Why Fall Is the Best Time to Plant

By Daniel Prynne, Volunteer

Adding new plants to your garden is popular in the spring and summer months thanks to Oregon’s ample sunshine and the wide selection of flowering plants, shrubs, grasses and trees. Despite the popularity of spring planting, fall is actually one of the best times to put new native plants in the ground so they can take root. 

Two Bird Alliance of Oregon volunteers plant native plants at the Bird Alliance of Oregon Wildlife Sanctuary.

Reasons to Work Your Green Thumb This Fall

Lots of Rain
Late September, October and early November is the perfect time to re-invigorate your backyard with native species. If there is one thing you can count on in Oregon, it’s a wet fall and winter, ensuring moist soil. No need to add water, making it an eco-friendly time to plant, as well as a beneficial time for your garden.

Time to Establish Roots
Planting before spring means your plants have time to set roots before the rapid growing season. By the time the first milder spring days arrive, the early local pollinators will appreciate the variety of flowers already available, saving yourself (and them) a trip to the nursery. 

Less Disruption to Wildlife
Birds and mammals are nesting in the spring. By planting in the fall, you won’t disrupt birds whilst pruning and planting as they have finished nesting and many will already be migrating to warming climates. Every year, our Wildlife Care Center takes in orphaned baby birds who were victims of spring pruning. Help save lives by pruning in the fall, once all those babies have fledged. 

Keep in mind that most plants aren’t in bloom in the fall, so your trip to the nursery won’t be as flashy as during a spring visit. Don’t worry though. Come spring, you’ll be dazzled by your already established new additions to your backyard habitat.

When choosing what to plant during the fall, the PNW offers hardy and beautiful native species that are as attractive as ornamentals and come pre-adapted to our wet winters and dry summers. Want to learn more about native plants in the Portland Metro Area? Check out resources on our Backyard Habitat Certification Program page, a program done in partnership with Columbia Land Trust.

Spending time in the garden doesn’t have to be reserved for the sunnier months. There are plenty of great native plants that will positively contribute to the long term health and prosperity of your backyard habitat (and often with a Fall discount!). Not only will your local ecosystem appreciate the additions, but come springtime you and your admiring neighbors will too. 

California Scrub-Jay, photo by Scott Carpenter