One of the earliest native spring flowers to bloom is bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). Look for a single white flower, typically with eight petals, emerging from a protective leaf. The stem, leaves, and roots produce a blood-red sap. The seeds have oil-rich growths called elaiosomes that ants relish. The insects carry the seeds to their nests, helping spread bloodroot across the forest floor.
Most think spring is the perfect time for planting. The nurseries are stocked with colorful plants and everything is in bloom…but that’s the problem. Spring turns into summer and before you know it the temperatures are in the mid 80s and it hasn’t rained for weeks.
In our recent New England springs, the weather has gone from a late winter freeze into summer heat wave within a few days. This puts stress on a plant that is pushing out new leaves to make food (going through the process of photosynthesis), trying to reproduce (make flowers), and grow new roots.
What most people don’t realize is that autumn is the perfect time to plant. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Now that leaf, seed, and flower production are complete, plants have nothing but cooler days to contend with and roots are the only thing they have to grow.
- Along with the cooler temperatures comes end-of-season sales. That Oxydendron (Sourwood) tree you wanted all season? It now costs less and it’s showing its beautiful burgundy autumn foliage.
- Watering is also easier now because, unlike summer months, town water bans have usually been lifted.
- Need to patch your lawn? Do it in the autumn! Spring and fall are seasons when grass is the greenest. Grass will sprout in the warm days of the autumn and continue to grow until the ground freezes.
- Plant bulbs for spring color in the autumn. Bulbs need to be planted in the autumn to develop roots before the ground freezes. Early blooming crocus give pollinators such as honey bees nectar early in the season when very few other flowers are in bloom. Daffodils are deer and rodent resistant and live for many years. Tulips add late April and May color.
A little bit of work in the cool of the autumn will give you a beautiful yard in the spring. So what are you waiting for? Get planting!
Photo via FreeDigitalPhotos.net