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Fall planting

To plant or not to plant in autumn, that is the question...

Q&A with Pete Linsner, Manager of Plant Production

Did you know that fall is the ideal time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials? Arboretum expert Pete Linsner explains why new plants dig fall so much.

What can you plant in fall?

Pete: You can plant all kinds of things in autumn, including evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs, perennials, and ornamental grasses, as well as spring bulbs.

When is the fall planting season?

Pete: Fall officially begins with the autumnal equinox in late September. In general, the fall planting season lasts September through early October.

Why is fall planting so good for plants?

Pete: Plant health often depends on root health, and in the fall, the warm soil encourages root growth until the ground freezes. In early spring, roots begin new growth and continue to develop before the top of the plant begins to develop leaves, flowers, and new stems. This gives fall planted plants an advantage. Their roots are well-established before summer arrives, and are far better equipped to deal with heat and drought.

Is there an advantage to planting perennials and bulbs at the same time?

Pete: Perennials and bulbs can be planted together without damaging established root systems. Instead of digging through plant roots to layer bulbs, a fall gardener can plant everything at the same time. Not only will this prevent transplant shock to sensitive perennials, but it can save you time and energy, as well.


Pete Linsner is Manager of Plant Production at the Arboretum. He oversees our greenhouses and plant propagation program, and selects the plants offered at our annual plant sale.