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Fall Garden

Late Fall & Winter Planting Times

This is a big country, with all kinds of climates from coast to coast with widely varying planting dates for seeds, bulbs, and plants.

In the Northeast and Midwest, the ground freezes solid during November and December, while on most of the West Coast freezes are rare all winter long. For gardeners in much of the South and Southwest, there is no frost at all. In simple terms, for a new gardener, it can be challenging to figure out - when is the best time to plant? 

Across the country, planting isn't just for spring! Late fall and winter can offer very productive planting times - read on for a few tips about what will work in your area.


Timing For Fall-Planted Bulbs

We at American Meadows, and many other sources ship Daffodils, Tulips and other fall-planted bulbs from August into November. There are 2 important things to remember about planting Fall-Planted Bulbs:

  • First, these bulbs need about 14-16 weeks at temperatures below 40°F in order to properly form flower buds.
  • So, if you're in a climate where soil temperatures don't get cold enough for that long, you can chill bulbs in a refrigerator and then plant after the chilling period ends.
  • In cold climates, it's best to plant bulbs as soon as they arrive. However, as long as your ground isn't frozen, it's not too late to plant!!

Planting Wildflower Seeds In Fall & Winter

Remember, nature plants wildflower seeds in the fall and winter, when ripened seeds rain down from last summer's flowers, the natural cycle is renewed. 

In The Northeast, Midwest, and the Rockies: For hard winter areas, fall means a dormant planting of seeds. This means that after a killing frost, you put down your seed the same way you'd do in spring. This can be done anytime before your ground freezes. Fall planted seed is up and in bloom about two weeks earlier than the same seed planted in spring.

In Frost-Free Areas with hot summers: If you have no frost at all (So. Florida, extreme Southern Texas, and much of the southwest and southern California), you can plant almost all winter. In frost-free areas where the summer heat is intense (Southwest deserts, South Florida), your best planting time is during fall for winter bloom, so you'll have good bloom before your inevitable "burn-out" once summer begins.

California: We recommend planting wildflower seeds beginning in October, and continuing on into January. It's always best to plant just before your rainiest season begins.

The South: Your wildflower seed planting method is the same as the Northeast, except you have much less time to wait for your spring sprouting and summer bloom. As long as you have had frost (when the tomatoes and impatiens are dead from the cold), you can do a "dormant" planting of wildflower seed anytime. Whether your ground freezes or not, your seed will sprout and begin to grow as soon as your soil warms in spring.

Timing For Perennial Plants

We ship our bare root and potted perennials from August into October. Cooler fall temperatures are ideal for establishing new perennial plants - especially in warmer climates! In colder climates, it's best to plant perennials a few weeks before a hard frost, so they can establish roots before going dormant for the winter. 

Still Have Questions? 

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More Helpful Tips From American Meadows

Fall Is For Planting Wildflowers

Visit Our Wildflower Learning Center!

Trench Planting: Red and yellow tulips

Quick & Easy Trench Planting For Fall Bulbs

 Getting Your Garden Ready For Fall Planting

Getting Your Garden Ready For Fall Planting

Grow Native Wildflowers For Your Region