Fall planting is a strategy that will increase the success rate, resulting in more living, thriving plants, than those planted at any other time of year.
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1. All newly planted plants need to be watered often. Fall and winter rains can do at least some of the job.
2. New transplants are vulnerable to heat stress. In the fall the sun is lower and less intense, resulting in lower temperatures so there is less physiological stress for the plant to overcome and it can direct energy to growing new roots. In a typical year in western El Dorado county, mid-November is a perfect time to start planting.
3. Roots grow quickly in autumn soils warmed by months of summer weather. There may be little above-ground growth but under the ground roots are growing steadily.
4. Plants with a large root-to-shoot ratio are better at harvesting available soil moisture and nutrients, so appear healthier in the spring.
5. Plants with a large root-to-shoot ratio are able to better withstand California’s summer drought with less supplemental watering.
6. Fall-planted plants establish in their site more quickly. By the second year after planting, most California natives are established and from then on need very little, if any, care.
7. Extremely root-bound plants can be salvaged, but only during the cool season. Wrapped roots can be opened up or — in the worse cases, and only during the cool season — heavy coils can be cut and stripped away. If this isn’t done, the coils often swell and tighten, blocking the spread of new roots, slowing growth and sometimes leading to plants which topple suddenly in strong winds.
1. Happy roots make for happy plants, so dig all planting holes at least three times the width of the container the plant is coming from (18 inches minimum) and about as deep as the container to ensure that the roots will have a happy home to establish in.
2. Always plant new plants slightly above the surrounding soil to account for settling and prevent crown rot.
3. If your site has been mined and the topsoil removed, adding some organic compost in the planting hole can help remedy the absence of topsoil.
4. Remember to water during the dry season for the first two years so that the roots get well developed.
5. Do not summer water Fremontodendron (flannelbush).