Fall Planting and Winter Interest in Minnesota Gardens

As cooler temps and colored leaves signal the inevitable changing of the seasons, many gardeners prepare their gardens for another slumber in the snow. But Autumn is also one of the best times to plan and plant for the next growing season. Read on to learn the why’s and what’s of fall planting. 

What makes fall a good time to plant? 

Fall affords the gardener many advantages. As plants prepare for winter, they put more energy into root growth. This redirection of energy lets the plants establish themselves quickly and will result in substantially stronger above ground growth the following season.  

Beyond improved root growth, fall offers cooler temperatures, which are easier on the plant and gardener alike. Rain is often more consistent, and pests and diseases are generally less prevalent. It’s also worth noting that many garden centers (including Sargent’s) are running discounts on remaining stock.  

What should you consider planting in the fall? 

Trees and Shrubs – The key to a successful late-season tree or shrub planting is to keep it well watered until the ground freezes. Planting in the fall gives them a head start before they transition into dormancy. To see a video on how to properly plant a tree, click here. To check out our watering guide, click here. 

Some trees and shrubs provide winter interest as well. Some favorites include Mountain Ash Trees or various Viburnum Shrubs. These grow berries that persist through the winter and provide food to birds and squirrels.  

Expert Tip

Check out our video tutorial on how to properly plant a tree . 

Blue Muffin Viburnum
Mountain Ash Berries

Perennials – Fall is also a great time for planting perennials. As with trees and shrubs, be sure to keep them well watered until the ground freezes. You can also take this time to divide or transplant any of your existing perennials.  

You’ll also want to plant your spring bulbs at this time. Spring-blooming bulbs need a cold period to bloom. You won’t be rewarded until the following spring, but an early flush of tulips and daffodils after a long dark winter is certainly worth the wait.  

Expert Tip

Perennial grasses take particularly well to fall planting and provide winter interest as well. Specific varieties include little bluestem or maiden grass.  

Maiden Grass
Bluestem in Fall

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