One of the most frequently asked questions is: “When is the best time to plant?” The answer to that question is tricky. While spring is great, fall has better benefits. By planting in the fall, you are able to get two cooler, damper growing periods – fall and spring. One benefit to planting in the fall is cooler temperatures. When temperatures start to cool, plants do not put as much effort into leaf and flower production, but rather more effort into root growth. Extra root growth helps to establish plants so they can withstand the winter weather. Along with cooler temperatures come shorter days and less intense sunlight, which in turn does not stress the plant once planted.
Another benefit would be the reliable rain we get during this time. Fall rain helps to keep plants watered. Plants lose less moisture in the fall than in summer, which lowers water demands. However, the rain cannot be your only source of water. Make sure to water plants thoroughly after planting and continue to check them as needed until the ground freezes. One last added benefit is that pest and diseases start to slow down or disappear to hibernate. Keep these benefits in mind when deciding when you want to plant new trees and shrubs.
Before you do go off and plant in the fall keep these tips in mind:
- You should plant perennials and grasses up to 6 to 8 weeks before your ground freezes. This will allow them adequate time to grow a better root system to survive the winter. Trees and shrubs can be planted up until the ground freezes as these plants are already dormant.
- Make sure to provide supplemental water when needed.
- Avoid planting evergreens in mid-late winter. They keep their foliage all winter, and are more susceptible to drying out when the ground freezes and winds are blowing. Give these plants several months, rather than several weeks, to get established.