How can I prep for spring and enjoy fall in my flower garden?

Fall is perfect for two things: prepping for spring by planting bulbs and enjoying chrysanthemums, which flourish in the fall.

1. Planting Chrysanthemums

Mums are beautiful plants that bloom in the spring or fall. They are beautiful fall flowers. 

When to plant: All planting should take place early on – at least six weeks before a killing frost. This allows the roots time to become established. Mums planted too late in the fall don’t consistently make it through the winter because the plants don’t have the time to extend their roots beyond the pot-bound root ball into the soil.

One option you can try if you buy fall mums close to the frost date is to winter your mum in a cool, dry location that doesn’t freeze (garage, porch, basement etc). Cut off the foliage and water lightly once a month so that you keep the plants barely moist. Once the threat of frost is past, plant in the ground and water well.


How to plant: When planting chrysanthemums, you should space your mum plants 18 – 24 inches apart. And use the depth of where they were in the original pot when determining how deep to plant them. Use any type of soil with good soil structure. Work the soil about eight to 12 inches deep, and then work in about two to four inches of organic matter, such as compost, which is essential for propoer root aeration and drainage.

TIP: If your mums come in a plastic pot, use scissors and cut down the sides, so you can remove the plant without disturbing the roots.


Where to plant: You’ll experience best results if you plant your mums somewhere where they are fully exposed to the sun. Avoid planting them around trees or shrubs, as the smaller roots of the mums must then compete with the larger roots of the trees. Also be sure the area you choose provides wind protection from both cold, dry north winds and hot, dry summer winds.

TIP: Being exposed to light during the evening could inhibit your mums’ formation, so be sure and plant your mums several feet away from street lights or other night lights.


How often to water: For the first couple weeks, while the mums are becoming established, keep your soil moist but not constantly wet. After that, water about one inch every week. By September and October, you will most likely be watering your blooming flowers three times a week.


2. Planting Bulbs

Planting flower bulbs is an easy way to guarantee you have beautiful blooms in the spring. 

When to plant: Generally, earlier in the fall is better than later. Planting times can vary, so check your hardiness zone. Bulbs need a little time to establish strong root systems, before the frosts of winter set in and the bulbs enter a new cycle in preparation for spring blooming. Remember to plant bulbs in an area that drains well and water newly planted bulbs to help those roots get going.

How to plant: When planting your bulbs, plant them 3 times as deep as the bulb is long. And remember to plant pointed side up! For example:

  • Small bulbs like crocus -- plant them about 5 inches deep.
  • Big bulbs like daffodils, hyacinths and tulips -- plant those about 8 inches deep.

Groups of bulbs make a much nicer showing in your garden. Create greater color impact by planting clusters of the same-color flowers together in blocks or "bouquets." When you plant, bulbs should never touch each other, but you have a lot of flexibility. 

Smaller bulbs, like crocus, snowdrops, dwarf Irises, scilla, anemones and lilies of the valley, can be planted fairly close together, 1' to 2' apart will create a nice cluster. Don't plant them more than 4' apart or they start to lose their impact.  Larger bulbs, like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, should have approximately 3' to 5' separating them. But this rule was meant to be broken. If you wish to create a bolder splash of color, you can plant them even closer, to the point where your bulbs are almost (but not quite) touching.



Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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