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Plant Perennials in Fall with Shrubs and Bulbs

Fall is prime time for planting spring-blooming bulbs and, of course, cool-season annuals for late color. It’s well known that fall is also the ideal planting time for most trees and shrubs. Not so common knowledge: fall is a great time to plant perennials, too!

plant perennials salvia officinalis

The keys to planting perennials in fall:

  • Choose plants with a healthy root system. (You can tip them out of their pots to check.) The top growth may look a bit bedraggled from a summer at the nursery, but as long as the roots are healthy, the perennial has a great chance of success in your garden.
  • Plant perennials early enough before the ground is expected to freeze to allow them to establish their roots in the soil. Aim to plant perennials no later than four weeks before the first expected frost, although planting closer to the frost is possible with extra care. More about timing, plus related tips.
  • Keep the fall-planted perennials watered up until the ground freezes, especially in dry spells. Even if frost has killed the tops of the plants, the roots continue growing until the ground freezes.
  • Lightly mulch when you first plant perennials, to conserve moisture. After the ground freezes, apply more mulch to regulate the soil temperature over the winter. More about winter mulch.

Image: Salvia officinalisby Jörg Hempel, CC BY-SA 3.0 de