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Plant Away!

By Paul James

Fall is THE time to plant. And the reason is simple: root growth. When you plant in fall, nearly all of the plant’s energy is directed toward root development rather than top growth such as stems, leaves, and flowers. In fact (and incredibly) up to 80% of a plant’s root growth takes place between September and November. As a result, plants are better equipped to start producing new top growth once spring arrives.


Trees and Shrubs

If given a choice of seasons to plant, I’ll always opt for fall when it comes to trees and shrubs, especially if I’m planting large stuff. No question about it.


I’ve witnessed firsthand the enormous difference between perennials planted in spring versus fall. You don’t get the same level of gratification when you plant in fall because dormancy is just around the corner, but come spring the plants explode with new growth.


Pansies really benefit from fall planting, and when they have time to produce a healthy root mass, they’re better equipped to survive harsh winters and burst into bloom in early spring.

Spring-Flowering Bulbs

These beauties must be planted in fall, because they require a certain number of “chilling hours” below ground to stimulate new growth in spring. Plan on planting any time after October 1 through November.


Because it’s a cool-season grass, fescue seed must be sown either in early spring or in fall. And of the two, fall is better.


There’s still plenty of time to get veggies in the ground. In fact, I’ll be sowing another round of lettuce and other greens from seed this weekend. After all, most are ready to harvest in 30 days or so, and they can tolerate temps in the upper 20s.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t plant in spring. In fact, the vast majority of gardeners do just that, despite my recommendations. And that’s perfectly fine. But do me a favor: Try planting in fall this year and see for yourself the difference it makes.

Happy gardening, ya’ll.

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