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Spring Is The Status Quo, But Fall Planting Is Equally Effective

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Spring may resemble the time when most gardeners commence planting, but autumn is just as good of a time when it comes to ideal conditions for establishing new plants. Whether to transplant new flora into the soil in fall or spring depends on the characteristics of the plant.

In the late summer and fall, the days are cooler but the soil is still warm. The cooler days and nights give relief to the top of a newly transplanted plant while the warm soil keeps the roots growing to establish the plant.

Fall is also a good time to get great deals. Garden centers have inventory reduction sales. Take advantage of the sales to get more plants and spend less. Shop around to find the best quality for the best deal.

Deciduous plants, most perennials and spruce are the things to get in the ground during the fall. Avoid most evergreens and broad-leafed plants for fall planting, as they need a full growing season to get the root to survive our dry, windy winters.

The timing depends on where you live. Obviously winter comes to the mountains earlier. Higher elevation gardeners should get new plants in by mid-October. New plantings need a few weeks to settle in before real cold temperatures arrive.

Considering that the plains usually get a brief blast of winter in late September before settling into mild autumn days, planting is preferable later into the fall when warmer days return for awhile. It’s usually safe to plant as late as Halloween or even into early November for lower altitudes.

Regardless of where you live, new plantings will need extra water. But because fall is cooler both day and night the plantings won’t need as much water as they would in the heat of the summer. Once plants lose their leaves they only need to be kept moist. A soaking once every week or ten days will do.

The most critical watering is just before the soil freezes. That’s usually around Halloween in the high country and between Thanksgiving and the first day of winter in the lowlands. If the ground isn’t frozen, regular winter watering will give new plantings a boost next spring.

Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
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