Eco Gardener: Fall Planting Tips

The secret to a lush garden? Plant new perennials in the autumn.

The most successful gardens that I have ever planted have been planted in the autumn.

New plants have limited root systems and struggle when planted during hot and dry weather. Planting in the fall is less stressful for plants as the air temperatures are cooler. The soil temperatures are warm throughout the autumn, which allows the root system to continue to grow.

Preparation of the planting hole is the key getting your plants growing as fast as possible. Dig a hole at least twice as wide as the root mass of the plant and 1½ times as deep. Backfill with quality triple mix (equal parts top soil/peat/compost), place the plant in the hole and top up the hole with more triple mix. Stomp on it with the heel of your boot to get the soil in firm contact with the roots. By doing this, you are sending a message to the roots that it is indeed time to find a new home and get growing. Plants have the opportunity to establish a healthy root system when planted at least 6 weeks prior to the ground freezing. Next spring, these plants will get an early start on the growing season.

After you have planted your new treasures in the garden, it is important not to let them dry out, nor kill them with more water than they can digest. As a rule I suggest that you put your finger in the soil about 4 to 5 cm deep (2 to 3 inches). If the soil is dry it is time to water. Plants love nothing more than the oxygen-charged, warm water from a rain barrel.

PLANTING TIPS

  1. Plant perennials at the same depth as they are in their containers.
  2. Spread a layer of shredded bark mulch to insulate the root system and conserve moisture.
  3. Water new plants deeply to reach the entire root ball.

Get free tips in Mark’s newsletter at www.markcullen.com.