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Garden Talk: Get Planting this Fall

You’re ready to break ground in your new yard or just redo your landscaping, but where and more importantly… when do you start? Many people associate Spring with a fresh start, new growth, and the best time to plant in-ground. However, that’s not the case in Charleston! Let’s break down why Fall is actually the best time to get planting in the Lowcountry!

We all know Charleston summers are hot and brutal. So why would you put your new plantings through that intense heat so early in their life? If you plant in the Spring, you have to be diligent about watering your new plants so they become well established. If you skip a day watering in mid July, you risk losing your new plants! Even “drought tolerant” plants need consistent moisture for optimal root growth, which is hard to achieve during a Charleston Summer.

So, what’s the solution? Take advantage of our mild Fall and Winter and plant shrubs during the Fall season! After the Spring and Summer growing seasons end, most shrubs become dormant and stop growing above the surface. This allows the plant to use all of its energy underground for stronger root development. Your plant may not be growing above ground, but its roots underneath the surface are thriving! Your new shrubs benefit from all those nutrients (carbohydrates) that are present in the soil from the previous growing seasons. They will have time to get well established before the first Winter frost. So, come next Spring, your shrubs have strong, established roots ready to take on they’re first growing season. Basically, you’re ahead of the game and your plants will thank you.

Now that you know you need to get planting soon, let’s look at our shrubs options.

If you want to create a classic hedge, check out viburnum, ligustrum, or podocarpus. These evergreen shrubs are dense, easily trimmed, and very successful in creating privacy walls or hedge borders. Plant them along a fence line to create a lush, green “backdrop” for smaller accent plants to live in front of.

If you're looking to add blooming shrubs to your space, come snag an Osmanthus fragrans aka the tea olive or an indian hawthorn. Tea olives produce small clusters of white or orange blooms and what these flowers lack in size they make up for in smell! For a more iconic, southern bloom consider adding azaleas or gardenias.

When planting shrubs, you have to keep in mind that some species can get HUGE! If you’re looking for smaller or slow growing shrubs we have you covered. Try adding “dwarf” varieties of your favorite shrubs. Consider dwarf loropetalum, dwarf wax myrtle, or minuet weigela.

You can still achieve that dense, shrub look at about half the size. If your style leans more traditional, wintergreen boxwoods and NewGen boxwoods are slow growing and stay much smaller than other types of boxwood.

Finally, if you’re in the market for a shrub that’s a little more interesting in color and texture, this is for you. Look for a variegated version of your favorite shrubs like variegated pittosporum or loropetalum jazz hands! For fun and funky texture consider abelia, nandina, or soft caress mahonia.

Now that you’re armed with shrub knowledge, get your hands a little dirty this weekend and get planting!

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