When is the best time to plant trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses?
The best time to plant any plant is during the dormant season – in North America, this is usually late fall through early spring. While it’s okay to plant during the rest of the year, it will require more maintenance from you in the form of watering, fertilizers, etc. You can plant in the hot, dry summer but fall is really a great time to plant large shrubs and trees, as they bulk up their existing root systems over winter, letting them drink more water.
Many people feel that spring is the ideal time to plant, but in fall it’s cooler, you’ll use fewer resources, and you’ll help pollinating insects find food in a time of year when they typically struggle. Unless you like hot, sweaty days, save yourself some effort and plant in the fall. Also, wildflower seeds, for example, planted in the fall have a chance to “settle” over the winter, and seeds planted in fall often bloom a full two weeks earlier than plants planted in spring. Container grown plants such as those from Direct Native Plants are dormant, as other plants will be over the fall/winter – but they are already established, meaning they easily out-compete other plants in their surroundings. Just be aware that plants in the dormant stage won’t typically show visible foliage until after they ‘winter over’- especially perennials.
Gardening in the fall provides a longer period with more ‘good’ days, as compared to the often tumultuous spring season. Plus, if you plant in fall you’ll end up ahead of the game and won’t have to rush to get everything done after winter. In fact, a good strategy is to plant perennials when you plant your fall bulbs. Weed control in fall is also easier since the weeds in your soil are dormant, unlike in spring when those weeds are highly energized and ready to wreak havoc in your garden. This situation really helps you as a gardener – in the fall you could clear your grow-site one weekend and plant the next. In the spring, however, you have to clear and plant the same day, or the weeds will overtake your desired crop.
During the fall and winter, after the temperature drops, most trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers go through a dormant period, where they are not growing as many new roots. Instead they are storing energy in the roots to be used during the next growing season. Planting in fall allows these plants to establish root systems that they can then bulk up over the winter. Also, in fall, there’s usually more rain– which means less maintenance for you.
Native trees, shrubs, and perennials can be planted at this time of year, as they will get several weeks of warm soil temperatures for the plant roots to establish before soil temperatures drop. You won’t see a lot of growth above ground, but trust us – the roots are flourishing and will do better than plants just starting to get their roots out during spring.
Need native plants shipped direct to incorporate in to your design? Shop our inventory of container-grown established natives at Direct Native Plants!