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Best to plant now, not wait 'til spring page 2
Why autumn really is the best time to plant

Date published: 11/2/2012


So why is fall the best time to plant? For one thing, the biological processes of the plant are slowing down. Temperate-zone plants respond to day length and temperature changes by beginning to enter dormancy. This reduces or eliminates many of the stress factors that were present in the spring and summer.

As the top of the plant retreats into dormancy, the roots will continue to grow. They will use stored food reserves produced by the plant during the growing season. As a matter of fact, roots will continue to grow until soil temperature reaches about 55 degrees. In the Fredericksburg area, that may not happen until mid- to late January. During warm winters, like last winter, the soil temperature may never drop below 55 degrees, giving the plant time to get well established before the spring growing season returns.

Fall is also a good time to find good deals on plants. Garden centers and the large box stores generally lower their prices to reduce their plant inventory.

Understanding how plants grow and survive helps you ensure your garden will thrive. If you have any questions on this or any other gardening subjects, please feel free to contact me.

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Guy J. Mussey is an agent in Virginia Cooperative Extension's Stafford County office, specializing in environmental horticulture. Phone 540/658-8000; fax 540/658-8006; email gmussey@vt.edu.