Q. Is it a good time to plant trees or shrubs in my yard?
A. In Seattle, fall is almost always the best time to plant! For the vast majority of plants, you can plant anytime the ground is not frozen (which is almost never!) but fall planting has definite advantages. This time of the year the plants are slowing down their growth or becoming dormant. This makes it less stressful when they are disturbed during the planting process. For plants that have been raised in containers getting into the ground makes life much easier.
First, thanks to the fall and winter rains, you won’t have to water quite so much after planting. Second, fall planting allows plants to continue whatever above-ground growth may be left for the year. At the same time, it can continue to spread its roots as temperatures allow throughout the winter. This will make it much more capable to find and take up water and other nutrients in the spring and summer when resources begin to get more difficult to find. Additionally, you would have to buy a larger plant in the spring to equal the size of the one you plant in the fall!
There are some exceptions to purchasing fall plants. This is primarily due to some plants being more susceptible winter cold damage. Mostly this would apply to the more tender perennials. These would be plants that might not always survive the winter anyway. Examples would be trailing (but not upright) rosemary, most non-white calla lilies and most canna lilies.
If you are going to plant in the fall just remember to mix compost in the planting hole and then apply additional compost as a surface mulch when you are done planting as a nice insulating blanket for the winter chill.
-Chuck Flaherty, Magnolia Garden Center Owner
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Don’t miss Magnolia Garden Center’s Fall Nursery Sale – Save 25-50% on all trees and shrubs through November 3.