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Dig Right Minute

In October, we love to look up at the beautiful fall foliage, with bursts of rich reds, warm ambers and deep yellows and golds. But we can also keep an appreciative eye on our own yards and containers, to savor fall color in other ways.

  • Mums are a popular and traditional fall plant in the Midwest. Hearty and beautiful, chrysanthemums add seasonal color with varieties including white, yellow, gold, maroon and bronze. You can go monochromatic or mix up the varieties for a diverse fall plant palette.
  • Mums do well in containers and can also be planted in a pretty border garden.Cabbage and kale plants make for unique embellishments in containers, window boxes and garden beds. These hardy fall plants will last until heavy frost or snowfall arrives.
  • Pansies aren’t just for spring! These annuals hold up well with chilly temperatures, so refresh your summer containers by pulling out plants that are drooping or dead and replace them with some eye-popping pansies.
  • Perennials and ornamental grasses lend color, texture and visual interest to four-season spaces.
  • Fall is a good time to plant trees and shrubs, since the soil is warm enough for roots to take hold before winter arrives.
  • It’s not too late to enjoy fresh-from-your-garden veggies! Late season crops include kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, Swiss chard, and more.
  • As you do throughout planting season, be sure to water your plants well (but don’t overdo it). Consider leaf mulch as a way to protect the roots in a natural way.
  • Spring ahead by planting bulbs for next spring. Garden centers and catalogs offer a variety of seeds and bulbs for fall planting, including tulips, hyacinth, scilla, crocus and many more. Plant bulbs at least six weeks before the ground freezes and when the ground is cool, between 40 to 50 degrees F. Follow the instructions for how deep to plant the bulbs; generally, small bulbs should be planted about  five to six inches down and bigger bulbs should be placed about eight inches down.

Don’t forget to notify JULIE before you dig! Whenever you’re disturbing the ground, especially when planting trees, shrubs, groundcovers or plants, be safe and call JULIE at 811 or fill out an e-request now. It’s free and crucial to avoid hitting underground lines, even in areas where you assume it’s safe to dig.

Dig Right Minute
by Tony Abruscato
Director, Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Sponsored in part by JULIE, The Chicago Flower & Garden Show presents realistic, as well as DIY solutions to inspire, educate and motivate gardening enthusiasts and newbies alike.  Blooming at Navy Pier - March 12-20, 2016.