Fall is a Good Time to Plant

September 28, 2012 1:16 pm0 commentsViews: 16
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8126.114126.medReprinted by permission of Penn State Extension & College of Agricultural Sciences. www.extension.psu.edu

Fall is a good time to plant herbaceous perennials and woody ornamentals. But you need to plant early enough in the fall that you get good root establishment before winter closes in.

Select good healthy container grown or balled and burlapped plants and get them in the ground in early fall. I like to have fall planting done by early October. People do plant in late October and even into November but when planted this late in the season there is not much root growth and the plants are more susceptible to frost heaving and winter damage.

One reason to fall plant is to select plants for fall color. Fall color can be just as important as bloom color. Plants tend to color sooner in containers or balled and burlapped than they would if they were growing in the ground. This allows the gardener/landscaper to shop for fall color. Fall is the time to shop at stores/nurseries for great color in: ash, red maple, sugar maple, Japanese and other Asian maples, oak, sourwood, dogwood, fothergilla, witch hazel, some viburnums and many other plants.

Shrubs for fall interest include Euonymous alatus, with its intense red leaves, and the various cultivars of Cotinus coggygria, with yellow, red, or purple foliage. Color from berries, such as the orange clusters of Pyracantha Mohave (see photo) or the shiny red fruits of Cotoneaster divaricatus, is also valuable, often lasting into winter.

Perennials can be planted through early Fall. In the planting zone we garden in it is to your advantage to plant container –grown perennials no later than early to mid –October. Bare-root perennials, on the other hand, should be planted by late September to give them the extra advantage of time to set their roots. By planting your perennials by these suggested dates, you can give your plants a chance to establish themselves before they have to face the extremes of the winter season.

To best show off your perennial plants in your garden, try a natural approach by planting a single variety of perennials randomly within your defined prepared garden area rather than in a straight line. You can repeat this process with other varieties of perennials to achieve an overall natural look. Planting container grown perennials Dig a hole slightly larger than the rootball of the plant. Gently remove the plant from the container. Loosen the roots with your fingers. (For severely root-bound plants, cut an inch or so into the root-ball, then carefully loosen the roots.) Be careful not to break the rootball apart.

Set the plant in the prepared hole making sure to spread the roots all around. Make sure the plant is level with the soil that surrounds. Fill the hole with soil and tamp down.

Water thoroughly.

Planting bare-root perennials: Check the plant roots-snip off damaged or diseased roots. Place the plant in a bucket of water. Dig a hole as deep and as wide as the plants longest roots. Form a cone of soil in the prepared hole as high enough to hold the plant on top of the cone comfortably and spread the roots around. Fill in soil, tamp down and water thoroughly.

In planting perennials in your prepared beds, allow enough space between the plants for adequate room for growth. Good spacing between plants will provide proper air circulation helping to prevent dampness that can lead to disease. Remember to follow up your planting with mulch to protect your roots from winter temperature and the thawing/freezing processes that alternate.