Fall is for Planting


Most of the summer, I looked at this dead tree. It was a star magnolia. It went into last winter without a problem, but it didn’t form its buds, as magnolias do. Perhaps that should have been my first clue that there would be a problem this spring.

Sure enough, this spring, when all the other trees began to flush leaves or blooms, this magnolia did nothing. The Spoiler, ever the optomist, kept saying, let’s just see what happens. By mid-July, it was obvious even to him nothing was going to happem

So we finally cut it down. It is in morning sun, so that gives me some nice options.


I left the self-sown goldenrod on one end of the bed.

In the rest of the bed, I put my “test” plants that had been accumulating all summer. There are 6 veronica (3 blue and 3 white), 2 pink perennial pelargoniums, and 2 smaller hydrangeas.

I also put a dwarf joe pye weed in, and I left some self-sown asters as well. I need some pollinator plants, after all (although the bees loved the veronica all summer, even in pots!)

Generally planting in fall is much better for plants because the soil is still warm. For those of you who live near any type of water, you know how long the water takes to warm in the spring–soil is similar.

Likewise, in the fall, water stays warmer longer than the air–that’s why maritime communities get frost a little later. Again, soil cools more slowly than the air so planting into the fall actually aids the plants by settling them into warm soil.

I will want to watch these–& perhaps mulch them once the ground freezes–so that they don’t “heave up” out of the soil. But otherwise, no other special care is needed.

I still have some bulbs to add here, but nature hasn’t been my friend on the timing–as usual, the rain on the weekend isn’t conducive to bulb planting.

2 thoughts on “Fall is for Planting

  1. tonytomeo October 16, 2018 / 12:01 am

    That looks like it was a very big star magnolia. Only ‘Leonard Messel’ star magnolia gets that big here.

  2. gardendaze October 16, 2018 / 5:55 am

    That, I couldn’t tell you. It was planted by the prior owners, so it had been here about 35 years. I am famous for saying that plants, like people, have life spans, and I know magnolias are one of the “shorter” lived trees. I didn’t see any heart wood rot in it after if came down.

    I hate to lose most trees–we’ve just had a tree cutting blitz at work because our state champion American Beech came down on the garage. That one was close to 400 years old so I feel silly mourning my magnolia but it was one of our prettier trees.

    There are lots of dead, dying and stressed trees out here from our multi-year drought followed by this summer of too much rain. You probably have exactly the same thing out your way, except much worse.


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