70531thumbIt is easy to see why there are optimum times to prune, and just as easy to see when pruning should not be done. Generally, deciduous plants prefer to get pruned while dormant and bare. They should not be pruned when actively blooming or making new foliage. Roots are of course not so easy to see. Do we really know what they are doing, or what sort of mischief they are getting into?

Autumn is the best time for planting most plants. They are less active than they had been earlier in the year, and many are going dormant. Either way, they do not need much. Once in the ground, their roots are kept cool and moist by the weather. They get to sit there all winter, as they slowly begin to disperse their roots to get ready for the following spring. It all fits into their natural life cycle.

Shopping habits, however, do not. By autumn, many plants are neither as pretty nor as tempting as they were earlier in the year. By winter, the weather keeps many of us inside, and out of nurseries. Now that it is spring, it is difficult to resist all the pretty plants that are blooming so delightfully. We are tempted to buy them compulsively, even if we have no immediate plans for them.

That is okay. We can make this work. Buying certain plants in bloom actually has certain advantages. It shows how and when particular plants bloom. This might be helpful when trying to decide between different cultivars of deciduous magnolias, flowering cherries, flowering crabapples or wisterias, for example. Besides, they will finish blooming quickly, and start to produce new foliage.

If planted before new foliage matures, new plants should be planted in cool weather, and maybe sprayed lightly with water after the roots get soaked in. This is best for drought tolerant plants like ceanothus, that want out of their cans (nursery pots) as soon as possible. If new plants stay in their cans long enough for foliage to mature, they must be watered carefully, but not kept saturated. The black vinyl cans should be shaded, since they get warm in sunlight.

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14 thoughts on “Autumn Really Was For Planting

  1. I usually try to plant in the fall – you get so much more plant the following season! Didn’t make it this year, though. Had time for the bulbs and that was it. In this climate, though there is the risk of losing a plant, especially to frost heave.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here in the midwest I try to get all plantings in the preserve of bare root native shrubs and trees done well before spring. We plant through the winter when ground’s not frozen. Frost heaving can be mitigated by heavy mulching with wood chips.

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    1. We do ours in the autumn because the ground does not freeze, and because we get rain only in winter. If we wait until the end of winter, bare root plants get too dry too soon. Because I could not get the right elderberries, I had to grow my own from local seed, and drop them in with the first rain. It is certainly no preserve, but I really want the berries; and I want to show how they can be cultivated like Eastern black elderberries.

      Liked by 1 person

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