MORE THAN JUST MUMS
The Fall Planting Season is the Secret to a Successful Spring
Story and photos by Joshua Kornegay, owner of Joshua’s Native Plants & Garden Antiques
Hopefully we’ll get a cool front later this month when the autumnal equinox begins, even though September can still be brutally hot in Houston.
When it comes to fall garden plans, it’s exciting to think about more than just chrysanthemums. There are so many more options to consider. For example, perennial grasses are a must. These rugged varieties add a clean structural element to an otherwise bland landscape. There are many forms from which to choose; from tall and graceful to fountain-like to short mounds.
In fact, fall is a great time to plant almost any perennial. While the parts above ground (leaves, flowers and stems) might get singed from frost this winter, their roots will remain untouched and unaffected. They won’t be harmed and will continue to grow and take hold during the fall and all through winter. This timing allows for the plants to wake up on time and emerge much stronger in the spring.
Lastly, remember to have milkweed plants available in your garden for the annual southern migration of the monarch butterfly. These determined beauties can fly hundreds of miles through North America to Mexico where they will overwinter. They rely on nectar-rich fall flowering plants to stay alive and energized on their long journey. They also need milkweed plants (Asclepias species), preferably the native Texas varieties, on which to lay their eggs along the way.
Remember, “Work less, enjoy more!”
Joshua’s Native Plants & Garden Antiques, Inc. can be found at 502 West 18th, 713-862-7444, www.joshuasnativeplants.net
Why Native Texas Milkweed?
It’s important to plant native Texas milkweed, like the butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) or antelope-horns milkweed (Asclepias asperula), instead of the tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). The latter originated in Mexico and, because it continues to flower and produce leaves throughout the fall and winter, will fool the monarchs into staying longer than they should. If these tropical plants aren’t cut back in mid-October, they can lead to an increase in infections for the monarchs.