Why Fall is the Best Season for Planting in Your Garden
Listen, we all love getting our hands dirty in the spring garden. It's the perfect way to banish winter blues and reconnect with nature, but if you really want to make the most of the growing season, consider planting in the fall.
Mother Nature "Plants" in the Fall
Now, we're not saying you can't garden in the spring, but fall planting works with the rhythms of nature. What we mean is that most plants wrap up flower production in the fall, shifting their attention to forming and dispersing seeds. Then, as the seeds are scattered far and wide (via gravity, animals, wind, or water), they land in warm soils for a fresh start at a new life cycle. Mother Nature plants in the fall, so let's follow her lead, shall we?
In the fall, a remarkable shift happens as the air temperatures drop and the soil remains warm from the summer sun. This climate is ideal for seedlings, bulbs, and plants to set roots and settle into their new homes. Warm soils stimulate both root growth and microorganism activity to promote plant health. Simultaneously, the cool air temperatures support top growth without the stress of scorching heat.
Avoid Water Stress with Fall Planting
As air temperatures drop, rainfall becomes more plentiful, which plants LOVE. The additional moisture makes it easier for them to become established without an excess of supplemental irrigation. Plus, both soil and top growth retain moisture better in cooler temperatures, maximizing even scant rainfall.
Insect Damage is Less in Fall
Insects can be a major headache for gardeners, but the populations tend to be much smaller in the fall. Therefore, plants can focus all of their energy on producing top growth and roots rather than repairing and replacing the damage caused by ravenous pests.
Time to Grow Before Time to Bloom
Fall planting offers a whole six or more months of growth and development before the biological cues of spring start demanding fruit and flowers. Of course, this means your plants will be much better established, resulting in enhanced quality and quantity of spring production.
Summer Drought Tolerance Begins in Fall
If drought is an important factor in your climate, fall planting should be your best friend. The root system will be far more developed come the hot, dry days of summer, which means they'll be more capable of withstanding drought.
Winter Chill for Spring Blooms
Most plants don't just tolerate bitterly cold winters - they need it to thrive! Peonies, Tulips, Daffodils, Allium, Crocuses, Hyacinths, and others bloom in response to the deep chill of winter, giving way to the warmth of spring. Planting in the fall offers bulbs and plants a chance to settle in and root well before the freezing temperatures arrive, leading to abundant blooms come spring!
So, as you can see, it's possible to plant during other seasons, but the benefits of fall planting are far superior. Give new bulbs and perennials the best and healthiest possible start in your garden. Sure, some plants will only tolerate spring planting, and that's okay, but for those willing - plant in the fall!
- Katie Elzer-Peters