Fall into Planting: A Fall Planting Guide
Why is fall an excellent time to plant?
- Autumn offers cool temperatures, short bright days, and dependable rainfall.
- Plants are starting to slow down therefore they are primed to focus on root establishment which is exactly what you need 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.
How to plant in fall?
The main difference with planting in fall is that you should consider the 6 week rule before planting. It is ideal for most plants to be planted about 6 weeks prior to the ground freezing so they have time to establish. This time frame is quite different depending on your growing zone. Most people assume this means when freezing temps hit, 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 even happen or only happens for a short period of time. So plant away!
And, yes, you can definitely plant most evergreens and dormant plants and trees even into winter as long as the ground isn’t frozen. 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, of course, 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!
What can you plant in fall?
You can plant anything in fall. From shade trees to evergreens, perennials, shrubs, turfgrass, 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 and shade 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 to 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 www.plantingtree.com that offer a dormancy warranty at no cost.
Get going, you confident fall planter!
Now that you know your stuff, fall into planting and get a jump start on spring. After all fall isn't just for Halloween, changing leaves, and pumpkin spice everything!
Basic Planting Directions: