Your Ultimate Fall Planting Guide
Welcome to your ultimate Fall Planting Guide, where we'll take you through planting and caring for your garden in the beautiful autumn season. Fall is a fantastic time for gardening, offering cooler temperatures, ample moisture, and the perfect conditions for establishing vigorous, healthy plants.
Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this guide will provide simple and practical tips for successful fall planting. From bulbs and perennials to trees, shrubs, and even cool-season vegetables, we'll cover it all so you can enjoy a vibrant and thriving garden. Let's get started!
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Why are there plants that should be planted in the fall?
Many plants should be planted in the fall, known as fall or autumn planting. Fall is a great season to plant certain kinds of plants for a few important reasons:
- Cooler Temperatures: During fall, the weather gets cooler compared to the hot summer days. This is good for plants because they don't get too hot and stressed out. Instead, they can focus on growing their roots without extreme heat.
- Moisture: In many places, fall comes with more rain. This extra rain is a natural drink for the new plants. When you plant during this time, your plants can use rainwater, so you don't have to water them as much.
- Warm Soil: Even though the air gets cooler in fall, the ground is still warm from the summer sun. This warm soil is a cozy bed for plant roots. It encourages the roots to grow well, even if the plant's above-ground parts slow down.
- Less Competition: During fall, many plants that only live for one year (called annuals) are getting old and finishing their life cycle. When you plant new ones in the fall, they don't have to compete with the old ones for nutrients and space. You are giving them a clear path to grow.
- Strong Roots: When you plant in the fall, your plants have several months to make their roots solid and rigid before the hot, dry summer arrives. This gives them an excellent foundation to stand on when things get tough.
So, when you plant the right plants in the fall, you're helping them get a good start. They can grow strong and healthy, ready to face the following year's weather challenges.
Which plants should you plant in the fall?
Here are some examples of plants that are commonly planted in the fall:
1. Bulbs: Spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and crocuses are typically planted in the fall to allow them to establish roots before the cold winter.
2. Perennials: Many perennial flowers and herbs can be planted in the fall, such as peonies, irises, and lavender.
3. Trees and Shrubs: Fall is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs, as they can establish roots and prepare for vigorous growth in the spring.
4. Cool-Season Vegetables: Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and certain types of lettuce and spinach thrive when planted in the fall for a late fall or early spring harvest.
5. Cover Crops: Gardeners often plant cover crops, such as winter rye or clover, in the fall to protect and improve the soil during winter.
6. Bare-Root Roses: Fall is an excellent time to plant bare-root roses. Planting them in cooler weather allows them to establish robust root systems before the spring growing season.
7. Cool-Season Grasses: If you plan to sow or overseed your lawn, cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and fescue are best planted in the fall. The milder temperatures and increased moisture promote healthy grass growth.
8. Garlic: Garlic is typically planted in the fall, requiring a period of cold weather (known as vernalization) to produce large, flavorful bulbs. Planting in the fall allows garlic to establish roots before winter and produce a harvest the following summer.
9. Pansies: Pansies are cool-season annual flowers that thrive in the fall and early spring. They add vibrant colors to your garden during cooler months.
10. Fruit Trees and Berry Bushes: Many fruit trees and berry bushes, such as apple, pear, and blueberry, are best planted in the fall. Planting them at this time allows them to settle in before the spring growing season, often resulting in healthier and more productive plants.
It's important to note that not all plants are suitable for fall planting. Warm-season annuals like tomatoes and peppers, as well as plants that are sensitive to cold temperatures, should be planted in the spring after the risk of frost has passed.
Additionally, local climate and frost dates may vary, so it's a good idea to consult local gardening resources or experts for the most accurate recommendations for your area.
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1. Planting Bulbs:
- Choose a Spot: Find a sunny or partially sunny area in your garden.
- Dig a Hole: Use a small shovel or a bulb planter to dig a hole in the soil. The hole should be about three times as deep as the bulb is tall.
- Plant the Bulbs: Place the bulbs in the hole with the pointy side up and the root side down.
- Space Them Out: Leave some space between each bulb (usually a few inches) and make sure they are not touching.
- Cover with Soil: Fill the hole with soil and gently pat it down.
- Water Well: Give the area a good watering to help the bulbs settle in.
2. Planting Perennials:
- Select a Location: Find a place in your garden with the right amount of sunlight for the perennial you're planting.
- Dig a Hole: Use a shovel to dig about as deep as the plant's root ball and twice as wide.
- Remove from Pot: Take the perennial out of its pot and gently loosen the roots.
- Plant It In: Place the plant in the hole, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with the ground.
- Fill with Soil: Fill the hole with soil and press it down gently.
- Water Thoroughly: Water the plant well after planting to help it settle in.
3. Planting Trees and Shrubs:
- Pick a Spot: Choose a sunny or partly sunny spot in your yard where the tree or shrub can grow comfortably.
- Dig a Hole: Use a shovel to dig a hole about as deep as the root ball and twice as wide.
- Remove from Container: Remove the tree or shrub from its container and gently loosen the roots.
