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Good things come to those who wait—and if you happen to get your planting done before winter, you will start seeing the benefits by the beginning of spring. Fall weather tends to be less varied, so there are more perfect days to get the planting done. Given that some plants just aren’t hardy enough to make it through a Chicago winter and still pop-up in April, we’ve put together a list of a few of our favorite seeds to sow in the fall. We like to think winter becomes a little easier when you know you’ve got some dormant seeds that are ready to sprout as soon as the cold weather lets up.
Lilies actually require a period of cold dormancy to encourage the stem to send out roots that stabilize the plant. A careful blending of early, middle, and late-season lilies can ensure that the flowers you plant just once in fall will last all the way through to the next autumn frost. Lilies come in many color varieties and are absolutely stunning when planted to contrast with one another.
Certain varieties of greens and vegetables can also be perfectly suited for planting in the fall. Greens like mesclun mix, mache, collards, and spinach often have no trouble growing after a long winter, as long as they’re seeded in the fall. In a colder climate, (and yes, Chicago counts as “colder”) the easiest technique for planting greens is to sow the seeds in late fall, so that they sit without germinating in the ground until spring. As long as it’s relatively cold, seeds won’t rot, and they’ll germinate at the exact right time without any extra effort. The “overwintering” forms of broccoli and cauliflower also grow well with this practice, as do root vegetables like carrots, beets, radishes, and garlic.
Poppies come in many different varieties, and are the unequivocal “bad boy” of our fall planting favorites. They’re the only seeds we plant that are actually illegal to grow in certain countries, due to their connection with the synthesis of opiates. But the only thing we’re addicted to is to how beautiful and aromatic these flowers are. Like an old Marlon Brando character, their complicated past only adds to their mystique.
Most perennials are well-suited to fall planting, especially those that have large root balls, like peonies and hostas. The great thing about perennials, needless to say, is that they don’t need to be replanted every year. They’re unfussy, and they simply keep coming back year after year as long as the soil doesn’t get too hot in the warmer months. For more info on fall planting and to ensure the beauty of your outdoor beds come springtime, get in touch with Botanical Concepts Chicago.