Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant Native Trees and Perennials!

by Kasha Helget

ARMN communications chair Kasha Helget provides inspiration for fall planting and a list of upcoming sales that feature native plants.

Spigelia marilandica (Photo courtesy of Lark Wells)
Spigelia marilandica (Indian Pink) (Photo courtesy of Lark Wells)

Autumn is one of the best times to install plants. The reason is that conditions are usually ideal to give plants a great start. The soil is still warm, which allows roots to become established before the plant goes dormant, and cooler air temperatures allow for less plant shock for the parts above the soil. There are also many plants that bloom in the fall and provide wonderful winter interest. You and your garden will also have a jump on the spring season—when the new plants will emerge ready to delight you all year.

Native plants are a particularly attractive choice because they have adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they naturally occur. They do not require the fertilizers and pesticides that lawns and many nonnative perennials do, and when installed in the right location, will need less water and help prevent erosion. Moreover, they are beautiful and they provide nectar, pollen, and seed sources for native butterflies, insects, birds, and other animals. Most nonnatives do far less.

As far as the right location for particular natives in your yard, there is a wonderful FREE guide to help: the Plant NoVA Natives website (http://www.plantnovanatives.org/) provides detailed information and photos about plants local to Northern Virginia so you can choose native species that are best suited to your property. Both beginners and expert gardeners can appreciate the site’s colorful guide to local natives, a list of local businesses that supply them, and links to organizations that will come to your property and offer customized landscaping recommendations.

Asarum canadense (Canada Wild Ginger) Photo courtesy of Kasha Helget
Asarum canadense (Canada Wild Ginger) (Photo courtesy of Kasha Helget)

Fall Native Plant Sales around Northern Virginia

There a number of fall native plant sales coming soon to the area. Following is a list of dates and locations of those that provide reliable stock and where you can receive guidance from sellers who know their plants well.

First Wednesday of the month from April to October, 10 am to noon, Virginia Native Plant Society–Potowmack Chapter  VNPS–Potowmack propagation beds behind the Green Spring Gardens Horticulture Center, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312. http://vnps.org/potowmack/

Saturday, September 10, 9 am to 3 pm, Green Spring Fall Garden Day, Green Spring Gardens. The VNPS–Potowmack propagation beds are behind the Green Spring Gardens Horticulture Center,. There are some vendors of native plants mixed in with the nonnatives vendors, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312 (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/events.htm).

Saturday, September 10, 9 am to 3 pm, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Fall Native Plant Sale, Morven Park, 17263 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg, VA (http://www.loudounwildlife.org/Event_Native_Plant_Sale_Fall.html).

Saturday, September 17, 1 to 4 pm, Long Branch Nature Center, 625 Carlin Springs Road, Arlington, VA (https://parks.arlingtonva.us/events/fall-native-plant-sale-3/; plants may be ordered online by September 7: https://parks.arlingtonva.us/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2016/07/Fall-Order-Form-16.pdf

Saturday, September 24, 9 am to 2 pm, Northern Alexandria Native Plant Sale (formerly Parkfairfax Plant Sale), Church of St. Clement, 1701 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA (http://home.earthlink.net/~sknudsen/)

Sunday, October 2, 10 am to 2 pm, Earth Sangha Open House and Plant Sale, Cloud Drive entrance to Franconia Park, Springfield, VA 22150. See http://www.earthsangha.org/#!wpn/c1drm for plants and directions.

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