froess said creating summer color in the garden for fall is not as difficult as it may seem.

“For some summer color in the garden, there is lots to choose from. Some of my favorites include: pentas (they come in a variety of colors and are great for hummingbirds and butterflies), tecoma hybrids ‘Lydia’, ‘Bells of fire’, and ‘Sparky’ all bloom almost all summer and love the heat!

“There are some great mandevillea hybrids that do great in pots, and look tropical but are more durable with pink, white, and red tubular flowers,” Froess said.

If you want to plant bulbs when the weather cools down a bit, Froess said fall bulbs, usually include: paperwhites and amaryllis, and there are others but those are the main two the nursery usually stocks.

Don’t forget veggies and fruits for fall either, he said: “You can save seeds from any of your summer crops; most people do cilantro, peppers, tomatoes, watermelons, pumpkins and squash.”

Foress agrees with LaFromboise in that fall is such a great time of the year to plant herbs, but only plant the hardy ones such as thyme, oregano, parsley, cilantro, and chives, because these will survive the colder weather.

“Cold tender ones such as basil, tarragon and dill, won’t be available and won’t do well,” he said. “Cooler season flowers would include: pansies, violas, ornamental kale and cyclamen, to name a few. Shrubs and trees of all types usually survive the best when planted in the fall, due to the cooler temperatures and hopefully rainy winter season that follows before spring.”

And like LaFromboise, Froess said succulents are always a good choice regardless of the time of year.

“Succulents are definitely in still,” he said. “Not only for their low-water use, but the textures and colors you can create are so endless, they can live indoors and outdoors, some are highly collectible and very low maintenance.”

As you sip your pumpkin latte and get ready for the upcoming holiday season, planning (and planting) your fall garden can be a fun, and exciting time that will hopefully yield a great autumn crop.