By late summer, most flowering plants have ceased blooming. The vibrant colors of summer have given way to the subdued tones of autumn. But if you’re tempted to put your yard and garden on hiatus as the days grow cooler and autumn approaches, think again.
“Spring gets most of the attention, but in many ways fall is the ideal planting season,” says David Salman, president and chief horticulturist of High Country Gardens. “Mid-August (in very cold climates) through mid-October, is an excellent time to plant cold-hardy perennials, shrubs and trees. With the arrival of spring, plants transplanted in the fall are larger and more vigorous than spring plantings because of a larger, thriving root system.”
For most plants, root growth begins during the spring growing season and then slows during the heat of summer. Then, root growth picks up again during cooler fall weather and continues until the ground freezes. With the arrival of spring, plants established from fall planting will get off to a faster start and have a better show of flowers than the same plant transplanted that spring.
Planting in the fall gives plants well-established root systems that are better equipped to handle next spring’s dehydrating winds and summer’s intense heat. This is especially beneficial in regions of the country with harsh, erratic weather. And remember to put down a thick layer of mulch to “tuck in” fall transplants for the winter. In dry winter climates, regular monthly watering is also helpful.
According to Salman, some of the most popular perennials are those that are perfect for fall planting. In cold climates, stick with the most cold hardy types such as Oriental Poppies (Papaver), Beebalm (Monarda), Beardtongues (Penstemon), Sages (Salvia nemerosa types), and Yarrow (Achillea). In mild winter climates, your choices expand because almost any type of perennial can be successfully planted in autumn.
Salman gives these eight reasons why you should put plants in the ground this fall, instead of waiting until next spring:
1. Eighty percent of a plant’s root growth occurs in late summer and fall, so plants establish better.
2. Milder temperatures and more dependable rainfall help plants acclimate in the fall.
3. Fall soil is warmer and more conditioned than spring soil, making root growth easier.
4. Pests and diseases that might otherwise attack young, vulnerable plants are not as active or numerous in the fall.
5. Less water is required to establish fall plantings as plants begin to go dormant for the winter.
6. Plants put into the ground in the fall bloom more profusely the following spring.
7. Plants with an established root system can better withstand heat and wind the following summer.
8. Fall is the best time for planting in much of Texas and the desert Southwest where the winters are mild and the summers are extremely hot.
For more information about fall planting, and to find plants that are ready to be planted this fall, call High Country Gardens at 1-800-925-9387 or visit the website.
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