Late fall often sees many gardeners hanging up their gloves and trowels as they prepare for winter. However, late fall planting can be a rewarding and valuable practice, especially for those who want to maximize their garden's potential. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of late fall planting and offer essential tips to help you get the most out of your garden during this often overlooked season.
The Benefits of Late Fall Planting
Mild Weather: Late fall typically brings milder temperatures, especially in the warmer zones, which are less stressful for both plants and gardeners. The soil retains warmth from the summer, providing an excellent environment for root growth.
Less Competition: Most gardeners have put their gardens to bed by late fall, which means less competition for resources. Your late fall plantings can thrive without the usual rush for nutrients, sunlight, and space.
Establishment Before Winter: Planting in late fall allows your new additions to establish their root systems before winter sets in. This head start can lead to healthier, more robust plants in the spring.
Extended Blooms: Depending on what you plant, late fall additions can provide late-season color and interest, brightening up your garden well into winter.
Cost Savings: Nurseries and garden centers often offer discounts on plants in late fall, making it a budget-friendly time to expand your garden.
November Planting by Zones
The USDA Hardiness Zone Map divides North America into different zones based on average minimum winter temperatures. These zones range from Zone 1 (coldest) to Zone 13 (warmest). November may seem like an unlikely time to start planting in your garden, but depending on your USDA Hardiness Zone, there are plenty of opportunities to add new life to your outdoor space. Different zones experience varying climates and temperature ranges, which make it important to choose the right plants for your region.
Planting tropical plants in November within USDA Hardiness Zones 4-5 presents an exciting challenge. While these zones experience colder winters, it's possible to bring a touch of the tropics to your garden. By selecting cold-hardy tropical varieties and offering them the right care, you can succeed. Consider planting the following as container plants:
- Hardy banana trees, such as Pink Banana, 'Sweetheart' Banana, Dwarf Orinoco
- Ornamental ginger plants, such as Awapuhi Ginger
- Malanga (Elephant ear plants) can be great choices.
These can endure Zone 4-5 winters with proper protection and mulching once established. Ensure they receive ample sunlight and are planted in well-draining soil. November planting allows these tropical additions to establish roots and provide a unique and exotic flair to your garden come spring.
In addition to the plants and advice for Zones 4-5, consider planting the following in containers:
- Longevity Spinach or Okinawan Spinach
- Cold-hardy herbs: Basil, Lemongrass, Lemon Balm, Catnip, Mint Family
Growing these in containers allows you to take them outside when temperatures are above 45 degrees to get some fresh air and sunlight without risking damage. You can enjoy fresh greens and herbs year round while your friends are buying them bagged or dried!
In USDA Hardiness Zones 8-9, late fall is the perfect time to embrace the lush world of tropical fruits. These zones enjoy mild winters, making it ideal for tropical fruit cultivation. Consider planting exotic delights such as:
These plants thrive in the warm but not overly hot climates; some plants, like the berries and peach trees, require some chill hours (a certain number of hours where the temperature dips below 45 degrees), so this is the perfect time to get them in the ground! Planting in late fall allows the trees to establish their roots before the heat of summer arrives.
With Zones 10-12, you can expand your planting list to include:
Late fall planting allows these plants to establish strong root systems before the hot, dry season arrives. The ample sunshine and balmy temperatures throughout the year offer the perfect conditions for tropical fruit production. With the year-round warmth and abundant sunshine in Zones 10-12, you're poised to cultivate a diverse and delectable tropical fruit garden that promises a harvest of exotic flavors.
Tips for Late Fall Planting
Select the Right Plants: Choose plants that are suitable for your climate and hardy enough to withstand winter conditions. Trees and shrubs are excellent options for late fall planting, as they can establish strong root systems over the winter. Several tropical plants do well in establishing root systems in the colder months:
Prepare the Soil: Ensure your planting area has well-draining soil and amend it with organic matter, such as compost, to improve its quality. Well-prepared soil is essential for successful late fall planting.
Mulch: Apply a layer of mulch around your newly planted specimens to help insulate the soil and protect the roots from extreme temperature fluctuations.
Water Adequately: Even though late fall brings milder weather, it's essential to water your new plants regularly until the ground freezes. This will help them establish roots and prepare for winter.
Protect from Frost: Use frost cloths or other protective covers to shield your plants during exceptionally cold nights. Frost can be detrimental to new plantings.
Plan for Spring: Think ahead to the spring by planting spring-blooming bulbs like tulips and daffodils. Late fall is the perfect time to prepare your garden for early spring color.
Late fall planting is an excellent opportunity to extend your gardening season, save money, and give your garden a head start for the following year. By carefully selecting the right plants, preparing the soil, and providing essential care, you can enjoy the benefits of late fall gardening. So, don't pack away your gardening tools just yet – late fall offers a world of possibilities to enhance your outdoor space and create a thriving garden.