For many areas of the country, the fall season is considered to be the best time to plant. Indeed even in the wild plants bloom and have the most seed towards fall. In autumn the seeds fall to the earth and are planted naturally. The weather is also cooler and moisture levels are more consistent which creates a good growth environment for both perennials and trees.
Fall planting is often so much better than spring planting, particularly in the south, where droughts and high summer temperatures can contribute to undue stress the first year, while they are still putting down roots. Fall begins in late September; however fall weather can vary quite a bit from one part of the country to the next. The ideal period for fall planting is considered to be roughly six weeks before the first hard frost, usually from August to October.
Your local nursery will often have sales on plants like hardy perennials in the fall. Make sure to place your new plants in the garden bed as soon as possible. Avoid hot sunny fall days; plants have been shown to adjust much better on cooler days with clouds. As you plant, trim off any damaged leaves or stems.
Don't forget to care for your existing plants in the fall as well! Make sure to remove all annuals or perennials that have died or are dying. Remove any weeds around your new beds, and around flowering shrubs and shade trees. Fall is also a good time to add a layer of fresh compost and mulch to protect and nourish plants over the winter months.
Plants that have been given time to become well established in the fall are usually healthier than those which are planted in springtime. In autumn the soil is still warm with plenty of moisture. This creates the perfect condition for the establishment of new roots before the cold winter sets in.
Keep in mind not all plants can be planted in the fall. Fall is ideal for planting flowering trees and fast growing shrubs because it allows the roots to establish before the summer heat can dry them out.
Flowers like Chrysanthemums, Daffodils, Pansies, Crocus, Sicilia, and Tulips are other good choices. Even some vegetables can do very well in cooler temperatures. Some examples of good fall vegetables are leafy green vegetables such as, broccoli, carrots, peas, kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts. To protect your vegetables from early frost you can purchase a row cover or even use an old sheet if the need arises.
Many gardeners don't realize the true value of planting in fall, and so many think that they have to wait until springtime. Of course we gardeners can not just sit around and watch fall colors come and go! These months are filled with harvesting, mulching, planting, and cleanup. So, while the weather is at its most pleasant for outdoor work, let us put on the garden apron and get busy!