There is a perennial misconception that any fall planting will not provide enough time for plants to get established by spring. As a result, this time of year I find myself fielding questions about whether it’s too late to plant.
In fact, here are two big reasons why fall is the best time for planting:
First, the root system does not go dormant like the above-ground portion of a tree or shrub. With little energy demand for the above-ground stems, almost all of that energy is directed toward root growth. A well-established root system provides an excellent foundation for water and nutrient uptake, come spring, for optimal growth.
Second, there is decreased pressure from drought stress. Because the daytime highs and nighttime lows are cooler, the much lower evaporation rate allows the soil to maintain moisture following planting.
When planting in the fall, plant the tree properly by digging your hole no deeper than the height of the root ball. Also, do not overwater—it is possible to kill your plant with kindness. Planting too deep and providing too much moisture impairs the root zone’s ability to sufficiently exchange oxygen.
Our Garden Center hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Phone: 708-771-4903.
This installment of "Ask the Plant Expert" will be published in the September 9, 2020 edition of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, the Forest Park Review and the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.