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Fall Is For Planting

Can you believe it? Summer is almost over! In two weeks, we’ll celebrate Labor Day, which marks the unofficial beginning of fall. Officially, fall doesn’t arrive until Tuesday, September 22, and hopefully there’s plenty of good weather in store until then and beyond.

For some, all planting takes place in the spring. I’m not sure why but suspect that it has to do with agriculture and vegetable gardens where crops are planted in spring and harvested in late summer and fall. This mindset is not the same for ornamental plants.

Except for fruit trees, shrubs and vines, most crop plants are annuals. Most ornamental plants are perennials. The nursery industry recommends planting most trees and shrubs in fall. Even herbaceous perennials can be planted or dug up and split in fall. And spring flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips need to be planted this fall if you want them to bloom next spring.

The reason for this apparent break with conventional wisdom has to do with weather. Fall planting gives plants a considerable period to get established while the days are warm, the nights cool and the soil just the right growing temperature. The cool nights are ideal in helping plants get used to cold temperatures gradually. When winter arrives, they’ll be ready for dormancy.

In spring, fall plants will break dormancy and begin growing several weeks before spring planting can get underway. Because of their earlier start, last fall’s plants require less care during the summer than spring plants. That means less watering and, possibly, less fertilizing, saving you both time and money.

Don’t worry, you’ll still have plenty to do outside in spring. Evergreens should be planted in late spring. They retain their leaves or needles and don’t go completely dormant. If planted in fall, this can result in unsightly winter burn, unless you apply anti desiccant. Also, wait until spring to plant perennials that flower on new wood like butterfly bush and big leaf hydrangeas. Otherwise, you’ll have to prune the old wood away in the spring to allow new wood to grow.

Fall is for Planting isn’t just a way for garden centers to get rid of their remaining nursery stock. Most buy fresh stock for the fall. If plants look like they are leftovers, don’t buy them. If they look fresh, go ahead. Nurseries aren’t going to invest in stock that they’ll have to overwinter.

You can turn to our landscape professionals if you want to be sure you have winter hardy plants and the right plant is planted in the correct place. Then all you have to do is sit back and enjoy you new plants this fall, next spring and for years to come.

One comment on “Fall Is For Planting

  1. Autumn is later for us, so autumn planting is not much earlier than winter planting. I believe that it is more important in our chaparral climate because spring and summer are so dry.

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