Preparing your garden for fall is an essential part of the end-of-summer schedule, and how you care for your perennials right now is crucial for their survival over winter. Fall, after all, is a critical season for perennial care and will set the stage for a vibrant garden next spring. In this guide, we'll show you the essentials for general fall perennial care, along with some of the best late-season perennials you can plant right now!
The Best Fall Perennials for Iowa
Because Iowa gardens deal with such a wide range of weather conditions—from frosty cold winters to scorching hot summers—selecting hardy, adaptable perennials is essential for a successful landscape. Here are some of our top picks:
Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea): Coneflowers are hardy, drought-tolerant plants that are excellent for Iowa's variable weather. Their vibrant purple or pink blooms attract pollinators like bees and butterflies and provide tremendous aesthetic and ecological benefits to your garden from spring right through to late fall. For lasting beauty, leave the final seed heads standing to add some superb winter interest to your landscape.
Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta): These cheerful, yellow-blossomed perennials thrive in Iowa's climate and are known for their long-lasting blooms that extend well into the fall. If you're after long-lasting color this fall, these should be at the top of your perennial shopping list!
Hostas (Hosta spp.): Hostas thrive in partial to full shade, making them an excellent choice for shadier spots in your garden. They are known for their lush foliage and come in various sizes and leaf colors.
Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.): Daylilies come in various colors and are incredibly hardy, making them perfect for Iowa gardens. They will also provide reliable summer blooms, making them a seasonal best-in-show.
Sedum (Sedum spp.): Commonly known as stonecrops, are low-maintenance perennials with attractive succulent foliage. They add unique texture and color to your garden, producing small red flowers in late summer and early fall.
Fall Perennial Care for Iowa
Now that you've selected the best perennials for your Bettendorf garden, let's delve into a few essential fall care tips to ensure their health and vitality:
Clean Up: Before doing anything else, we suggest a good fall cleanup! Start by removing any dead or decaying foliage, spent flowers, and other diseased plant material to prevent the spread of diseases and pests during the winter months.
Divide and Transplant: Fall is an excellent time to divide and transplant perennials to rejuvenate overcrowded plants and expand your garden. Just be sure to thoroughly water your newly transplanted perennials to give them a good start!
Mulch: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as shredded leaves or straw, around your perennials to help regulate soil temperature, retain moisture, and suppress weeds. Mulch also acts as insulation over the winter, protecting your perennials' roots from freezing temperatures.
Watering: Continue to water your perennials as needed until the ground freezes, as proper hydration is crucial to help your plants withstand the winter months. Water in the morning to allow the soil to dry before nighttime, reducing the risk of fungal diseases.
Fertilize: In late fall, apply a slow-release, balanced fertilizer to provide essential nutrients to your perennials, which will help them prepare for the following growing season. We like Espoma FlowerTone or a simple granular 10-10-10 fertilizer.
Pest Control: Fall is an ideal time for proactive pest management, and while many pests are dropping off around this time of year, it's still a good idea to check your perennials for signs of infestations. See our experts for advice on treatment.
Protection from Wildlife: In areas with deer and other wildlife, consider using protective measures like fencing or repellents to prevent them from feasting on your perennials.
More Tips For Fall Perennial Care in Bettendorf
Like many parts of Iowa, Bettendorf experiences very cold winters, so it's important to adapt your perennial care routine accordingly. Here are some more tips to help you perfect your perennial care:
Winterizing: In late fall, consider adding a layer of straw or evergreen boughs over your perennials to provide additional protection against harsh winter conditions.
Snow Covers: Snow can act as a natural insulator for your garden, so be mindful not to remove it from your perennial beds, as it can help protect your plants from freezing temperatures.
Hardy Varieties: Opt for perennials that are known for their winter hardiness, such as the ones mentioned earlier, as they're better equipped to handle Iowa's cold winters.
Preparing your perennials for fall is one of those chores that may seem like a pain at first, but it's actually an easy way to guarantee the lasting beauty of your landscape. By selecting the best perennials for your region and following these essential care tips, you'll ensure that your garden not only survives the winter but also thrives in the coming spring and summer.
So, roll up your sleeves, grab your gardening tools, and get ready to enjoy the beauty of a well-cared-for perennial garden—and don't forget to stop by Wallace's Garden Center for everything you'll need to get started!