Fall Planting After September 30th

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Recently a local columnist in a local paper had someone ask if right now was a good time to plant. I have not actually seen the column, but reliable sources told me the columnist said do not plant anything after Sept 30 in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area due to our clay soils.

First, I must say this columnist is one of my mentors and I consider him a good friend. Secondly, why does clay soil get such a bad rap? Another topic for another day. Back to the point! I do not care when you plant you are taking a risk of losing a plant. Plants do die just like people, computers, and dogs. Yes this is painful stuff, this death stuff but it is a fact of life, even in the garden. I often tell people we all fall in the food chain of life somewhere. Sometimes they get it, other times they do not. Such is life. Anyway everyone has their rules on planting. For example a common one is only plant during months that have ‘r’ in the name of the month. That sounds simple enough. My rule is plant whatever you want whenever you want as long as you are planting hardy ornamental plants, not annuals and veggies. This includes Japanese Maples, Dogwoods, Stewartia, whatever your eyes desire to see in the garden. The plants listed above are taboo to a lot of people for fall planting. Oooooo this fall planting stuff is so scary! Yes, I am being cynical.

I have planted more plants in the Fall than any other time of the year with great success. Fall is the time of year when a lot of major planting goes down in the greater nursery business. We do not have the time in the Spring to do all our planting, we are to busy selling plants. I have planted butterfly bushes, perennials of all types, Japanese maples, Dogwwods , shade trees of all varieties, grasses, hosta you name it, shrubs etc….. These plantings have done fabulously well. Come check our gardens out and look at our extensive collection of plants that were planted in July, August (no r in these months), and after September (September is inconvenient to plant as well, as it’s a good sales month).

Growing plants is not difficult! I have the planting and care guide on the bottom of the homepage. It’s titled planting tips (look for the boot and shovel). Click on it and 90% of all the mysteries of planting will be shattered, demystified and simplified. The other 10% is mysterious and always will be. That mysteriousness is part of what makes growing plants so interesting. Things are never the same the weather is always changing and throwing us gardeners curve balls. Real gardeners learn to roll with the punches, improvise and occasionally tweak things and even disregard rules in books. I have heard about some pretty bizarre planting techniques over the years that definitely were instinctual and crude, but for whatever reason worked well for the people doing them. Gardening could basically be compared to car mechanics in my opinion. I sent a skid loader into the mechanic several years ago. $4000.00 later it still ran horribly. A friend of mine put new gapped the points with a pocket knife and it ran incredible, almost like new. I can not fix anything mechanical myself. However, this illustrates how much gray area there is in even a hard science such as mechanical engineering.

An analogy to gardening would be when people come in tell me their plants are doing poorly. I advise them get rid of the weed fabric, fertilize with a time release granular fertilizer. And mulch with 2” of pine bark mulch. If I had a dollar for everyone who came back and said that worked great and the plant is doing well now I would have 200 bucks or so.

People who make all these timing rules on planting trees do nothing, but prevent trees from being planted. Plant things when you have time. We are all busy people now days. Plant when you have time, then it will get done. Waiting to plant never got much planted. If we always waited to plant, this place would still be a cornfield.


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