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: Fall is “the” season to start planting*!
*many (not all) plants in many (not all) locations
The Root of The Matter
It all begins 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.
Weather conditions in fall, before frost and hard freezes arrive, are ideal for establishing new trees and plants. In the fall, there is less “transplant shock” caused when settling a plant or tree into its new home. The Earth is further from the sun, and there is less heat and less chance of water loss through transpiration. Seasonal rain and even snow help to provide water and to settle in the soil around the roots. Even when the air gets cool, the soil retains the sun’s heat. The roots will still grow and settle in until the ground eventually freezes.
Focusing on Dormancy
Another reason to take advantage of 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 their systems take a hiatus for a restorative rest. That’s dormancy! When perennial plants and trees are dormant, their sap goes down. They become hardened off. They don’t take in as many nutrients. Their lush, tender leaves drop. They rest and they rely on cooler weather that comes with fall in order to go dormant – and stay dormant.
The Bare Facts
Simply put: Fall is warm, but not too warm – yet cool, but not too cool. This harmony provides you with the perfect opportunity to get your plants and trees into the ground while the weather is favorable. 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 additions to your growing space.
— Meg C.
Do you plant in the fall? Share your success stories with us in the comments below!
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