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Fall Planting

fall tree watercolor - fall planting

Why is fall a great time to plant? Autumn offers cool temperatures, short bright days, and dependable rainfall. Plant growth is starting to slow. Therefore plants are primed to focus on root establishment. Root growth is important before going into winter. When you plant in fall, you get a head start on spring growth. In other words, your new plants will be established in time for spring so you won’t miss out on any spring blooms or growth like you can when planting in spring. Read this Fall Planting Guide to learn how to plant in fall, what to plant in fall, and more.


Fall Planting - How to Plant in Fall?

how to plant in fall - watering a young tree

The main difference with fall planting versus planting other times of the year is that you should consider the 6 week rule. It is ideal for most plants to be planted about 6 weeks prior to the ground freezing so they have time to establish. The fall planting time frame is quite different depending on your growing zone. Most people assume the ground freezes after a day of freezing temps, but this is not true. The ground does not freeze until you have consistent daytime temps under 32 degrees Fahrenheit. There are huge portions of the country where this does not ever happen, or only happens for a short period of time. So plant away!

You can definitely plant most evergreen trees and evergreen shrubs as long as the ground isn't frozen. You can even plant dormant trees and plants. Just use a little common sense. If the plant isn’t a very cold hardy plant and you are right on the line of the recommended zone it may be best to wait until spring to give your plant the best chance. But say you are in a zone 7 and the tree you want can grow into a zone 5 you are fine to plant anytime in fall or winter. If you can dig, you can plant.

Just remember you will still need to water, not quite as much as other times of year, but newly planted trees still need that deep watering that encourages proper root development. Even dormant plants and trees still need watering when planted, but even less which definitely makes your life easier!

fall planting - digging in fall with shovel

What to Plant in Fall?

fall landscape

From shade trees to evergreens, perennials, shrubs, grass seed, and beyond, your options are endless. Fall is a perfect time to get heat sensitive plants in the ground. Getting these plants fully established before summer rolls around is ideal. I really like fall for planting traditional evergreens, shade trees, and flowering trees. Many people don’t realize they will often miss the blooms of their flowering tree when planting in spring. So fall is best for seeing that amazing display in the first year.

Things to keep in mind when buying plants in fall

Plants will not look perfect in fall. They are starting to slow down their metabolic processes to conserve energy for dormancy. Expect to see leaf color changes and drop. The trunk and branches should still look healthy and feel supple, never brittle. Many people are concerned with buying plants in this state but it can definitely be more than worth it when your plants are established and ready for spring. They'll put on a full growing season’s growth versus waiting until spring and losing a month or more of above ground growth to root establishment. Look for companies like PlantingTree that offer a dormancy warranty.

Get going, you confident fall planter!

Now that you have read our Fall Planting Guide, fall into planting and get a jump start on spring. After all autumn isn't just for Halloween, changing leaves, and pumpkin spice everything!

what to plant in fall - fall planting

Basic Planting Directions

Planting Tree package
Order plants online
Plant your PlantingTree tree
water your tree
use planting mix
slow release fertilizer
use mulch
water at the base of the tree with no hose attachments
watering schedule
How to Plant a Tree

Browse our selection of Trees, Shrubs, Perennials and Grass Seed in our online plant nursery.

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