Fall planting

It took me a while to learn about the advantages of fall planting. Everybody plants in the spring, right? As consumers, especially in the mainstream outlets, like Lowes and Home Depot, fall gardening is touched upon briefly before their inventories are shoved aside to make way for Christmas decorations. The rush of excitement as spring approaches among winter weary gardeners is just not as powerful as the fall season when we are led to believe that our gardens are going into sleep mode.

In the South especially, fall planting (of shrubs, trees and perennials) can be very beneficial. The reasoning behind this is that their roots get a head start during the fall and winter months before active growth in the spring begins. As our growing season seems to be increasingly hotter and dryer, the plants don't have to work as much to gain a stronghold. Southern gardeners rarely have to deal with ground heaving and other problems that northern gardeners have so, as long as you can keep critters from digging them up, plants can be planted, mulched, watered and they are on their way.

I have found that plants purchased by mail order seem to have a better chance at survival when planted in the fall. This year I've placed a few orders and it is exciting to receive boxes of plants in the mail (or at least I think so).

The box pictured above arrived a few days ago from Lazy S Farm Nursery. I've ordered from this nursery in the past and I can't recommend them highly enough. They have an incredible selection of plants and they have lots of rare selections that are difficult to find. I ordered several epimediums from them this year. I'm working with a difficult area with dry shade and I've discovered that epimediums are very good in this situation. I also ordered some plants from them that they recommend for dry shade (like pachysandra procumbens).

Another great plant for dry shade are hellebores. This year I ordered the Sunshine Selection, hybridized by Barry Glick at Sunshine Farm and Gardens.

Sunlight Gardens, which I confuse with the previously mentioned nursery, is one in Andersonville, Tennessee that I've wanted to try for some time now. I finally placed an order with them this year and was impressed with the quality of their plants and their packaging. Among my finds there were the clematis "Durandii", baptisia "Purple Smoke" and ironweed, a stunning purple wildflower that I first saw in Randy and Jamie's garden.

I have a tendency to go overboard when ordering. I go to the website or catalog with one plant in mind and end up buying a lot more. But it is a lot of fun (until I check my bank account). So don't be afraid of fall planting. Prepare your planting sites in advance if possible and keep the plants well watered until the really cold temperatures set in. Rain is usually plentiful during the winter months and moisture tends to remain in the ground longer than the summer months. One more tip - it is advisable to mark your plants after they are in the ground so you won't dig them up accidentally next spring!


  1. Fall planting rocks! Our summers are way to hot for newly planted perennials or shrubs to withstand the droughts!

    I love epimediums and hellebores for my shady garden. Since we haven't any winter snow cover we need all the evergreen we can get!

    It is fun to get those packages!


  2. I agree with you! Everything that I do in the fall, I think about the spare time that I'll have in the spring (yeah, right). And most perennials are happier getting established in the fall.

    I've just come in from the garden after working since morning with only a lunch break! My Dutch irises and alliums arrived this morning and I had larkspur and poppies to sow.


  3. I'm glad you discovered that Fall is an ideal planting time, Phillip. It's always been my favorite time to go over the garden and divide and transplant because I want to enjoy the Spring blooming bulbs. Besides, you have to be careful if you plant in the Spring not to dig the bulbs up accidentally.

    I'm also share you opinion about Lazy S Farm Nursery and their unusual selection.

    Have fun with your Fall plantings.

  4. I like fall planting too Phillip. I just planted a shrub and a few bulbs and some hens and chicks. I know that doesn't sound too exciting but I was glad to get them.

  5. I couldn't agree with you more about fall planting. It took me a while to start doing it, but now that is about the only time I put perennials in the ground. I also find this is the best time to divide plants also. I am so glad you posted about Lazy S because I had been considering ordering from them, and now I feel more confident about doing that.

    Always Growing

  6. Phillip,
    You just introduced me to a new plant, that I had to Google. Now, I'm on my way over to Lazy S Farms.
    See ya later

  7. I'm so glad you found some Iron weed, Phillip! It is a very stunning color. I suppose we should be doing some fall planting... I need to sit for a while and start doing some mental reorganizing in the garden. Maybe I'll do that today. :-)

  8. I have a question for everyone --- I'm also in the deep hot South. Some of my perennials are just now hitting their stride (some of the cannas are just now flowering, etc) -- do I need to wait to move them until spring? Or just do it later in the fall once they die back a little? Thanks!

  9. Those plants came looking really great. What is the black plant?

  10. Both of our Texas moves were in late summer, and I couldn't wait all the way until spring so Fall planting it was!

    You have some fine plants, Phillip - Clematis durandii was one I had to leave behind. Hope they all do well for you!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  11. Ginger, I would wait and move them early next spring. Some people dig up their cannas for the winter but I've never done that and they always survive our winters.

    Tina, that is the one I mentioned in the post. It is pacysandra procumbens which is supposed to do well in dry shade.

  12. Hi Phillip, I somehow missed this post, hope it's not too late to comment. ;-> Thanks for telling about those nurseries. I have recently ordered from Sunlight gardens, cheaper than driving!, and was happy with the asters ordered. The root systems were huge even though the pots were only four inches. It has been so dry these last few summers, fall is the best time to have a moist soil for an extended period. Looks like you got some gems. I love the ironweed, we have a couple of naturally occuring plants, wish they would seed about more.


  13. thanks Phillip! I am going to plant some bulbs in that bed this fall. I'll just mark them so I don't disturb them too much when transplanting the perennials in the spring. thanks again for the advice.

  14. I agree with you,too! Those plants look so lovely in their little box :)

    I know... am easily amused and pleased ;) -but there is something so exciting about new plants. Even with my determination to not buy anything new til I planted everything from my last purchase, I still tend to get carried away if I have any money in my pocket.

  15. Hi Phillip,

    I think your box full of goodies looks very intriguing. Fall is a great time to plant here too. Here's hoping all of your plants take root and grow.~~Dee

  16. Hi, Phillip--Thanks for the list of nurseries. I love fall planting, it's just hard to find time sometimes because of school--but I have the same problem in the spring, too. Anyway, I've been digging a couple of new beds, so maybe I'll reward myself and buy some plants to put in them!


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