A Fall Planting Guide: Everything You Need to Know For Fall Color
September 5, 2018
If you think your days in the garden are limited once spring and summer are over, you need our fall planting guide! Warm soil paired with cool weather creates the perfect conditions to add color to your backyard that will last throughout the dreary winter months. If you’re new to fall planting, read on to find out the best plants for a fall garden and planting tips for successful growing.
Benefits of Fall Planting
You know that spring signifies new growth, but what is it about fall that makes it a great season to add new plants to your garden or yard? It’s a combination of factors that all work together to make growing easy.
- In the fall, the air turns crips but your soil remains warm. Warm soil temperatures encourage root growth. Roots will continue to grow through the winter until the ground freezes.
- Due to their more established root systems, fall-planted plants are better equipped to deal with heat and drought the following season.
- Cooler temperatures and more dependable rainfall in the fall minimize the frequency of watering required to establish new plantings. During the fall months, the soil is better able to retain moisture than during hot, dry days in summer.
- Additionally, fewer pest and disease problems occur in fall leading to healthier plants.
What Can I Plant in The Fall?
This is a question our garden experts hear quite often, and the answer is pretty simple. In the fall, you can plant pretty much anything and you can continue planting as long as you can easily dig a hole in the ground.
Take a look at the perennials, shrubs, and trees that are great for a fall garden and will add color well into the winter:
Spring Flowering Bulbs
Did you know that the fall months, specifically September and October, are also the best time to plant bulbs for a colorful display next spring? These spring flowering bulbs include:
- Dutch Iris
Our fall planting guide also includes tips for planting spring flowering bulbs. Here’s what you should remember:
- Look for bulbs that are plump and firm and avoid soft and mushy bulbs.
- Bigger bulbs will generally produce bigger blooms.
- Plant your bulbs in areas that receive full sun.
- Dig a hole 2-3x deeper than your bulb is tall (3-inch bulb = 6- to 9-inch hole).
- The wider side of the bulb — where you may see exposed roots — should go face down in the hole, leaving the pointy side of the bulb face up.
- Mulch and water your bulbs just like you would any new plants. Mulch keeps weeds from depleting your bulbs of nutrients, while water fills air pockets in the soil that dry out bulbs.
Not only is fall a great season for planting, it’s also the perfect time to fertilize. A slow-release fertilizer that works throughout late summer and early fall will establish stronger roots in your plants and protect them over the harsh winter months.
When purchasing a bag of fertilizer, you will see three numbers representing Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). The benefit of each nutrient can be explained by remembering the phrase: Up, Down, and All Around.
N = Nitrogen – promotes the growth of foliage and shoots (Up)
P = Phosphorus – stimulates root growth and flower development (Down)
K = Potassium – important for proper cell function and overall plant health (All Around)
Different plants have different needs, so what fertilizer should you choose for the plants in your fall garden? Consider the following:
Perennials — Perennials appreciate having a high-phosphate fertilizer with low nitrogen content. When fertilizer is applied in the fall, you will see stronger plants in the spring, producing a bounty of beautiful, colorful flowers.
Spring Flowering Bulbs — Bulbs need phosphorus applied at the root level to help them get established before winter sets in. It is recommended that you apply fertilizer directly into the hole when planting your spring bulbs.
Roses — Stop fertilizing your roses in early fall. If you continuing fertilizing, you’ll have too much new growth that will freeze and die when frost occurs.
Trees and Woody Shrubs — Discontinue high-nitrogen fertilizers and switch to slow-release fertilizers to encourage strong root growth and help prepare plants for winter.
Lawns — If you are going to fertilize your lawn only once a year, it should be in the fall. Lawns are recovering from a stressful, hot summer and need fertilizer to rebuild before winter comes. Slow-release nitrogen will feed your lawn for up to four months. It will first push shoot growth, and then, as your lawn goes dormant, the energy will transfer to root growth.
Follow our fall planting guide and you’ll enjoy an extra season working in your garden and enjoy colorful plants for seasons to come.