Fall planting or wait?

courtesy pixabay.com

I received an email from a viewer that seems to pose an age-old question: plant in fall or wait until spring?


Our HOA, in the Galleria area, is looking to do some re-landscaping and want to do some major planting, wisteria and roses to name a few, in late November. I’ve been trying to convince them that it would be wiser to wait until late February or early March, otherwise, we may be replacing some or all due to a hard freeze. Our budget is tight and many owners are retired and are watching their dwindling nest egg.

Any insight as to the forecast for our area this winter?



This seems like a pretty legitimate concern, especially since we had such a ferocious winter in 2021, although I can attest that mature wisteria came back just fine, despite looking like twigs! Here’s mine just this morning:

Wisteria held well in ten degree weather!

I turned to my landscaper, Erik Ruediger of Scape HTX who much prefers fall to winter for planting because the chance of burnout is less: “this spring was so dry and hot, a lot of things that were planted in March didn’t even have a chance (especially where people don’t have irrigation”).

That’s a fair point as spring around here can be very dry, especially in April. Erik also points out that wisteria can handle harsh winters when mature (Hardiness zones 4-9) and given our typically mild winter, it’s best to plant wisteria in the fall so it has time to settle and get established before the spring growing season. But hurry and get that wisteria in the ground sooner than later!

For roses, Erik says that planting early enough in fall gives the roots enough time to establish before winter and be ready for a full growing season come spring. So if you do wait until spring, make sure to plant after the last frost!

As for guidance to this December through February, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is calling for dry and mild across our part of Texas:

from NOAA
from NOAA

That forecast is coming because of La Nina, which is forecast to hang around through April providing drier and warmer weather for our part of the country.

So, Robbie, looks like the HOA may have a toss-up: planting now gets the wisteria and roses established but chances a rare root decimating freeze while spring may be kinder at first but chances drought conditions later. I think, given the odds for a killing freeze vs more dry weather, that planting in the next couple of weeks may be best. Good luck!

Go Astros! Even after a harsh freeze, springing back to full force is always possible!


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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with four decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.