You have likely heard that fall is the perfect time to plant perennials, trees, and shrubs in your landscape. Ever wonder why that is? After all, come autumn, the landscape looks like it is slowing. New growth stops, deciduous plants lose their leaves, and perennials go dormant. That is just what we see.
It Starts with Roots
Underneath the soil, the opposite is happening. Plant roots take full advantage of the opportunity to grow. In autumn, they work to fortify the plant and get it ready for the next display of beauty. Though it is often overlooked when we shop, a healthy root system is one of the most important factors to a healthy plant. (That is why we focus on providing superior root structure in every plant we grow.) Even as air temperatures drop, the soil stays warm for weeks. This creates the perfect environment for plant roots.
Start Next Year Strong
One advantage to fall planting is that the new additions to your garden or landscape get established this fall. Come spring/summer next year, they can put on more growth/flowers because they are already settled in. This is especially true for spring- and summer-blooming perennials such as Sunstar™ Coreopsis, Evolution™ Coneflowers, Harlequin™ Penstemon, and Colorburst™ Cape Fuchsia.
Take Advantage of the Weather
Planting in the heat of summer can be stressful on plants. It may require that you give them extra care to ensure they do not dry out while getting established. Autumn’s cooler temperatures reduce this stress. In many areas, more abundant rainfall also makes it easier for you to keep up with the watering, so your newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennials do not go thirsty.
The break from summer heat makes planting and other gardening tasks feel like less effort on you as a gardener. It is a win-win for you and your plants!
Feed Late-Season Wildlife
Another benefit of planting in autumn is that you provide new food sources for wildlife. Plants that are still putting out flowers provide pollen and nectar for pollinators. Varieties that have seed heads or berries offer a nutritious snack for songbirds.
How Late Can You Plant?
It is different for every region. In cold-winter climates, you want to get your plants in the ground about four to six weeks before the ground freezes (when daytime temperatures no longer rise above 32F). In warm-winter climates where freezing temperatures are rare, you can plant throughout the winter.