Autumn is a wonderful time for planting in the landscape or container garden: temperatures are more moderate, soil moisture is easier to maintain, root growth increases in most trees and shrubs, it’s easier to see where empty or lacking places are than in spring and we plant tenders have caught our second wind! Spring flowering bulbs, perennials (including the classic Mum) and trees and shrubs thrive when planted in the fall.
Spring Flowering Bulbs
Whether in containers or the garden, planting spring flowering bulbs in autumn will ensure a colorful spring vista. Doing this task now gives you a much larger selection at a lower cost, than buying already blooming selections in the spring.
Mums are the go-to perennial for autumn containers and gardens, but don’t be afraid to explore other late season performers. For sunny locales blanket flower, asters and upright sedum are reliable, colorful and richly textured choices. Areas that are partly shaded can get an autumn perk up from toad lilies, Japanese anemones and turtlehead. Ornamental grasses can be found in a range of sizes and light requirements and are the perfect companion to fall flowers and décor.
Perennials are planted no differently in fall than in spring or summer; into holes wide enough to accommodate the existing roots and to a depth that keeps plants at the same soil level they were in their nursery containers. Watering should be done consistently, based on label recommendations for each variety, and should be discontinued if and when the soil freezes in your growing area. Fertilization should be held off until spring.
Trees and Shrubs
Most trees and shrubs benefit from being planted in the fall, except Conifers (woody plants that form cones) which do better planted in early spring. Fall planting of non-conifers allows for quicker root system establishment, without the challenges of summer heat and drought, to support a stronger flower and foliage display come springtime.
Trees and shrubs are also planted no differently in fall than in spring or summer; into holes one-and-a-half times as wide as the root ball and to a depth that keeps them at the same soil level they were in their nursery containers. Deep, consistent watering is especially important for trees as they work to expand their root systems. Watering should be discontinued if and when the soil freezes in your growing area. Fertilization should be held off until spring.