Around this time of year, I am often asked, “Is it too late to plant? Should we wait until next spring?” There is a misconception that if you do any planting in the fall, there will not be enough time for the plants to establish and they will suffer.
In fact, fall is considered the best time for planting. Here’s why:
1. The root system does not go dormant like the above-ground portion of a tree or shrub. There is little energy demand for the above-ground stems, so 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.
2. There is decreased pressure from drought stress. Because the daytime highs and nighttime lows are cooler, the evaporation rate is much lower and allows the soil to maintain moisture following planting.
When planting in the fall, be sure to plant the tree properly. Dig your hole no deeper than the height of the root ball and 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 appeared as an "Ask the Plant Expert" advertorial in the September 21, 2016 edition of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.