Why Fall Is the Best Time for Planting
While most people assume springtime is the right time for planting, there are many reasons that make fall the perfect season, including cooler temperatures, cheap plants, fewer pests and more.
Garden chores for the fall include winterizing your beds and raking up leaves. However, if you only focus on removing leaves you’ll be missing out on a golden opportunity for planting. Several factors make autumn ideal for dividing perennials, incorporating new plants into your beds, and planting an edible garden to harvest in the late fall or winter. Here are a few reasons why you should step up your fall gardening game. Tip: Those fallen leaves? They make great mulch for all your newly planted bulbs, perennials, shrubs and trees.
Temperate days and cool nights are the ideal conditions for getting new plants established. Unlike spring, which can often turn hot and dry without warning and wreak havoc on young fragile plants, fall weather is typically more consistent and stays on the cool, rainy side.
Since a large number of standard garden pests finish the above-ground portion of their life cycle in the late summer, fall usually sees a drop-off of insects and plant diseases. This results in fewer complications for fall plantings.
Shorter Outdoor To-Do List
Aside from emptying container gardens and raking up the fallen leaves, autumn doesn’t usually have that many gardening chores that require attention, as plants begin to wind down for the cold weather. Spring, however, has a seemingly endless list of tasks to take care of, including lawn care, soil prep, seeding and potting. By knocking off some of the spring chores in the fall, more time will be available come springtime for planting, transplanting and nurturing new plants.
In addition, doing extra work in the fall will result in improved plant survival rates, as you’re more apt to remember to water your young shrubs and perennials in the fall than you are in the spring, when you’re also caring for annual flower beds, new container plantings and vegetables.
Better Plant Prices
Since fall time is the end of the growing season, stores and garden centers often feature deep discounts on plants. These sizable discounts could enable you to buy twice as many plants in the fall as you would in the spring with the same amount of money.
Long Growing Time
When you plant trees, shrubs, and perennials in the fall, you’re giving them several weeks of growing time before they go dormant for the winter. Although the branches and stems of the plant cease growing above the ground, the root system continues to increase in size below the ground. Roots can grow in soil temperatures as low as 45°F. In addition, water is crucial for growing to continue — plants should be watered deeply every two weeks until the ground freezes. Perennials, trees and shrubs that are planted in fall are typically well-established when the summer heat hits the following year.
Plant Ahead for Spring Color
As soon as the soil starts to cool (typically late September), it’s time to plant bulbs. Crocus, daffodils, tulips and other little spring-blooming bulbs must be planted before the ground freezes. Be sure to plant a variety of bulbs that bloom in early, mid-, and late spring for weeks of gorgeous color.
More Free Time in Spring
The more spring chores you check off in the fall, the more time you’ll have to spend on other things come spring. By dividing your perennials, and planting your shrubs and trees in the fall, you’ll be freeing up time for other projects once the warm weather hits.