As the summer winds down, the cooler nights and autumn rains return. At this point in the season, you’re probably mostly thinking about the yearly ritual of putting your garden to rest as soon the last of the late season flowers finish their final bloom. While those plants that gave you joy all summer long are finishing, it’s actually the best time to begin planting those native trees and perennials you’ve been thinking about adding to create additional wildlife habitat on your property.

Common knowledge will tell you that spring is the time to get planting, and there really is nothing like finally getting into the garden after a long winter. There is no need to wait though — right now is actually the best time to get those plants in the ground.

There are several excellent reasons why you should be planting in the fall:

  • There is time for roots to be put down – With winters’ frozen touch on the landscape still a few months away, there is plenty of time for newly planted perennials grow their roots and establish themselves in their new environment before they rest for the winter.
  • There is less need to water – The anticipated rainfall will make sure the plants stay adequately watered while they begin to establish. This also means less of commitment required on your part in providing additional water.
  • There are less pests – The later end of the year also marks the end the ideal breeding period for insect nuisances that will create stress for both you and your plants.
  • There is less disease – There also tends to be a lesser overall disease pressure put on plants as the nights cool, but the days are still somewhat warm.
  • There is a relief from the heat – Like you, many plants are sensitive to stresses caused by an overly hot summer sun. Planting in the fall gives them a break, and can be a more enjoyable gardening experience for yourself as well.
  • Less stress means better establishment and happier plants– The overall less pressure put on your plants this time of year gives them a better chance to establish during what is a sensitive time for them.

So don’t miss out using the fall season to your advantage to create healthier and happier plants in your garden. An established native plant garden will survive for years to come and be enjoyed by both you and all the wildlife who passes through or calls your garden home.  The gardening season doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, end with the flowers. There is still lots of time in the year, so get out there, get dirty, and get some native plants in the ground!