There’s a common misperception that spring is the best time to plant a garden, but experienced gardeners know that the fall season beats spring for ease of gardening (no bugs and cooler temperatures). A fall planting gives perennials, shrubs and trees extra time to establish roots without the stress of heat.
Give your plants the best possible start by following the guidance on the plant tag for location, sunlight requirements and maintenance like pruning.
five of our favorite plants to plant in fall:
Tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinth need a winter’s chill before emerging in spring. Plant bulbs in a sunny location with well-draining soil. Sprinkle in a bit of bulb fertilizer in the planting hole before snuggling in the bulbs. Read more about planting spring-flowering bulbs.
2. Greens and Root Vegetables
Tender greens like spinach and lettuce, and root veggies like radishes and carrots, will grow from seed if started in late July or early August. And just like summer sunshine makes the tastiest tomatoes, cool temps and light frosts sweeten up fall-grown greens like collards and kale as starches are converted to sugars.
3. Hosta and Heuchera
These foliage favorites bring texture and color to a shade garden. Hosta is the most popular perennial for shade and it’s easy to see why. Hostas range in size from minis just 7 inches high to giants nearly 3 feet across. Best-selling varieties include Patriot, Minuteman, Sum and Substance and Guacamole.
Hosta’s steady companion is heuchera, often called coral bells. Like hosta, the coral bells send up sweet flowers on tall stems in late spring, but these perennials are bred for their lovely foliage. Look for the latest heucheras with copper and chartreuse leaves and learn more about planting both hosta and heuchera.
Plant shrubs while the soil is warm and nighttime temperatures are cooling off. This combination stimulates root growth and allows plants time to get established before the first frost. Garden smarter, not harder, and choose from tough-as-nails, drought-tolerant shrubs like distylium and ligustrum.
Fall is the ideal time to plant trees, especially the significant specimen trees like oaks and maples that will define your landscape for years to come.
Take care in choosing the site and selecting the right tree for the space. Too far from the house and it may be difficult to water in the crucial first years of growth. Too close to the house and you’ll have problems with roots that could affect foundations and driveways, with limbs falling on roofs, or with blocked views. Look for tips for planting new trees and shrubs in this project guide.