We’ve made it through one of the worst summers we’ve had locally or nationally. We had record temperatures and minimal rainfall. These are the two strikes against planting success.
Now that fall is here, we’re all in our comfort zone. People will all have football and festivals. The trees will be totally comfortable hanging out in the woods naked with no leaves on. What’s the mode and mood all about? It’s about change – a change in weather. This autumn season involves shorter sunlight hours, cooler temperatures, and increased moisture. This of course, means better moisture retention. This, in turn, means better root growth.
When we say “Fall is for planting,” this is exactly what we’re talking about. The climate changes that the autumn equinox sets in motion, promotes root growth.
With summer’s heat and drought behind us, we can now say that this is the time to plant. Summer is a year away, and the time from now ‘til then is “acclimation time.” Yes, if you plant now, you’re giving the plant a year to acclimate to its new home, before it faces the stress of summer.
This acclimation will be in the form of new roots and rootlets. This spells success because this way the plant can take up the moisture and nutrients it needs. This, in turn, means growth, vigor, and hardiness. This rooting logic applies to the plant kingdom, from grass to trees. This is the time to transplant trees, make new shrub beds, and install lawns.
I believe that being a part of the Midwest here, we all get caught up in this time honored routine of spring planting with crops. That’s because that’s their growing season and it’s been done that way here since the Native Americans and Hector was a pup.
Well, crops are annuals, and lawns, trees, shrubs, and perennials are not annuals. This is the difference that should determine the mindset. With an annual like corn or begonias, you only have one choice and that is to put it in the ground before its growing season and know it’s all over come winter. When we now see the fact that our grass, trees, shrubs and perennials to come back each year as in “perennial,” we see that we have choices in the planting timing. We can either plant our landscaping in the spring and spend plenty of time watering, “hoping” the plant is rooting out as summer rapidly approaches or we can plant in the fall. The fall option is a much better plan. Time is on our side. We now are in the comfort zone as are the plants. The fall, winter, and spring climatic conditions will “naturally” cool, heat, water, and promote root growth, before warmer temperatures, and new leaves develop next year.
When fall color has come and gone we all wish we had given fall more thought. The brilliance of fall color, both in nature and our landscapes, is another reason to prioritize the fall season. It is nature’s last hurrah before the doldrums of winter. The color may be a late season show, but it’s round one for planting.