Have you heard of ‘cool flowers?’ Perhaps, you may have read Lisa Mason Ziegler’s “Cool Flowers”. Her classic gardening book discusses everything you need to know about extending your growing season through the use of cool-season hardy annuals. Many of these seeds can be started in the Fall, giving you an advantage come Spring for earlier and better quality blooms. We’ve used these cool insights to inform our own fall flower planting process.
Basically, when you start hardy annual seeds in the Autumn, you are allowing the cool-season flowers to establish their roots before frost. This gives them an advantage come Spring to fight off pests and weeds, and to bloom earlier!
Now, when I say “start seeds in the fall,” it actually means that the seedlings are planted about 6-8 weeks before your first Fall Frost Date. So, this might actually mean that you’re actually sowing these seeds in trays or soil blocks in the middle of July to ensure that they’re established in the ground with enough time before your first frost date.
This requires quite a bit of planning to ensure that your seeds are ordered and arrive by the time that you need to begin sowing. You also need to ensure that you have planned out the time to sow these seeds during the most productive time of the summer season when you are already swamped with other gardening tasks. And, that you have the correct first frost date in mind. Also, be sure to limit yourself so that you are not totally and completely overwhelmed. It can be too much when you have hundreds of different seeds to plant, tens of varieties of flowers you’re trying to grow, and you’re trying to maintain your life!
This year we fall-planted snapdragons, poppies, sweet William, Canterbury bells, bachelor buttons, bells of Ireland, rudbeckia, bee balm, Scabiosa, and calendula. We’ll see how everything does, since we have to be the laziest gardeners there are these days (between our event floral design business, Larry’s full-time job as a mechanic, and maintaining our growing family and household). But, that’s all part of the joys of the trial and error of gardening!
Happy planting! Share in the comments what you’re planning to grow for early Spring.
You can read more gardening tips in our Garden blog!