It’s mid-October and time to think about cleaning up your garden!

With the unusually warm weather that many of us have been experiencing, it may be hard to think about putting the garden to bed for the winter. But we all know it must be done! So I’ve made a mini-checklist for you of autumn garden chores.

Here is my front garden…looking a little worse for wear as it begins to close down for the season.


Your Checklist to Ready the Garden for Winter:

  • Cut back your perennials. Yes, cut them down almost to the ground.
  • Be SURE to put plant markers in the ground to mark the spot for each plant. Many perennials will completely disappear: you will have no idea who or what was where!
  • Dig up and discard the annuals. No, they most probably will not come back and will only look very sad throughout the winter..
  • Fertilize your azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons and all acid loving plants.  I use Espoma Organic Holly-tone Fertilizer. It is the best for any acid loving plant. Read the label and see if it is appropriate for you. But do use it twice a year and you will definitely see a difference. My Encore Azaleas were just not blooming well until I began applying this fertilizer twice yearly.
  • Dahlias. Well, that is a entire blog post! But take a look at this article from The Spruce :
    “How to Store Dahlia Tubers Through the Winter”.      In my Zone 7b it actually is not necessary to dig up the tubers. Yes, they seem to overwinter just fine in the ground. But you will need to remember to dig them up in spring and divide to have healthier plants.
  • If your garden centers still have plants available, buy them! Any perennial will do better when planted in the fall rather than spring. I know, it seems a bit reversed, but it’s true. They can then establish a better root system by the time the warm/hot weather comes next summer and will make it through that critical first summer much better equipped to deal with heat and drought. The same holds true for shrubs (and trees, for that matter.)
  • Plant those daffodils and tulips. Depending on your zone, these need to go into the ground before it freezes. Here, in 7b, I often wait until early December and my tulips come up just fine. In fact, I just ordered them this morning (a little late, I know…) and am looking forward to the color explosion in April.

So, those are the main check points. I may have missed something…but I’ll be posting about this again.


In the meantime, take a listen to this podcast from Margaret Roach at A Way to Garden.

This is the link to her site, scroll down a bit and hit the arrow. It is a VERY GOOD discussion of how to overwinter so many plants. Listen to the end! Her podcasts feature a different gardening subject each week; she interviews and talks with so many knowledgeable garden gurus and she herself is full of so much information. I highly recommend subscribing.


Fall blooming Japanese Anemone add color as the season wanes:


I hope you will leave a comment about your own garden clean up…and just what you have planted in your garden.
Have a good weekend everyone!