With the long, hot, dry days of summer almost behind us, and fall around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about planting. Fall season planting (mid-August through mid-October) offers many advantages that may outweigh those of spring planting. Transpiration is low and root growth potential is high. The temperatures are typically moderate and are easier on the plants and the gardener, so there is less chance for stress by extreme heat. The fall rains help the trees and shrubs establish their root systems. When the air temperatures are cooler than the soil, new root growth is encouraged without new top growth. The result is a stronger, better developed root system for the next spring when the plant begins to grow. Mulching with wood chips helps retain the soil's required moisture while keeping down weeds.
If you wait too long into the fall season (November - December) to plant, you run the risk of poor root growth and increased failure rate. Conifers need a slightly earlier start than hardwoods; they like the warmer soil temperatures of the summer to early fall.
Some slow-to-establish species are best planted in spring. These include bald cypress, American hornbeam, ginkgo, larch, magnolia, hemlock, sweetgum, tuliptree, and willow. In addition, broad-leafed evergreens such as rhododendrons and narrow-leafed evergreens such as yews prefer spring planting. In general, plants with shallow, fibrous root systems can be planted easier in the fall than those with fewer, larger roots.
Trees that can be successfully planted in the fall include alder, ash, buckeye, catalpa, crabapple, hackberry, hawthorn, honey locust, elm, maple, sycamore, pines, and spruces. Most deciduous shrubs can easily be planted in fall.
Start thinking about your fall planting now, and remember the importance of adding native plants to the landscape. Speaking of which, the Gardens has milkweed plants (Asclepias tuberosa), the larval food plant for Monarch butterflies, for sale ($12 for a gallon container), call 843.383.8145 or email us to purchase yours today.