Fall is prime time to plant perennials

A monarch butterfly rests atop the milkweed in Lorraine and Ed Fitzhugh’s greenhouse. Photo Special to The R-C by Lorraine Fitzhugh

A monarch butterfly rests atop the milkweed in Lorraine and Ed Fitzhugh’s greenhouse. Photo Special to The R-C by Lorraine Fitzhugh


Business is buzzing at Lorraine and Ed Fitzhugh’s garden nursery, VitalBeeBuds LLC. The Gardnerville Ranchos couple’s mission to increase local pollinator populations and landscape sustainability determines their nursery’s plant offerings, and Lorraine encourages clients to consider permaculture when planning their green spaces (permaculture is a gardening system that is ecologically sound and self-supporting).

Although many people look to expand their gardens in early spring, Lorraine said fall is an ideal time to plant perennials. When planting in the springtime, unstable ground temperatures can sometimes impede a plant’s ability to become established. Although air temperatures begin to cool in the fall, the ground still retains warmth. These conditions are ideal for giving a plant’s root system a head start and providing the perennial a robust advantage come spring.

Lorraine said planting perennials in the fall offers an additional benefit: flowering plants will be that much more established and may attract pollinators earlier in the growing season, which can be of great benefit for anyone also cultivating a nearby vegetable garden.

VBB nursery offerings are specifically cultivated for the Carson Valley and surrounding areas (Zone 3-6). The emphasis is on native plants, as they are a natural attractant for native pollinators and use less water and leaner soil than other varieties. The perennials are deer- and critter-resistant, tolerant of dry, harsh conditions, and showcase pollinators’ favorite hues of blue, purple, yellow, red, orange, and white.

“These hardy plants are as beautiful and colorful as any,” said Lorraine. “Because they are tried and true, local pollinators know them and look for them.”

Lorraine said it can take perennials up to three years to reach full size. Each plant from VBB comes in its own cow pot, enabling gardeners to simply place the entire thing, container and all, into an appropriately sized hole in the ground. The cow pot system nourishes the plant and encourages deep root growth.

VBB is a weekly vendor at the Carson Farmers Market, 412 N. Stewart Street, on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The nursery offers a discount on pollinator patch/hedgerow project plants when purchased in groups of five or more. Customers can also connect with Lorraine via email at info@vitalbeebuds.com or via DM @vitalbeebuds on Instagram for direct orders, garden consultations, or to arrange drop-offs or pick-ups of plants.

A listing of current available varieties can be found on the homepage of VBB’s website at vitalbeebuds.com.

A garden friend

In April, I was lucky enough to witness the hatching of a praying mantis’ egg sac I found in one of our backyard bushes. Dozens of tiny nymphs ventured out into the yard, and I kept my fingers crossed that they’d survive to adulthood.

A Blue Mist shrub I planted on the backyard berm last fall is thriving, and over the past several weeks, a large praying mantis emerges from it to greet me each time I go outside to water. The mantis clambers to the top of the bush, walks onto my hand, and hangs out with me until the job is done. Then I place the mantis back on the shrub and watch it climb down among the branches.

The mantis’ green body is perfect camouflage against the plant’s leaves, and I often can’t see my insect friend until I spray a fine mist of water over the shrub. The water seems to be a cue for the mantis that it’s time for a visit, and I feel fortunate to have this bright spot of sweetness during part of each day.

Amy Roby can be reached at ranchosroundup@hotmail.com.


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