Though fall puts blossoms, leaves, and blades of grass into hibernation, roots go into overdrive.
Curt Jaynes of Garden Source Nursery in Portales and Charles Guthals of Guthals Nursery in Clovis said fall is a time to prepare lawns and gardens for a fruitful spring.
Guthals said winterizing lawns and gardens can be done anytime between mid-October and early February.
Winterizing fertilizer is specially formulated to enrich the roots of trees, shrubs, ornamental plants, evergreens and grass.
“It is not designed to grow a lush green lawn,” Guthals said. “The nutrients in the winterizer are directed to the root system which grows strong roots for spring.”
The potassium in winterizer also provides plants with “cold heartiness” to make it through the cold weather, he said.
Jaynes stressed the importance of soil activator and winter watering for plants.
“Soil activator enhances the decomposition of thatch as well as helps soil to release nutrients,” he said.
Jaynes said many people believe that because leaves and blossoms are dormant during the fall and winter months the plant doesn’t need watering.
“It’s not true. The roots are still active. I recommend a deep watering once a month,” he said.
Guthals said freezing is a drying process.
“Just like when our skin dries out in the winter and we moisturize, plants can’t. The plants still vent moisture to the outside world and it is important to replenish that moisture.”
Jaynes said when leaves are off a tree, nutrients obtained by the roots are focused on the roots, allowing trees and plants to establish a strong root system for spring.
Fall is also a good planting time, Jaynes and Guthals said.
“Fall provides a planting advantage,” Guthals said. “There are no fruit, no flowers, nothing the roots have to support. The roots still supply moisture to the rest of the plant, but the nutrients stay in the roots and lets the root system go crazy. It makes the roots much more capable for looking to survive an eastern New Mexico spring with the wind and such.”
It is also time to plant bulbs for flowers such as daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths.
Guthals said when planting bulbs, it is important to plant them at least six inches in the ground. He said bulbs that are planted in the spring will bloom, but bulbs planted in the fall grow stronger roots and will last longer.
Jaynes said winter doesn’t have to mean no color for a garden.
“You can plant things like pansies, violas and kale for winter color,” he said.