It's not too late to plant!
Fall (even late fall) is one of the best times of the year to plant perennials, trees, and shrubs.
Over the past few weeks we have been getting a number of calls and e-mails asking if late October or November is too late to plant. The answer is no - for most regions. Even as the air temperatures drop, the soil still holds a lot of warmth. In many areas, planting can continue into December - as long as the ground is not frozen and the soil can be worked.
Here's why now is such a great time to plant:
- Cooler air temperatures mean it is more comfortable to be outside working in the garden, but more importantly, since the blooming time is over for most plants, they are putting all their energy into root and vegetative growth.
- Soil temperatures will remain warm for much longer into the fall even though the air temperature has dropped. Though some above ground growth occurs at this time of the year, most of the energy goes into promoting good strong root growth. Root growth will continue as long as the soil retains some warmth.
- The likelihood of rain also increases in the fall of the year and cooler air temperatures mean that moisture will be retained in the soil longer because less is lost through evaporation and since photosynthesis is slowed, less is lost through the leaves.
- Far fewer insect and disease related problems occur in the fall. Most insects have either died or have found overwintering sites and are no longer a threat to newly planted trees, shrubs, evergreens, and perennials. The same holds true for many diseases - most are in a dormant stage at this time of the year.
A word of caution about late fall planting:
December can be a time of fluctuating temperatures; one day freezing and the next warmer. This cycle of freezing and thawing can cause newly planted perennials and winter annuals to heave from the ground. Be sure to periodically check for signs of heaving and push or "heel" these plants back in place.
Don't forget spring bulbs!
If you have any bulbs that you haven't gotten in the ground yet, get them planted now. These can still be planted as long as the ground is workable. Be sure to amend the planting hole with Espoma Bulb-tone according to the label directions.
Watch Mark's "video tip" on planting spring bulbs.