Misconceptions of Fall Plantingsiteadmin
Misconceptions of Fall Planting
“It’s September. Can we still plant?”
This is the most common question asked in nurseries this time of year. My answer is simple. “Of course you can still plant.”
Years and years ago, when nurseries sold all their plants “bare root,” you could only plant that stuff early in the season. Now, everything that we sell is potted. And if it is potted, you can plant from the day you can first put your shovel in the ground in the spring until the day when you can no longer put your shovel in the ground in the fall. If you can keep the plant well watered, you don’t have to worry about the time of year for planting. Trees, bushes, or shrubs—basically everything that is available at your nursery can be planted.
You want the plant to start making roots, and one of the best things about fall planting is that the soil is warm and the nights are cool, so it is less stressful on the plant. You don’t have that intense summer heat taking all the moisture away from the leaves. Plants, in general, produce 60% of their root growth in the fall. With that in mind, any time from September on is the premium time for planting. If you keep up with watering, those roots are going to grow like crazy!
It is important to keep watering until the ground freezes in order to maintain root growth. Our fall season has been very dry the last several years, so you must keep watering the plants, sometimes until November or even December. We often see a lot of winter damage in the spring following a dry fall. Don’t stop watering just because it gets colder outside! If there is no moisture in the ground, you need to give your plants a drink. Those neighbors who think you’re crazy watering your plants late in the fall, all bundled up in a hat and mitts, will see the results in your beautiful, healthy garden in the spring!
This is also a good time to take a close look at your garden and write down what you liked or didn’t like about it. Take a good look at your veggie patch and write down what you are going to change for next year, because you know you need to rotate your crops, for pest, disease, and nutrient reasons. You never plant the same thing in the same spot two years in a row! By writing these things down, you have a plan ready for spring as you think about moving plants or preparing a successful vegetable patch.
Don’t forget that fall bulbs are available in September and can be planted right away. One of those fall misconceptions is that you must wait until October or November to plant your bulbs. However, bulbs are much like trees, shrubs, and evergreens. They need thirty days or more to create roots before the ground freezes. When you plant your bulbs, tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths, you should give them a good drink to initiate the production of roots. The proper depth for planting bulbs is three times the depth of the bulb itself, so the tulips will be at about 6″, the daffodils at 8″, and the smaller crocuses at about 3″. As a result, the type of bulb also dictates the depth of moisture required to promote that root growth.
Remember, you want the roots going down as they look for water! We often remind our customers that getting the plant and the ground wet is not enough. So many people, with a watering wand in hand, get bored and walk away before the job is finished. It is so easy to simply turn the hose or sprinkler on low and leave it for 30–45 minutes, giving the soil a good soaking to root level and below!
At Blomidon Nurseries, we continue with these reminders because we want our customers to have success. We try to give them the tools they need to be successful. This way, they will continue to plant more and more each year. The last thing we want is for them to fail, get frustrated, and give up!
We have seen an increase in business in the last two years, probably due to Covid, with people remaining home and wanting to grow their own vegetables or flower gardens. Sometimes they’ve done this individually and sometimes as a family activity in times of isolation or quarantine. We have had to do a lot more explaining for people who have never even taken a seed out of a package before. We want them to experience success. Questions like “When do I plant?” or “How do I plant and where?” So many of these newcomers to gardening, which could be seen as one of the positive results of the Covid era, will continue planting year after year. They may be planting vegetables or flowers or whatever.
The newer generations who don’t live in the country or more rural areas often have no idea where their market vegetables come from. Success in growing their own can stimulate quite an interest, and many are realizing that there are a variety of ways to grow! Some are creating beautiful gardens on balconies and other smaller areas. Grow bags and vertical gardening are becoming quite popular in many areas.
At Blomidon Nurseries, our staff will give you all kinds of information and ideas—no matter the size of your planting area—to help you on your way to avoiding “planting misconceptions” as you create beautiful, productive spaces.