Planting Trees and Shrubs in the Fall

Planting Trees and Shrubs in the Fall

 By Micheal Jenkins

Autumn is a glorious time of the year, and many of our readers are currently moving into that wonderful season. As fall comes for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time to think about what we’ll do with our gardens as summer fades away. There’s so much to consider—fall veggies, autumn flowers—but as it turns out autumn is also an ideal time to plant many kinds of trees, shrubs, bushes and the like.

Let’s start by looking at what makes fall such a great time to plant many kinds of shrubs, trees, and bushes. While spring and autumn are both popular times to plant trees and shrubs, the fall season offers many advantages when compared to spring:

  • Cooler fall temperatures help transplanted plants thrive. Transpiration—water loss by the plant—is generally lower, which helps the plant recover more quickly from the shock of being transplanted.
  • Temperature also plays another role unique to the fall season. While air temperatures are cooler, soil temperatures remain relatively warm. This encourages root growth in transplanted plants in lieu of the grown of more leaves, stems, and other aerial parts. This is ideal in transplanted plants, as it helps the plant establish itself in its new home.
  • Soil moisture retention is generally better in the fall, as the worst of the summer sun has passed with the changing season. Fall rains help with this in many parts of the country—the Southeast in particular relies on hurricanes and tropical storms to refresh its soil and aquifers. Combined with appropriate mulching, this can help the soil and the plants it holds.
  • Last but not least: fall offers cooler weather which makes working in the garden cooler and more pleasant for many of us. It’s a small thing, but it helps!

With these considerations in place, planting in fall can be a fun and popular choice for many gardeners and many gardens. So what can you plant in fall? There are a surprising number of options for autumn planting of trees, shrubs, and bushes in your garden:

  • There are some general guidelines to follow for your fall planting. In general, woody stemmed plants that are already established in containers or “balled and burlapped” can be planted in the fall, while bare rooted or brand-new seedlings should probably wait till the spring.  Many if not most trees shouldn’t be transplanted till they’re dormant, meaning that their leaves have dropped and they’ve gone into their winter hibernation.
  • Laurel (Laurus spp) is a popular garden shrub that is found all over the world and much loved for its handsome evergreen leaves and lovely spring blooms. It’s an ideal fall transplant option and thrives after having the cooler weather in which to establish itself.
  • Roses are another garden favorite, and while they require some care they are also ideal for fall transplanting. A well-pruned rosebush can be put in during the autumn season for new growth and hopefully flowers in the spring.
  • Hydrangeas offer impressive blooms, are easy to grown, and are another ideal candidate for fall planting. They do best in the autumn if an established plant is put in place, and will thrive in the coming spring with the right conditions and care.
  • Privet (Lingustrum spp) is often used to add height to landscaping, and frequently appears as a screen or hedge plant. Loved for both its stature and its fragrant white flowers, Privet thrives under an array of conditions and soil types and can be easily transplanted during the autumn season.

While spring and summer get more than their share of gardening energy and attention, we hope this inspires you to consider some additional aspects of your fall garden and how you can continue to enjoy working in your garden space all year round. If you have your own favorite fall garden plans, or tips on how to grow things in autumn, please share them in the comments or on our social media. We love to hear from you!

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