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You can plant in almost any season. Photo: USFS Region 5, Creative Commons

Beginning gardeners often worry about when to plant the plants they buy, yet the answer is simple: pretty much any time you want to.

You can plant almost any time the ground isn’t frozen. That said, the two most popular seasons for planting are spring and fall (in the latter case, until about 2 weeks before the ground freezes for the winter), while the plants are more or less dormant… and when cooler temperatures mean digging holes is not as arduous for you.

Special Cases

Of course, some plants do have special needs.

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Spring-blooming bulbs are planted in the fall.

Annuals, tender bulbs and most vegetables, for example, must be planted in the spring, of course, as they don’t survive the winter in most climates. As for hardy bulbs, including tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths, but also garlic, fall is the best time.

For most other plants, take your pick: either season is appropriate. In cold-winter regions, however, it is better plant slow-rooting plants such as rhododendrons and magnolias in the spring so they’ll have time to settle in and produce new roots before winter comes. You can however plant them in the fall as well as long as you mulch them thoroughly after planting.

Summer Planting

I haven’t mentioned summer planting yet, although it is perfectly feasible, especially for plants grown in pots (as opposed, for example, to bare-root plants) since their rootball is left intact when you plant. Plants put in the ground during hot weather may need extra watering to settle in, but otherwise do fine.

Bare-root plants will find it a bit more of struggle if you plant them in the summer, as they have fewer or damaged roots and tend to wilt on hot days, but should do fine as long as you keep their soil moist until they show by new growth that they have settled in.

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Summer planting is harder on the gardener than on the plant.

The main reason not to plant in the summer, though, is for your sake: planting during hot, humid weather is simply uncomfortable for the gardener!20160925a

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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