Sure, once spring arrives, you’re eager to get your hands in the dirt and start planting all those beautiful perennials, shrubs and trees in your garden. But don’t overlook autumn! “Fall is a good time to plant, especially in warmer climates,” says Stacey Hirvela, horticulturist with Proven Winners Color Choice Shrubs. “That’s because you’re giving plants the longest possible period to get established before environmental conditions become the most stressful, which is in summer for southern gardens.”
In cold climates, it’s still not a bad idea to get deciduous plants, or ones that shed their leaves, in the ground in fall. “The benefit is that plants are going dormant and not putting energy into flowers or fruit, so they’re concentrating on root growth,” says Hirvela. Of course, more root growth means better performance in the long run. While air temperatures are in the 50s (and even in the 40s), plants still are growing roots, which will give them a better start next spring, Hirvela explains.
Spring-flowering bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, also must be planted in the fall because they require a 12- to 16-week chilling period in order to bloom. For gardens in the Lower South, look for pre-chilled bulbs to make sure they’ll bloom reliably.