Why Fall Planting?

Why Fall Planting?

Did you know that one of the best times to plant is in the fall? It is the best of all the things plants love in Oregon. The ground is warm, it stays wet with fall rains, and the roots are able to get a jump start for early spring growth.

You can really plant any time you want except when the ground is frozen. But, fall is the best time because of the reasons below.

Ground is Still Warm

When the ground is still warm from the summer months it helps the roots shoot out more growth and get established in the ground before the cooler winter comes. The soil will stay warm until there is a cold rain that soaks into the ground or it freezes outside.

The Ground Stays Wet Longer

With the temperatures cooling down the plants are not expelling as much water as they do during the summer and warmer months. They are also not using as much water as they normally would so they do not need as much water.

Rains in the Fall

Rain helps with watering. When planting there is no over watering because the new plant will need as much water as possible. Once fall and winter rains start you can relax a little bit and not worry about watering as much.

Roots Get a Jump Start

When planting in the fall the roots are allowed to get nice and established before the winter hits. But, did you know roots continue to grow throughout the winter? It may be a small amount but they are still pushing growth and getting stronger. Plus, if you have them in the ground before early spring this is even better. Imagine your hosta growing. Before you even see it pushing up from the ground it has already been growing and preparing to make that push.

Important to Know!

You might be wondering what the numbers on the bag of fertilizer are for and what they mean. Here is an explanation of what they represent and promote. I know when I first started understanding what the numbers meant and I was looking for a low nitrogen fertilizer I thought the 10 was high for nitrogen but, compared to other fertilizers we normally use throughout the spring and summer a 10 is low for Nitrogen. For fall planting you want the Nitrogen number to be a 10 or 8 for the best results. Where as, come spring and you are using fertilizer on annuals you want the Nitrogen number to be 17 (like in our Water soluble fertilizer). This really pushes out foliage growth and makes your annuals look lushes and beautiful.


  • Fertilize with low nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen pushes top growth on plants but what you really want is for the roots to take off and make a strong based that will grow throughout the winter.
  • Add Compost. If you have a clay soil mix half the amount of compost in with half the amount of the soil (50/50). If your soil does not have clay mix a third compost and two thirds soil. Compost is great to add because it adds nutrients and loosens up the soil giving more room for roots to thrive.
  • Water deep. A helpful thing to do is to build a dam around the new planting and let a hose trickle for one to two hours really making sure the new planting is getting enough water. Soaker hoses are also a low maintenance tool to use and implement near your new plants.

This is not to say that fall is the only time to plant. You can plant year round except when the ground is frozen. If you plant in the summer something to keep in mind there is no overwatering when planting!

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