I just bought 85 sale plants from Santa Rosa and am planting them as quickly as I can. Since I'm planting them as late in the fall as I am, I'm concerned about the imminent first freeze. Have heard that plants need 6 weeks in the ground before first freeze. I know that you should normally keep the mulch away from the stem, but was wondering if I should cover them completely when the foliage is gone.
If they are in gallon pots, just hold them in the pots until spring. If they are in smaller pots, re-pot and water them in. You can throw straw over them for the winter and they will be fine, OR you can dig holes and put the whole pot and plant into the ground, then plant them directly into the ground in the spring. When you take them out of their pots and plant them, you disturb their anchor and feeding roots.
How hardy are the things you bought? You're in a warm enough zone that fall planting can be good for many plants, but if some of them are borderline hardy or only hardy to zone 7 then I'd think about just sinking the pots in the ground as Kay suggested and then unpot them and really plant them in the spring. Anything that's hardy to zone ~5-6a or lower though you're probably fine planting in the ground now.
Thanks for your advice. I've actually already planted them. As I recall, they are all hardy to lower zones than mine; however, I will check their tags. My question was if I should ever cover them completely with mulch now that they are planted, and if so, when? Or, should I always leave the mulch off of the area where the foliage should be even after it has "disappeared."
Also, I just finished creating a new flower bed around a large Sycamore tree. I added compost, peat moss, manure and top soil and worked it into the existing soil. I tried to be as careful as I could around the tree roots. Should I go ahead and work Osmocote into the bed now, or wait until spring when I actual plant?
The only plants I intend to plant in this bed until next spring are 3 asters I want to move from pots and 5 Bikova geraniums I bought from Santa Rosa. I know I should not fertilize the plants at this time of year, but do intend to dose them with SuperThrive to encourage root development.
I divide, move and plant all through October most years. Last year I was particularly aggressive, and had great success. I used Rootblast, and compost where amendment was needed, but no fertilizer. Superthrive should work just as well. I also mulched, but not overly heavily. A landscape designer friend told me years ago she only uses Plantone (Hollytone on acid lovers) as fertilizer on the gardens she installs and maintains, but a lot of it, so I broadcast a generous amount after I was finished at the end of the season. The garden was amazing this year.
I'm still going at it this year. I'm 2 zones colder than you, so my guess is you are fine. But I would not use Osmacote to encourage top growth, only a root stimulator for the plants to use now and maybe a soil builder/conditioner that takes time to break down so they get the benefit when they start growing again in the spring. Good luck!