What to Plant in the Fall

While we're enjoying the cooler temperatures of fall, plants are as well. Fall is an excellent time to plant pansies, bulbs, and woody ornamentals.

What makes the fall planting season so ideal is the soil is still warm from the summer heat. Typically, there is more precipitation in the fall so there is less water pressure put on the plants. However, you may need to water them in the drier, warmer spells. Temperatures are cooler which also helps with the reduced water requirements, and lastly, there are reduced pest populations—both in weeds and bugs!

Pansies are cold hardy here in Michigan. The best time to plant them is early fall. They will bloom and grow throughout autumn. Cold temperatures may make them look wilted, but don't be alarmed, because sunshine will perk them up and help them look good again. They'll also survive being covered with snow, blooming during times of warmer temperatures after the snow has melted. Come spring, once the snow melts off and we start getting spring weather, they'll perk up, start blooming, and will continue to bloom and grow until it becomes too warm.

Spring bulbs need to be planted when the trees are changing color. When considering which bulbs to plant, several factors need to be considered—bloom time, height, color, whether you want to naturalize them, and wildlife populations. Deer love tulips. They will leave narcissus alone, but squirrels won't! Crocuses are also targeted by squirrels and chipmunks. Hyacinths and Muscari seem to be left alone by most animals. Muscari will naturalize, while hyacinths won't. I have found a granular animal repellent to be pretty good at protecting bulb plantings, but large amounts need to be used throughout the fall, winter and spring.

Woody ornamentals (trees, shrubs, and some vines) do very well planted in the fall, but they do require a good mulching to insure optimal growth and overwintering. The warm soil temperatures provide a favorable environment for root development, especially the feeder roots. With the cooler fall temperatures along with increased precipitation, plants establish quickly and come spring, they seem to take off as if they had a full season in the ground, instead of just being planted last fall.

Fall in Michigan includes football, cider mills, color tours and PLANTING! Enjoy!