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Successful Fall Planting

Successful Fall Planting

You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying: fall is for planting. Here on Cape Cod, it’s especially true because our autumn season is long-lasting and warm. So whether you’re putting fall mums in the ground, installing some evergreens for privacy, or replacing one of the shrubs that died in this summer’s drought, late-September through October is a fine time to plant. Here are some keys for fall-planting success.

When planting mums, be sure that the rootball is completely surrounded by the soil so the roots don’t dry out. If you want those plants to return next year, water them well once a week though October if it doesn’t rain and don’t cut the stems down after frost. Leave the plants as is through the winter, and then remove the old stems in March or April.
  • Our ground is still dry from the long, hot summer. After planting, water the entire area around your newly placed plants with a sprinkler. Be prepared to do this once a week through October if it doesn’t rain. Remember that newly planted shrubs and trees have root systems the size of the pot or burlap ball, and you’ll need to water well once a week.
  • Before planting, cover the surface of the soil with about two inches of compost or composted manure. Some of this gets worked into the soil when you plant, and the rest will amend the soil from the top down as nature does it. After planting, surround the plant with 2″ of bark mulch to help suppress weeds and hold moisture in the ground.
  • Use an anti-desiccant such as Wilt Pruf on broad leaf evergreens such as holly and rhododendrons before it gets cold. Follow instructions on the label.
  • Be aware of the weather through December and be prepared to water if we’ve had two weeks without rain. Since these months can be sunny and breezy, and people usually turn off irrigation systems, it’s important to be aware that a few buckets of water might need to be applied to a newly placed plant, especially if it’s an evergreen.
If you forget to water a plant that’s been placed in the ground in the fall, it might die over the winter not because of the cold, but because the roots dried out.
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