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Fall Gardening Tips

September through November is the ideal time to plant native wildflowers. Most species will germinate from seed when cooler and typically wetter weather arrives in the fall. They'll grow through the winter in preparation for the spectacular spring flowering season. You can have a stunning garden next year by following these tips:

Prepare now for next summer Plant now. Giving plants as much time as possible to become established in the ground before the summer season will make them hardier and more drought resistant Harden-off your plants before planting them outside. This technique involves gradually exposing plants to colder weather, allowing them to toughen or become dormant. Tender plants grown under protected conditions are more likely to survive through the winter if they have been hardened off.

Customize your garden with container-grown plants Container grown plants put into the ground during fall and winter will continue to develop their root systems even if their aerial parts die back from frosts. Planting from containers allows you to place the plant exactly where you want it, and while seed-planted perennial species may not bloom the first spring, container-grown perennials may flourish after being planted in the garden.

Plant from seed Many wildflower species do better when planted from seed. Directly seeding an area is easy, fast and inexpensive.

How to prepare your soil and tidy up your garden With all the rain we've had this year, keeping up with weeds has been a challenge. Keep it up; don't let them get out of hand! Remove all undesirable vegetation to prepare your site. Herbicide applications may be required to remove deep-rooted weeds. Avoid soils that may contain noxious weeds. Nutsedge and Bermudagrass are two of the worst culprits.

Trim and prune After frost, trim dead vegetation of herbaceous plants to the ground. This keeps things tidy and reduces disease problems. Scope the area every few weeks for encroaching weeds and remove them before they out-compete desirable species or contaminate the area with weed seeds.

Create your own seed mix Most of Texas has been blessed this year with a wetter than normal summer, making it a choice time to harvest wildflower seeds for fall planting. Avoid seed mixes that include non-native wildflower species, such as Ox-eye daisy and Chicory. Some of these escape cultivation, become noxious agricultural pests and out-compete native species for habitat.