Photo: Stefan Weber - Yellow Hyssop and Ironweed seed heads
Messy is Best: Fall Gardening
Leave the leaves
Many insects overwinter in leaf litter, including bees and butterflies! As the leaves break down, they will fertilize your garden and help build topsoil. If you really have to move some leaves, rake them into a pile and keep them onsite. No need to mulch them or blow them away. By next year you will have free compost!
Leave the stems and stalks
Many native wildflowers produce seeds that the birds will eat, so don't prune them back after they bloom. Insects overwinter in these stems too. Some bees even lay their eggs in dead plant stems! Brush piles, logs and snag trees may look messy at first, but are essential habitat for wildlife.
Late fall is a great time to sow wildflower seeds that you've collected throughout the season. Wait until November, when the temperatures drop across the Carolinian Zone. Some species need to be cold and moist for 1-3 months before germinating in spring, a process called stratification. You can sow your seeds anytime before the ground freezes later in December.
Looking for native plant seeds? Carolinian Canada's Wild Garden Kit fundraiser will help you grow a healthy garden and a climate-smart yard, while supporting green and Indigenous jobs and programs. All kits come local Indigenous designed and printed bandana and tote bag (thank you to Antler River Press). Use this kit to help earn Healthy Garden Points with In The Zone. Learn more at our Fundraiser by clicking here.
Did you grow too many wildflower seedlings this year? Now's a good time to upgrade them into larger pots with fresh soil. They will overwinter better with more soil around their roots. Alternatively, you can cover your seedling trays or pots with fine mulch at ground level. Potted plants suffer more from drying out in the wind than they do from the cold itself, so