Although many people view spring as the time to begin planting, Tony Condurso of East Gate Farms explains that fall is actually a better time to get plants in the ground. Condurso stated that planting in the fall helps plants establish stronger roots and there is less maintenance required to keep them healthy.
“Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs,” Condurso said. “Mums usually show up in markets in August and provide beautiful fall colors when you plant them in the fall. Other great fall plants are ornamental kale and cabbage. Although mums are usually annuals, they may come back the next year if we do not have a harsh winter. The same is true of other annuals like Gerber daisies.”
The cooler temperatures in the fall are easier on plants, Condurso explained. Because the plant has the entire fall and winter to establish a strong root system, there will be more growth in the spring. In addition, soil maintains moisture better in the fall due to the cooler temperatures, especially at night. This provides for better overall growing for most plants.
“Even greenhouse grown plants do well when planted in the fall,” Condurso said. “There really aren’t many plants that you should not plant in the fall other than annuals as they don’t normally come back each year. In the past, trees and shrubs were balled in burlap, but most are now container grown. This means you can move and plant them at different times of the year. Larger trees may still be balled in burlap and those may need to be planted at certain times of the year, but any container plant can be planted at any time.”
The best time to plant in the fall is in September and October. Condurso explained that it is possible to go into early November, but it is not recommended because that reduces the amount of time the plant has to establish roots before the weather turns cold enough to frost.
“This is especially dangerous if we have a harsh winter,” Condurso said. “If there is an extremely cold winter and you plan too late, you run the risk of damaging the plant and you could lose it. You also want to be sure to mulch when you plant to protect the root system from harsh weather.”
East Gate Farms will be getting new material for fall over the next few weeks designed to be planted during September and October. You can visit them at their farm market just over the Wilkins Road overpass on Cedar Neck Road, east of Route 1. The market is open seven days each week from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. The Condurso’s are also happy to answer any growing questions you may have.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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