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The Case for Fall Planting

Fall is a season that is ideal for planting new plants and trees. Here are a few things to consider when planting in the fall.

Hello to all you growers and gardeners! I’m here today to challenge the emotional pull of “new life” that is attributed to spring and I want to put to rest the prevalent misconception that spring is the only season for planting. There are plenty of passionate people who are already in on this secret! So here it is: A few good reasons to plant in the fall.

The Root of The Matter

It all starts with some basics of botany: roots. Roots are a plant’s lifeline of nutrients, water and, ultimately, growth. For trees and plants to receive the optimal benefits of this lifeline, their roots need to be securely established in the soil environment. This is very important, especially when the trees are young. Why? Because new and young plantings are more apt to succumb to unpredictable weather conditions, such as biting cold, early frost, strong winds, extreme heat, and drought. Their strongest defense is a firmly established root system. Learn more in our related article, The Importance of Roots.

And that, my friends, is the first reason to support fall planting! Weather conditions in fall, before frost and heavy freezes arrive, are ideal for establishing new trees and plants. When planted in the fall, a transplant is subjected to less “transplant shock” caused when moving a plant or tree from one location to another. Seasonal rain and even snow help to settle in the soil around the roots. When the air gets cool, the soil retains heat and the roots will still grow until the ground eventually freezes.

Focusing on Dormancy

My second reason to encourage planting in fall is dormancy. You’ve heard the word, but what does it mean? Why is it important? Just like bears, perennials have their own winter hibernation, when the plants’ systems take a hiatus for a restorative rest. That’s dormancy! And digging, moving, planting, and even pruning are all activities best done when the trees have gone dormant.

Fall is warm, but not too warm – yet cool, but not too cool. This harmony provides you with the perfect opportunity to get your dormant plants and trees into the ground while the weather is favorable – and they’ll stay dormant through winter into spring! So take advantage of planting, allow the roots to firmly establish, and then, when the warm breezes and bird chirps tell of spring on its way, you’ll have some very happy new trees.

— Meg C.

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