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Oklahoma Outside Fall is for Planting  ‘12 TRX420TM ‘13 TRX420FPM Power Steering!


By Allan Storjohann Giving plants a head start on root growth makes fall a great time to plant.


S


ummer is nearing its end, but does that mean Oklahomans should stop gardening? To some it might seem a bit counterintui- tive to continue planting in the fall when winter is around the corner. Should we invest in landscaping and planting when the plants are about to go into their natural dormancy? If you follow the recommendations of the American Nursery and Landscape Association, the answer is ‘yes.’ For over 40 years the nursery industry has proclaimed, “Fall is for planting!” and millions of dollars have been spent to promote this concept to the public. You might be thinking, “the nursery industry is out to bring in more business at a time when plant sales are low.” The truth is, research has given credence to the motto, and fall really is a great time to plant ornamental trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs and even lawns (in shady areas). In Oklahoma, trials have been conducted to determine whether trees and shrubs benefi t from planting in the fall compared to the spring. In virtually every test, plants set out in the autumn not only establish a new root system within a few weeks, they grow out and establish better than those of similar size and type planted in the spring.


The problem with spring planting is that trees and shrubs might not have enough time to establish a good root system before summer temperatures soar and the leaves require more water. The summer stress can cause leaf drop and twig dieback until an equilibrium is reached between the needs of the leaf canopy and the ability of the root system to supply. The same trees and shrubs planted in the fall will begin to grow new roots in the warm soil from September to December, until cold weather slows them down. That short period of time is just enough to ensure the plants grow on successfully the next year. It is this head start on root growth that equips the new transplant for stronger spring growth and helps it to endure the extremes of the fi rst summer.


Have a gardening question? Contact Allan via email at algardens@cox.net.


Time has proven that fall is a great time to plant, but there are still a few drawbacks gardeners may experience. The most frustrating is that the variety of plants is much less in the fall. More types of plants are available for sale in the spring when most consumers are moti- vated to make additions to their landscape.


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                            


SEPTEMBER 2013 9


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