Planting in the Fall; why it is the best!
Fall is quickly approaching, that autumn equinox is coming up, and the weather is already starting to cool off in different places around the country.
For fall planting, watching the weather and the temperatures is even more important than the dates at which autumn officially starts on the calendar.
It is best to be looking at the forecasted temperatures and weather--when there are a few solid weeks of cooler temperature looming in the weather-man’s predictions, it is the time to get down into the soil.
But isn’t spring the best time to plant? Or even summer, since I don’t want my plants to get too cold?
The short answer is no, but I assume you are here for the longer answer:
According to a college textbook, Principles of Agronomy for Sustainable Agriculture in their Sowing and Planting chapter, “The best time for planting trees is autumn when they are dormant and the risk of desiccation is minimal.”
Desiccation is just a fancy word for things drying out--and the risk is lower due to the increased amount of rainfall as well as the increase in available moisture due to the lessening intensity of the sun and heat that causes evaporation or will burn the tender leaves.
This is a boon to the homeowners who sometimes forget to water their new shrubs during a dry spell, as the weather and environment is just more forgiving to those errors or forgetful memories. This is a big reason that we as a plant retailer suggest that people give planting a go in the fall--a better rate of survival and easier on the wallet with the natural precipitation helping you out.
There are less ‘weed’ problems in the fall than in the robust spring, meaning there is also less long term competition for resources, since you are tilling and digging up the land and disrupting the roots of any ‘weeds.’
A fall planting time allows for more focused root growth instead of shoot growth (leaves and above the soil growth). So that disruption of roots in the yard during the best rooting time helps your yard’s newest editions thrive as their roots have the space to grow.
In addition to ‘weeds’, there are more hungry bugs on the move in spring and summer than in fall. Whether that is more of a boon for the person doing the planting (you!) or for the plant's own health, that is still up in the air with my research and perchance depends on how much you hate getting bug bites!
Clarifications and things to keep in mind;
If it no longer feels like summer, that the heat of the season is gone in your area, then it is best to get planting even if the calendar says fall isn’t for a few more weeks. The feeling of fall is more important, those consistently cooler temperatures is what to look out for.
If you feel your fall season is too short for your area, then feel free to plant earlier if you feel confident with your ability to consistently water! Other locations can easily plant in the winter months with their milder weather--but don’t use that as an excuse to plant later and later!
The longer you give plants to focus on establishing their roots, the better off they will be when spring and summer come around. You will get a ‘surprise’ showing of robust growth compared to the entering-dormancy shrub you chose for your landscape’s future.
Happy planting days!
Thank you for reading! Feel free to email some questions you would like covered in my blog--someone always has the same questions that others wonder about in silence. (: --Ash