Q&A: Fall Planting

I’ve heard fall is a good time to plant. Is this true for all plants, and can you give me some more specifics about timing?

Answer: Fall is a great time to plant perennials, trees and shrubs (aside from, of course, spring-blooming bulbs!). Besides the good planting conditions, you have a great chance of finding some bargains at nurseries as they try to unload leftover stock before the winter sets in.

In the fall, the soil is still warm, so roots will continue to grow. Plants planted in early spring, meanwhile, get off to a slower start because the soil hasn’t yet warmed to optimum temperatures for root growth. Fall-planted plants begin root growth more quickly the next spring, and stem growth follows sooner.

Additionally, fall plantings do not have to contend with the stress of summer heat and potential drought. Cooler daytime temperatures are gentle on plants as they get established, and the slant of the sun is less harsh. Pests and diseases are less prevalent in the fall, as this year’s bugs die or prepare to hibernate, and the humidity that promotes many diseases fades away.

The best time to do your fall planting is about six weeks before the expected first hard frost. (You can find out this date in your area from your local extension agency.) Plant trees, shrubs and roses six to eight weeks before the frost; plant perennials four to six weeks before the frost. In most regions, this means planting in September or October; in some areas it means “fall” planting really should occur in late summer.

Water regularly as your new plants get established, paying particular attention to evergreens. After the ground freezes, mulch around your new additions.

Read more about fall planting

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