Fall is the best time of year for planting in the Upstate
Nice cool weather for working outdoors and a good amount of rainy days makes Fall the best time of the year to plant in the Upstate. The ground usually is more malleable, as well, which makes digging so much easier than in the hard-baked clay pan of midsummer.
Unless it is an evergreen, you might be concerned that plants will defoliate rapidly, but that is just what deciduous plants do this time of year. You still need to take care of it like any other newly planted landscape addition.
As long as the ground is not freezing (I personally like the temperature to be above 40 degrees), you can plant. I once helped a friend plant in 32 degrees with a wind chill of 24 degrees! Not my idea of ideal conditions, but the ground was about 50 or 55 degrees and the plants all did fine. It took me four days to recover, however.
Beware of frostbite
The main thing to remember when planting in the Fall is do not let the roots get frost bite or sit in water. Plant quickly if the conditions are less than ideal and soak plants prior to planting.
Roots will begin to establish quickly and continue growing all winter long. In the spring when your plant is ready to put on new leaves, buds, fruit or flowers, it will not have to do double duty by putting on new root growth, too. Plants will be well on their way to being settled in the landscape.
When you dig the hole for planting, make it two to three times the size of the pot but not more than 10”-12” deep. Use the removed clay along with soil conditioner and compost in a 2-2-1 ratio.
Manipulate the roots into a spreading fashion. If they are too bound together to get them untangled, simply cut them with a knife or saw. Add a fertilizer like 7-22-9 or even bone meal. Both are excellent root growth stimulators and that is what you are aiming for.
About the author
Tina Clark is the owner and president of Carolina Garden World in Spartanburg, SC. A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, Tina found Upstate South Carolina in a job move then found her way to Spartanburg Community College where she completed a degree in horticulture. A frequent presenter at area civic organizations, garden clubs and schools, Tina is sustainability certified and organizes a free Sustainability Day event for the community at Carolina Garden World each year in celebration of Earth Day.