Everybody loves plants. Nobody loves watering them.
Or watching them die, especially the expensive ones.
“You’ll avoid a lot of heartache for yourself, your wallet and for any trees, shrubs and perennials you want if you just wait until autumn to transplant them,” said Rob Beets, horticultural marketing specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
“Lots of people get inspired to plant trees and shrubs and flowers in the spring, when we’re all anxious to see beautiful blooms and leaves,” Beets said, “but in fact, trees, shrubs and perennials don’t bloom well if they’ve just been transplanted.”
“Unlike annuals, which die out at the end of their growing seasons and depend on their seeds to propagate their species, perennials depend on deep, vigorous root systems,” said Beets.
Phyllis Odom, owner of Quincy Farms Garden Center in Wears Valley, said cooler temperatures present a good opportunity for transplanting and pruning plants.
“It’s a lot cooler outside and a lot easier on the plants,” Odom said.
A transplanted plant obviously will have had its root system stressed and maybe a little frayed. That plant’s first priority will be to re-establish itself in soil and to broaden its root system to assure its survival, not to bloom or grow above ground.
Experts agree that home gardeners would be better off to use springtime to research the plants they want, and then wait until fall to actually purchase and transplant them.
Any plant that lives year after year, whether it’s a tree, shrub or perennial flower, is preparing to ‘sleep’ as the days grow shorter, Beets said. It won’t try to expend any energy to grow, bloom or put out leaves.
“In fact, it’s going to be ready to do what a newly transplanted plant needs to do, anyway, (which is to) grow its root system to help it get through the winter,” he said. “By the time spring comes, a good root system can be established already and that plant will be ready to show off with growth and color.”
Mums are a current favorite for customers at Quincy Farms, but Odom expects pansies to be popular closer to the end of the month. “Mums pretty much ‘do their thing’ by the end of the October,” Odom said.
Odom also suggested purchasing and planting bulbs such as tulips and daffodils in the next few weeks.
“They won’t bloom until next spring but now is the time to plant,” she said.
Fall planting is easier not just for the plant, but the plant owner, according to Beets.
“You won’t get so stressed out either, having to constantly water your new plant purchases,” he added. “That’s not to say that you won’t need to water your transplants, but they’ll certainly need less water, less often.”
Fall gardening is easier