Many gardeners think about planting in spring when the weather starts to warm up. However when it comes to weather and temperatures, fall and spring are very similar. There are some big advantages to planting shrubs and trees in fall so we've talked to expert, Stacey Hirvella with Proven Winners, to share some fall planting tips and other do's and don'ts this time of year. Planting in fall is ideal since cooler temperatures will help with root growth and plant development, soil retains more moisture and a thick lay of mulch will help protect new plants from freezing temperatures throughout winter. Read on to learn more about fall planting and garden activities and why you should put your pruners and fertilizer away this time of year.
Why Fall is Ideal for Planting
Many people think plant in the fall is out since winter is right around the corner. They think a newly planted shrub or tree will not survive. But when properly planted in fall, the shortened days will trigger dormancy. This allows a plant to put energy into root growth and development. Instead of trying to push out new leaves and flowers. Because the temperatures are also cooler, it's not only optimal for root growth, there is less water evaporation. Rainy weather also minimizes the need to water. You can also find some amazing deals on plants in local garden centers as it gets closer to freezing weather.
When Should You Be Planting
There is no magical date on the calendar to tell gardeners, it's time to start planting. Depending on your zone, Stacey indicated you can safely plant up until about 6 weeks before the ground freezes in cold climates. In hot climates that rarely see freezing temperatures, plant when night time temperatures are in the 50s. It's also a good time to plant bulb flowers in fall to help force their blooms in the spring. She also mentions that Halloween is a great time to buy bulbs since there are some steep discounts and closeouts on remaining inventory. So there is plenty to do in the garden this time of year!
Fall Planting and Gardening Do's and Don'ts
Apply Mulch - a thick layer of shredded mulch to extend the window of optimal root growth and conserve water, especially important or plants with shallow roots.
Watch for water – keep an eye on moisture in the soil roots moist are moist and don’t let the ground freeze dry
Use Fall Leaves - they act as a great mulch and provide a habitat for garden wildlife
Plants susceptible to winter damage – butterfly bush, bluebeard, evergreens
Push hardiness zone experiments - planting too close to freeze date or plants not suited for the zone
Fertilize - many gardeners way too much in general but fertilizing this time of year, could encourage the plant to push out growth and leaves if there is an unseasonal temperature spike, which will freeze and cause damage to the plant. Save it for spring when plants are putting on growth.
Prune - except for any damaged limbs or branches
Hear the Interview on the Green Industry Leaders Network Podcast
As a regular podcast guest, Stacey Hirvella is an experienced and knowledgeable horticulturist with tons of great insights. Look for an upcoming #plantchat episode on What to Know About Fall Planting on 9/6/19. You can listen to the our complete interview and helpful information, 24/7 on the Green Industry Leaders Network podcast. You'll be prepared for the upcoming fall planting season and planting like a pro with these great tips.