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Saturday - October 20, 2007

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting
Title: Fall planting time for mixed perennial bed
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Dripping Springs and have constructed four 10-12" raised beds (total of ~600 sqft.) on the Front (NW facing - fairly exposed) side of my house that I would like to plant in mid-October. They are to be mixed beds with trees, shrubs and perennials. I feel comfortable that mid-October is a good time for the trees and shrubs but I am wondering about the perennials I have chosen and if they will hold up if there is an early frost. I would like to plant the following - Guara, Mexican Bush Sage,Mexican Oregano, Mexican Mint Marigold, Plumbago, Russian Sage, Artemisia, Trailing Rosemary,Bi Color Iris, Mexican Feather Grass, Fall Aster, Prairie Verbena. Any guidance or suggestions is greatly appreciated.


Actually, you have chosen very well in terms of timeframe for planting the perennials. Although we are well known for weird weather in Texas, fall is frequently the best time for doing so, because our first freeze is usually late and light. There will be exceptions, but that's the risk you run playing with Mother Nature. We believe it's better that they get planted in the fall when they can get roots established and a good start before the heat of summer, which sometimes comes around April. On the subject of shrubs and trees, most woody plants are better planted even later, November-December. The deeper into dormancy a woody plant is, the more easily it will recover from transplant shock.

You didn't say what trees and shrubs you were thinking of planting, but we hope you stick as much as possible to Texas natives. The choice of a plant native to a locality means that it should need less water, less fertilizer, less pampering all the way around. Plants native to Texas are TOUGH.

We liked your choices for perennials, of which seven are native and five are non-native. Here are some links to pages giving you more information on each. The first non-native is Tagetes lucida (Mexican Mint Marigold), also known as Mexican tarragon, and is native to Guatemala and the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The second non-native you have chosen is Perovskia (Russian Sage), a native of the Himalayas and western China. Next is Artemisia absinthum (Artemisia), native to the Mediterranean, as is Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary). And, the final non-native is from South Africa, Dietes (Moraea) Bicolor iris.

Now for the natives (TA DA!). Gaura lindheimeri (Lindheimer's beeblossom), Salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage) , Lippia graveolens (Mexican oregano) , Plumbago scandens (doctorbush), Nassella tenuissima (finestem needlegrass) , Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (aromatic aster), and Glandularia bipinnatifida (Dakota mock vervain) should all do well in a Central Texas garden.


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