- Plant It In: Put the tree or shrub in the hole, ensuring the root ball's top is level with the ground.
- Fill with Soil: Fill the hole with soil and press it down gently.
- Water Well: Water the plant thoroughly to help it settle in and establish its roots.
4. Planting Cool-Season Vegetables:
- Choose a Location: Pick a sunny spot in your garden where the vegetables will get plenty of sunlight.
- Prepare the Soil: Work the soil to make it loose and remove any rocks or debris.
- Sow the Seeds: Plant the seeds in rows or patches in the soil according to the spacing recommendations on the seed packet.
- Cover and Water: Gently cover the seeds with soil and water them well.
- Keep Moist: Regularly watering keeps the soil moist but not soggy.
5. Planting Cover Crops:
- Select a Spot: Choose an area in your garden that you want to improve or protect during the off-season.
- Prepare the Soil: Work the soil to make it loose and remove weeds.
- Sow the Cover Crop: Scatter the cover crop seeds evenly over the soil. Follow the recommended seeding rate on the seed packet.
- Rake In: Use a rake to lightly scratch the seeds into the soil.
- Water In: Water the area well to help the seeds start growing.
- Allow to Grow: Let the cover crop grow throughout the season. You can turn it into the soil when it's mature, improving the soil for future planting.
6. Planting Bare-Root Roses:
- Find a Sunny Spot: Look for a place in your garden where the roses will get lots of sunlight.
- Get the Hole Ready: Dig a hole in the ground that's about as deep as a shovel blade and twice as wide as the roots of the rose.
- Soak the Roses: Before planting, put the bare-root roses in a bucket of water for a few hours to ensure they're nice and wet.
- Put the Roses In: Place the rose plant in the hole, spreading the roots. Ensure the spot where the stems meet the roots (the bud union) is just above the ground.
- Cover with Dirt: Fill the hole with soil and press it down gently as you go to get rid of any air bubbles. Give the roses a good drink of water.
- Add Mulch: Put some mulch (like wood chips or straw) around the base of the rose plant. This helps keep the soil moist and keeps weeds away.
7. Planting Cool-Season Grasses (Sowing or Overseeding):
- Clean the Area: Make sure the ground where you want to plant grass is free of weeds and rocks. Use a rake to make it even.
- Pick Grass Seed: Choose grass seeds that grow well in your area. You can find this information on the seed bag.
- Spread the Seeds: If starting a new lawn, evenly sprinkle the grass seeds over the soil. If you're fixing up an existing lawn, spread the seeds evenly on top.
- Cover the Seeds: Gently rake the soil to lightly cover the seeds. You should still be able to see some seeds on the surface.
- Water It Well: Give the area a good soaking with water to help the grass seeds get cozy in the soil.
- Keep It Wet: Keep the soil damp (but not flooded) until you see the grass starting to grow, which might take a few weeks.
8. Planting Garlic:
- Get Garlic Bulbs: Buy garlic bulbs from the store. Break them into individual cloves, but leave the papery skin on each clove.
- Choose a Sunny Spot: Find a place in your garden with plenty of sun.
- Plant the Cloves: Dig small holes about two inches deep and put one garlic clove in each hole with the pointy side up.
- Space Them Out: Make sure the cloves are about 4-6 inches apart in 12-18 inches apart rows.
- Cover with Soil: Fill the holes with soil and water the area well.
- Add Mulch: Put a layer of mulch (like straw or leaves) on top to keep the soil moist and protect the garlic over the winter.
9. Planting Pansies:
- Find a Good Spot: Look for a place in your garden where the pansies can get some sun but also some shade.
- Prepare the Soil: Make the soil loose and remove any rocks or junk.
- Put the Pansies In: Dig small holes that are big enough for the root ball of the pansies. Space them about 6-8 inches apart.
- Plant the Pansies: Take them out of their pots and put them in the holes. Make sure the top of the root ball is level with the ground.
- Water Them Well: After planting, give the pansies a good drink of water.
- Use Mulch: Spread some mulch around the plants to keep the soil moist and stop weeds from growing.
10. Planting Fruit Trees and Berry Bushes:
- Pick a Sunny Spot: Find a sunny place in your yard with good drainage (so water doesn't pool around the roots).
- Dig a Hole: Dig a hole as deep as a grown-up's shovel and twice as wide as the roots of the tree or bush.
- Unwrap the Plant: If it's in a pot, gently take it out and loosen up the roots a bit.
- Plant It Right: Put the tree or bush in the hole and spread the roots. Make sure the top of the roots is level with the ground.
- Fill with Soil: Cover the roots with soil and press it down gently. Then, water it well.
- Mulch It: Put a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to keep the soil moist and to stop weeds from growing.
Remember to water your new plants regularly, especially when it's dry outside. Enjoy watching them grow!
The Bottom Line
Fall planting is a fantastic opportunity to grow beautiful flowers, healthy trees, and tasty vegetables and improve your garden's soil. By following the simple steps outlined in this guide, you can make the most of this season and enjoy the rewards in the coming months. Happy fall planting, and may your garden flourish with the beauty of autumn!