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Fact Sheets
Fall Planting

Can Perennials be Planted in the Fall?

Late summmer and early fall is an excellent time to dig, divide and plant many varieties of perennials growing in your gardens. The soil has enough warmth to allow the roots of replanted perennials to continue their growth even though early frost may cause the tops to die. Fall planted perennials get an ideal start next spring and bloom at their proper time next season. If your garden does not receive early and lasting snow cover - the plants’ winter insulation blanket - just add some mulch to cover individual newly-planted additions to your garden. Conifer bows or other airy materials make excellent winter mulches. One of the key roles of this winter mulch is to keep the soil frozen during periods of no snow cover. You are trying to prevent the newly planted (and sometimes poorly anchored) plants from being heaved out of the soil by the winter's freeze/thaw cycles. Container-grown perennials purchased from nurseries in the fall will love being put in the ground where they are are more protected and where they can get on with growing unrestrained by their pots.

Should Fall-planted Perennials be Fertilized at Planting Time?

Fall-planted perennials should not be fertilize at planting time. Added fertilizer stimulates the plant to begin unwanted active growth - this actually weakens the plant, rather than strengthening it, for over-wintering. Perennials bought at Reilly’s Country Gardens are growing in a soil mixture that had some compost added to it at potting time. This and fertilizers added at intervals over the summer has established healthy potted plants ready for planting throughout the fall. At planting time, simply water the plants thoroughly and keep them well-watered for 2-3 weeks.

Steps to Planting Potted Perennials in the Fall.

1. Prepare the planting hole - make it twice the width and about the same depth as the potted root mass. Now is the time to improve soil conditions around the plant by adding compost to improve soil structure, drainage of heavy soils and water retention of all soils. Then fill the planting hole with water to give a thoroughly moist planting area. Let this water drain away before placing the new plant in this hole

2. Potted plants which are on the dry side should be thoroughly moistened before planting. You can place overly dry plants in a bucket of water for 5- 10 minutes to get the soil mixture well wetted.

3. Loosen the root mass of pot-bound plants. This can be done after removing the plant from its pot (remember, don’t pull the plant out of the pot by pulling on the stem – invert the pot and tap the plant out of its pot). If the root mass is loose enough, simply use your fingers to pry open the root mass in about 4 places. It the roots are tightly bound, use a sharp knife to make a 1/4" deep length-wise cut down the length of each side of the root mass. This will encourage new roots to grow out into the soil rather than be confined to the pot-shaped root ball.

4. The addition of MYKE fungal innoculants will help get your transplants well established. Information on the selection and use of MYKE fungal innoculants can be obtained from another of Phil's fact sheets Plants Crave Fungi:The benefits of adding fungi to soil at planting time.

5. Set the plant in the planting hole and fill in the hole with soil and add water (remember - no fertilizer) to the planting hole area to settle in the plant. In newly prepared beds, set the plant so that it's crown is 1 or 2 inches above the surrounding soil level to allow for settling. In all cases, make sure soil or mulch covers the potting medium. Leaving the potting medium exposed to wind and sun actually wicks away water from the root system and causes unwanted water-loss stress.

Perennials That Can be Divided and Planted in the Fall

There are many perennials that can be divided and planted successfully in the late summer and early fall. The plants in the following list are ones that we routinely dig, divide and place in pots for sale the following spring. Home gardeners can successfully do the same. When replanting your divisions, make sure that you cut back the vegetative top growth (stems & leaves) by 1/2 to reduce water-loss stress.

KNIPHOFIA (Torch Lilies)
LAMIASTRUM (Yellow Archangel)
LAMIUM (Lamiums)
LIATRIS (Gayfeathers)
LIGULARIA (Ligularias)
LILIUM (Lilies)
LINUM (Flax)
LIROPE \Lilyturf)
LOBELI (Lobelias)
LYSIMACHIA (Loosestrifes)
MONARDA (Bee Balms)
NEPETA (Catmints)
PAEONIA (Peonies)
PAPAVER (Poppies)
PHLOX (Phlox)
PHYSOSTEGIA (Obediant Plants)
PLATYCODONS (Ballon Flowers)
POLEMONIUM (Jacob’s Ladder)
POLYCONATUM (Solomon’s Seal)
POLYGONUM (Smartweeds)
POTENTILLA (Cinquefoils)
PULMONARIA (Lungworts)
RANUNCULUS (Buttercups)
RODGERSIA (Rodgersia)
RUTA (Rue)
SALVIA (Sages)
SAPONARIA (Soapworts)
SEDUM (Sedums)
SENICO (Groundsels)
SIDALCEA (Checkerblooms)
SMILACINA (Solomon’s Plumes)
STATCHIS (Lamb’s Ears)
STOKESIA (Stoke’s Asters)
THALICTRUM (Meadow Rues)
TIARELLA (Foamflowers)
TROLLIUS (Globeflowers)
UVULARIA (Bellworts)
VERONICA (Speedwells)
VIOLA (Violets)
YUCCA (Yuccas)
ACHILLEA (Yarrows)
ACONITUM (Monkshoods)
AEGOPODIUM (Bishop’s Weed)
AJUGAS (Bugle Weed)
AMSONIA (Blue Stars)
ANAPHALIS (Pearly Everlasting)
ANCHUSA (Bugloss)
ANTHEMIS (Marguerite)
ARENARIA (Sandworts)
ARMERIA (Thrifts)
ARTEMISIA (Artemisias)
ASARUM (Wild Ginger)
ASTILBE (Astilbes)
AUBRETIA (Rock Cress)
AURINARIA (Basket of Gold)
BAPTISIA (Baptisias)
CAMPANULAS (Bell Flowers)
CENTAUREA (Centaureas)
CERASTIUM (Snow on the Mountain)
CHELONE (Turtleheads)
CONVOLLARIA (Lily of the Valley)
COREOPSIS (Coreopsis)
DICENTRA (Bleeding Hearts)
ECHINACEA (Purple Coneflowers)
ECHINOPS (Globe Thistles)
ERIGERONE (Fleabanes)
FILIPENDULA (Meadowsweets)
GALIUM (Bedstraws)
GERANIUM (Cranesbills)
HELENIUM (Sneezeweeds)
HELIOPSIS ( Heliopsis)
HEUCHERA (Alum roots)
x HEUCHERELLA (Foamy Bells)
HOSTA (Hostas)
HOUTTUYANIA (Houttuyanias)
IRIS (Irises)