Why Fall Is The Best Time To Plant

Gardeners in the Mid-Atlantic region can plant during the fall season as summer transitions to autumn. This is a great opportunity for them to enjoy the cool autumn days. Additionally, it provides the perfect soil temperature for roots to grow.

Autumn is the best time for planting landscape plants, even though many people think spring is. Gardeners who plant in the fall save time and effort, creating a healthy garden with less care needed at the beginning.

This blog post will explain why fall is the ideal time to plant in the Mid-Atlantic area. Additionally, it will provide advice on how to care for your new plants during the winter months.

Solidago (Goldenrod) and Asters

1. Cooler Temperatures and Consistent Rainfall:

Fall brings milder temperatures and more measurable rainfall to the Mid-Atlantic. This climatic harmony reduces stress on young plants, giving them a gentle transition into their new environment. Fall’s cooler weather is better for new plants because it doesn’t dry them out like the hot summer does. This also means you spend less time watering and more time enjoying the look of your fall garden.

2. Warm Soil Temperatures:

Even as air temperatures cool, the soil in the Mid-Atlantic retains its warmth well into the fall. This residual warmth encourages root growth, helping newly planted shrubs establish themselves before the ground freezes in winter. Fall plantings can focus on building strong root systems instead of coping with the heat stress of the summer growing season.

3. Less Competition and Pest Pressure:

Many pests and diseases that plague gardens in spring and summer begin to wane in the fall. Fewer pests mean less damage to your freshly planted beauties. In the fall, nurseries have sales and more plants available, so you can choose from a wider variety for your garden.

Ornamental Grass In A Garden

Planting Tips For Fall:

Select Native Plants When Possible:

Choose native or well-adapted species for your region. They are more likely to thrive in your local conditions, and, as an added bonus, we have the largest selection of native plants around!

Prepare the Soil:

Ensure proper soil preparation by amending it with organic matter to improve drainage and fertility. We also recommend using a planting fertilizer such as Bio-tone by Espoma. Bio-tone stimulates root growth which is the key to the success of fall-planted perennials, shrubs, and trees.

Water Wisely:

Water plants regularly in the fall to keep the soil moist, even if it rains consistently. Monitor and provide extra water when necessary. The counting rule still applies here.

Count to 5 for every gallon of pot size. For instance, a three-gallon pot would be a 15-count on the water. Allow the water to slowly absorb into the soil. 

When planting trees in the winter, we recommend a water bag. These allow the water to slowly drain from the bag and absorb into the soil.

Mulch Moderately:

Use mulch to keep the soil moist and regulate the temperature, but don’t pile it against the plant’s stem. This can lead to decay and plant death. Mulch helps the soil maintain a consistent temperature and reduces the freezing and thawing caused by the sun.


Caring For Your Newly Planted Plants Through Winter:

Continue Watering:

Even in colder months, it’s essential to water plants during dry spells to prevent root desiccation. Plants generally only need supplemental watering during extended periods of dry, windy weather before the ground freezes.

Protect from Extreme Cold:

Consider using frost cloths or protective barriers for sensitive plants. If you’re concerned about the health of expensive evergreens, wrap them in a layer of burlap. This practice is common in extreme northern climates in the north-eastern and central United States. 

Gardeners can use Wilt-Pruf to prevent moisture loss in winter. It is an effective anti-desiccant.

Monitor for Pests:

Keep an eye out for winter pests and apply appropriate control measures if necessary. In winter, moles and mice may eat the young roots of trees and shrubs, causing the main pest problem. This is generally not a problem in our region.


Limit pruning in the fall; it’s generally best to save major pruning for early spring before the leaves emerge. Only prune crossed or damaged branches as needed at planting.

Fall Landscape

Embrace the vibrant tapestry of autumn colors by planting in the fall in the Mid-Atlantic states. With care and attention, your new plants will thrive in spring, giving you a beautiful garden for years to come. Happy planting!

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