We say it often, because we mean it. Fall is the absolute best time of year to plant. For both us and for the plants. When fall weather finally shows up – like it will mid to late next week- it will be peak time for plants to be thrown in the ground!
Ok, let’s not just throw them in! Throughout my gardening life, whenever I actually took the time to take my own advice (admit it, we don’t all do that!!!) is when I was the most successful in anything I was doing. Planting a plant is all about time and details.
Starting with site location. You can do everything right with the digging the hole, soil prep, buying the healthiest plant, but if it is not in the right spot… you’re done! Or actually the plant is done! Consider sunlight – morning sun vs afternoon sun. Consider drainage – will it get water from just rain, or will it have to depend on you and your 25 foot hose, 40 feet away?
Once you have the right spot, digging the hole is rather important. It should be dug twice as wide as the pot it is currently living in, and just as deep. Often times I will see or hear about the plants that don’t make it, and when I look or pull them out… Well the hole is the same size as the pot… That just doesn’t work. Twice as wide makes the soil that the roots will start out into inviting. It helps gets the plants roots established and keeps them from just circling the plant.
Soil is what hold nutrients and water for the plant so it can absorb them. Without the right soil, nutrients can become unavailable to the plant. Without the right soil, water can either drain too fast, or more likely in our area, will stick around to rot the plant out. Keeping the native soil you dug out of the hole and mixing it with a rich bagged soil is the key. If you just do new soil, it does not mix well with the soil around the hole, making for a water barrier in which nutrients and water don’t cross well. Leading to problems listed above. So mix the two types of soils, and when filling in the hole, I like to rough up the edges of the hole I dug.
Now is time to plant it. Now don’t just stick it in the hole and cover it up… You must make sure the top of the soil level from its previous container is at the current level of the surrounding ground or slightly higher (up to 2-3 inches higher for some plants). You do not want to bury your plant… that is why the hole should not be deeper than the pot. The soil will settle and the plant will slowly sink. This can lead to the top feeder roots being too deep, and suffocating. Once the level is right, back fill and firmly tap the soil in place.
Water the plant well. This will help settle the soil and get rid of any air pockets that might have formed in the new soil. This is also the time to fertilize… A root stimulator is the best thing to use. You want to get the roots going before you get the leaves going… Build the foundation of the plant (roots) up before you focus on the rest of the plant.
The last thing is mulch – I love mulch! It makes the planting look finished, it keeps people and mowers away from the base of the plants, and it helps keep the plant healthy. Use what you like – they all will do the above!
So I will say it again, “FALL IS THE BEST TIME TO PLANT!”