Planting perennials mid fall.

Asked October 25, 2016, 4:57 PM EDT

Hi, would it be better to plant perennials now or wait for spring? The area I want to plant is a raised bed in dry shade. I would be planting epimedium, carex, christmas fern, geranium, maybe hellebore. I have read perennials should be in the ground six weeks before the ground fully freezes to prevent heaving. It seems to me that could be anywhere from late November to early January. Some websites recommend fall planting while others suggest perennials are better done in spring. Can you offer any advice? Thank you!

Lehigh County Pennsylvania

1 Response

We have had warm weather much later in the season in the last couple of years. However, it is almost November and there is no guarantee we won't get a freeze before your plants have time to establish a good root system. If you decide to plant now, I would take precautions against an unexpected freeze. You can mulch the ground with several inches of a good organic mulch like undyed wood chips. Also, you can place clear plastic storage bins over the plants, leaving a bit of space at the bottom for air exchange. I often put bins over perennials that show frost damage if I leave them uncovered. The idea is to postpone the ground freezing around the roots before they can handle it.