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Fall Planting Guide| What to Plant Before the First Frost

Fall Planting Guide| What to Plant Before the First Frost
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Fall is a great time to work in the garden—bright sunny days paired with cooler temperatures make for a perfect climate to plant and prepare for the next growing season. Here’s our fall planting guide for the best five things to plant before New England’s first frost.

Trees and Shrubs: Fall is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. Roots systems will begin to form before the frost sets in, essentially establishing the shrub or tree in the ground for the winter. Mulching around newly planted trees and shrubs will help protect the new transplants throughout the winter as well. Be sure to remove any coverings on the root balls of plants before planting.

Bulbs: September is the time to plant for early spring blooming bulb flowers such as Daffodils, Tulips and Crocus. Be sure to follow packaging directions for planting depths. A good rule of thumb is to plant Tulips and Daffodils 6 inches deep and crocus plants 3 inches deep. Bulbs should be put into the ground before late October to allow a bit of root growth before the frost.

Perennials: Don’t let the droopy appearance of perennials that have completed their growing season get you down. Even though they do not look as appealing as they did when they were at their peak earlier in the season, they will bounce back in full force in the spring. If you are undecided about where to plant them now, you can always keep them in pots and soil in a covered or protected area outside until the spring and plant them then. Be sure to label the perennials before hand for easy identification when it is time to put them in the ground.

Herbs: Fennel, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Wild Strawberry, mint and parsley are some of the herbs that do well when planted in the fall, provided they are established plants or divided from an existing herb plant and not new growth or seedlings.

Garlic: October is the time to plant garlic in New England—it is planted during the fall because the cloves must be exposed to cooler ground temperatures before they can begin to grow. They will remain in a suspended state throughout the winter and begin growing full force in the spring when the temperatures are warmer. Garlic cloves must be planted separately and not clustered together or as a whole garlic. Green shoots will appear in the spring.

What about you? Do you have any perennial favorites that you plant in the fall?

Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley (Fleming) Wigglesworth is an award-winning freelance journalist from Maine specializing in maritime topics and the commercial fishing industry. She is also a certified Maine Master Gardener who writes gardening articles on a regular basis for Yankee Magazine. Her work can be found in the following publications: The York County Coast Star, Portsmouth Herald, Bangor Daily News, Yankee Magazine (online), National Fisherman Magazine, Commercial Fisheries News, Tourist News, Points East Magazine, Coastal Angler and The Maine Lobstermen's Association’s “Landings.” Follow Shelley on Facebook.
Updated Monday, September 2nd, 2013
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