It’s time to cut perennials to the ground, clean up the debris and fertilize.
You might be asking, “Why fertilize, isn’t everything going dormant?”
“Won’t fertilizer just make plants grow and get killed by the frost?”
Here are some strategies for fall fertilizing.
- Lawns are coming back before they take a winter snooze. Fertilize them to give them strength for their winter nap and spring flush. Give them plenty of nitrogen in the fertilizer made for lawns. That means a little more mowing before you put it away for the winter.
- Perennials are dying above ground, but it is important to feed the roots. Fertilize for next year’s growth.Fertilize the roots not the shoots.Phosphorus (the 2nd number on fertilizer boxes) is the important one. A fertilizer like 0-20-0 triple super phosphate would be good.
- Observe Shrubs and Trees, if they are not yellowish or have undersized leaves they probably do not need fertilizer.Wait until early spring before adding a slow release nitrogen and micro nutrients.It is best to clear out dropped leaves and replace with mulch to keep the roots protected against winter freezing.
- Bulbs being planted need some phosphorus and lots of potassium. A handful of super phosphate and kelp meal would be good to add in the hole with new bulbs.I am staying away from bone meal now as it might attract small vertebrates and deer. For established and naturalized bulbs lightly cover area with compost.
Now is the time that I think about adding natural and micro nutrients for the spring growth. Remember the plant is not dead, but slowly taking up nutrients in preparation of spring.
- Greensand is a natural source of iron and potassium.
- Kelp increases root absorption.
- Hold off on cottonseed meal and alfalfa, they are nitrogen rich and should be applied in the spring.
AGC Horticulture Chair