Fall can be a great time to plant, especially if you are planting higher elevation and temperate climate plants that are adapted to cooler, more humid growing conditions. In the fall, the soil is still warm enough to encourage roots to develop so watering properly makes a big difference on preparing them to survive in the winter season. What to plant? Most conifers, shade trees, cool season grass and moisture-loving fruit and ornamental trees, such as crabapples, apples and pears, are a great selection for planting in this autumn.  

What not to plant this fall? The answer is plants from desert ecosystems like southern New Mexico and the Mediterranean natives. Their newly planted roots are less able to survive our winter cold. The same is true for perennial wildflowers and warm season grasses. These should be planted in the spring through early August. Succulents are another group of plants that thrive after settling into the garden during the warmer part of the growing season, so wait until the spring to plant them.

Knowing what to plant at this time of year will give you that edge you need to grow healthy plants!

Author: Judith Phillips, owner of Design Oasis, landscape designer, and garden writer with 30 years of experience designing arid-adapted and native gardens in the high desert. Photography: Plants of the Southwest. Have a question about the article? AskAnExpert@abcwua.org