It’s no surprise to gardeners who have lived here for years that now is the best time to put in certain plants. This is especially true for fruit and shade trees. By planting in the fall, it is a good head start toward surviving harsh temperatures next summer. Early fall planting also allows the plants to get over any transplant shock before it gets cold. Extreme temperatures, whether cold or hot, can put stress on plants and make it harder for them to grow or develop properly.
Most plants don’t totally stop growing just because the weather gets cold. In our climate, while it might get cold enough to freeze, seldom does the ground ever freeze solid. Most plants will slow down their growth rate or even stop their entire aboveground growth. However, their roots will continue to grow under the insulating blanket of soil.
The roots of these plants are expanding and storing up extra energy during fall and winter to promote bigger and better top growth in the spring. It is especially helpful to fruit and shade trees to be developed as much as possible before next summer. By planting in the fall, plant roots are given an extra three or four months of development over plants that are planted in the spring. The plants will have more roots to take up water and nutrients before the heat arrives next summer.
This logic holds true not only for fruit and shade trees, but also for many other plants as well. Any plants that are not harmed by cold, but suffer more in the heat, are good candidates for fall planting. These would include junipers, cypress, pines and hardy broadleaf ornamentals, as well as roses, lilacs, crape myrtle and any other deciduous plants that naturally lose leaves in the winter. These plants can use the extra time during fall and winter to develop a bigger root system to handle the summer heat.
On the other hand, there are plants that are not cold hardy, but take the summer heat just fine. These plants are the ones that should not be planted late in the year, including cactus, succulents, citrus fruits, lantana and Tecoma (bells) varieties. However, fall is the best time for planting most plants in Southern Nevada.
For more fall gardening tips, visit starnursery.com or drop by any Star Nursery Garden Center. For consultation on specific gardening or landscaping problems or suggestions, a house call service is available. Call 702.771.7827 to make an appointment.
By Paul Noe better known as
Dr. Q Staff Horticulturist and Certified
Horticulture Advisor, Star Nursery