Everybody always says, “Fall is the best time for planting,” but do you know why that is?
Once the tops of deciduous plants go dormant and the leaves drop, activity doesn’t stop. The roots of the plants continue to grow. During the winter months, the roots are kept warm by the soil and mulch, and the plant’s energy reserves aren’t depleted by leaves trying to take it all for growth on the top end of the plant. All the energy is focused on the root system – making it strong and viable and ready for the spring flush of its leaves and the stifling summer heat.
In evergreen plants, even though they don’t have leaf drop in the fall, the same principle applies. Growth on the top end of the plant slows to a halt and more energy is focused on growing a strong and sturdy root system.
In the Atlanta area, our falls and winter are truly ideal for fall planting. There is typically plenty of rainfall in the fall to keep plants watered without having to run irrigation, and the winters are usually not too severe as to need a lot of added protection. Mulch, adequate moisture, and the occasional wrap during ultra-cold weather are usually all that’s needed.
Once properly planted, water about once a week in the absence of rain, for about 6-8 weeks. Make sure you hand water and get enough to soak to the bottom of the root ball. Mulch with about 2” of your favorite mulch and your plant should thrive.
Fall is the time nurseries like ours bring in a lot of B&B (balled and burlapped) material, both deciduous and evergreen, because it’s the best time for digging and for planting. These fresh trees and large shrubs are sometimes mere days out of the field when they arrive at the nursery and are perfect for planting right away.
It’s also the time when material that is grown on the West Coast comes in. Japanese maples, special types of hollies and arborvitaes, ornamental topiaries and other unique items can really thrive when planted in the fall before the winter comes so their roots can become nice and established, giving them a leg up on the spring growing season. These plants can be tender (and also expensive) and our very hot summers can take a toll quickly. If they have established roots, they are that much better off.
Take some time this fall and add a few trees to your landscape. We’re here to help you choose the right one for your yard.
Remember that old Chinese Proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is today.”