We get this question often, and the short answer, like many other related questions is – ‘it depends.’ The long answer is more nuanced, and please adjust any recommendations to your climate zone, region, elevation, and specific location. We tend to err on the side of caution for late fall planting because losses can be incurred, and while we are in the business of selling plants, we want to cultivate positive, long-lasting relationships with our customers.
Generally, we recommend having plants installed at least four weeks prior to your first fall frost date. That period will give the plants time to establish root growth so the plants can access moisture and nutrients that will help carry them through winter dormancy and provide resources to recover if there is an early frost.
Our first frost is typically mid to late October, so installing plants in August through mid-September is a proven strategy. Fall plantings that establish before the first frost, go dormant for winter, and wake up in spring have a more robust demeanor and will have a head start versus early spring plantings.
There are plants that can be successfully installed after October, but specific factors including genus and species selection, weather, slope, aspect, and micro-climate of the site will dictate success or failure. Practices including well-applied mulch and covering plants with frost blankets or row covers can also help minimize losses for late fall installations.
Have different experiences with late fall planting or questions? Please reach out!