Fall is for planting, and bargains
Fall is for planting, planning, and and-of-season bargains.
September is not the end of the gardening season in our Mid-Atlantic area. Many annuals have weeks of bloom left but some of the other tropical/tender annuals will need attention. You can leave them outdoors until first frost or freeze will do them in or you can try to overwinter them.
As fall approaches now is the time to start planning to add to or move around some of your perennials.
Perennials that have spent the summer in pots at the garden center may look ragged, but they may be just rootbound or getting ready to go dormant.
Now is the time to look for sales. Take your selections home and re-pot until you are ready to put them in the ground. Tease out any bound up roots and give them some good soil.
For transplants, carefully dig them out and rinse the roots off to remove any insects or eggs. Tease out the roots and plant by adding a good soil mix to the hole. Check your garden for the invasive jumping worms while you are working.
Why is fall a good time to plant?
Many people assume spring is the best time to plant but soil temperature may not be ready here in South Central PA. Too much rain, late cold snaps, and the heat of summer can cause stress on the plants.
In the fall, as air temperature begins to cool, soil still stays warmer than the surface. The slow loss of heat gives root systems an opportunity to grow. Once there is a freeze, mulching will protect the plants. The cooler weather keeps plants from losing moisture from their leaves, cuts plant stress and allows energy to go to root development. Although we usually get a fair amount of rain here, new plantings need to be watered.
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Carol Kagan is a master gardener and author who has been active in herbal organizations for over 35 years. She has designed and maintained herb gardens and provided docent services at historic properties. She is the author of Herb Sampler. The book is a great resource for beginners who love herbs but aren’t quite sure how to get started; or have been unsuccessful in establishing a herb garden.