Many people are surprised to hear that fall is a good time for planting, but it is actually the best time to establish new perennials in the garden. By taking advantage of early autumn's warm soil temperatures, gardeners can kick-start a plant's root-growth, which continues until the soil freezes several weeks after the first frost. In the fall, roots grow quickly, penetrating deeply into the soil making plants more drought-tolerant for the next year. By the time the spring growing season rolls around, they will be happily settled.
Consider adding natives to your landscape this fall, especially spring ephemerals; perennials that bloom in early spring before tree leaves shade the forest floor. These early spring stunners provide the first flashes of color in the thawing winter landscape and provide valuable food for overwintering pollinators. Therefore, it is important to get them in the ground now! Look for Dutchman'sbreeches (Dicentra cucullaria), trilliums (Trillium spp.), Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginiana), trout lily (Erythronium americanum), meadow rue (Thalictrum thalictroides), and spring beauty (Claytonia virginica). You can visit the Rye Nature Center for more tips on gardening with native plants!
--Courtney Rothaus, Garden & Adult Education Coordinator