Fall planting versus Spring Planting: Which Is Best?

Fall planting

It’s natural to feel like planting in the Spring. After the long winter, once the first crocus and daffodil pop their heads above the ground, we begin to itch to get out into the garden and create some colour.

Flavors of Fall Hands On Cooking Classes

We don’t always have the same reaction when Fall comes around. Instead of looking forward to Spring flowers and warmer days, we know that Winter is just around the corner. Crisp, cooler, often wetter days are all part and parcel of the season.

FALL PLANTINGBut, what many don’t realize is that Fall is perfect for planting.

In fact for many plants, Fall planting is actually more successful than Spring planting.

 

The reason is quite logical. Plants know that Winter is on its way and they know it’s time to dig down deep. Growth above the ground begins to slow and all their energy goes into developing longer, stronger root systems. When we plant in Spring, most of the plant’s energy goes into growth above the ground: foliage, flowers, fruit, branches and so on. Roots take a back seat during this busy season.

During the Fall, the cooler air temperatures make gardening easier on gardeners and make it easier for plants to survive the shock of being transplanted from their pots into the garden soil which is still warm. This allows roots to grow until the ground freezes. In spring, plants don’t grow until the soil warms up.

Fall tens to produce more good gardening days than spring.

During the Spring rain and unexpected cold snaps, or even snow fall can make working the soil impossible.
Plus, many Garden Centers have great deals during the Fall as they move as much product as possible before the Winter arrives when no one is gardening.

While Fall rain is generally plentiful, it’s still important to deeply water newly planted plants for the first few months until they are established – especially if it doesn’t rain at least an inch per week.

Another significant advantage during the Fall is that common garden pests and disease problems tend to be less prevalant. Plantings also don’t need fertilizer the way they do in Spring. Fertilizer helps produce new, tender growth that can be damaged by winter weather.

A few examples of plants that prefer Fall planting are: grasses, spring-blooming bulbs, cool-season vegetables, perennials, trees, and shrubs.
The window for fall planting ends about six weeks before your area will experience harsher weather such as frost, frozen rain, sleet or snow. Planting time usually ends in September or October.

For more information about what to plant during the Fall and where and how to plant, please feel free to visit with our talented horticulturalists.

Heucheras and Hydrangeas

If ever there were two easy going dependables in a garden they are Heucheras and Hydrangeas.

heucheras

Let’s take a look and see why this is the case:

Heucheras:

Heucheras, also known as ‘Coral Bells’ are hardy little stalwarts with fabulous foliage that makes them perfect borders, containers, hanging baskets, under trees or anywhere where you need a little colour without the fuss of flowers. They are great in flower arrangements and last longer than flowers! There are over 50 varieties although only a few are available commercially and those are mostly hybrids.

They grow with virtually no help and are drought resistant.  They’re perfect for novice gardeners as they’ll survive an amazing amount of neglect.  In addition, they come in a number of varieties and colours allowing you to create an interesting collage just with Heucheras if you choose. They grow to between 12″ and 26″ high and spread about 18″ wide, preferring part shade and woodland conditions.

They develop interesting, delicate sprays of flowers during late Spring, early Summer. Best of all, they maintain a gorgeous display of colorful foliage even into the early Winter.  Over Winter they may die down a little, but as soon as it begins to warm up, they’ll fill out again providing months of showy colour.

Heucheras also attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

We have some beautiful varieties in stock right now, so pop in and take a look.

heucheras

Hydrangeas:

hydrangeas

From very small shrubs to vines and large shrubs or tree like there is one for every size garden and with some for sun, shade, moist and dry soil, hot and cold, you are sure to find the perfect addition for your garden.

Hydrangea FAQ’s

Sun or Shade?

hydrangeas are naturally woodland plants and most but not all like to be sheltered from hot afternoon sun. Hugh cover of trees with dappled shade is ideal as well as the north side of houses or walls. Full sun can bleach out the colour of the flowers and scorch the leaves, especially some of the more tender Japanese serrata varieties. Plants grown in some shade seem to glow under the canopy of larger trees.

Some cultivators do prefer a little more sun, in particular: Paniculata and Quercifolia. Macrophylla and Serrata varieties benefit from some shade cover.

What kind of soil should I plant my hydrangeas in?

AS a general rule hydrangeas prefer moist, humus rich soil although there are a few that will handle more drought and poor soil conditions; Aborescens, Paniculata and Quercifolia for example.

What about Cold and Wind?

The majority of macrophylla and serrata hydrangea bloom on wood produced the previous season. Flower buds are carried away through the winter and can begin to develop early in the spring ready to produce this years flowers. At this point they are very tender and can easily be destroyed by cold winter winds and late frosts. Varieties that bloom on this seasons growth are much more cold and wind tolerant. Some of these varieties include: Arborescens, Paniculata, Petiolaris, and Quercifolia.

Big-Leaf-hydrangea

How do I change the colour of my hydrangea?

Likely the most fascinating and commonly asked question of this plant. Only the species of the macrophylla and serrata and their cultivars is this true of. The color of hydrangeas will depend on the acidity of alkalinity of the soil.
PH of 6.5 or less – produces blue hydrangeas (however sometimes even in acidic soil the plant is unable to access aluminum in order to produce the blue desired. Adding a bluing agent such as aluminum will harm the plants roots.
As a general rule a solution of 1 1/2-3 grams of aluminum sulphate to a litre of water can be applied to 2-3 year old plants throughout the growing season.

