How Fall Temperatures Affect Your Garden
Any time we go through a transitional season during the year, temperatures shift, sometimes subtly, other times dramatically. And depending upon where you live, you may experience those shifts more than other people. The question is, how do those temperature shifts impact your garden, particularly in the fall? After all, fall is known as the planting time for most plants, so how do you protect your garden and make sure everything grows well when the weather is unpredictable? Let’s find out.
Fall Weather Patterns
Fall weather is a grab bag of almost any kind of conditions you can imagine. Now, you might know your area’s weather patterns well, but sometimes Mother Nature throws a wrench into things and creates problems like these:
- Cooler, crisper morning temperatures (most plants are okay with this one)
- Extended heat (can make cool-season veggies bolt - elongate, flower, and set seed - or other plants wilt)
- Sudden rains (leads to possible soil erosion, root loss, reduction of soil oxygen)
- No rain at all (plants are deprived of nutrients, plant cells can be damaged, and plants fail to thrive)
- Early frosts and freezes (damages plant cells, kills plants, leads some plants into dormancy)
- Seasonal winds (can knock plants over or even uproot them)
While most established plants will adapt fairly well to these weather shifts, you may need to keep an eye on younger plants or seasonal plants like annuals and vegetables. But don’t worry; we’ve got ideas and suggestions for you (of course we do) to keep your garden thriving.
Help Your Plants Weather the Weather
You can’t change the weather, but you take steps to create an environment where your plants are strong and can withstand challenging conditions, so let’s have a chit-chat about what those might be. And remember, these are all proactive measures that can help ward off or prevent damage to your plants during harsh seasonal weather. It may not be necessary to do all of these, but most are recommended for gardens regardless of where you live.
- Choose native plants. Plants that naturally grow in your area are well adapted to local conditions.
- Use plants recommended for your hardiness zone. If the plants are non-native, they should be adapted to your growing area and hardiness zone. Always check the plant tag for that information.
- Keep your plants healthy from the get-go. Proper watering and feeding makes plants strong and healthy, and therefore more resistant to stressful conditions.
- Mulch your garden. Mulch can help stabilize soil temperature and moisture and prevent erosion.
- Amend your soil. Regularly amended soil is better able to drain excess rainfall.
- Have protection at the ready. Freeze cloth, or even old sheets, can protect plants from an early frost.
- Plant a windbreak. A row of trees or tall shrubs can provide shelter from the wind, and even help control erosion from high winds.
- Create a rain garden. Got lots of expected rain in the fall every year? Rain gardens can soak up rainwater runoff.
- Plant a diversity of plant species. Biodiversity helps a garden ward off seasonal pest issues.
- Wrap young trees. If you’re expecting fluctuating temperatures after planting a tree, wrap the tree trunks to protect them (burlap, corrugated cardboard, and a polypropylene fabric are the most common materials).
- Jenny Peterson