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Home Gardening Tips: Fall and Winter

Learn some tips from the ABQ BioPark's gardening pros.

Oct. 31, 2018 - There is plenty to do in your home garden during the fall and winter months. Check out these tips from ABQ BioPark horticulture staff Melissa Tapia-Garcia and Melissa Feeser. Download fall/winter garden tips sheet.

The end of October is a good time to dig and divide perennial plants.

  • Dig up your perennials and gently cut them into halves, thirds or quarters, depending on the size of the plant. Replant.
  • This is a good time to apply a high phosphate fertilizer such as bat guano, bone meal or blood meal to give your beds a boost.

Don’t go overboard with fertilizers and compost.

  • Bagged manure is salty—Albuquerque soil is already on the salty side, so if you use manure, keep in mind that a little goes a long way.
  • If you use compost, remember the same principle and don’t pack it too densely. A little sand mixed in will help your soil breathe.
  • Work fertilizers into the top three inches of soil with a hand cultivator, or lightly turn the soil and fertilizer together with a shovel.
  • Fresh manure can burn your plants. Make sure your manure is well aged before use.

Don’t cut back…yet.

  • Don’t cut any of your plants back until February or March. This will help protect the plants to help them endure cooler temperatures. It also adds winter interest, food and nesting opportunities for animals like birds.
  • Plants like forsythia, lilacs, flowering almonds and winter jasmine are best left to prune in the late spring, after they've finished flowering.

Fall is a great time to plant and/or relocate your spring bulbs.

  • Try tulips, daffodils, alliums, Spanish bluebells, grape hyacinth, red crown imperials and crocus.

It’s also a good time to plant hardier shrubs, perennials and trees.

  • Planting trees in summer makes it harder for them to set their roots. An autumn planting will result in lower transplant shock.

Add some bark to your flower beds before winter.

  • This can help protect your plants for colder weather.

Keep (at least some of) the leaves

  • Rake leaf matter and put it in planted beds to act as mulch. Over the winter, it will break down and help feed the soil.
  • You can also leave them in the yard or in specific sections of your yard to provide insulation for plants and a place for insects like bees to nest.

Cut back your irrigation, but do keep watering.

  • During the fall you’ll want to water less, but water deeper. At the ABQ BioPark, the garden irrigation is reduced by 25-30 percent in October.
  • Although it may seem unnecessary to water during the winter, it’s actually important. Try less frequent, but deeper waterings.

Get free mulch.

  • Each winter, the City of Albuquerque offers Christmas tree recycling to residents, and the recycling process creates mulch, which is free to residents.
  • Recycle your undecorated tree and bring your own bag, bucket and shovel to take home free garden mulch.

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