To make the soil more alkaline just add lime or ash.

Pruning

Most hydrangeas need little if any pruning. A little dead heading in the late winter of last years spend flowers is all that is needed for many varieties. In most cases, no pruning is better tan wrong pruning.

hydrangea-firelight

Macrophylla and Serrata: This hydrangea blooms on last years wood and therefore care should be taken to only remove spent flowers down to the first set of buds, as those buds should produce next years flowers. An occasional thinning of stems may be necessary. To do this simply cut out the oldest and spindliest twigs out of the plant to encourage new and stronger wood. If the hydrangea has to be controlled in size, I like to prune back harder the flowering stems of this year and leave the stems that did not flower this year, and so on each year. This produces some control of the size and still allows for some blooms but better yet plant a smaller variety that will not need to be pruned.

Arborescens: blooms on new wood and therefore can be pruned back each year to the ground. I prefer to leave the last years wood to harden off so that it can support the weight of the huge flowers that will be produced on this hydrangea.

Paniculata: blooms on new wood and can benefit from pruning. As a general rule let the shrub grow for 2-3 years staking the stems. After I have strong stems to a height I want then prune back up to 1/2 the new growth each year to produce more blooms.

Quercifolia: rarely needs any pruning other than to remove damaged branches or to control growth. Remembering that it blooms on last years wood you dont want to cut back too much of the plant of you will lose the bloom.

Petiolaris (climbing hydrangea): rarely need pruning other than to keep it from growing where it shouldnt be. It will quite happily climb up tall trees or climb on walls.

If you must drastically prune back a hydrangea that blooms on old wood for any reason, be it to reduce size or regenerate new growth or after damage, you can, after all fear of frosts for the season. All stems should be cut back to about a foot to a foot and a half from the ground. You will loose all flowers for the year or two but it will generat lots of new growth and flowers should appear the following year.

Best Small Cultivars:
Hydrangea Mac: Pia, Hornli, City Line Series, including: Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Venice.
Hydrangea paniculata: Bombshell and Bobo
Hydrangea serrata include many of the Japanese varieties.

Best Blues:
Hydrangea Mac. Adria, Domotoi – usually a brilliant blue, Enziandom – considered by some to be the best. Generale Vicomtesse DE Vicraye, Nikko.
Lace caps would include: Mariesii, Eisvogel or Kingfisher.
In Japanese varieties try Izu no hana.

Best Reds:
Hydrangea Mac. Glowing Embers, Pia, Hornli.
Lacecap varieties include: Rotdrossel and Mousmee
Japanese varieties would include Preziosa.

Whites:
Hydrangea Mac: Sister Theresa
Hydrangea Abrorescens: Annabelle

Best cut Flowers:
All mophead type macrophyllas
Hydrangea arborescens: Annabelle
Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora, Webbs variety, Little Lamb and Limelight

Best for containers:
Hydrangea Mac: Endless Summer (can be controlled in size), Pia and Hornli

Want Fall Colour? A few good choices

You can enjoy Fall Colour with these versatile plants.

When you think ‘Fall’, usually you also think of the rich warm foliage colours as leaves turn from their summer green to shades of orange, brown, russet and purple.  But you don’t usually think of flowers.  The good news is that you can still enjoy gorgeous flowers even in Fall, and yes, even in cool, wet, south west  British Columbia.

Here are a few of recommendations:

sedum pure joy

Sedum: pure joy

sedum-maestro-cinnmon_curls

Sedum: Maestro

aster-sapphire_mist

Aster

Anytime

Anytime Pansiolas

cheyenne_sky

Cheyenne Sky Ornamental Grass

summerific-cherrycheescake

Summerific Perennial Hibiscus

Asters, hardy Mums, fall flowering Sedums, Heuchera or Coral Bells, ornamental grasses, perennial Hibiscus and Pansiolas are all great choices to bring cheerful colour to your garden during the months when the summer blooms are fading and branches begin to look a little bedraggled and bare.

Hydrangea IncrediballFall Flowering Shrubs

If flowers aren’t your thing and you prefer shrubs, then consider the Hydrangea.  There’s a reason that they’re so popular.  They’re easy to grow and they can take a wide variety of climatic conditions from full sun and heat to drought to cooler temperatures common here during Fall.  The added bonus is that not only are they extremely forgiving and low maintenance, they’re also very showy with gorgeous abundant blooms during the summer right through into the Fall.

Unlike flower blooms which tend to fade as they age, some varieties of hydrangea such as “Firelight” and “Bobo” change color with the seasons and look wonderful as they do.

Even better, you can cut the blooms for drying so that you can enjoy them all winter long indoors.

hydrangea-firelight

Hydrangea Firelight

bobo_hydrangea-3966-1

Hydrangea Bobo

Hydrangea Blue Jangles Fall Color

Hydrangea Blue Jangles

Hydrangea Diva Fall Color

Hydrangea Diva

If you don’t see anything here that appeals to you, we have more choices in the garden centre, so feel free to stop by and ask us to show you what’s available.  Fall is a great time to plant!