Houzz contributor Benjamin Vogt tells us why spring is overrated for planting perennials, shrubs and trees. Starting plants in autumn has advantages for both garden and gardener.
Garden centers have us tricked, and we help them trick us. After a long winter of reading magazines full of tantalizing plants and flowers, we itch for the first warm day. Nurseries make most of their annual income in the spring, which almost everyone considers to be the best time to plant a garden.
But it isn’t. Fall is the best time to garden, and it’s about time we realized this. Not only is cooler weather easier on new plants and tired bones, but planting in a spent garden with rain on the horizon also has advantages. Here’s more on why planting in fall can make spring gardens more robust than we might have imagined.
Cooler weather helps plants and people. I confess from the get-go that I’m an autumn junkie. I love the cool mornings followed by warm afternoons and a return to coolness in the evenings. I love the leaf colors, which are so much more profound than those of flowers. I love the insects rushing to gather pollen and nectar to overwinter or migrate. I love the smell of decay after a rain shower. I love the first frost hanging on every leaf and stem. But I really love autumn for the gardening energy it provides — I’m not sweating like a hog 30 minutes into planting or dividing, and the soil is very workable, so I can go for hours.
Plants love fall, too. Their leaves aren’t stressed by scorching sun, and cooler temps lessen the demand for water from the roots. I’m a firm believer that fall-dug plants are more robust than spring- or summer-dug plants. Less watering means lower maintenance. If you plant in spring or summer, more often than not you have to dutifully keep up with watering during those first few weeks or months. Constant observation of your new darlings gets tedious as the heat ramps ups.
When planting in fall, I water the plants in their pots a few hours before digging so they can soak up what they need, then I stick them in the ground and leave until forever. Now, I’m talking perennials here. For shrubs and trees, it’s good to thoroughly water the soil in the new hole to get it nice and tight around the new roots you’ve teased out from the root ball, and a warm day in January might be perfect for watering if it’s been a dry winter. But I easily plant perennials into early November here in zone 5, in Nebraska (find your zone).
You can plant later. Let’s say you buy a tree at 50 percent off before the nursery closes for winter in mid-October. Ideally, you’d plant it right away, but really you’re fine waiting several weeks, so feel free to go watch some football. Again, I’m in zone 5, and we garden mavericks dig shrubs and trees into late November. Click to read full article.
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