10 Reasons Why Fall Is the Best Time to Plant

10 Reasons Why Fall Is the Best Time to Plant

As the blazing summer heat retreats and the idea of being in the garden becomes appealing again, a truly time-sensitive question arises: “Should I plant now or is it better to wait until next spring?” Chalet’s Chief Horticulturist gives his top 10 reasons why NOW is the best time to plant.

1. Cooler temperatures and consistent rainfall dramatically reduce stress for newly planted trees and shrubs. This translates into less time spent watering in comparison to spring planted trees and shrubs.

2. Fall-planted trees and shrubs are under no pressure from nature to produce new shoots, leaves, and stems. This gives their roots ample time to get established.

3. Shorter, more overcast days reduce the possibility of sunburn on large, soft-leaved plants, like hydrangea and viburnum, for example.

Fall Is the Best Time to Plant: Hydrangeas

4. Even if deciduous plants have dropped their leaves and evergreens appear to be slumbering, as long as soil temperatures remain above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, plants are still producing new roots. Bear in mind soil temps drop much more slowly than air temperatures.

5. Potential insect or disease issues that could be problematic going into summer are not common in fall.

6. Fall soil tends to be drier than spring. Always try to avoid planting for a few days following a heavy rain. Digging in muddy clay soil can destroy structure, compact soil, and affect future root development.

7. The roots of oaks and evergreens respond better to the warm soil temperatures of fall than the wet and cold soils of spring.

Best Time to Plant

8. A majority of perennials do best with fall planting. But note, the later you plant, the more imperative it is to mulch after the ground freezes, thus reducing the chances of “frost heaving” that often accompanies the freeze/thaw cycles of up-and-down winter temperatures.

9. If you’re transplanting peonies, Siberian Iris, or oriental Poppies, they MUST be moved in fall.

10. One of the biggest gardening advantages of the Upper Midwest is the miracle and beauty of spring flowering bulbs. We can have tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, and the charm of “minor” bulbs without having to refrigerate them.

Best Time to Plant Bulbs

All this being said, there are a few widely accepted exceptions to the “fall is great for planting” rule. Whether it’s because of root structure or because we’re pushing the northern limits of a plant’s hardiness, in a typical fall we like the following to be in the ground no later than mid-October: any birch, Japanese Maple, magnolia, ornamental (non-fruiting) cherry and pear, and redbud.

And, of course, who doesn’t like planting better when the temperatures and humidity are both low? Let’s face it, fall planting is full of advantages and pretty much fool-proof!


Did you know that Chalet also now offers our landscape maintenance services a la carte? There are so many different components that go into landscape management and not everyone’s needs are the same. We now offer our landscape services “a la carte style” so that you can choose your services based on your needs and your budget, just in time for fall planting.

Don’t miss Chalet’s private shopping event exclusively for Better readers Oct. 16 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Chalet in Wilmette! Enjoy light bites, drinks, live music, and exclusive discounts. A portion of the proceeds will go to Misericordia. Misericordia offers a community of care that maximizes potential for individuals with mild to profound developmental disabilities, many of whom are also physically challenged. Registration required. The event is free of charge and you can register here. Hope to see you there!

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