Nurseries are really busy in the spring, but we shouldn't be. We should be REALLY BUSY in the fall because it really is the very best season to plant and do lawn work. Our industry has tried to get this point across but it hasn't worked very well. In the spring, people want to go outside and do work after being cooped up all winter, and the sun and warmth feels good on your HUMAN face.
The problem with this thinking, however, is that these reasons are human-based, not plant-based. I'm guessing over 60% of root growth occurs in the fall, 15% occurs in the winter, and the rest in the summer.
In the fall, the soil is usually moist and warm as the air cools. Water moves through the plant at a slower pace, and everything seems to have better balance. Conversely, in the summer, the soil easily gets bone dry and hot, and keeping up with the water needs of the plant is more difficult. If it doesn't rain, then it's all up to people to provide that water which doesn't always happen properly.
Many people respond to this "but I wanted to wait until winter is over because I didn't want winter to kill my plants," and my response to that is that most plants that die in the winter were weak going into the winter, and winter just finished them off.
Sorry for the crude handmade sketch, but it's the only way I know how to get my point across. In the sketch, you can see that if you plant in the fall, there's 9 months of root growth that can happen before the misery of the heat and drought return in the summer. Plants that have been planted in the fall/early winter are more self-sufficient than stuff planted in the spring that needs human assistance with watering.
These two birch trees, recently planted, are growing underground like crazy long after the tops have gone dormant and the leaves have started dropping. You can easily see the white roots. This root growth continues all winter long despite the fact that people think trees are dormant. Trees are only dormant in the human-observation sense, but in the plant world, there's no such thing as dormancy because there's always some physiological thing going on inside the plant.
In this picture, you can see a flamethrower redbud we potted three weeks ago to keep it from blowing over in the wind. In that short time you can see that the roots grew about 12' on each side of the original pot the trees came in, and that the resulting root system is happy and well-knit. Fall planting is a superior concept that I hope more people will take kindly to and have the same results that we have come to love from our efforts.
The following video shows blue agastache I fell in love with last summer 2021. I took home a one gallon plant and plopped it in by the driveway at the end of November. It started flowering in early summer, and is still flowering now four months later. I did not drag the hose over to it once this summer. This video shows the superb results from fall planting, and the superior interest one can get when planting awesome plants!
I hope that if you try fall planting, you will have the same great results we get.
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