It’s planting time again, this time for fall

Rob Zimmer

The cooler days and nights of fall make this time of year ideal for planting. As soils begin to cool, this is a great time to plant a variety of garden treasures.

Perennials, trees, shrubs, bulbs and many wonderful edible crops can be planted this time of year. In fact, many gardeners and gardening experts will agree that fall is the best time for planting.

Perennials, those that return each year — growing bigger and better, are an excellent choice for fall planting. Many wonderful perennials are available this time of year, and often at great prices as garden centers and nurseries begin to offer these long-lasting plants at clearance sales. It is a great time to stock up and save on flowering perennials and ornamental grasses.

It is also a great time to divide and transplant perennials you already have that may be getting overgrown. Perennials such as daylilies, hostas, bearded irises, peonies and others can be divided now during the cooler weather or fall and transplanted in the garden.

These perennials often need to be divided every few years to flower prolifically. Dividing perennials is a easy task, for the most part. Simply cut back the foliage, dig up the plants and divide, either by hand or with a shovel or sharp knife into smaller sections. Then, simply replant them in the garden. As long as you have a good set of roots and a fan or division of foliage with growth nodes, you will have great success transplanting divided perennials.

Direct sowing of many spring-blooming perennials by seed can also be done now in the cooler weather of fall. Some of the best perennials for direct sowing of seeds in the fall are columbine, delphinium, oriental poppy and lupine. Simply scatter the seeds in the garden and cover with a thin layer of soil, watering in well. Next spring, these plants will have a jump start on the new season.

As many nurseries will tell you, fall is one of the best times for planting trees and shrubs. Native trees, such as oaks, hickories, maples, birches and others do great when transplanted in the cooler weather of fall, settling in for the winter season.

Shrubs, such as hydrangeas, ninebarks, viburnums, spireas and others are also great for fall planting. Many nurseries offer big discounts this time of year as well, making it a great time to purchase and plant.

Classic fall decorative plants — such as mums, kale, purple fountain grass, ornamental peppers, pansies and violas — are all great choices to add some color to the fall garden.

Mix and match in containers, or in beds and borders, for long-lasting fall color that may last through Halloween, even Thanksgiving, if we don’t get too many hard frosts.

It is also not too late to plant edible crops for a quick turnaround this fall. Now is a great time to plant lettuces, spinach, radishes, sugar snap peas, a new crop of kale, Swiss chard and others for a bountiful autumn crop.

Garlic is another wonderful fall addition to the garden. Planting garlic bulbs now results in a great crop in successive years.

Of course, there are the bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, allium, hyacinths and many more can be planted in drifts in the garden for spectacular spring color. I’ll talk much more about fall bulb planting in the next column.

Visit your local garden center to enjoy the treasures of the season and find great deals on amazing plants for the garden.

Rob Zimmer is a nature and garden author, public speaker and radio show host on WHBY. Readers can find him on Facebook at