Over the years I have been asked on numerous occasions “When is the best time to plant?” But in order to answer this correctly, I must know if you are installing annuals, perennials, shrubs or trees. Everyone has heard from their grandparents that the rule of thumb for summer annuals is not to plant them before Mother’s Day. In my experience, I feel that even that is too early and advise installing summer annuals closer to Memorial Day to avoid the risk of frost. Anytime the ground is workable, meaning not frozen and the temperature is above freezing, you can install most perennials, shrubs and trees. Since summer planting is not the greatest idea, the question now becomes “spring or fall?”
Spring time is acceptable to install plant material but the best time is actually fall. In the spring, the moisture in the soil is above average from winter thawing and rain. Too much moisture can cause root rot and also results in the air being squeezed out of the soil from compaction which can result in plant loss. Spring time planting also allows for the plants to only have a few months to establish their roots before the high temperatures of summer kick in, possibly causing the plant to go into stress.
Fall is the best time to plant for these following reasons:
- Temperatures are mild during the day and cooler at night
- Soil temperatures are still warm enough to encourage root growth
- There is enough moisture from rain to irrigate the plant material
- Weed growth in planting beds is less in the fall
- Depending on the growing year, plant availability my be better
Most customers I encounter want spring plantings so they can enjoy the plants for a full year before they go dormant. If you feel the same way, just know that when choosing to plant at different times of the year, various challenges need to be considered to help that plant live. If you are in the process of planning out new plant installs, ask yourself these questions:
- What types of plants are you planting?
- What are the growing requirements for each plant?
- What is the climate like in your area?
- What upcoming forecast is projected?
Answering these questions before buying and installing plants should help the survival of your investment and the overall beautification of your property, especially when it comes to Northeast Ohio’s unpredictable weather.