Thursday, September 28, 2017

Plant Sale Preview: Why Plant in Fall?

By Sheon Wilson
Publications coordinator

Fall is the best time to plant a garden, whether you have a vegetable garden, perennial garden, shrubs or trees. It’s prime time to improve your landscape, and Duke Gardens Fall Plant Sale this Saturday will help you meet that goal.

From herbs to shrubs, we'll have a wide variety of plants
that are ideal for this region. Photo by Cecilia Xie
The sale will include plants propagated by Duke Gardens staff and volunteers, along with bulbs, trees, vegetables, shrubs and other delights from local suppliers. Our well-received “Herb Garden in a Box” discount deal is back by popular demand, as well as dorm-friendly succulents and other plants perfect for students. Duke Gardens members will receive 10 percent off every purchase.

Getting your plants into the ground now will give them a strong head start to a healthy spring and summer.

“We are getting into the cooler season, when plants go dormant and put more energy into their root systems,” says Jason Holmes, curator of the Doris Duke Center Gardens. “The root systems are easier to establish during the fall and winter months.”

A complex underground network, roots go into resting mode in the winter, minimizing the basic processes that sustain a plant. The falling temperatures and reduced daylight cause the upper part of a plant to stop growing and enter a state of suspended animation. Without leaves to photosynthesize and make food, the plant’s roots live off of stored sugars.

Plant your tulip bulbs in fall for a spring spectacle.
Photo by Bobby Mottern.
The roots’ ability to sustain life year-round benefits the entire plant. In fall, the soil is warm from summer sun, so the roots can expand with ease until the soil freezes, and thereafter grow more slowly.  In springtime, the plant is prepared to send energy back out to the extremities so blooming can begin. And the roots will have more strength to withstand  often harsh summer soil conditions.

In the Terrace Gardens, horticulturists usually maintain the summer beds through mid-October, and then pull weaker plants and fill the beds with fall color, said Mike Owens, curator of the Historic Gardens.

Use that tip to improve your garden. Remove annuals that have been ravaged by the summer sun and replace them with a splash of color, perhaps some showy and resilient chrysanthemums.
Plant in fall to get a healthy start on a strong
root  system, like that our dawn redwood.

We’ll have gorgeous plants for a variety of garden styles and conditions, and our expert horticulturists and volunteers will be happy to advise you on the best fit for your garden conditions and for the time and energy you have (or don’t have!) to spend caring for your plants. We look forward to seeing you at the sale, and to giving your plants the healthy head start they need. 

Fall Plant Sale details:

Date: Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017
Time: 8 a.m.-noon
Membership benefit: Duke Gardens members get 10% off! Join now or on site.
Parking: Free.
Pets not permitted
Wagons + boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word on Facebook. Thank you!

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