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Midwest Regional Reports

Midwest: October Garden To-Do List

Coneflower seed heads provide winter interest and food for birds. Photo: Erin Presley

Use a light touch with fall cleanup, and leave plants that provide winter interest standing. Grasses and seed heads of plants such as blazing star (Liatris spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), coneflower (Echinacea spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp. and cvs., Zones 3–11), and sedums (Sedum spp. and cvs., Zones 3–11) provide valuable food and shelter for birds as well.

Recycle fallen leaves on your own property. Use a mulching mower to shred and store leaves to use as mulch in the spring, or stockpile unshredded leaves in a corner to break down into leaf mold over the next year or two.

spray paint on bulbs
It’s easy to lose sight of smaller bulbs like these netted iris (Iris reticulata, Zones 5–8) and grape hyacinth (Muscari spp. and cvs., Zones 4–8) after they’ve been laid out for planting. A touch of spray paint on the bulbs applied prior to placement makes them easier to spot when you’re ready to plant. Photo: Erin Presley

Try planting some minor bulbs such as crocus (Crocus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–8), Siberian squill (Scilla siberica, Zones 2–8), snowdrops (Galanthus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), or glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa forbesii, Zones 3–8). These little charmers naturalize readily and provide a pop of early color in the spring garden.

bulbs with spray paint
These bulbs have been laid out on the ground for planting; spray paint ensures that no bulbs are missed during planting. Photo: Erin Presley

Erin Presley is a horticulturist at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin.

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    ArmandLewis 10/04/2019


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