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Q&A: Succession Planting

What is succession planting and how and why should I do it?
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Question: What is succession planting and how and why should I do it?

Answer: Succession planting can apply to vegetable gardening and to ornamental gardening.

In vegetable gardening, it is also called continuous planting, and it means planting one crop after another through the seasons so that the garden is always producing. For example, you could grow cool-season crops such as lettuce and peas. Once they are harvested, you would remove the plants and replace them with warm-season plants like tomatoes and peppers. Then you could plant more cool-season crops for a fall harvest.

You can apply succession planting to ornamental gardening too. Here it means designing the garden so that there's always something of visual interest no matter the season. To work toward this, you should read up on when plants bloom; what their foliage is like in different seasons; what kind of berries they might produce and when; etc. Plants that have more than one season of interest are a good choice. Plants that have persistently interesting foliage—such as variegated hostas or colorful coleus—are crucial because they fill any gaps. If you choose plants that are of interest in different seasons—rather than planting all spring bloomers—you'll have a successful succession of interest.

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