Skip to Content
American Meadows (USD) English

by Mike Lizotte

With autumn officially here, it’s time to start planning how we’re going to maximize our time spent in the garden. Less sunlight and cooler days are a sure sign fall has arrived.

It’s also about the time our phones start ringing with questions from gardeners wondering if fall is a good time to plant.  The answer is simply, YES! 

From classic fall planted, spring blooming bulbs such as Perennial Darwin tulips and Dutch Master Daffodils, quick harvest vegetables from seed, to sowing some wildflower seed that you didn’t get to this spring, fall presents us with a "second season" of planting that can be quite beneficial in a number of ways.

In the coming weeks I’m going to share with you a number of helpful gardening tips to make sure your fall wildflower planting is a success.

Fall is for Wildflowers – Knowing the best time to sow in your climate!

Fall is a great time for sowing wildflower seed.  One of the most important steps as we think about planting seed this time of year is knowing when the correct time to plant is, factoring in your geographic area.

Brrr……Sowing seed in colder geographic areas

If you live in an area that experiences cold snowy winters, and the ground freezes for more than 60 days, fall seeding can be quite beneficial.  With a shorter growing season it can allow us to get a “jump start” on the following season and, it most cases, see color 2-4 weeks sooner than a more traditional spring planting.

The most important step when sowing for a fall planting is making sure the ground temperatures have cooled enough so that when you finally sow, there is no chance of the seed germinating.   Yes, that’s right...We don’t want the seed to begin germinating.

This usually means the ground temperatures need to be below 45 degrees.  Keep in mind this will take some time for this to occur, especially if you’ve had a warm summer.  Think of the ground temperatures cooling similar to a larger body of water.  Just because we have that one warm day in spring doesn’t mean we go jump in our pool or nearby lake, as the water temperatures haven’t yet warmed enough.  With the mild days of summer, the ground is warm and it will take weeks for it to cool so plan you seeding accordingly.  The biggest mistake people make with fall planting in cooler climates is they sow too soon.

Fall Seeding in warmer climates

It can be beneficial to sow in the fall for a couple of reasons.  In warmer climates it allows us to take advantage of the "rainy season," allowing Mother Nature to water the planting.  It’s one less thing we’ll need to worry about!  A fall planting can also be preferred in warmer climates as it offers more optimal sowing conditions for the wildflowers once they do begin germinating.  Spring plantings can be challenging in areas that experience very warm spring/early summer temperatures, making fall the perfect time to sow!

So now that we know the best time for fall planting in our climate, stay tuned for next week’s post when I talk about preparing the area for our fall planting.

Until next week...Happy Gardening!  The Seed Man