A dozen super-duper reasons why you really should plant in Autumn!

Come July, everyone but the most fanatic of gardeners turn their backs on purveyors of plants. I totally get it – it’s too freaking HOT to labor in the garden! The soil has turned to impenetrable rock, and all you want to do is sip a cool drink in a shady spot. Or, in my case, crawl under a rock and die. By August, parking lots outside nurseries are veritable heat reflecting deserts, schools are about to start up again, and the last thing anyone wants is more stress in their lives. But THEN – after Labor Day – when temperatures start to come down, that fresh smell of fall is in the air, and a breeze rustles through summer’s crisp-edged leaves… THEN is when you need to put your garden gloves back on, and put the kids to work with the shovels. Really – I would not lie to you! But, this is one of those truths that most people simply refuse to take to heart. It’s like telling a 3-year old not to touch the hot oven. They will still do it. Not until after they successfully try it, they will know there was a reason that mommy told them “NO”. Same thing here. Once you’ve experienced the joy of a spring full of surprises you had forgotten you planted the previous autumn, you will know why I keep harping on this. Fall planting makes a world of difference in the spring garden! So, for the benefit of both you, and perhaps even future generations, here is a list of compelling reasons why you should indeed buck the trend, and do it now, instead of later.

1. The soil is already warm! If you plant now, your plant will have at least a couple of months to develop a good root system before winter sets in. The root growth won’t really slow down until the soil temperature goes below 55°F. By comparison, a greenhouse grown treasure thrown into the cold, soggy soil of April, will try to assimilate and adjust until – as the soil slowly warms – it gets its bearings, and it can begin to develop some roots.

2. Months of free irrigation! Except for those last few dry weeks of our Pacific NorthWest summer, you won’t need to water again until late next spring. Just imagine how much you’ll save on water bills!

3. Plants planted in fall will be at a HUGE advantage compared to their freshly planted compadres come next spring. Planting in the fall will give you a massive head start, come spring!

4. Not having to work so hard to keep it alive means less post-plant’em-stress – both for you and your new plants!

5. After spending the entire season – or more – in nursery pots, many plants are dying to get out and in the ground. I imagine it feels like the equivalent of having to wear shoes a size or two too small. Grant them the relief, and they will reward your kindness for years to come! 🙂

6. If you choose a plant with great fall color, its fall glory will lift your spirits even on a gray day – even if it’s small. And, gratification is instant! You won’t have to wait until next year!

7. You know those torrential winter rains we keep having? If you choose to plant a tree, it will do more than its fair share to absorb the wetness. When a large trees reach mature size, it will do more to absorb moisture than even a good-sized rain garden would!

8. Planting a tree before the rainy season will aid in storm water management and filtration, thus help clean our rivers and watersheds.

9. If you live in Portland, OR, planting a qualifying tree on your residential property may make you eligible for a “Treebate” that will be credited to your water/sewer bill. This is the City of Portland’s way of thanking you for keeping our city green.

10.  Speaking of green – this has been a disastrous summer with wildfires raging over thousands and thousands of acres. Orange is the new green. Granted, fires are said to be rejuvenating for forests, but still… At the rate we’re polluting our planet, anything we can do to increase the absorption of carbon dioxide in our over-stressed environment is a good thing. Woody plants will sequester carbon, so go ahead, why don’t you… Plant that fabulous shade tree you have always wanted! Get more info on the fabulous benefits of trees here.

11. Just about everything is on sale! Nurseries don’t really want to care for unsold goods over winter, so they start slashing prices. You may just find the best deal of your year! Stop by your favorite independent plant hawker or independent nursery, and pick your favorite!

12.  The last reason is deferred to the following spring. While neighbors are scurrying around with wheel barrows full of soil, and doing laps in nursery parking lots, trying to find a spot, and paying full price for shrubs and perennials, you can relax, fire up the grill, and harvest the first herbs of the year for the salad. Trust me – it’s a good feeling!

 

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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12 Responses to A dozen super-duper reasons why you really should plant in Autumn!

  1. Tina says:

    This excellent advice is also true for us here in Texas. Folks get spring fever and plant, plant, plant, but autumn is really the best time for planting trees, perennials and of course, our lovely wildflowers! Great post.

  2. annamadeit says:

    You nailed it, Tina. Spring fever! I bet the absence of that exuberant feeling is probably the number one reason people don’t “hear” all those reasons to do it now. Oh well, I’ll keep trying to get the message out… 🙂

  3. Peter Herpst says:

    So you’re saying that some people stop buying plants in the summer? Interesting. You’ve shared some fabulous reasons to plant in autumn. Another one is that all of those plants in pots that have been waiting around all summer can finally find a home in the ground. Happy planting!

  4. Fall is most definitely the best time to plant here in SoCal, especially as the vast majority of what rain we get arrives in the late fall and winter months. I’m far busier in the garden in fall than at any other time of the year. While our local nurseries and garden centers have generally gotten the message, sadly our local botanic garden has not. The botanic garden has a spring plant sale but it’s all but eliminated its fall plant sale, which is now a very slimmed down and virtually unadvertised event. I’ve complained about this in the past and was told that locals want to see plants in flower so, rather than educating the public (isn’t that a large part of what a botanic garden is meant to do?), they put all their emphasis on spring. Rant concluded.

    • annamadeit says:

      So weird… Makes me wonder if their marketing manager is a gardener, or just a business dork. Absolutely agree that their prime objective should be education and conservation. Good for you for at least trying to hold them to it, Kris. If I were them, I would hold open houses and tours in spring, when everything is in full, radiant bloom, and allow people to place pre-orders while they are still in lust, to reserve their stash for fall pick-up/delivery. That would make a lot more sense to me too.

  5. I understand the logic, but refuse to “fall” for the hype any longer. I lose more of anything I plant in the fall than in the spring, and I’m not just talking about things like Agaves. I’d only plant something in the fall now that’s zone 5 or lower, and doesn’t mind A LOT of winter rain. That’s my experience.

    • annamadeit says:

      Hmm, that’s interesting… I’ve lost things too, but the event that stands out the most as a big loss year, was that Arctic spike we had in early November in 2013 – the same year we went to the Kitsap Peninsula together in mid-September. That was such a dramatic drop in temperatures that I lost most of the things I had bought. Other than that, I’ve had really good luck with fall planting. (Hopefully, I didn’t just jinx myself…)

  6. FlowerAlley says:

    This is great. I always have my planting frenzy in the fall.

  7. Alison says:

    Hah, like Peter, I did not stop buying plants over the summer. My pot ghetto is enormous. I knew I would have to wait till fall to plant them, but if I waited till fall to buy, all the best plants would be gone, bought by others. I suppose I could have planted them and watered them in the ground. Instead I corralled them all together in one spot and watered them all at once over the summer. Now I have to get off my butt and start planting.

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