It’s Fall Y’all! Get Your Gardening On!
That’s right, today is the first day of autumn. Thanks to Google’s doodle, I have been informed of the arrival of autumn. And, appropriately so, a cold front blew in last night. This is a perfect day to remind you that fall is the BEST time for gardening. In fact, all of the other seasons could just disappear and I would be happy, happy, happy to bask in the glory of fall. Why? It is the time of year when the perennials are at their peak and the butterflies are having a heyday feasting upon all the delicious nectar. It’s a glorious sight! And then there is the temperature issue. In the South it is now bearable to be outdoors all day long with lower temps and crispier air. (Crispier…that’s a word, right?)
If cooler weather isn’t incentive enough to get outdoors and get your gardening on, then let me make a case for the benefits of planting during the fall.
The makings for a fall butterfly garden.
We have it all backwards, and rightly so. Spring is the time we emerge from the winter doldrums and eagerly get outside to enjoy warmer weather. Many of us get weirdly excited when we push back the mulch and see those new, green shoots poking their heads up. So naturally we run to the nearest nursery and stock up on our favorites. But let’s take a look at what is happening with those plants you just bought.
Plants, like people, emerge in the spring from their winter hiding place. In this case, it is usually a winter nursery. They are low on energy, having used up most of last fall’s energy store, and now they are being asked to produce new growth, flowers, and bring you loads of joy. What pressure! Then, on top of all that, the ground is still chilly and other plants will now be competing for water and nutrients and the poor little plant will have to push on with little or no energy.
Now don’t get me wrong, spring planting can be successful. It just may take a little longer to get things started. But fall…fall is the time for high energy plants. This is the time when plants have completed their seasonal growth and are preparing for winter. This slowing down of top growth (new leaves, shoots, and flowers) enables the plant to start storing its energy and devoting it to root growth. With the warmth of the ground and the need for less water, your plants are going to grow like crazy underground in preparation for new top growth in the spring.
It is true that the plants you buy in the fall are not nearly as beautiful as in the spring. In fact, some of them look down right pathetic. But remember, it is the roots that you are after. By fall the roots are healthy and growing while the leaves and flowers are fading. If the roots look healthy, then take that beauty home and put it in the ground.
So you see, there is actual plant science behind the fall frenzy to put plants in the ground. It may seem counter intuitive, but there is a method to this gardening madness!
Now go get your gardening on!