Benefits Of Fall Planting
This article was originally published by GardenTech. You can read the original article here!
Many homeowners understand that fall is ideal for planting grass seed, and savvy vegetable gardeners have learned that starting late-summer gardens leads to a second bounty of crops come fall. But if you think planting perennials, shrubs and trees are best in spring, think again. Fall is the new spring — and it's the prime planting season for them all.
Here are just seven of the reasons why fall is planting time:
Warm Soil Temperatures
Air temperatures drop in fall, but the soil stays warm from months of summer sun. The warm soil temperatures encourage seeds to germinate and roots to grow. In fact, roots continue growing until the ground freezes so plants get settled in well before winter cold shuts them down. This head start on root development translates to strong, robust growth come spring. Planting about six weeks before the first hard frost is ideal.
Cool Air Temperatures
With cooler air temperatures during the day, summer heat stress becomes a thing of the past. Colder nighttime temperatures signal winter's on its way. Plants focus their energy underground, and above-ground growth begins to slow — a combination perfect for fall planting. Protected roots keep growing, but plants limit tender new top growth that would be damaged by cold.
Optimal Time to Fertilize
Because of fall's cooler air temperatures and predictable precipitation, plants are able to grow stronger with minimal stress. It is more likely to rain in the fall, which means plant roots will absorb more nutrients and require less watering. Nitrogen spurs vigorous, leafy growth and rich color. Phosphorus promotes strong root development while helping plants use other nutrients efficiently. Potassium enhances overall growth, helping regulate root and top growth to keep plants balanced.
Less Weed Competition
Many common lawn and garden weeds are warm-season wonders that slow down or disappear come fall. Less weeding around new plants is good for gardeners, but less competition from active weeds is even better for newly planted plants. In spring, actively growing weeds compete aggressively for water, light, and nutrients — fighting your new plantings for every ray of sunshine and every raindrop. Fall planting lets new plants get started without weed competition. By spring, your newly established plants have a strong advantage.
Fewer Insect Pests
Fall weather brings a drop in insect pest activity. That's a plus for you and the garden. You can enjoy the outdoors in peace — without wasting energy swatting mosquitoes and gnats — and your new plants enjoy a reprieve from insects, too.
Bonus Growing Season
When you plant in spring, it's not long before new plants get hit with summer stresses. About the time plants get going, so do weeds, bugs, heat, and drought. That's one reason spring-planted plants often need a full year's growth to settle in and hit their stride. Fall planting gives new plants a cool growing season, followed by a winter rest, and a second, strong growing season in spring — before summer arrives. With some plants, that bonus fall season is almost like gaining a year.
Fresh Fall Perspective
When plants drop their leaves and memories of summer glory are still fresh, it's easier to see where your garden or landscape is lacking. Fall planting sets the stage for a new-and-improved spring show, but it also packs a more immediate impact.
Perennials, shrubs, and trees with colorful fall foliage or bird-attracting fruit add instant beauty and draw winged visitors. Fall is also a great time to add plants specifically for winter interest, such as colorful or unusual bark or dramatic shapes that impress with or without leaves. Your garden's "bare bones" can provide enjoyment all winter, even when covered in snow.
By taking advantage of all the benefits of fall planting and growing, you and your new plants will reap the rewards this season and for those to come.
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